Thule RideAlong Review: The Perfect Bike Seat For Napping!

The Thule RideAlong bike seat is an afternoon napper’s paradise. With a single hand, the seat can be reclined up to 20 degrees back for your napping child to have a safe and comfortable place to rest while you continue your ride without even stopping. 

You can spend hours out on the road or trail without the drag or size restrictions of a trailer and the DualBeam suspension system will absorb the road shock. While it isn’t necessarily ready for any robust mountain biking trails, it does keep the rider weight high and balanced, putting easier single track trails back on the to-do list. 

When it comes to versatility, the Thule RideAlong can easily go from a path cruiser to a trail ride with the pull of a latch. And the 40 lbs weight restriction means that this investment will last for multiple seasons. Judging from its solid seat and mounting construction, that is exactly what it was designed to do. 

hule ridealong 3 point harness

Review in a Nutshell

Pros:

  • Sturdy attachment to bike frame
  • Easily reclines for naps
  • Support arms provide shock absorption 
  • Seatbelt is easy to adjust and secure
  • Rider weight is balanced 

Cons:

  • Becomes bouncy on climbs and trails
  • No storage space, backpack can crowd child’s seat

Price: $279.95 (Last updated: 2021-12-05 at 06:09 – More Info)


Sturdy Mounting Hardware

The first thing to note about this seat is the way in which it mounts to the bike. The mounting hardware, which consists of two square pieces that fit around the down tube of the frame, is secured with four bolts and includes a lock.

This immediately excludes full suspension mountain bikes and any bike with a carbon frames. Thule also does NOT offer the RideAlong in a rack mounted version, so if you’re looking for a seat for your longtail cargo bike, for example, you’ll need to go with a seat like the Thule Yepp Maxi instead.

Pulling the pieces out of the box and getting it mounted to the bike took only moments, but the seat placement over the rear wheel does require a bit of attention. The seat needs to be mounted high enough so that the bounce of the seat doesn’t rub on the tire. It also has a safety point on the bottom of the seat that needs to be positioned as far forward as possible and must not exceed approximately 4 inch behind the rear wheel axle. 

Once these parameters are met, the seat is balanced and makes handling smooth. The center of gravity is minimally altered, which makes single track and longer rides much easier. If you wanted to swap the seat between multiple bikes, then you would need an additional mount which is available from Thule for $49.95. 

Reclines Up to 20 Degrees 

The single best feature of this bike is its reclining system. It was designed for single hand operation and can be reclined while riding. When reclined, the child’s head rests comfortably back while wearing a helmet and doesn’t require any pillows or props to keep their head centered. 

child napping in the thule ridealong

The position of the seat when reclined can interfere with peddling, depending on where the seat was positioned over the rear axle. I did have some heel strike and if a baby foot breaks loose from the stirrups, it doesn’t take much to have kicks to the back of the thigh. Also, be sure to pack a pair of sunglasses because this seat doesn’t have any shade or cover accessories available.

DualBeam Suspension System

You will notice once you start riding that the suspension arms provide a bit of a bounce when pedaling. That is due to the DualBeam suspension arms that attach the seat to the mount on the frame. These arms cushion the road shock and gently rock the child to sleep while riding. 

The suspension arms connect to the mount hardware by locking into two holes. Due to this design, removing the arms from the mount can be a bit tricky and can get easily stuck.

frame mounted

If the arms are pulled at an angle, they won’t budge and removing the seat without help requires a bit of finesse. But, with some practice, this seat can be swapped in no time between multiple bikes. 

While I love the shock absorption of the DualBeams, I did experience a fair amount of bouncing when climbing hills in a lower cadence as well as riding out of the saddle. Also, with the added weight on the frame, this affects handling and can easily tip without constant attention when stopped. The lighter the bike, the more pronounced of a problem this will be. 

