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Your guide to child carriers to fit all budgets

Parenthood doesn't have to mean the end of cycling. Once your youngster is old enough you can take him or her along with you on a set on your bike or a trailer behind. Here's what to look for.

To take a young child along on your bike you have three main options: a seat behind your saddle; a seat on the top tube; or a trailer.

The classic behind-the-saddle child seat either sits on a rack or has its own mounting system to attach it to the bike. It will usually cradle your kid, with a high back and sides so they can fall asleep without falling out, leg guards and a harness. It should be designed so that your sprog shouldn't be able to get their feet or fingers into the spokes.

Once a child gets a bit bigger and heavier, they can make a bike with a rear-mounted child seat a bit top-heavy, and affect the handling.

Your child needs to be able to hold their head up on their own to be comfortable in a child seat.

The front-mounted seat, that sits on the top tube so the child is between your arms, is the least common option in the UK, but more often seen in Europe. It has the advantage that your child is very close to you, so communication is easy, and kids enjoy being able to see where they're going.

A trailer can accommodate very young children, as they can just lie down and doze off. Your child sits in their own little carriage behind the bike, which is very comfortable, but you may worry that you're a bit out of touch with the child.

Junior probably won't be very bothered as they're enclosed in a spacious bubble and protected from the elements. If you need to transport a child by bike all year round, this is the way to go.

Trailers are the most expensive option, but they hold decent resale values if looked after and you can use them for much more than just carrying children; a trailer is perhaps the best way of carrying shopping too.

Avenir Snug — £32.99

Avenir Snug Child Seat.jpg

Avenir Snug Child Seat.jpg

This well-reviewed child seat has its own mount that clamps the seat tube, so you don't need anything else, and is considered a bit of a bargain.

Amazon reviewer C. Isherwood said: "My son was very comfortable and very safe and we have had so much fun with this now that the weather is getting better. I can't praise this enough. Don't pay a fortune for a child bike seat. This is brilliant and does everything you need."

There's also a version that mounts on a rack.

Find an Avenir dealer

Hamax Siesta — £75

Hamax Siesta.jpeg

Hamax Siesta.jpeg

Suitable for children older than 9 months and up to 22kg, this seat can be tilted back 20° so that Junior can have a nap, hence the name Siesta.

It has a tall back and high sides with double buckle system means you can strap your child in quickly and securely.

Find a Hamax dealer

WeeRide EU Safefront — £79.99

Weeride safe front child seat

Weeride safe front child seat

The latest front-mounted childseat from WeeRide follows on from the company's Kangaroo, which is very highly regarded on Mumsnet. It has its own mounting bar that fits between the seatpost and handlebar stem, so once it's set up the seat itself can be removed quickly.

For year-round kid-carrying, WeeRide also make a windscreen to keep the weather off your young 'un. It might make your bike look like a moped, but a happy passenger is worth looking a bit daft.

Find a WeeRide dealer

Hamax Caress — £99

Hamax-Caress-Bike-Childseat-Child-Seats-White-Black-HAMCAR8B-0.jpg

Hamax-Caress-Bike-Childseat-Child-Seats-White-Black-HAMCAR8B-0.jpg

The deluxe model in Hamax's extensive range, the Caress also has a sleeping position, plus redesigned footrest and harness systems and rear reflectives for visibility. It'll fit bikes with or without existing luggage racks.

Find a Hamax dealer

Burley Bee — £290.95

Burley Bee

Burley Bee

With room for two kids, this classic trailer has additional storage space for all their bits and pieces and is reported to be very stable and easy to tow.

Wiggle reviewer NewDadExperiencedRider says: "The Bee is very stable and it gives the impression that the cargo (my daughter) is very secure. It tows easily and is very light, the weight is comparable to a light road bike. It is a well engineered piece of kit and attaching both the trailer and connecting bracket to the bike is less than a 5 minute job. Once the bracket is on your bike you simply clip in and out in seconds."

Find a Burley dealer

Thule Chariot Lite — £590

thule_chariot_lite.jpg

thule_chariot_lite.jpg

Babies don't come cheap, and forking out £600 on a bike trailer may not be your number one priority, but the Thule Chariot Lite looks like a wise investment. Suitable for children up to about 30kg (roughly 6 months to around 5 years), and even younger with the Infant Sling (around £70) designed for babies 1 to 10 months, this trailer is robust and nimble enough for both town and track, making it ideal for keeping the family mobile when there is a little one in tow.

Read our review of the very similar Thule Chariot Cougar 1
Find a Thule Chariot dealer

Readers' recommendations

Thanks to our readers in the comments for these tip-offs.

