I am a huge fan of front mounted child bike seats. Out of all the riding we’ve done with our son and nephews over the years, 80%+ has been in a front bike seat.
Unlike other types of child bike carriers, in a front seat, you can see, talk, and interact with your child.
If you’ve seen tiny tots riding around, perched between their parent’s arms, and are curious if this option might work for you, read on.
I’ll go over the benefits and drawbacks of front-mounted child/baby bike seats, what to consider when choosing a seat, and then list the best seats that are on the market.
Table Of Contents
About Front Bike Seats Why Choose A Front Mounted Seat Pros Cons How To Choose Seats With Harnesses Open Style & MTB Seats Comparison Chart
What is a front mounted child bike seat?
A front mounted child bike seat is installed at the front of the adult’s bicycle over the top tube and just behind the handlebars. Depending on the brand, it attaches to either the headset, the seatpost, or the frame.
The standard front mounted seat has a harness to keep the child safely strapped in and these are appropriate for older babies and toddlers (ages 1-3). Some newer models on the market are designed for slightly older kids (ages 2-6) and these are open seat designs without a harness.
Why choose a front mounted child bike seat rather than a rear seat or a trailer?
Compared to a rear-mounted bike seat or a trailer, the front-mounted seat is incredibly interactive. You can see your child without stopping or turning around, and you can have a conversation without yelling.
Because the kiddo is right up front they also get a great view of everything that is going on. We have a bell on each of our handlebars, and my son loves ringing them and singing while we ride.
Compared to a trailer, the front-mounted seat is also lighter, cheaper, and more capable of fitting thru tight spaces.
Another benefit is the ability to travel with it. In fact, we’ve flown with our iBert several times in a regular duffle bag.
Who does a front-mounted child seat work best for?
I recommend front-mounted seats to parents who have decent bike handling skills and feel confident on a bicycle. There is always a crash or tip-over risk when you have a child up front on your bike, so this needs to be a risk that you feel comfortable making.
Personally, we’ve ridden on a near-daily basis for three years with different front-mounted bike seats and our son has never gotten so much as a scratch in a bike crash. (We have had a non-crash accident on our Tyke Toter).
There’s also a pretty obvious age limit with front-mounted seats and they work best with toddlers. We started riding with our son just before his first birthday in an iBert.
Most of these seats with harnesses work to a max of 35 lbs, so their lifespan is pretty limited. The front-mounted seats like the Mac Ride have higher weight limits and will allow kids up to 5 to continue riding front-mounted.
What are the drawbacks?
As I already mentioned, there is a crash concern with a front-mounted seat. In the event of an endo (basically where you do a somersault over your bars), there’s a good chance your child is going to get hurt. Of course, there is always a crash concern any time you are cycling with (or without) a child, but the front-mounted seat does expose the child more than a trailer, for example.
Riding with a front-mounted seat can also be a bit awkward. For some people, this is just an adjustment. For others, it’s a complete deal-breaker.
The bike seat is right where your knees are generally hitting, so there is some amount of bow-leggedness that occurs. This isn’t that much of an issue on short rides, but it can become a problem if you are riding long distances.
Getting on and off the bike with a seat is also a bit awkward, and requires a fair amount of good balance and bike handling skills. Some parents like adding a kickstand for loading and unloading.
The final problem with front-mounted seats is compatibility. Depending on what kind of bike you have, you might have to try several seats before you one that fits.
How to Choose
Consider these factors when choosing a front bike seat for your child.
Age and weight
For a young toddler, you are definitely going to want to choose a seat that allows them to be strapped in (i.e. the Yepp Mini or the iBert).
Once kids have outgrown the weight limit (usually around 35 pounds), you can switch them to a more open-style bike seat like the MacRide.
A traditional-style front seat like the iBert (left) is best for babies and young toddlers. They allow kids to be strapped in. For kids 2 and up, who are mature enough to hold on and follow instructions, an open-style bike seat like the Tyke Toter (right) is our favorite.
There’s no one best seat. There is, however, a best seat for what you want to do with it.