Seat is Positioned Close To Rider

While it is safer to have the seat positioned as close to the rider as possible, it prevents the use of any kind of backpack which would interfere with your child’s ride experience. Additionally, unlike a seat like the Burley Dash that provides some (if not a lot) of storage on the seat itself, the Thule Ridealong has none.

I was disappointed with this aspect of the seat as I usually am out for the day and need to pack a few essentials for the ride. This means adding a rack or basket to the bike if I need more than a small hip pack worth of items. 

In addition to the backpack restriction, the closeness of the seat also makes interactions with your child while riding a hazard. I added a rear view mirror to my handlebars and still was not able to get a clear view of my child while riding. But, your child is close enough for a quick snack hand off and keys on a belt loop is an excellent distraction for the longer rides. 

3-Point Safety Harness

The seat belt consists of two adjustable shoulder straps that connect to a large, ergonomic buckle that is latched between the child’s legs. The large buckle makes removing the seat belt with a single hand easy and also secure. The shoulder straps slide easily over a helmet and can be adjusted with a push of a button. 

harness

Making fine tune adjustments to the seat belt length has become increasingly difficult over time. It requires a tug to get the straps loose. But, once the straps are set, they remain securely in place. I also appreciated that the height of the shoulder straps can be easily adjusted on the fly. 

adjustable shoulder height

One important thing of note is that the harness is only a 3-point harness rather than the 5-point harness on a seat like the Burley Dash. The low position of the large buckle makes it more likely for a shoulder to slip out of place, and older, wigglier kiddos might be able to squirm loose.

Seat is Simple and Well Designed

In addition to the reclining feature of this seat, it is also full of other enjoyable features including the quick adjusting foot rests. The child is seated on a plastic moulded arm chair complete with hand protecting arm rests, a thin but durable and removable seat pad, and leg protecting sidewalls. The foot rests are adjusted similarly to the shoulder straps with large plastic and easily reachable latches and the feet are secured with slidable straps. 

The back of the seat reaches above a younger child’s head, providing ample head support for naps as well as some impact protection. Thule recommends this seat be used for children aged 9 months to up to 6 years, with a weight of 20 – 48.5 lbs. That is a fantastic lifespan for the investment and will be a seat I use for many years to come. 

Ride Experience

Swapping the seat between a road and mountain bike, I was able to see the many wonderful features of this seat, as well as a few drawbacks. The DualBeams are fantastic out on the road with occasional potholes or shocks, cushioning the blows with ease, but they quickly become a nuisance on a more rugged path, causing constant bouncing and altering the handling of the bike. 

Once the child is seated, it can become unwieldy and needs to be held securely to prevent a fall. Due to the added weight, I wouldn’t recommend this to a novice rider, as it can quickly become unstable.

But, once you are rolling, the child is so well balanced that the added weight is no longer an issue and is in fact almost unnoticeable. No drag, no added length to the bike, and the maneuverability is excellent. 

For me, the single greatest feature of this seat is its ability to recline. It is the most comfortable napping location I have yet come across, and the ability to recline the seat without even stopping makes this the seat I want for any long distance road ride. 

Bottom-Line

I raved about this seat to every cyclist parent I knew because it provides a balanced, safe ride and seamlessly transitions from snacks to naps without any stops. Your child is close enough for road side conversations or tight cornered single track and the seat is robust enough to last us for many seasons to come. The Thule RideAlong has me looking forward to trying out some longer gravel rides, but so far I am happiest when this seat is with me on the road. 

While it does mean that any ride necessities will need to be stowed in a saddle bag, it does provide room for any added racks that the adventure requires. He gets the higher vantage point for the better views and I get a lightweight ride for the longer days. And, now that my kiddo is old enough to voice his opinion, time and time again he wants to ride in this seat and I am so glad that he does. 

Learn More About Bike Seats & Other Ways To Bike With Young Kids

About The Reviewer

candice dawson

Candice Dawson is a toddler chaser, gardener, and aspiring foodie. When she isn’t out cruising with her kiddo, she can often be found drinking coffee or hiking the local trails. 

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