Long time Cycle Sprog followers with good memories may recall that one of my all time favourite things when the Sprogs were about 3 years and over was our Oxford Leco Top Tube seat.
It was a brilliant set up for family cycling – the youngest Sprog could sit up front with me on my bike between my arms and we could chat away as we rode, whilst the eldest was behind on the tag-along. We got it when the Sprogs combined outgrew the weight limit for our trailer (or was it that my legs just couldn’t cope with hauling them both behind me any more?!)
Several years ago Oxford discontinued the Leco, and the world was a slightly less happy place as a result. Then, last year at the Cycle Show at the NEC I met a guy from Oxford Products who told me a new, replacement seat was being designed.
I don’t think he had expected someone to be quite so excited about this news – but then companies don’t always realise how evangelical us parents can be when we find a product that really works for us. Well folks, the brilliant news is that the replacement product is now available, and it’s called the Oxford Little Explorer top tube mounted seat.
Oxford Little Explorer bike seat
The are three noticeable changes to the product. Firstly, a support bar has been added, that fits between the seat on the top tube and the footrests on the down tube. This is to provide additional stability, and prevent the seat from coming loose and twisting round (not something we ever experienced). Secondly, the back support has been removed.
I have to say that on our Leco I don’t think this was ever of much use to my child, as he was always leaning forward to hold onto the handlebars, and was certainly in the way when I was riding the bike without him in it. There were definitely risks with getting bruised by the metal if you landed on it, so in my opinion this is a good move by Oxford.
Here’s a picture of the old Leco seat:
And here is the redesigned Little Explorer Seat
Finally, with the removal of the back rest, comes the removal of the waist strap. I’m guessing this strap was there more as a cautionary measure to make parents feel better than any real safety feature as this isn’t a seat for young children who need to be strapped in.
It’s a seat for older kids who, if they weren’t on this seat would be riding their own bikes or a taglong where they’re not strapped in . It’s a big step in the history of the seat however, as some Cycle Sprog readers will remember the old cotton harness of their childhood!
The footpegs on the Little Explorer look to be slightly redesigned. We ended up removing the fabric restraints on our Leco at the point the shoes got too big to fit, and this looks like this might still need to be done, but by that time your child should know not to move their feet off the pegs.
Obviously, every redesign comes at a price, and the Oxford Little Explorer now has an RRP of £49.99 which is quite a lot more than the price of the old Leco.
It’s a pity, as this used to be a very cheap way for parents to try out commuting to nursery / school. However, at less than the cost of a full tank of petrol, the Little Explorer is still, to my mind, excellent value for money.
A couple of things to note about the Oxford Little Explorer Top Tube Bike Seat
The Oxford Little Explorer can be fitted to steel and aluminium framed bikes with a top tube (maximum width 50mm), so is not suitable if you’re riding a carbon framed bike or a step through frame city bike. It has a weight limit of 22kg, and your child must be able to sit up unaided and still whilst you’re riding.
This makes it ideal for ages about 3 years through to 6 years. You need enough space on your bike frame to fit the seat and get your arms round your child to still control your handlebars. This means that if you are very short and have short arms and a very small framed bike it may be less successful. I’m 5′ 9″ and it suited me perfectly.
Here’s a shot of the new seat in use, which illustrates the riding position really well.
Eventually you find you have to stop using the seat when your Cycle Sprogs head/helmet starts to obscure your view. You can try moving the seat back towards to you bit (on the assumption that their arms and legs have also grown), but at some point you have to face the fact that you can’t use it any more.
I wrote about how this felt for me here (and I still get teary thinking about it – not many family cycling products have done that to me!!!)
Where to buy the Oxford Little Explorer Front Bike Seat
The Oxford Little Explorer Front Bike Seat has an RRP of £49.99 and is available from Amazon.
Oxford also have a small sized child’s bike helmet, also called the Little Explorer, which is suitable for heads with a circumference of 46cm through to 53cm.
Affiliate disclosure: Cycle Sprog is an affiliate of Amazon, so if you buy the Oxford Little Explorer seat through the links on this page we may get a very small commission. This is what helps us keep the website going. However, it doesn’t affect what we write – I really did love this seat – so much so I couldn’t bring myself to remove it from my bike for several years (just in case my Sprog shrunk!!!)
Other posts you should check out:
- The best front bike seats for toddlers and young children
- The best rear bike seats for toddlers and small children
- Cycling with older kids who have a disability or special needs
- Starting school the Cycle Sprog way
- The best 14″ starter bikes for ages 3 and 4 years
- The best 16″ wheel bikes for 4 and 5 year olds
- Review: Kids Ride Shotgun front bike seat for mountain biking with your child
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