Topeak BabySeat™ II — £107.99

Topeak babyseat 2.jpg

Topeak babyseat 2.jpg

DaveE128 says: "I would recommend (from experience) both the Topeak Babysitter II and the Copilot Limo. [The Limo seems to be no longer available in the UK - Ed]

"Both mount onto a rack. My preference between the two is the Topeak. This can be easily fitted to bikes with disk brakes, and although it doesn't have an adjustable recline feature, this isn't great on the Copilot anyway.

"I would warn that when towards the upper end of the weight range though, that with a lighter weight frame (eg my CX/adventure cross/coummuter Pinnacle Arkose Two) you don't want to stand up, as it makes the frame flex scarily. It's much better on a mountain bike.

"For either seat, you can keep the rack on the bike and use it for commuting with panniers, or in the case of the Topeak, a rack top back and a rack-mounted rear light/reflector."

Find a Topeak dealer

Yepp Mini — £81.94

Yepp Mini.jpg

Yepp Mini.jpg

KiwiMike says: "I'm amazed that the Yepp Mini isn't there. It fits onto both quill and Aheadset-style bikes, fits with one hand - we sometimes took it on/off with a sleeping child still strapped in. It also locks, has the sleep mat, windscrean, your knees are safe and it weighs bugger all. When it's removed the bike is almost totally normal, unlike the WeeRide that still has a stupid heavy steel girder in place.

"Seriously guys, put the Yepp Mini in there. You're doing parents a disservice by omitting it."

Bobike Classic Junior — £54.10

bobike-junior-classic-rear-child-seat-urban-black-EV191173-8500-1.jpg

bobike-junior-classic-rear-child-seat-urban-black-EV191173-8500-1.jpg

Username says: "We upgraded to this when our girl exceeded the weight for her Hamax.

"I must say I had my doubts because it was already a handful riding with her bouncing around in Hamax, upsetting the bike's balance, which meant one had to be a very confident cyclist to cope with it but the Bobike Junior is a revelation because it doesn't bounce.

"It is fixed firmly and despite the fact she is now a few years older, taller, heavier, than before the Bobike makes it easy to cope with her on the back.

"It's rated to 35 kgs, or roughly aged 10, and I can see us still using it for quite a while.

"Fully recommended."

Find a Bobike dealer

Thule Chariot Cross 1 — £764.99

Thule Chariot Cross 1

Thule Chariot Cross 1

This is the Rolls Royce of Thule's Chariot range of child carriers. With a lightweight aluminium alloy frame, it'll take up to 34kg of kid and kit.

At heart, the CX 1 is a stroller on steroids, and comes with the bike attachment it's shown with above. It can be converted into a three-wheeled jogging stroller, a round-town four-wheeler and even a ski trailer.

There's also a two-child version, the CX 2 for £1,099.99, and there's a vast range of accessories.

Find a Thule dealer

Tout Terrain Singletrailer — £1,295

Tout Terrain Singletrailer.jpg

Tout Terrain Singletrailer.jpg

Reader wstephenson describes this as "the only trailer that doesn't feel like you're hauling a wheelbarrow full of bricks using a bungee cord as soon as you put the power on, and it's great with a road bike or MTB. Has lots of happy daddy daughter miles with ours."

With a chromoly steel frame and just one wheel, it's light at a claimed 9.5kg and a built-in air shock helps keep Junior comfortable if you want to take it off road.

Find a Tout Terrain dealer

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Road.cc buyer's guides are maintained and updated by John Stevenson. Email John with comments, corrections or queries.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

12 comments

Avatar
Jamminatrix [200 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

We bought a Burley trailer for our dog a few years ago, removed seats and made flat carpeted deck for her. We bought it for casual rides to the beach, not serious riding. Even with the trailer empty, that thing is like a parachute​... Huge airbrake. Add a 80 pound retriever, now that's a workout! Mad respect to anyone who does serious mileage with one.

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dottigirl [819 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I've ridden with a couple of dog trailers (occupied and not, and also full of shopping) and didn't think they were that bad. Yes, a bit more work but not drastically so. Dog trailers are a little different though - the CoG is lower to the ground as they don't have to have seats in, or as many 'safety' concerns, so they're probably lighter. 

However, one dog disliked the trailer so much, he fought his way out. I believe the same applies to children as I've used them too - some are OK, and some hate it. 

Child sears are easier to use with a wide and straight bar bike - if your handling is twitchy with drop bars, it's even worse with more, high weight on the rear. Ditto trailabikes, especially if the coupling lets the bike rock. 

If you are using a child seat without solid leg sections (as the readers recommend above), please be aware that it increases the chance of clothes or body parts getting caught in the wheel, so make sure everything is tied down tightly.

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IanEdward [211 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

I'm already starting to think about this now that mini-me is sleeping in his rucsac, seems he's ready for a child seat! My concern is which bikes can take the Hamax style seat tube bracket?

I have a Trek Superfly, not crazy light carbon exotica, but still a relatively racey aluminium frame. How do you know when your frame is too light for a seat-tube mounted child seat?

