If you’re in the market for a rear mounted bike seat, the Hamax Caress is a great option. In fact, it offers features we don’t see on most bike seats.
These include suspension and the ability to recline the seat–both of which are helpful come nap time. It also comes in both a rack mount version and frame mount version, so you’re likely to find one that’s a good fit for your bike.
Read on to learn more….
Review In A Nutshell
- Multiple mounting options – frame or rack mounts available
- Reclinable up to 20 degrees (great feature for sleeping children!)
- Built-in suspension for either mount style provides a comfortable ride
- Helmet recess in seat allows child’s head to sit comfortably without being pushed forward
- One handed adjustments
- Frame bracket mounting option is not compatible with all bikes
- Recline function may not work on smaller bikes
- Less padding than some other seats on the market
Price and Where To Buy:
- $209 List
- Check price at HamaxUSA.com*
- $199.00 at Amazon.com* (Last updated: 2023-12-06 at 04:27) – More info
Quick And Easy Installation
The Hamax Caress arrives well packaged, with all the necessary mounting hardware. From unboxing to having the seat bracket mounted and ready for our daughter to test took about 10 minutes, and was very easy.
Comes In Both Frame And Rack Mounted Versions
We opted for the frame-bracket mounted version, as none of our bikes have racks, which would have been an added expense.
That said, the Caress works well on bikes with racks as well. In fact, we’ve learned from talking to other parents that the rack mounted version of the Hamax Caress is one of the few seats that will mount on the Radpower Radwagon, for instance.
Frame Bracket Is Unobtrusive & Easy To Install
The Caress’s fastening bracket installed on our Trek Checkpoint ALR5 gravel bike in minutes, with just four hex-bolts required to fit the bracket to the bike’s seat tube. The bracket itself is designed to remain on the bike even when the seat itself has been removed.
Fortunately, the bracket is small and unobtrusive–certainly smaller than the bracket used by our other favorite child seat, the Thule Yepp Maxi. That bracket adds close to 2 lbs. to the weight of the bike, even when not using the seat!
The option to purchase a second (or third, etc.) bracket for additional bikes is nice. At just $31 ($35 for the locking version, which we recommend), a second bracket won’t break the bank, but it will make it easy to swap the seat from Mom’s bike to Dad’s.
Hamax’s engineers also wisely designed the frame bracket to work with seat tubes that have cables routed for shifting or braking. This is a very thoughtful feature, allowing a wider variety of bikes to utilize the seat.
That being said, the Caress will not work with dual-suspension bikes, or bikes that have a very short seat tube. We tried to mount the Caress to my wife’s XS-sized road bike, but the front-derailleur on her seat tube impeded the frame bracket. Personally, we wouldn’t install this (or any frame-mounted seat) on a carbon frame, either.
Suspension Is A Unique Feature
The seat itself connects to the frame bracket via a pair of metal rods which act as shock absorbers to provide a comfortable ride for the child. This is an unusual feature on a bike seat, and one we really appreciated!
At first, this feature had us concerned that we had installed the seat improperly, as there’s a fair amount of movement (up to several inches over a good bump). We soon discovered, however, that the seat was installed correctly, and never once came close to hitting the bike’s rear tire. The suspension feature would prove to be our daughter’s favorite part of riding in the Caress!
The Caress has safety features built-in everywhere we looked. The frame bracket has indicators that turn green when the mounting bars are locked in place, which is a feature we LOVE, as there’s nothing worse than “hoping” the seat holding your most precious cargo is actually secured! The bracket also comes with a locking feature, so parents can rest assured the seat won’t be stolen when they walk away at the market.
The ability to operate the adjustable 5-point harness and adjustable foot straps with just one hand is really nice, as it allows the parent to strap the child in with one hand while holding the bike up with another, something our Thule Yepp Maxi doesn’t offer.
Other cool safety features include:
- A smart cut-out for the child’s helmet (also a key comfort feature).
- Shoulder straps can be raised or lowered to fit children of different sizes or grow with the child.
- A reflector on the rear for low-light visibility.
- Spoke-guard attachments to keep the little one’s feet safe from the bike’s rear wheel.
According to Hamax, their seats are TUV & ASTM safety certified, and phthalate-free.
Fairly Comfortable….Even When Napping
Our two-year old daughter currently has an opinion on everything, and where she used to demand “orange seat,” meaning a ride in the Thule Yepp Maxi, she began requesting the “white seat” after just a few test rides around our neighborhood.
