Child Bike Seats: Riding with kids from the start

A bike seat for kids is a great transport solution for daily rides. We'll show you what to look for when choosing one.

For rides to kindergarten, shopping in town or for a short trip to the lake: with a child seat on your bike, you’ll always have your little one by your side. The seats are practical, inexpensive and above all space-saving. Unlike the children's trailer,they take up little more space than your city bike – an advantage in apartment buildings or large bike parking lots. They are also quick to install and easy to remove when you don't need them. They also have relatively little effect on your bike’s handling. Nevertheless, you should bear in mind that you child’s jerky movements can have an effect on your bike control, especially when pushing off or riding slowly. So that you don’t get startled, it is best to be in constant communication with your child. This way you’ll always know what's going on behind you, your child won't get bored and you can also demonstrate how to ride in traffic. A sensible first step toward independent cycling with the first balance bike or kids bike.

When can my child start using a child bike seat?

You can only take your child on the seat when he or she can already sit up on their own. Most child bike seats are accordingly approved for use starting at around nine months of age. Even if your child is already sitting rather independently, you should stick to this guideline. This is because the seat belts are also designed for body sizes above this age range. Since your kids – just like you – are exposed to wind and weather during rides, they definitely need the right clothing. Your child has certainly a rain jacket, rain pants or warm shoes in their closet anyway – if not, you can also find the appropriate gear such as the Kids Luminum Jacket from Vaude. In any case, a suitable bicycle helmetis always useful . Most accidents with child seats happen while standing still while fastening and unfastening the seat belt, at which point the bike can wobble and fall over. The possible fall height for the child is quite high with the child seat, and a falling bike can quickly result in serious injury. It is therefore imperative to protect your child’s head. Kids helmets like the Smiley 2.0 from Abus are specially designed to be worn in a child's bike seat due to the slightly-flattened back of the head. Basically, you should prevent the bike from falling over by using a stable rear stand or – if structurally possible – a bipod kickstand, so that your bike stands as safely as possible.

A kickstand keeps both hands free so that you can easily place your child in the seat and buckle up without the bike tipping over.
A kickstand keeps both hands free so that you can easily place your child in the seat and buckle up without the bike tipping over.

A kickstand keeps both hands free so that you can easily place your child in the seat and buckle up without the bike tipping over. © Thule

Child bike seats are safe and comfortable

The main purpose of a child seat: it must guarantee the greatest possible level of safety. The requirements for a child's bicycle seat are regulated by the DIN EN 14344 standard. It provides information about the material properties, the necessary safety belts or even the maximum permissible weight. All child bike seats in our range are tested on the basis of this standard. In addition, pay attention to high-quality products from well-known manufacturers such as Thule, Hamax, Britax Römer and bobike. This way, you can be sure that safe materials are used and that the comfort of your young passengers is taken care of. The Caress from Hamax, for example, has a special reclining function with an angle of 20 degrees to let your passenger take a little nap while riding. Many child seats, such as the Jockey3 Comfort from Britax Römer, also have their own suspension. This means that the children's spine is better protected when driving over obstacles. Nevertheless, you should avoid trails or rough roads with a child seat in order to avoid injuries.

Child bike seats can grow with your kids

To ensure that your child sits as comfortably as possible, the size of the backrest and footrests can be adjusted on the most popular models. A five-point harness system ensures that your child is stable and secure in their seat. The straps can also be adjusted according to the size of the passenger, so the bike seat can grow along with the child. Rear child seats, which are mounted on the seat tube or the cargo rack, are approved for a weight of up to 22 kilograms. This corresponds to an age of usually six years. It should be noted that it is a legal requirement that seats be designed so that feet or hands cannot get into the spokes. That's why the footrests are equipped with additional rests, so the feet can be fixed.

Front child bike seats: Advantages and disadvantages

Mounting a child seat on the head tube is absolutely legal – any other information is just a rumor. The advantage is that you can always keep an eye on your child. Plus, it sees more of the world than just your back. However, a child may only sit in the front up to a maximum of 15 kilograms or until the age of about three. Any later would impair your field of vision too much, and also the load on the head tube and the restriction of the steering behaviour would be too high due to the additional weight. To prevent your child from tipping forward while sleeping during the ride, some models, such as the YeppNexxt by Thule, have a special hand rest. Optionally, Thule offers a handlebar pad so your child can rest their head easily.
The disadvantage of this option is that your child is directly exposed to the wind. That is why some manufacturers such as Hamax with its Observer , offer an optional windshield. This prevents splashing water and wind from getting directly into the face. The main drawbacks to front child bike seats are the higher risk of accidents, like if you fall during emergency braking and take a dive over the handlebars, and the heightened difficulty in balancing. On the other hand, it does give you the advantage of getting on and off the bike more easily and keeps the rack free for bags or baskets, and your back free for a backpack.

