I am a huge fan of front-mounted child bike seats. Out of all the riding we’ve done with our son over the last 3 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.
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-sytle 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.
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 Mini fits kids up to 33 pounds.
While I think the Yepp Mini is the nicer overall seat, we chose the iBert for biking with our son primarily due to the ability to use it for mountain biking. Yes, that’s right, you can use the iBert even on singletrack.
The iBert is probably the most commonly used front-mounted seat in the U.S.—and for good reason. Its simple design means it is easy to install, to keep clean, and to afford.
The iBert comes in green and pink, and fits kids up to 38 pounds.
Read Review: iBert Bike Seat
Thule Ridealong Mini
Both the shoulder straps and the seat cover on the Thule Ridealong Mini are well-padded and comfortable. In fact, they are amongst the best we’ve seen on any child bike seat.
The 5-point harness is also a step above most seats. The buckle has double buttons that require two hands to unbuckle, so squirmy kids can’t undo it themselves.
The one bummer about the Thule Ridealong Mini, like the iBert, is the low back. Once kids fall asleep (as they are known to do), their head will be bobbing all over the place.
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.
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.
Price (MSRP) & Where to Buy:
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 Review: Mac Ride
Kids Ride Shotgun
Price (MSRP) & Where to Buy:
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).
It 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 only things to be aware of is that the seat doesn’t transfer easily between bikes, so be aware of that if both you and your spouse plan on using it.
Read Review: Kids Ride Shotgun
The TykeToter is distinctively different than the other seats listed above in that it does not have a harness and is intended for young children rather than toddlers. The best thing about the TykeToter is how easy it is 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’ve been riding 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 Review: Tyke Toter
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|
|iBert||12 months||38 lbs||Headset|
|Thule Yepp Mini||9 months||33 lbs||Headset|
|Thule Ridealong Mini||9 months||33 lbs||Headset|
|Peg Perego Orion||12 months||33 lbs||Frame (Head Tube)|
|Mac Ride||2 years||60 lbs||Headset/Seatpost|
|Kids Ride Shotgun||2 years||48 lbs||Frame|
|Tyke Toter||2 years||45 lbs||Seatpost|