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The best front mounted bike seats for older kids
The majority of front child bike seats sold in the UK are designed for young children, who are unable to pedal themselves. They tend to have enclosed sides to support the child and a 5 point harness to keep them securely in the seat. They also tend to have a maximum weight limit of about 15kg. This is great in theory, but what happens when your child gets to the age of about 3 years and they become too big to physically fit in the front seat, or too heavy for the seats upper weight limit? Wouldn't it be nice to find some front bike seats for older children, which you can continue to use with them beyond the age of 3 years, or a weight over 15kg. Fear not! Cycle Sprog is here to help!
Why would you want a front bike seat for a child over 3 years?
Just because they've got a bit older, there are still many reasons why you'd want to carry your child in a front bike seat. Here's a few of the most common:
- They're not able to pedal themselves yet
- You really like having your child in front of you, rather than moving them to a rear seat or tagalong/trailer solution
- There isn't a safe, traffic free route to where you need to go
- The journey is too long or too steep for them to get where you need to go
- You need to get there quickly
- You don't want to leave their bike locked up where you're going
- Your child will be too tired to cycle home safely
- You're not ready to give up carrying them on your bike - you love the discussions and experiences that you share each time you ride
Are front bike seats for older children safe?
It gets difficult to find appropriate front seats once your child gets over about 15kg for a number of reasons:
- Your child is getting bigger and will eventually obscure your view
- Your child is getting bigger and eventually you're going to struggle to get your arms around them to reach the handlebars
- Your child is getting bigger and you may find it hard to pedal without injuring your knees / hips
- Your child is getting bigger and they may find it uncomfortable to sit with knees bent for a long period of time as they get to the maximum limit of the seat
- It gets harder to find a front seat that can safely take the weight of a heavier child.
However, don't despair!! There are some great front bike seats that are suitable for older kids. In this post we explore the various options for bike seats with a maximum weight over 15kg.
We've stated the manufacturers advised weights for each bike, but obviously it is up to you to make the decision on how long you use the seat for. Factors such as your child's weight and height, your leg and arm length and bike frame size will all determine how long you and your child feel comfortable using the seat for.
SAFETY WARNING - there are a number of front bike seats currently being shipped to the UK that are available on Amazon and Ebay that claim to be able to take very heavy weights (surely they haven't got lb and kg mixed up have they?). You're potentially buying a cheap seat that doesn't come backed up with the appropriate reputable brand name and the associated safety features. Take a look at the fixing points and the construction of the seat and make sure you're happy putting the weight of your child onto the seat through the fixing point. Ask yourself if you're seeing any evidence of safety standards to back up the claims of taking an older and heavier child and whether a manufacturers website can be found. Have you seen any photos of a child actually using it? Compare it to the weights and construction / mounting points of the seats highlighted in this post.
SAFETY WARNING - always make sure you follow the manufacturers instructions when fitting a front seat.
Which front seat is best for my bike?
Below we take a closer look at the front seats available for older kids. For a summary of the maximum weights, fixing points and prices see the table at the end of the post.
In all cases these bike seats are suited to steel and aluminium framed bikes. Please do not use a child's bike seat on a carbon fibre bike (or one of any other material) unless you've checked with the manufacturer first.
Every bike is different, so we can't provide specific advice for each make of bike. However, we do state below which types of frame the seats don't fit. For specific queries visit the website of each manufacturer.
The best front bike seats for older children
Oxford Little Explorer front bike seat (£49.99)
OK, so I'm a bit biased about this one, but it's the newer version of the bike seat I used with my youngest Cycle Sprog once he was too big for our rear bike seat. I still miss the "cuddly" rides we used to have in what was then known as the Oxford Leco. Having my arms around him as we rode to nursery and school every day was such a special time, plus I'm sure his traffic awareness was greatly improved by being able to see and talk about everything with me.
The Leco has been replaced by the Oxford Mini Explorer, which has been strengthened by the inclusion of a support between the seat, which is mounted on the top tube, and the foot rests which attach to the down tube. You can read more about the revamped Oxford seat in this post.
The bike seat is designed by Oxford Products, a UK based company. The Little Explorer can only be used on bikes with a top tube, so isn't much good if you've got a step through frame, unless you want to buy a frame adapter to attach to your bike. If you do this, check that it's suitable for carrying the seat.
The maximum child's weight for the Little Explorer is 22kg, so should be good for most kids aged between about 3 and 6 years.
The Oxford Little Explorer Front Bike Seat has an RRP of £49.99 and is available from Amazon.
Tyke Toter front bike seat (Approx £110)
The Tyke Toter front seat is an American designed and manufactured seat that attaches to the adult bike seat post, meaning it can be used on the majority of bikes including those with a step through frame. The manufacturer also claims you can fit a metal shim to a carbon seat post.
