Updated May 2019
One of my favorite cheap thrills in life is to ride my kids around on my bike. Bike riding is a great way to get exercise, not to mention a wonderful diversion for infants and toddlers. It’s also an exciting way of getting from A to B, especially if your babes hate being in their car seats as much as mine do.
Best Bike Seats for Toddlers and Preschoolers
“Front of the Bike” Seats:
WeeRide Kangaroo LTD ~ $79: Comfortable, affordable padded “front bike seat” with 5-point harness that works up to 33 lbs.
iBert Safe-T-Seat ~ $107: Easy-to-install, holds kids up to 38 lbs; but not very tall or supportive, lacks a 5-point harness.
Yepp Mini ~ $199: Top of the line front bike seat that’s comfy, lightweight, and easy to clean; has 5-point harness.
Rear Mounted Seats:
Hamax Caress Child Bike Seat ~ $185: Easily installed rear mounted seat with recline, adjustable footrest, a non-rethread harness, and suspension for a smooth ride. Padding is very firm.
Topeak BabySeat II ~ $179: Comfy seat with padding, rear reflectors, and a roll bar (aka carrying handle) for added safety; not as easy to switch between bikes as the Hamax; for bikes without a rear rack.
Yepp Nexxt Maxi (Rack-Mounted) ~ $229 and Yepp Maxi (Frame-Mounted) ~ $249: Highly rated, easily installed seat with shock absorption, 5-point harness, and adjustable foot rest; easy to clean (because it has no padding), but lacks a non-rethread harness.
The Thule RideAlong Child Bike Seat ~ $229: Super highly rated seat loaded with parent/kid-friendly features, including a recline, padding, extra protective arm rests, and padded non-rethread harness. Note: not recommended for use on bikes with wires on the seat tube.
“Front of the Bike” Seats
Made specially for the smallest of humans (10 months to 3 or 4 years, give or take), “front” bike seats allow a closer interaction between rider and child, as opposed to having your little one behind you where you can’t see her without turning around (turning around while biking = bad idea).
With a front seat, your arms are wrapped around your child in a very protective position. As an added bonus, they get to ding your bell. 😎
Front of the bike seats mount to the stem of your bike and are generally very easy to take on and off. However, because your baby’s center of gravity is over the front wheel, you’ll notice that steering becomes a little more tricky/cumbersome when you first start out, as you are now steering with your baby’s added weight. You may also need to spread your legs a little wider when you’re pedaling (frog-legged) to prevent your knees from knocking the bottom of the seat; however, this too becomes second nature after some practice.
Infant & Toddler Bike Seats
1. WeeRide Kangaroo LTD ~ $79
Arguably the most comfortable/padded front bike seat on the market, the WeeRide Kangaroo LTD is another favorite. Parents love the padded 5-point harness and the adjustable foot holders that grow with your toddler, although many report that 3 years is the max you can use this seat in reality, especially if your kiddo is on the tall side.
While not the sexiest option, this affordable seat gets the job done safely and comfortably.
Can be found on Amazon as well.
2. iBert Safe-T-Seat ~ $107 – Editor’s Pick
Age range: 1 – 4 years (up to 38 lbs, or until their legs are too long to fit)
We used the iBert when Lucie was a baby and continue to enjoy it for Alice. iBert recommends babies are at least 12 months of age, but many feel this is overly conservative (i.e., most 9 and 10-month-olds are well able to hold their heads up and support the weight of a helmet, etc.).
With a simple cotter pin that holds the bracket in place, this seat is super easy to install and/or switch from bike to bike and doesn’t require any other special parts.
On the downside, the back on this seat is not particularly tall or supportive, and it only has a 3-point shoulder harness (as opposed to 5).
3. Yepp Mini ~ $199
Age range: 9 months to 3 years (up to 33 lbs)
Leave it to the bike-loving Dutch to engineer another favorite front seat, the Yepp Mini. This good-looking, lightweight bike seat is the grand poo-bah of front seats.
This seat features a water-resistant, flexible rubber foam seat that is comfy, shock-absorbing, and easy to clean. It has adjustable footrests that can be lowered as your child grows and unlike other bike seats, you can lock this one to your bike to prevent theft (yeah, cuz I live in Oakland, ya’ll). I’ve had every component you can imagine stolen off my bike while parked at the BART station, even my own seat!
With a 5-point safety harness and a selection of six lovely colors, the Yepp Mini is another top pick.
If your bike has an ahead stem, as many American mountain bikes do, you’ll need to buy their special handlbar adapter in order to install it on your bike. The Yepp Nexxt Mini includes a slim fit adapter and is designed to fit both quill and ahead stems.
