The Shotgun Kids MTB seat puts your child in the best seat in the house. Freed from an uncomfortable harness, your kid can enjoy the same sense of joy that trail riding gives you. We speak to the Shotgun team to find out why they are putting the next generation first.

We all want our kids to be happy and to find the sport that they love. Maybe it will be cricket, maybe it will be scuba diving, maybe we’ll have to begrudgingly hand over our credit cards to the local pony club. Being good parents, we will support them in whatever they choose but secretly, deep inside, we want them to get into bikes. As bike-mad parents we already have many tools at our disposal – lightweight balance bikes have replaced clumsy stabiliser, giving our toddlers mad balancing skills while they are still learning to run. But don’t you sometimes wish you could give them an experience of fun trail riding, enjoying the same thrill you get carving down a flowing line?

Front-mounted kids’ mountain bike seats put your toddler in the best seat in the house, safe between your arms.
With secure and comfortable footstraps, jumping on and off the bike is quick and easy
Flowing, gentle trails become an exciting playground, perfect for family fun

While rear-mounted kids’ seats are a good way of transporting your kid, the latest front-mounted kids mountain bike seats actually make transportation fun. There are a number of front-mounted kids’ seats (click for our child seat group test) on the market, but only a couple actually meet the stringent requirements of our ENDURO team dads. New Zealand based company ‘Kids Ride Shotgun’ is a new player on the scene and their Shotgun Seat is making big waves within the mountain bike community. We previously tested the innovative design, which fits securely over the top and downtube of your bike. There, your toddler is positioned safely between your arms, allowing them to enjoy the fun and exhilaration of gentle trails while creating memories that are priceless. We sat down with the founders of Shotgun to find out where the idea for the seat came from and the challenges they faced bringing the seat to market.

We’re not talking about sending jumps or schralping the inside of turns. Instead we’re talking about sharing quality time together away from the TV, getting out into the woods together and learning about the environment.

Dan Necken and Tom Hayward, the creators of the Shotgun Kids MTB Seat

Just like you, Mt Maunganui resident and co-founder of Kids Ride Shotgun, Dan Necken, is a lifelong mountain biker. He got his first mountain bike at 11 and fell in love with the sport. Like some of you, Dan Necken is also a parent trying to support and encourage his three boys to discover the joy of bikes. However, as all parents find at some point, family trips can be a challenge. Group rides in his local Redwood trails in Rotorua had become a battle. Dan explains, “We wanted to go mountain biking as a family but it was a struggle. Two of my sons were on their own bikes and keen to shred, I had a Giant Trance and my wife had a hardtail with a rear seat on the back for Isaac, my son. I would end up riding her hardtail with our little guy and she would ride my bike, but it was all wrong.”

We know that there are cheaper child seats out there, but we’ve focused on quality and on delivering what MTB parents want. They don’t want to scratch their bike and they want something that feels substantial and solid. We’re not prepared to sacrifice on quality

Tom Hayward is a product developer by trade, normally focussing on V8 cars for the New Zealand race circuit
Shotgun aim to minimise plastic packaging with their seat. Their commitment to the next generation is clear.

Dan looked at the options and quickly worked out that a child seat behind the rider would be no good. Looking at front-mounted seats, there were options on the market but they were either too cheap and not suitable for a modern mountain bike, or too expensive and difficult to ship to New Zealand. Everyone with kids knows that cycling as a family is expensive. Money flies out of your account faster than you can count it and big investments inevitably steal money from something else. What parents need is gear that works, that lasts and that does not cost the earth.
“Our seat was never intended to be a business, it was for me to use. I chatted to my friend Tom Hayward who was into biking as well and after a ride, he said, ‘I think I can make something, no worries.’”

Born of necessity, the Shotgun front mounted kid’s seat has proven hugely popular in New Zealand and is now growing globally as a brand

Fortuitously, Tom is a product developer by trade, usually focussing on V8 cars for the New Zealand race circuit. More used to working with complex products that require hundreds of parts, developing the elegantly simple Shotgun seat was comparatively straightforward. “Tom drew it up in CAD and used as many off the shelf parts as he could. The first prototype worked great, so great that after a little refinement we knew we were onto something that could possibly sell. We wondered whether if we did a small production run, if anyone would be interested in buying one.”