What’s your intended use for your seat? The occasional Saturday afternoon bike path ride? (Consider the Peg Perego Orion). The daily preschool drop-off? (Choose the Yepp Mini). Do you want to use it offroad? (Pick the iBert or MacRide).
Do you plan on leaving the seat on one bike, or do you plan on switching it frequently between different bicycles? If you plan on the latter, choose a seat that installs quickly, like the TykeToter.
Type of Bike and Mounting Preference
Different front-mounted child bike seats mount quite differently. In fact, we’ve found that they tend to mount to 3 different places on the adult’s bike (or some combination of them):
Which is best is largely a matter of personal preference and the type of bike you have.
For seats that mount to the headset , the first step is to determine if you have adequate space to mount a bike seat. Front seats need from around 0.5″ to 1.5″ of open space to mount. If you don’t have that much space, look for a different option. Some seats are only compatible with threadless (ahead) or threaded (quill) headsets, so make sure you pay attention to what you have before ordering.
Seatpost-mounted seats tend to fit on a wider range of bikes, but may not be compatible with carbon fiber seatposts or dropper posts. Two that ARE compatible are the Mac Ride and Shotgun seat.
Finally, frame-mounted seats are a great option but won’t work on women’s bikes with a step-thru frame. There is also always the possibility of scratching or damaging your frame with a frame mounted seat.
Finally, some seats use a combination of these mounting points. Both the Mac Ride and Shotgun PRO mount to the headset AND seatpost.
Best Baby Bike Seats With Harnesses
These bike seats are best for babies and young toddlers. They all have harnesses to keep your child safely strapped in and offer plenty of support.
(If you are looking for a bike seat for older toddlers and young children, scroll down to the next section).
Thule Yepp Mini
The Yepp family of products are stylish and functional. These seats come in bright, fun colors and are exceptionally well made.
The one thing I really like about the Thule Yepp Mini when compared to other seats is the high back that provides neck support. Combined with the optional “sleep roll” the Mini allows kids to sleep in the seat, something I’ve learned toddlers love to do.
The seat is easy to wash and keep clean, and there are plenty of ventilation holes to keep kiddos cool even in hot weather.
The Mini fits kids up to 33 pounds.
Read Our Review: Thule Yepp Mini
Price: $199.95 (Last updated: 2021-09-16 at 08:32 – More Info)
The iBert seat is the one we chose to use when our son was young. We LOVED it!
The back of the seat is low which provides less support for your child, but also gives the adult rider a lot more room. This makes it easier to maneuver and possible to use in any situation–including for mountain biking on singletrack!
In addition to being easy for the adult to use, kids love the “steering wheel.” It gives them somewhere to put their hands and be interactive on the ride.
The seat’s simple design means it is easy to install, to keep clean, and to afford. It fits kids up to 38 pounds.
Read Review: iBert Bike Seat
Price: $109.95 (Last updated: 2021-09-16 at 16:18 – More Info)
The Hamax Observer is simple and sleek. Our favorite thing about the seat is that it is easy to bucke and strap the child one-handed, so you can use the other to hold your bike up right.
The seat is also easy to swap between bikes if you choose to do so. (You just need to buy an extra mount for the second bike). Once it’s mounted, you can lock the seat in place to protect against theft.
The biggest drawback of the Hamax Observer is that there isn’t a handlebar or steering wheel for little kiddos to hold on. Not a big deal for some, but other kiddos could use the extra engagement.
Read Our Review: Hamax Observer
Peg Perego Orion
For the price, we love the Peg Perego Orion. It’s affordable but also functional.
The best thing about the seat is that it’s easy and quick to install and works on a wide variety of bikes including beach cruisers. When you take the seat off it also only leaves behind a very small mountain mechanism, which we appreciate.
Both the leg length and foot straps are adjustable so you can get a good comfortable fit. And speaking of comfort, the padding is better than most, especially at this price point.
The only thing to keep in mind is that it’s smaller than some of the other seats on this list, and the detachable handlebar only works for kids up to 22 lbs.