Rear Mounted Bike Seats
For those with older kiddos who have outgrown (or are about to outgrow) the front position – or if you simply prefer a longer-lived bike seat, there are a couple of rear position bike seats that top the lists.
1. Hamax Caress Child Bike Seat ~ $185
Hamax is a Norwegian company that’s been popular in Europe for years and has recently begun distributing its highly-rated bike seats in the U.S.
The Hamax Caress seat can hold children from 9 months up to 48.5 pounds. It comes with either a Frame Mount (which fits bike frames from 28-40mm) or a Rack Mount (which fits cargo racks from 120-180mm); both styles include an anti-theft lock.
You can recline this seat up to 20 degrees with the simple twist of a dial. The upper back part of the seat is slightly recessed so as to to fit a child’s helmet comfortably. It also includes armrests and foot pedals with 10 different height options.
The seat feels durable, is fairly easy to install without any tools (for both the Frame and Rack Mounts), and has secure shoulder straps that adjust by the handle on the back of the seat— which means you don’t need to rethread the straps to adjust their height (see below).
The Hamax seat comes with two removable pieces of padding (which are on the firm side).
The childproof safety buckle, recline, backrest, footrest, and straps are all designed for single-hand use so you don’t have to let go of the bike to make adjustments. Both the Frame Mount and the Rack Mount styles have suspensions for a nice smooth ride.
*Note: the Frame Mounted Hamax seat will not work with most e-bikes or carbon frames. The Rack Mount with the carrier adapter secures to a carrier rack and can accommodate e-bikes, carbon, and non-standard frames (as long as they have a cargo or carrier rack already installed).
2. Topeak BabySeat II ~ $179
Age range: 9 months and up (seat weight limit: 48 lbs/rack weight limit: 55 lbs)
Made for bikes without a rear rack, this well-liked seat has a wrap-around body, a rear reflector, a nice suspension system to isolate your kiddo from bumps, and a roll bar handle for better head security, which can also be used as a carrying handle.
I will say the installation of this seat took me the better part of an hour, and it’s not a seat you can easily switch from bike-to-bike. However, once installed, the mount rack allows for smooth mounting and removal via a slide lock, so I can easily remove the seat from my bike if I need to throw it into the car or onto my car’s bike rack.
Both Lucie and Alice like riding in this seat and fight over it constantly. Lucie is four years old and will probably fit in it for another year or so (not much more). Alice is two and fits perfectly and I can easily adjust the footrest height depending on which child is using it. (Ages at time of publishing)
This used to be a top pick, but since we first published this article, the Hamax and the Thule have come out and are definitely more highly rated.
*Also available at local bike stores. Please support your local mom and pop stores!!
3. Yepp Nexxt Maxi (rack-mounted) ~ $229
Age range: 9 months to 6 years (or up to 48 lbs)
The Yepp Nexxt Maxi is a quality seat with a 5-point safety harness which features a magnetic childproof buckle, a safety lock and soft shoulder pads, with easy installation and on/off.
The Nexxt Maxi uses a universal clamp system that will fit most rear bike racks. It’s one of the lightest bike seats on the market at 6.6 lbs with a 48.5 lb weight capacity.
4. Yepp Maxi (Frame-Mounted) ~ $249
Don’t have a rear rack? No problem. The Yepp Maxi is similar to the Yepp Nexxt Maxi, but meant for mounting on seat posts between 28-45 mm in diameter. *The Yepp Maxi comes with a seat post adapter.
Do make sure to check that your bike has 4.5” of seat tube to mount the seat on before buying!
This is a favorite among serious bikers.
5. The Thule RideAlong Child Bike Seat ~ $229
Age range: 9 months to 6 years (or up to 48.5 lbs)
The Thule RideAlong is a very highly rated bike seat known for its ease of installation; though on the expensive side, parents who are serious about biking with their kids say it’s worth every penny.
You can mount/dismount the RideAlong seat in seconds using its quick-release bracket, which fits most bike frames (27.2-40mm diameter for round frames, max. of 40 x 55 mm for oval frames).
The RideAlong has an easy to use, 5-point harness with a childproof buckle, padded shoulder straps that stay in place and adjust with a sliding handle (see below), a suspension system for a smoother ride, and a built-in reflector and attachment point for a safety light (not included).
The seat has armrests and “wings” to protect your child’s arms and hands if the bike is leaning against a wall or fence, and you can adjust the foot rests and straps with one hand. It has 5 reclining options (up to 20 degrees), so your kiddo can even nap in their seat. Another nice feature is the padding on the seat, which can be removed and machine washed.
The Thule RideAlong works for kids up to 48.5 lbs (so about 6 years old), so this one will last you a good long time. Note: this sturdy seat is on the heavier side.
Check out the video for more on the Thule RideAlong Bike Seat:
Don’t forget about helmets?
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