Front seats area great way to get kids into cycling. Older children will get a real buzz from the Kids Ride Shotgun and Mac Ride because they attach to mountain bikes and explore off road. We also found they also help give a feel about bike handling too.
Front seats have many advantages, such as being able to interact with your child more easily, the child feels like they are steering and riding the bike rather than a passenger this helps them identify line choice and trails position for when on their own bike. Some people feel they are safer as the child is in view and in between your arms rather than out of sight strapped in behind. Downsides – they can be hard to fit onto all bike styles, they usually impact on pedalling resulting in knee pain or struggling to go uphill. On the front a child gets the full wind chill rather than being tucked in behind, especially giving them cold hands quite quickly with out big gloves. Read our rear seat reviews if you’re you’re looking to pedal easier, ride further or use a seat on road more of the time.
Most people only get to try one or two child seats but we’ve ridden or tried about 10, so we thought we’d write up our thoughts on these and then some other seats to consider. It really surprised us how hard it is to find a seat that ticks all the boxes and to be honest we just didn’t like some of them and one fell off mid ride.
There are so many child seat options out there, but what is the best? We have written two reviews this one focused on front fitting seats and the other on rear fitting seats. Both styles have their own pros and cons.
Warning – There are currently a lot of cheap front mounted seats on ebay, Amazon etc. they might look OK at first glance, but some seem to defy the laws of physics, while others will snap seat posts and even frames due to bad designs that create high pressure contact points. Stick to well known stockists and well known brands included in this review.
Front Seats for 9mth to 3 years or 15kg
We think this seat is the best option for riding with a young child. Yepp was claimed to be the biggest selling brand in the Netherlands, before Thule bought the company up a few years back and hence the name Yepp is still used. This seat fits onto the fork steerer tube, by taking off spacers and replacing them with a bracket and the seat itself attaches onto this bracket with a quick release clip. It does need a good length of uncut steerer tube to fit, I bought a specific fork to use as none of mine worked. The chest straps are simple and fit well with adjustable foot east with rubber straps. The seats clicks on and off really easily and can be done one handed with a safety button making it clever and safe. We used two bracket on two bikes so could swap in seconds. The seat’s soft foam construction is comfy and absorbs some vibrations from the road too. This is the best designed full size front seat to avoid pedalling issues for young kids that we have found it’s not perfect with some knee issues from longer rides. Overall we see it as the go to front seat for young kids because of the quality construction and clever design being better than anything else.
Wee Ride safe front Deluxe – £119.99 1yr-4yr or 15kg
We like the concept behind the Wee Ride which is central mounting to give a balanced and stable ride but in reality it just makes pedalling a nightmare, even on our XL frame size. We like the padded table that kids can rest on and the seat seems to get good reviews and has been popular over the years. However I really don’t get it. The seat is a boxy design and very low at the back giving poor head and back support for younger kids. The seat attaches onto the bike using a bar that fixes between the top of the frame head tube (not the fork steerer tube) and the seat post with basic and fiddly nuts and bolts. The seat then uses a single thumb screw to attach it onto the bar which feels insufficient but must be strong enough. It relies on a bike frame head tube that is compatible and many modern mountain bikes won’t have enough head tube to clamp. On my hard tail mountain bike the bar did attach in the end but slipped off after a few rides, nothing dangerous happened when it slipped off other than it wobbling a bit, but I had to walk back as I didn’t have the tools. Because the seat back is low the straps don’t stay on the child’s shoulders too well, as recognition of this issue it comes with a chest velcro strap to keep it tighter. However this also slipped down over time. The feet boxes have rubber straps which do a job to keep feet out the way. With the boxy design and central location it causes you to ride very bow legged and you can’t really do anything like a decent ride. On smaller bikes it just won’t fit at all. I think it is a clunky and outdated design in need of a refresh to keep up with the Yepp Thule interface and design.
Other front seats for 1yr to 3yr range;
Urban IKI Front seat is steerer tube mounted and very similar to the Thule Yepp but uses hard plastic and generally feels cheaper, but it is a lower price point. It is on offer click here
OK Baby Orion Front Seat is harder to find in the UK but priced at about £70. We’ve not seen or used one but looks a nice design that fits on head tube in a variety of ways so a good option if steerer tube isn’t long enough. Rated from 9mth to 15kg.
Minimalist Front seats for older 2yr – 5yrs range
These minimalist front/centre mount seats are for older kids but also more for mountain biking and off road use too, even working on full suspension bikes too. They let you pedal easier and a lot less bow legged, in fact pretty much normally. Kids however really do need to be capable of understanding and physically being able to hold on.
Kids Ride Shotgun – £120 2-5yrs up to 22kg
Kids Ride Shotgun Mini Bars – £27
Kiwi brand Kids Ride Shotgun have a really simple front seat that clamps on the top tube and down tube. It is said to work on all frame materials and designs. It does struggle on bikes with different profiled shape tubes meaning where it clamps can shift back over time as doesn’t clamp evenly. The genius part of Kids ride shotgun are the mini add-on handlebars. These bars are universally loved by kids. They can be interesting when the kid chooses to steer into a puddle and you are not aware, but so much fun to ride with them. The seat is soft and comfy and the rubber padded clamping arms do protect the paint well, but you really still need the frame taped up to protect it. The whole seat comes off to swap between bikes, requiring a couple of bolts to be unscrewed fully. Overall it isn’t perfect but it’s well made and you won’t regret getting one as you’ll love riding with it especially on mountain bike trails.
Rated 4/5 (1 knocked off due to eat slipping on some frames)
Mac Ride – £189.99 – 2-5yrs up to 27kg
This fits onto a bar between the steerer tube and seat post similar in concept to the Weeride, but so much better executed. The Macride has a relatively quick and clever attaching mechanism leaving only an adaptor on the steerer tube when not in use. It genuinely works on all bikes including full suspension bikes and all frame materials. It just needs a bit of steerer tube space to fit. The seat itself is hard plastic so not super comfy and absolute minimalist. The foot pegs have adjustable rubber straps to keep feet in place on bumpy rides, which is important. Overall if you can see past the eye watering price it is the best minimalist front seat currently out there for mountain biking and in particular full suspension.
Rated 4.5/5 (.5 knocked off for the price and hard seat)
Others to consider;
Do Little Kids Bike Seat – Similar to the Shotgun, but not as good because it doesn’t have the rubber straps that are very useful on the Shotgun to stop feet sleeping off the foot pegs and price point is very similar.
LOCT Front seat – This was discontinued in 2012 but you occasionally still get them on ebay. Essentially a precursor to the Macride but has a slightly more secure designed seat, shaped like a scoop.
Oxford Little Explorer Front seat – £40-£50. Similar in appearance to the Kids ride shotgun, but REALLY fiddly to set up, no secure rubber feet straps and less protective of the bike frame, along with the same issue as the Shotgun has with bike tubing compatibility. Once set up it does work fine, but you’ll never want to take it off. On offer click here
The best young toddler/baby front seat is the Thule Yepp Mini. It fits well on most bikes, clever engagement clip and well tested and tried so can reliably recommend.
The best older kid seat is the Macride seat for ease of use and clever design for almost any bike and any type of riding. It is blooming expensive though and there are other cheaper options that give a similar experience and will get you out riding.