Choosing between a front and rear child bike seat? Use this step by step guide.
So you’ve decided to get a front or rear child bike seat. Yay! Now, how do you decide which positioning is the right one for your family? Follow the steps below and you’ll have your answer in a jiffy!
Step One: Determine Your Child’s Age and Weight
Front mounted seats are a great option if you have a younger child (minimum of 9 mo), who would enjoy sitting up front, seeing the world and talking with mom or dad. In the front mounted seat, children can easily point at things as you ride by and you can experience the world from your child’s eyes like never before. The maximum age for a front mounted seat is 3 years old and they will typically support up to 33 lbs.
Rear mounted seats are wonderful for children who are older and may not have such a reliance on talking to mom or dad, or need as much supervision, during trips. A rear mounted seat will also accommodate your child longer, as they have a maximum age of about 5-6 years old and a maximum weight of up to 48 lbs. Some options, such as the Hamax Caress have adjustable shoulder straps as well as an adjustable seat back that grows with your child.
Step Two: Determine Your Preferred Weight Distribution
Typically, front mounted seats are more stable on the bike as the weight is mounted between the two wheels and close to the bike rider. This positioning also gives the rider the ability to put their arms around the child’s thus encouraging the child to keep their hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times.
Conversely, in a rear mounted position, seats do have more wiggle room, but are also equipped with shocks or other suspension system that helps to provide a seamless and smooth ride. An older child may not fit in between the rider’s arms, and can be warned not to make large movements during the ride. For optimal weight distribution, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on how to center the bike seat over the rear tire’s axel.
Step Three: Determine the Type of Biking Your Family Prefers
When taking a longer biking trip with the family some rear mounted child bike seats have a huge advantage over the front mounted version; the ability to recline The Hamax Caress reclines up to 20 degrees, giving sleepy children a way to rest their head without slumping forward.
Either the front mount or rear mount bike seats would work well for smooth paved roads or trails. When riding on gravel or other unpaved surfaces, the shocks or other suspension system offered by many rear mount seats allows a smoother more comfortable ride for the child.
Step Four: Determine Your Current Bike Type and Preferred Mounting System
Front mounted seats have several different ways of mounting to your bike. Some mount to the top tube of your bike which requires a nearly horizontal tube. Others, like the Hamax Observer mount to the stem of your bike. With stem mounted seats, you can use a standard mount which requires about 2 inches of clearance on the bike stem, or an A-Head bracket mount which requires only ½ inch of clearance on the bike stem.
Rear mounted seats also have a variety of mounting options. The frame mount is meant for bikes that do not have carrier racks. The second option for rear mounted bike seats is the rack mount. In this case, the child bike seat attaches to a rack already installed on your bike. Usually the bike rack must have a minimum 55lb weight capacity to support both the child and the bike seat.
Other considerations in choosing a mounting type are the riders length of legs, arms, and torso. Riders with longer legs will want to raise their bike seats enough so that their knees are not knocking into a front mounted seat. You may also need to adjust the rider’s seat in order for a rear mounted child bike seat to attach properly and allow for the reclining movement.
While there are many seat options available, it is ultimately up to the rider and family to choose the one that will fit their lifestyle the best. Let us know what you chose or if you have any questions. And as always, have a wonderful ride!