front mounted bike seat for a child: what are your favorite options?

 {image source}

I’ve been waiting a long time for this: our daughter is finally big enough to take cycling with us! She has good body and head control, is comfortable sitting up on her own, and is increasingly aware and mobile with each passing day. She loves stroller rides and I’m sure that she’ll love the view and perspective offered from a bike seat.

The only problem? That Burley trailer we’ve been housing in our garage waiting for this day turns out to not be a very good fit. At nine months old, C. is in the 50% for height and weight. Not a particularly big baby but not that tiny either. The Burley seat belts, however, are positioned in such a way that they are fixed far above her head and rub against the sides of her ears when fastened. Basically, her shoulders are not high enough yet for a good fit. We tried giving her a small boost by setting a towel on the seat underneath her but it just didn’t work right. We never even made it out of our driveway because it was clear that she wasn’t filling out the trailer seat and seatbelt system as intended and that a drive would likely be uncomfortable for her.

All this time, I had also been thinking that I would prefer the system of having her in a seat on my bike. I prefer the front of the bike seat because I could see her and communicate with her better than if she were seated behind me. Our local bike shops don’t carry any bike seats (only bike trailers) and so I haven’t been able to try any for a test ride. So here’s where you, dear readers, come in.

What I would like to know is this: 

  • Which make/model do YOU prefer?
  • Have you experimented with different types of child seats?
  • What are the pros and cons of carrying a child on a bike seat over a trailer?
From my preliminary research, it seems like the iBert (pictured above), the Bobike Mini, and the Yepp Mini come with the best reviews.
Thank you for your thoughts and suggestions in advance, I can’t wait to read what you have to say!
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15 Responses to front mounted bike seat for a child: what are your favorite options?

  1. Stacy says:

    We are iBert users b/c of the higher weight capacity, lower price and very easy install/removal, but the Wee Ride has similar features with a different mounting system. Might be worth a look. We like our trailer for wind, rain and shade, but that can all be overcome in the front seat too. We prefer our front seat b/c of front weight (no drag like in the trailer), personal interactions (we can whisper and share the same pov), single wheel line (no clipping curbs and extra bumps), simplicity.

    I have seen the Yepp mini, and thought the seat was softer and the back a bit higher, but we didn’t ride with one.

    If you have a front basket, the legs on the seat may interfere. You need to think about double kickstands for loading and unloading with a front seat and maybe a front wheel stabilizer if you go with a double kickstand. it’s not necessary, but it does make it safer (IMO). You can email/call if you want to talk about any of it too. I can also point you to other front seat users and their opinions if they don’t write in here.

  2. Dena says:

    Yepp mini for us. I factored in the added cost of shoulder pads and a handle that the bobike didn’t have and figured the yepp was the way to go. Also we could purchase at REI and use our membership. We did however need the Threadless stem adaptor which was super hard to track down. I had to contact gazelle in order to purchase it.

  3. marci says:

    we were so close to buying the ibert, but went with the burley bee trailer instead. i researched a lot online and wanted a front mount for similar reasons that you mentioned. we went with the trailer only because she is large for her age and we didn’t think that we would get as much use out of it. also, ibert comes in a totally rad neon pink at rei!

  4. Marie-Claire Leman says:

    We love our weeride front seat. I am sure that once you are used to whatever brand you get you will love your front seat too. I have tried the ibert and felt it was really just a question of what you get used to first. The mounting (either on a mounting bar parallel to the top tube (weeride) or to the stem (ibert, bobike) each have their pros and cons in terms of pedalling and handling. In my experience, with the type that attach to the stem (like the Bobike and the ibert) you have to get use to the handling of the bike. You might have more clearance to pedal (although when I tried it, the difference in clearance with the ibert as compared with our weeride wasn’t that significant) but the effect on the handling will be greater (I think). With the weeride the difficulty might be in mounting and dismounting (especially if you are used to a sloped top tube) and the clearance for pedalling. When I first rode with the front seat, I had to ride with my knees at a slight angle and I thought that it would cause an injury to my knees or be unsustainable. I was surprised how quickly I got used to it. When I tried the ibert, hoping for more clearance, I felt like there wasn’t enough additional clearance to compensate for the need to re-learn the handling of a different front seat. This is why I say that I think you would just get used to what you try first. I have friends who are happy with the ibert and others just as happy with the weeride.

    As far as the front seats are concerned, the one disadvantage I see is that they offer far less back support (less high) than do bike seats that sit behind you. Our Kettler bike seat (which we used for our first child) was great for this (high back) – especially if you get the new Giro toddler helmets. They have two great features: very easy to adjust as the ‘Y’ part around the ear is fixed, and the back of the helmet is slimmer (more square in a way) which avoids their head being pushed forward against the back of the bike seat (or trailer).