As you can see the child's weight is taken by the horizontal tubing, which is made from aircraft grade aluminium. The manufacturer states this will hold the weight of the child up to 45lb (20.4kg) which is around the 4 years mark.
The Tyker Toter front seat comes with lots of detailed information about the types of bike frame it does and doesn't fit to, so you should be able to work out whether it fits your specific bike. There are various headings under the FAQ tab on their website that should answer all your questions.
The Tyke Toter can be bought in Sterling via Ebay, and is shipped from the US. Costs will vary based on currency fluctuations, but it's about £110. If you purchase via Ebay you're avoiding the additional currency conversion fees your bank may levy if you buy in US dollars.
Front bike seats from Holland (from approx £65 plus shipping)
If anyone knows how to carry kids on a bike it's the Dutch, so it's worth looking at how they do it. The majority of Dutch bikes are step through city bikes, and so top tube mounted seats won't work. Hollandbikeshop.com have a range of very simple frame mounted saddles to fit a wide variety of frame sizes and shapes. The maximum weight limit for the child is 40kg and all seats come with a two year warranty.
Prices vary depending on the Euro / Sterling exchange rate but are in the region of £65 to £100 depending on the model, with additional shipping costs to the UK from The Netherlands plus any currency conversion costs levied by your bank.
Mac Ride front bike seat (Approx £200 incl shipping)
A very simple, plastic design, the American Mac Ride has been around for a number of years and is beloved by mountain biking parents.
The Mac Ride is actively promoted as being a front seat suitable for trail riding and mountain biking, whereas many other child bike seats warn against using them on rough terrain.
The Mac Ride seat is a very simple design which can be easily and quickly unclipped from your bike when you no longer need it, and stored flat in a rucksack or other bag. The seat is attached to a clip on the top tube and can be adjusted as your child grows, with the seat and footpegs moving away from the handlebars as your child gets longer arms and legs.
The maximum weight suggested for the Mac Ride is 60lb (which equates to 27.2kg) and an age of about 5 years of age.
The MacRide is available from the US via the MacRide website. It's sometimes available on Amazon in UK if you prefer to pay in Sterling. The approximate cost is £200 including shipping, but obviously varies with exchange rate fluctuations and your bank conversion costs.
Do Little Bike Seat (approx £110)
The Do Little front bike seat comes all the way from New Zealand, and their website states "We can guarantee the Do Little fits almost all double tube city bikes, commuter bikes, step-through frames and all mountain bike frames including hard tail and full suspension"
The Do Little has been Engineer Certified for a safe loading of up to 28kg / 61.7lbs (which can be up to the age of about 7 years), which is one of the highest weights for this type of mid-mounted seats.
The Do Little can be shipped from New Zealand - it costs $160 NZD which is approximately £85, plus a shipping cost of $40 NZD which brings the total cost to somewhere around £110, plus any currency conversion fees from your bank.
LOCT front bike seat (discontinued)
The LOCT was a front bike seat designed by a British family, suitable for off road riding, with a maximum weight of 28kg. It is currently unavailable as the Company was dissolved in 2012, so their website hasn't been updated and their Facebook page is no longer available. This seat can only be picked up occasionally second hand via E-bay or other selling forums.
This is what it looks like, should you come across one:
Summary of front mounted bike seats for older children
Here is a summary of all the currently available front bike seats featured in this article. Remember, if you're buying a very cheap bike seat not featured in this article (one that appears to allow a much heavier child to be carried) do your research to check it's going to be safe and comfortable for your child.
|Seat name||Max weight||Mounting point||Price||Shipped from|
|Oxford Little Explorer||22kg||Top tube||£49.99||UK|
|Tyker Toter||20kg||Seat post||Approx £110 plus shipping||USA|
|Holland Seats||40kg||Down tube||£65 - £100 plus shipping||Holland|
|Mac Ride||27kg||Additional top tube||Approx £165 plus shipping||USA|
|Do Little||28kg||Down tube||Approx £85 plus shipping||New Zealand|
A big thank you to members of the Family Cycling UK Facebook group for help and inspiration with writing this article. It's a great group to get advice for cycling with your kids, so head over there now. Whilst you're on Facebook, don't forget to follow our Cycle Sprog Facebook Page too!
Other articles you'll find useful:
- The best rear bike seats for toddlers and small children
- The best front bike seats for toddlers and young children
- Cycling with older kids who have a disability or special needs
- The best 14" starter bikes for ages 3 and 4 years
- The best 16" wheel bikes for 4 and 5 year olds
- The best Tagalongs for pulling a child behind your bike
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