Bike Child Seat Buyers Guide

Travelling anywhere with children can be challenging.

From grumpy nappers to wriggly worms, kids can get restless even on the shortest journeys. This is where a good children’s bike seat can make life easier (and safer) for both parent and rider.

What is a children’s bike seat?

Children’s bike seats attach onto your bike and provide a handy place to sit for younger children. This allows cyclists to take a mini passenger with them for anything from the trip to school or nursery all the way to leisure rides in the park. As well as providing somewhere to sit, Children’s bike seats can also have a few safety features, including high sides, seat belts or a harness, and sometimes footrests to keep little feet and legs nicely tucked in.

Children’s bike seats are designed for toddlers (aged 12 months to 3+ years), but there are also weight limits to contend with if you intend on riding your bike with older children in your kids’ bike seat.

How do children’s bike seats work?

Children’s bike seats come in a few different varieties. The most common type is the rear kids’ bike seat, which attaches to either the seat post, rear of the frame, or the luggage rack if there is one. Kids’ bike seats can fasten using clamps, a cantilever system, or even with bolts. Some kids’ bike seats can even be locked onto the bike for added security.

Fitting a kids’ bike seat may need some additional TLC – after all, it needs to be extra-secure if it’s going to be transporting precious cargo! Make sure everything is nice and tight and follow the instructions. Remember that just like any other bike add-on, you’ll need to consider what happens when you leave your bike locked up. If your kids’ bike seat features a quick-release mechanism or is easy to remove, then thieves could swoop in and have it, so consider a system with locks or one that isn’t particularly easy to remove.

If you don’t fancy having to fit your own kids’ carry seat, then remember that Halfords can fit it for you! Just ask at the till or select ‘add fitting’ at the online checkout and one of our experts will fit it safely for you.

Once the seat is securely in place, you’ll need to get your child in place, which can be tough, especially with toddlers! You can lean your bike in place with a bit of help from a wall, fence or other parent or older child, but life can be made a lot easier with an additional kick stand if your bike doesn’t already have one. This will keep your bike standing as you lift your little one in place. As well as clipping them in using the harness, don’t forgot to fasten their feet in place – feet getting caught in wheels is one of the biggest reasons for A&E trips when it comes to child bike travel, so make sure they won’t be able to get their feet loose, especially if they’re sitting behind you where you may not be able to see.

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Front fitting kid’s bike seats

You can also get front-fitting kids’ bike seats, which attach to the top bar of the bike’s frame, meaning your child can sit between your arms and legs. This is great for an improved view of the road ahead for them, improved balancing, and you’ll be able to see what they’re up to, but it can take some getting used to. Also, they’ll be exposed to the elements (unless you get a kids’ bike seat with a windshield) and if you crash into something, they’ll be taking the impact first.

Even though it’s totally possible to carry two children by using a front fitting kids’ bike seat and a rear fitting bike seat in unison, you’re probably better off investing in a bike trailer if you plan on transporting 2 children at once. As well as improving your balance, it’s easier to get up hills and go over bumps and uneven terrain with the weight spread across both your bike and a trailer.

You may have also seen mini saddles that simply clip onto the top tube of your bike frame. We’d only recommend these types of seat for short journeys, as the lack of harness and actual seat is no uses for tired kids (we guarantee younger kids will use their ride on the bike as an excuse for a nap), plus their legs aren’t secured in place.

How to ride a bike with a child seat attached

Once they’re sitting still and fastened in place, it’s time to get riding, but you’ll probably need to adjust your riding style to accommodate some additional weight! Here are a few kids’ bike seat tips:

  • Remember that kids can be heavy, and with extra weight at the rear of the bike, you may need to overcompensate by shift your centre of gravity slightly more forward.
  • If they’re sitting in a seat up front, remember that they’ll be bearing the brunt of colder air, insects and rain.
  • Consider using mirrors as opposed to turning your head – the shifted centre of gravity of you, the bike and your mini passenger can make it hard to do the usual manoeuvres.
  • If it’s cold and rainy, don’t forget to wrap little ones up.

Are children’s bike seats safe?

In short, yes. All of the products we sell come with built-in safety features, including extra tough plastic shells that wrap around your child’s body, child-proof harnesses and foot rests with clips to prevent feet from getting caught in spokes. These safety features will certainly help in the event of a crash or accident, but it’s best to practice safer cycling in the first place to avoid your kids’ bike seat having to do all of the hard work. Here are a few safer cycling tips for cycling with a kids’ bike seat attached:

Go slower

You’ll have more time to react to potential hazards if you aren’t travelling as quickly.

Avoid the road where possible

Stick to cycle lanes and dedicated cycle paths. If you do need to cycle on the road, practice riding somewhere quiet or on grass first so you can get used to the extra weight and shifted centre of gravity.

Avoid cobblestones with younger kids

Shaken baby syndrome is a serious problem, so make sure you aren’t riding on particularly uneven surfaces for extended periods of time.

Light it up

If you’re going to cycle on dull days or at night, then take extra measures to make yourself easier to see. Consider attaching an additional light and even some reflective tape to the rear of your kids’ bike seat, giving other road users the best chance of seeing you.

Now that you’re clued up on kids’ bike seats, it’s time to get out with your little one! Don’t forget to get your bike checked over before trying to ride off with an additional passenger with our CycleCare service. From cable replacement to brake checks, we’ll make sure your bike is ready for anything.

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