Some of my best memories are riding, jumps and tricks. I think it’s a really great sport and was keen to bring the kids up with the same focus on bikes.

The Shotgun Kids MTB Seat is the perfect way to instil a passion for riding in your smallest co-pilot, safe between your arms.
Thick rubber pads protect the frame from marks and scratches. We didn’t experience any problems but would always recommend frame protection tape on these contact points
The knurled aluminium foot pegs give good traction and the two-length adjustable rubber straps held our little rider’s feet securely.
On the trail it works great, creating some amazing family moments

“We decided to make ten more to see if there was demand, reaching out on social media to find ten families who would like to test it,” Dan continues. As might be expected in bike-mad New Zealand, the response was huge. So much so that the local ‘Bay News’ newspaper saw the Facebook post and quickly set up an interview with Dan and Tom. Just as the article was getting ready for print, Dan received a worried call from the editor. “The paper contacted us and said to give the story editorial balance they needed to talk to someone else in the industry. The editor had called the local bike shop owner, Kris, but Kris had never heard of the Shotgun seat. So I jumped in my car and raced around to see Kris and show him the seat. Kris was impressed and when the paper called again he gave a glowing review. I got home, thinking my job was done and then the paper called once again and asked for our website. ‘Oh crap, we don’t have one,’ I thought. I quickly bought and spent the whole night building a website before the paper was published in the morning.” Dan laughs. Shotgun was now an official business. “In the first few days, we had a couple of hundred people sign up and over 50 sales. That gave us confidence so I put a bunch of them in the boot of my car and drove over to Rotorua to visit four bike shops. Amazingly, three of the bike shops took seats immediately. Our journey had begun.”

Learning about the environment while riding and bonding with mum. Being a parent isn’t easy but products like the Shotgun kids seat make it more fun.
The seat is well-padded and we never heard any complaints from our picky testers
The seat is well-padded and we never heard any complaints from our picky testers

If you call ‘Shotgun’ you get the front seat. We were really struggling with names, as most had been taken. To be honest, we didn’t really like Shotgun at first as it didn’t sound like a kids product. And to this day, Facebook still mark all of our posts as advertising ammunition – we have to review each and every one.

If you call ‘Shotgun’ you get the front seat. We were really struggling with names, as most had been taken. To be honest, we didn’t really like Shotgun at first as it didn’t sound like a kids product. And to this day, Facebook still mark all of our posts as advertising ammunition – we have to review each and every one.

Now what line would Sam Hill take?

The real tipping point came in early 2019 when they secured a distributor in New Zealand. Dan had left his job and was working on Shotgun full time but, like many startups, they found they didn’t have enough cash to meet the demand for the stock or the plans they had for expansion. They needed investment. Through a mutual friend, they found another mountain biker who could invest some money and help them grow. Using that cash to build up their production, they were also able to secure compliance for overseas markets and could take on their first employee.

In many ways Shotgun were lucky. Tom had already coordinated production out of China – indeed sourcing things is his superpower. With a solid production partner in China, Mike to help with design and a bunch of trustworthy suppliers, Shotgun started to build a great relationship with their manufacturers. That’s not to say there were no hurdles on the way. “In the beginning, we got a batch of footpegs where the threads were not clean so we had to retap them all in Tom’s garage, all 300 of them. Then the first batch of axles were made from mild steel, and after 6-12 months in the NZ climate they went rusty. When we first went into the UK we realised there were a lot of steel hardtails in their market, too narrow for our seat. We had to quickly retool to reduce the minimum width of the seat bracket from 35 mm down to 30 mm. Then, when Trek released their new Fuel we had to make the maximum width wider to handle the new frame. Now we have a really solid product but it’s taken a long time.”

Once you have tried it, especially if you have tried the alternatives, you get it. We got a whole lot of hate when we first entered the market. Then we get a few people who try it and love it, the reviews roll in and it becomes accepted and then the bike shops get into it too.