Small and lightweight children can also enjoy a full view of the road ahead when seated at the handlebars. A windshield keeps oncoming wind at bay.

Small and lightweight children can also enjoy a full view of the road ahead when seated at the handlebars. A windshield keeps oncoming wind at bay. © Thule

Rear child bike seats: Mounting on the seat tube

Most child seats placed behind the rider are now mounted on the seat tube. The attachment is simple and stable. With these models, you are not dependant on cargo racks or similar, and can also take your child on a mountain bike – but only on aluminium or steel frames. The attachment to carbon frames can lead to serious damage, as a retaining block is screwed to the seat tube for the child seat with its two bars. Please note the permitted tube diameter, which is usually between 28 and 40 millimetres. The basic advantages of rear-mounted child seats are that they ensure greater safety, have less impact on driving behaviour and also allow for more sleeping positions. The advantage of this configuration is that you can use bags on the cargo rack, since the back can’t be used. Optionally, you can add a front rack or a handlebar basket or a frame bag. No matter how you solve your cargo dilemmas, please don't shove your packed backpack in your child's face or force them to do the limbo around your messenger bag. Both are still seen very often, unfortunately. It can also be unfamiliar at first not to have your child in view. Tip: A rearview mirror on the handlebars can help here.

Rear child bike seats: Mounting on the cargo rack

If your seat tube is not suitable, i.e. if you ride a small frame and the mounting bar is too long, you can also use children's bike seats for direct attachment to the cargo rack. It is important that you take the width of your rack into account when mounting, and that you choose a child seat with the appropriate dimensions. As a rule, however, the seats are suitable for cargo racks of 110 to 170 millimetres in width and thus for the most common models. It is important that you keep the maximum load of your rack in mind. Some carriers are only designed for a maximum load of 20 kilograms and are therefore not suitable for carrying older children. You will usually find information about this stamped directly onto the rack.

Taking two children on the bike is possible

As you may have guessed, you can usually only take one child in a seat. However, there are alternatives to trailers for transporting two children. For example, there are now cargo bikes that are equipped with longer cargo racks. On these so-called mid- or longtails, you can mount two child bike seats one behind the other. However, this is not allowed on all bike models. This why to do your research in advance! If one of your children can already ride a bike by themselves, you could attach a FollowMe tandem hitch to your bikein addition to the child seat. The child's bike can then, when the rider gets tired or has to navigate dangerous places in the traffic, simply be hooked up to let you continue your ride as a trio. Finally, you can also attach one child bike seat in the front and one in the back. However, it is essential to keep in mind the total allowed weight of your bike and familiarise yourself with additional weight in a safe environment. It is best to practice with inanimate additional weights first.


Legal issues: From bicycle standards to lighting on children's bicycle seats

It should be noted that you ought to keep an eye on the total weight even if you only have one child seat on your bike. According to the standard, some bikes are only approved for a total weight of 100 kilograms, while E-bikes are often approved for 120 kilograms. The base weight of the bike is already included in the total weight. If you want to transport a four-kilogram child seat including a 20-kilogram child on a ten-kilogram sports bike, you yourself should only weigh in at about 66 kilograms. This is why it’s essential to check beforehand the exact information from the manufacturer regarding the total weight of your bike! You will find this information in the owner’s manual. From a legal point of view, you must be at least 16 years old to ride with a child bike seat. When it comes to lighting, you don't have to do anything else if your bike already has a StVZO-compliant rear light on the rear rack or fenders. With battery lighting on the seatpost, however, the rear child seat covers the rear light and you must find an alternative, e.g. for mounting on the seat stay. The child seat itself doesn't need a rear light, but models like the Yepp Maxi
by Thule have additional reflectors and the mount for a rear light, which increases visibility.

Everyday tips: rain protection and cargo transport

In general, you should not ride long distances with your kids, especially in the beginning. For your child, sitting still when they’re not used to it can quickly become uncomfortable. This is why it’s always good to take a few breaks on longer journeys. If you're riding asaddle with suspension like the Flyer Special from Brooks, cover the springs as a precaution. Your kid could get their fingers caught there. A tip on parking: a rain cover helps to keep the child seat dry in wet weather. Your child will thank you.
Finally, one last point: when transporting a lot of luggage, a get a good cargo trailer which you can attach to the rear wheel axle. In this situation, it’s also worth investing in a kids trailer.