Front mounted MTB child seats are game changers for mountain biker parents. How else can a 12 month old feel the thrill of speeding over the ground and whizzing around bends in between the arms of the person that they trust the most in the world?
The best thing about a riding with your child in front mounted MTB child seat is that it allows you to share the riding experience with your child, rather than them just being a passenger. By putting your child between your arms, you can chat, sing, reassure and check on them whilst riding. Sitting over the suspension forks in comfort, you will be able to ride singletrack and moderately rough terrain and without the drag of a trailer, and of course, the climbs are easier.
When can I start using a front mounted MTB child seat?
Naturally, as a new parent, you will want to get going as soon as possible: due to the fact that the MTB child seat needs to sit in front of you, there is little or no head support so the child’s neck must be strong enough to support their head over rough surfaces. The brands play it safe and recommend a minimum age of 12 months before it’s safe to use but use the disclaimer that younger children can use the seat after consultation with a pediatrician. At the other end of the scale, most MTB child seats have an upper weight limit of 15 kgs. By the time your child is this heavy, they will probably want to progress onto their own bike anyway.
What makes a good front mounted MTB child seat?
Ease of fitting: Unless you want to dedicate a bike to the MTB child seat, being able to easily fit and remove the seat is a massive advantage. The easier to fit and the less obtrusive the fitting bracket, the more you will use it! Extra fitting brackets can be a good idea so you and your partner can swap during the ride, so ideally these would be cheap to buy.
Will they fit my full suspension bike? The MTB child seats we tested can be used on just about any modern mountain bike with varying degrees of ease. Unfortunately, If you have a very short or cut steerer with less that 20 mm of spacers you will have to buy new forks before you can fit one of the steerer mounted seats. The WeeRide which is designed to clamp on to the bike’s exposed headtube uses an adaptor to clamp on to the top tube instead.
Weight: The MTB child seat should be as light as possible as you will have to move that extra 15 kg + of seat and baby up each hill! Don’t forget to put extra pressure in your shocks to compensate or your bike will handle poorly.
Knee room: You need to have enough knee room to be able to pedal comfortably, some of the seats we tested were good and some were terrible. Even with long top tubes, tall riders will have to make do with a some of knee rub, even on the best MTB child seats.
Comfort: Your child will get tired, some models will be suitable for your child sleeping in the MTB child seat, some won’t be as there will be less or no support for their head, so this factor will affect your ride time.
Safety: Despite various safety standards for front MTB child seats, you are 100% responsible for your child’s wellbeing; whether, 3 or 5 point harness or even none at all, ensure you have correctly fitted the MTB child seat, maintained your bike to a high standard, your child is wearing a helmet and you are riding well within both of your capabilities.
Windscreens: Unfortunately, riding up front, your kiddie is exposed to increased windchill and crap in the face while sat up front. Some MTB child seats have optional windscreens that add to the expense and size of your MTB child seat. We found that reducing spray by fitting a fender and using glasses or goggles worked well and looks much more enduro.
Our Contenders were chosen to be tested for their suitability for mountain bikers to fit to modern bikes and ride off road with their kids. The €124 Thule Yepp Nexxt Mini comes from one of the best known brands in the business with a reputation for great design. The distinctive €103 I-Bert Safe-T-Seat gives more support and protection the child’s legs and the WeeRide is a common sight on leisure bikes with a child-centric design that lets the child sleep in comfort. Lastly, there’s the maverick of the bunch, the €230 MacRide which throws the rulebook out the window with its unique design.
The I-Bert Safe-T-Seat’s straps were a concern and having to fit a longer stem limited how often we wanted to use it. The WeeRide Deluxe had the least knee room for pedaling and needs a special adaptor to fit modern zero stack headtubes and this adds to the fitting time, weight and cost of the seat.
If we could only buy one seat to last until the kids are riding by themselves, the Thule Yepp Nexxt Mini is a fantastic seat that our kids loved to ride on. However, once your child is two, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the super easy to use MacRide. The MacRide design is better suited for off road riding, has the most knee room and actually teaches your child how to ride a mountain bike!
To the seats, this way!