    Despite the lack of back support, I think the front seat is safer and better for riding with a young child. The center of gravity is less affected, you are constantly aware of how they are feeling, if they are sleepy, what they are trying to tell you, and you can be in communication with them which is really delightful.

    have fun riding with your daughter!

    Marie-Claire

  5. Chrissy says:

    We are on year 2 of the iBert and it’s worth every penny!

  6. patrick says:

    I loved our bobike mini. we didn’t use it that much because the trike is so much more convenient, but it was fun for nice weather and trips without cargo. I did use ours along with a big Wald basket and it worked fine. But note that my basket sits on a rack, which puts it lower than if it were attached with the Wald brackets.

    front seats are so fun.

  7. anniebikes says:

    We used a burly solo trailer initially, until we had a second child. What I didn’t like about the trailer? Unless you used the plastic shield cover the child ended up getting covered with dust. I never expected that. All kinds of debris gets kicked up from the ground.

    Afterwards, we went to Rhode Gear rear mounted seats. I found these very versatile and affordable. The seat easily slides off for packing into the car. Sure they’re behind you but the seat tilts, can hold a heavy child, and the kid can fall asleep.

    To each his/her own.

  8. Janni says:

    Unsere beiden Kinder haben das Radfahren im Kindersitz von Kettler auf dem Gepäckträger genossen – und konnten dort einschlafen, wenn es zuviel wurde. Gut fanden wir den Schutz vor kaltem Fahrtwind und Insekten, den hohen Rückenschutz und vor allem, dass man den Sitz schnell und leicht demontieren konnte.
    Einen Frontsitz konnten wir leider nicht ausprobieren. Kindern macht die Position vorne und oben wahrscheinlich mehr Spaß und vermittelt mehr Fahrrad-Feeling, vor allem, wenn das Kind die Klingel bedienen darf… Nachteilig würden wir die Einschränkung der Beinfreiheit finden.

  9. We have a WeeRide and love it. I chose it over the ibert because I was concerned that the ibert would affect handling since it’s attached to the stem – the WeeRide has a place where the child can rest his head or hold on to, and that keeps his hands off the handlebars. The WeeRide also has a higher weight limit than most front-mounted seats. We bought it for our then three-year-old and hope to use it until he turns five. The downside is that it attaches to a bar that runs in the same place a top tube would, so it negates the advantage of my loop frame bike. Also, you have to pedal slightly bow-legged, but I got used to that fast and it’s really no big dea.

  10. Our trailer is working out alright, but there are times when a bike-mounted seat would be way more convenient. Thanks for posting — I’ll definitely look into some of these options. I doubt I’ll go for it right away, but I’m drooling over some of the long-tail bikes with [rear] child seat options.

  11. hannie says:

    We used the Bobike mini for two years and I loved it. We just changed to a bobike backseat. I miss having my son in front of me. For the longer trips (or trips with a tired kid) the biketrailer was the more convenient option. I just had a look at the WeerRide seats and love that they have a place were the kid can rest his head. The little one and I missed that option on the Bobike.

  12. Pingback: Simply Bike » biking with kids: baby’s first bike ride!

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    Keep up the good writing.

  14. Tracey Boyer says:

    Hey All!

    Nice to hear folks loving to ccycle with their young ones:) I’m a Grandma who has cycled all of my life and am eager to continue with Grandchild(ren). My son and 1st Grandchild were pedaled about on the traditional rear-mount child seat. Now I have an almost 2YO 2nd Grandchild as well and hoped to put her up front with my AlleyCat shadow on the bike for her 5 YO brother.
    Just today I went to our awesome local Bike Dealer who has an Ibert set up for testing …I’m 5’4″ and I do not see how people make this work??!??? I hoped it was the bike they had it on, so later pedaled there with my Giant Yukon and it still doesn’t work for me at all??? When I come off the bike seat to stop, there is NO clearance at all for my torso; my body is totally flush/smooshed into the carrier – I weigh 125 pounds, so not big by American standards – what is my problem – are there any of these seats that go in front of the handle bars or that fit differently – I so was counting on this working, but can not make the Ibert happen safely…any feedback will be much appreciated

  15. Charlotte says:

    I’m so glad I found you through google images when searching for a front mounted baby seat, I remember on your old fashion blog you used to ride and I thought you’d definitely have some good advice and momma wardrobe inspiration :). Thanks for blogging!

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