Price: Price not available (Last updated: 2021-09-16 at 13:59 – More Info)
Best Bike Seats for Toddlers and Young Children
Is your child at least 2 and mature enough to hold on and follow instructions? If so, they are ready for an open-style bike seat.
Here are our faves.
The MacRide is our favorite toddler bike seat. The seat has a high weight limit (60 lbs), is quick to install and remove, and can be used with carbon fiber and dropper seatposts.
It’s designed specifically for mountain biking if you’re into that kind of thing, though it can be used for around-town riding as well.
One thing to be aware of before buying is that the Mac Ride requires the semi-permanent installation of a headset spacer and can’t be used with older quill-style headsets.
Fits kids ages 2-5 and will cost you $199.
Read Our Review: Mac Ride
Kids Ride Shotgun (Original and PRO)
Like the Mac Ride, the Kids Ride Shotgun seat has been designed for mountain biking; and like the Mac Ride it works great for on-road recreational riding as well (as long as you’re using it on a mountain bike style frame).
They offer two different seats–the Kids Ride Shotgun Original and the Kids Ride Shotgun PRO. The original works well for anyone who doesn’t want to install anything to their bike, and it mounts to the frame rather than the headset or seatpost.
The PRO seat installs between the seatpost and headset, and offers a ton of adjustability. The PRO is also easy to transfer between bikes.
Price: $150 / $250
Unlike the other open-style seats listed above, the TykeToter is intended for around town riding. It is super easy to install (no tools required) and to travel with.
Full disclosure: we had an accident with this seat when we first got it (see my full review on this topic), but since then we continued to ride with this seat on a near-daily basis because it is so fun and easy to use.
Fits kids ages 2-5 (although I’d recommend waiting until 3 or so).
Read Our Review: Tyke Toter
Price: $136.00 (Last updated: 2021-09-16 at 13:38 – More Info)
Do Little Bike Seat
Unlike a lot of front mounted seats, the Do Little can be used on nearly any bike and has very few compatibility issues. It is suitable for use on cruiser bikes, road bikes, and even full-suspension mountain bikes. The “biggie” will even work on e-bikes.
Compared to similar seats, the DoLIttle is super affordable. Additionally, the seat can handle kids up to 66 lbs making it the sturdiest of the seats that we’re aware of.
Read Our Review: Do Little Bike SeatPrice: $99.99 (Last updated: 2021-09-16 at 10:12 – More Info)
Comparison Chart: Bike Seats for Kids
Use the comparison chart below to help you choose which seat is right for you and your child.
|Seat||Minimum Suggested Age||Maximum Child Weight||Mounting||Type (Harness or Open)||Best Use|
|iBert||12 months||38 lbs||Headset||Harness||Around Town or MTB|
|Thule Yepp Mini||9 months||33 lbs||Headset||Harness||Around Town|
|Hamax Caress||9 months||33 lbs||Headset||Harness||Around Town|
|Peg Perego Orion||12 months||33 lbs||Frame (Head Tube)||Harness||Around Town|
|Mac Ride||2 years||60 lbs||Headset/Seatpost||Open||Around Town or MTB|
|Kids Ride Shotgun Original||2 years||48 lbs||Frame||Open||Around Town or MTB|
|Tyke Toter||2 years||45 lbs||Seatpost||Open||Around Town|
|Do Little||2 years||66 lbs||Frame||Open||Around Town or MTB|
|Kids Ride Shotgun PRO||2 years||60 lbs||Headset/Seatpost||Open||Around Town or MTB|
More Reading To Help You Make The Best Choice For Your Family
About The Rascals
The Rascals are a family of three. Kristen (mom), Blair (dad), and Parker (kiddo). We started Rascal Rides when Parker was born and we didn’t want to give up our passion for biking. As we learned, we shared. Over the years, we’ve tested hundreds of kids bikes, helmets, bike trailers, and more.
Kristen is a USA Cycling certified coach and loves to share her passion for biking with other families. Blair is a bike geek, mechanic, and mountain bike junkie. Parker is our resident tester and inspiration.
If you see us out on the trail, make sure to say hi!