Solid is the key word here and as our ENDURO team dads know, when you are carrying your most prized possession, it’s essential that you know the seat is going to work well. Free from cumbersome harnesses and stiff-backed plastic seats, your mini co-pilot can enjoy the same exhilarating feelings you feel as you ride through the forest. However, it’s that very lack of harnesses that means the seat did not always gain instant fans.

“We’ve met a lot of resistance early on. In New Zealand, a front-mounted kid’s seat is not really a new thing but in some countries, it’s a totally new concept. I remember being heckled and laughed out of shops in Australia because they thought it was ridiculous, it was so bad. Today, that same shop that laughed me out of the store now places big orders,” Dan reflects. “There are so many different levels of compliance for every market. Each market has its own directives, leaving us with many hurdles to jump. An external consultant helped advise us but even then it is not easy, especially as most of the standards relate only to harnessed seats. Shotgun has and continues to break new ground in certain markets. Our public liability insurance bill is eye-watering.” But the word is spreading, as more and more people ride with a Shotgun and realise that it feels totally natural and safe. “We’ve always thought we are not really selling a product. Instead we’re selling time with your kids and helping raise the next generation of mountain bikers. We’re selling an enabler to allow you to have that experience.”

Still in its early stages, Shotgun is growing fast, expanding with new distributors in Italy, France and the UK.

Going outside is dangerous. You can never eliminate all risk but you can reduce it. It’s not about sending gap jumps, it’s about getting outside with your kids and sharing time together in a fun and enjoyable way.

Still in its early stages, Shotgun is growing fast, with new distributors in Italy, France, Spain and the UK. More and more families are discovering that not only can they transport their kids in an easy way, but that they can also enjoy trail time with their toddler. Riding the momentum the team at Shotgun already have a new eMTB seat in development, but ultimately their goal is to provide parents with all the tools they need to usher in the next generation of mountain bikers. “We’re not really bound by just the child’s seat, we want to wrap the whole experience around it. We want to be the mountain bike brand for parents who want to instil a love of cycling in their kids.”

Parenthood is not easy, especially if you have hobbies that take you into the outdoors. However, it’s products like the Shotgun seat that are changing the game for our generation, helping us instil a love for riding in the next one. Our youngest ENDURO tester, 2-year-old Brook, is already hooked. As soon as the bike comes out of the shed, you hear him yell “Shotgun”.

The ENDURO dads five rules of front-mounted child’s mountain bike seats

  • Put a helmet on your kid – it’s not really for protection as with a kid on the front you are 100% responsible and you don’t crash, you just don’t. But a helmet will help them get used to riding with a helmet on.
  • Take it easy – green and blue trails are now your playground but keep it easy. Take your time and work up to trails that get you both stoked.
  • Keep them warm – you are pedalling, they are not. Don’t disregard wind chill and plan your rides and their clothing accordingly, especially gloves.
  • Pack gold-standard snacks – if you have a pre-ride meltdown, you need some effective bargaining chips.
  • Don’t get too far from the car or home – it’s easy to get carried away with a tailwind behind you but remember that if your kid falls asleep or gets upset, you have to get them home.

The Shotgun Kids MTB Seat

Age range 2–5 years or 22 kg
Weight 2.4 kg
Price €155 for the seat, handlebars €40
Our full review Shotgun Front Mounted Child Bike Seat in review — Does your toddler want to ride shotgun?

The Shotgun front-mounted child’s seat took our Best Buy award in our kid’s seat group test and is just what bike-mad parents have been waiting for – affordable, secure and offering immeasurable fun. The Shotgun seat is secured over your top and down tube and features tool-free removal, leaving no trace on your bike when removed. The seat is compatible with top tubes from 30–68mm wide, and down tubes from 30–100mm wide. In use, the Shotgun seat was a mini co-pilot favourite – comfortable and minimalist it gives both the kid and parent space to enjoy the ride. An instant hit with the ENDURO mini-testers was the optional (€40) Shotgun Handlebar which really enriches your kid’s experience. Fitted correctly, the Shotgun seat feels very strong and secure and combined with the handlebar, we had no worries at all on flowing singletrack terrain. And what fun we had! In terms of smiles for your money, we can think of few better investments than the Shotgun Kids MTB Seat.

More information about shotgun can be found at

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