We think the shock absorption of the Caress is what she liked, as it appeared to make for a more comfortable ride, although from the perspective of the parent, the reclining feature is close to the top of the list, as our daughter can fall asleep in the Caress without her head bouncing all over the place from being seated in an awkward position.
...But The Padding Leaves A Bit To Be Desired
While we appreciated the suspension and reclining features on the Hamax Caress, the seat seemed to be a bit lacking in the padding department.
The padding is removable and can be hand washed, and is also bacteria and weather resistant. That said, we’re not sure how the felt-like material would hold up to the sweat, grime, and exposure to the elements in a daily-use situation. This is one area where we feel the Thule Yepp Maxi bests the Caress, as the Maxi’s rubber seating material can be easily hosed off without issue.
The padding was a also a little thin. We we feel the Caress lacks enough padding on the seat itself to provide a comfortable ride for daily use.
This is particularly true around the head and neck, which are completely unpadded. Hamax does sell an optional neck pillow, and we’d recommend this if you’re planning to use the seat for frequent or long rides.
Similar to every other rear child seat we’ve tested, the Hamax Caress definitely affects the handling of the bike. Some of this is dependent on the size of the child, as the rider won’t feel the affects of a smaller child as much as a bigger one, but physics being what it is, one way or another, you’ll know you have some weight behind you.
By sticking to paved bike paths, roadways, and very smooth gravel or dirt roads. (This seat is not designed for mountain biking, and shouldn’t be used in that manner). However, any competent bike Mom or Dad should feel comfortable riding with their child in the Caress.
Hamax lists the Caress as suitable for children up to 48.5 lbs., although they don’t give an age associated with that size. We would feel very comfortable putting a 12-month old in this seat, and our two-year old fit like a glove.
On the other end of the scale, our five-year old son weighs 42 lbs., and stands 45” tall. After quickly adjusting the foot rests and shoulder straps, we tested him in the seat. While he did fit, he didn’t appear to be comfortable enough to endure a long ride, so as your child grows and approaches five, realize you may have to start looking for a different solution.
Good Bang For Your Buck
The Hamax Caress is a great bike seat, especially at a price of just $169, which is significantly cheaper than the Thule Yepp Maxi that is usually found for $249. For the family that likes to hit the rail trail on the weekends or while on vacation, the Caress will provide years of trouble-free enjoyment.
Is A Rear Mounted Seat Right For You?!
Getting out with your child for a bike ride is one of the most rewarding things a cycling Mom or Dad can do, and fortunately, the bike industry knows this. There are countless pieces of equipment designed to facilitate riding with your child from a very young age, from bike trailers (like the Hamax Outback) to cargo bikes and more.
For the very youngest children (say 6-12 months old), a trailer is often the way to go for comfort and safety. Once a child can hold their head up and handle some gentle jostling (the type experienced on a smooth, paved trail), they can move to a front-mounted seat like the Hamax Observer, which will accommodate children up to 33 lbs. When they’ve outgrown that style seat, it’s time to move to a shotgun seat, or a rear mounted seat like the Hamax Caress.
Like anything else, rear mounted seats offer advantages and disadvantages. Advantages include the ability to fit bigger kids (up to 48.5 lbs. for the Caress), a more comfortable riding position for the parent (because the child isn’t impeding your legs or your view), and usually an easier install process.
What disadvantages does a rear seat present? They affect the handling of the bike in a way that having the child in front of the rider doesn’t, they make it more difficult to talk to your child, and they aren’t compatible with every bike on the market.
Riding bikes with our kids has been an immense source of joy for us, and we love helping other Moms and Dads get outside with their little ones! The Hamax Caress offers a comfortable ride that is compatible with many different bikes, all at an affordable price point, and in a package that will grow with a child for many years. It’s a recommended buy!
More Options For You
About The Reviewer
Chris Del Sole has been an avid cyclist for over 20 years. He is now sharing his love of the sport with his wife and three children. A Marketing Director by day, in his free time he can be found riding, working on, looking at, talking about, and generally geeking out over bikes. In the winter, he spends his weekends teaching skiing and encouraging his kids to “send it” off every jump in sight.
Since the writing of this article Chris has left his track down the trail and passed on. He will be forever missed and thought of often. Chris, thank you for the indelible mark you left on this world.