Will consider getting an extra long seatpost to provide some overlap, but I'm already near the top of the stock 400mm post...

 

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luisgutz [1 post] 5 months ago
0 likes

I'm surprised the FollowMe Tandem (https://www.followmetandem.co.uk) wasn't mentioned.

It's a somewhat heavy solution when compared to tag-alongs (about 8kg for the gadget, plus your kids bike), but technically is very very good: The center of gravity remains low, hence the whole system is stable; it tracks your bike without any surprise lines; its easy to attach/detach...

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Chris Hayes [284 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

We ran a Chariot CX1.  Superb piece of kit.  Sold it on eBay for not much less than we bought it 3 years later. Probably cost 30 quid a year.  Could have easily doubled-up as a pram too, but my wife insisted on a 'proper one', and then another.... They didn't sell so well. 

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Chris Hayes [284 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

We ran a Chariot CX1.  Superb piece of kit.  Sold it on eBay for not much less than we bought it 3 years later. Probably cost 30 quid a year.  Could have easily doubled-up as a pram too, but my wife insisted on a 'proper one', and then another.... They didn't sell so well. 

Avatar
Chris Hayes [284 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

We ran a Chariot CX1.  Superb piece of kit.  Sold it on eBay for not much less than we bought it 3 years later. Probably cost 30 quid a year.  Could have easily doubled-up as a pram too, but my wife insisted on a 'proper one', and then another.... They didn't sell so well. 

Avatar
LastBoyScout [468 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes
IanEdward wrote:

I'm already starting to think about this now that mini-me is sleeping in his rucsac, seems he's ready for a child seat! My concern is which bikes can take the Hamax style seat tube bracket?

I have a Trek Superfly, not crazy light carbon exotica, but still a relatively racey aluminium frame. How do you know when your frame is too light for a seat-tube mounted child seat?

Will consider getting an extra long seatpost to provide some overlap, but I'm already near the top of the stock 400mm post...

The bigger issue I've found is cable routing - I bought a hybrid especially to put the Siesta on, as the bracket wouldn't work with the top-pull front mech on my old mountain bike.

I was equally wary about putting it on my racier mountain bike but, again, the top-pull front mech negated even trying.

The bracket is supposedly designed to work with top-pull mechs, but, in practice, the rubber padding makes it too thick to work, unless you have a lot of stand-off clearance between the cable and seat tube.

 

Avatar
LastBoyScout [468 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

We've got the WeeRide - it's not without it's problems.

If you have a small frame/short head tube and suspension forks, you have to be careful the foot rests don't foul the tops of the forks, which somewhat cuts down the range of adjustment. My wife is also pretty much resting her chin on little one's helmet (don't start, you know who you are!), so there isn't much growing room.

I've also tried putting the WeeRide on my bike, but have had to lower my saddle a chunk to be able to get my feet down solidly when stopping, as you can't slide off the front of the saddle as you normally would. That also robs you of some leg power and you end up riding a bit like John Wayne to avoid banging your knees.

That said, they get a much better view and it's easier to chat with the little'un. I had my friend's 5-year old on it while my little one was having a sleep in their chariot.

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NPlus1Bikelight... [48 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

If you find the price of a Burley trailer too painful the Bellelli Bike Taxi is very good. Don't pay more than £200 for a twin though. Hard base it pretty bombproof, some storage at the back, very waterproof covers, roll back the rain cover to reveal insect netting for summer. Holds a 2 year old and a 4 year old easily. My one gripe is they changed the latest model so that you cannot put a single child in the middle by using one piece of each seat belt, they now have to be on one side which affects handling. Also folds down very compactly with wheels stored inside. They also have excellent customer support from Italy if you need e.g. replacement removable reflectors which snap too easily when loading kids/ parking (I modified mine to be magneticly fixed).

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bechdan [160 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes

Halfords own single bike trailer is pretty decent, probably not as fancy as the Burly but its about £80

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bechdan [160 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
LastBoyScout wrote:

We've got the WeeRide - it's not without it's problems.

If you have a small frame/short head tube and suspension forks, you have to be careful the foot rests don't foul the tops of the forks, which somewhat cuts down the range of adjustment. My wife is also pretty much resting her chin on little one's helmet (don't start, you know who you are!), so there isn't much growing room.

I've also tried putting the WeeRide on my bike, but have had to lower my saddle a chunk to be able to get my feet down solidly when stopping, as you can't slide off the front of the saddle as you normally would. That also robs you of some leg power and you end up riding a bit like John Wayne to avoid banging your knees.

That said, they get a much better view and it's easier to chat with the little'un. I had my friend's 5-year old on it while my little one was having a sleep in their chariot.

 

Sounds like youd really benefit from a dropper seatpost