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Cycling with Children... Baby Seats

Baby Seats, Front and Rear

General Description...

Baby (or child) seats fall into 2 categories: Front or Rear fitting.
Please note. There is no specific safety standard governing child seats as a legal requirement of sale in the UK. There is a German TUV standard, to which many seats will conform. Seats MUST, however, be CE marked.

Rear Fitting Seats

Rear fitting seats are by far the most common and offer the widest variety of choice. There are a number of different styles available and each has its own set of features.

Features: (Not on all seats)
  • Reclining back
  • Adjustable headrests
  • Cushion covers
  • Storage compartments or bags
  • Tool free fitment
  • Grab bars
  • Rain Covers
The basic seats generally have a weight limit of 18kg (40lb). In real terms this is the equivalent of an average 4 1/2 to 5 year old.
Better quality seats tend to be made of more durable ABS type plastics (the type used for car bumpers). This factor and better quality fixings and fixing methods mean that often the better quality seats are capable of carrying a heavier load (up to 22kg (48lb) max).
Please check that the weight capacity of any seat you buy is suitable for the child you intend to carry.
Some seats may have their own proprietary fixing mechanisms whereas others may fit to traditional type pannier racks. Seats fastened to pannier racks are more rigid when riding and would tend to cause less damage in the long term to your bike. Seat tube mounting baby carriers generally have the lower weight rating and can be a bit "bouncy" with a larger child in the seat.

Front Fitting Seats

Front fitting seats are less common and in some cases shops may refuse to sell them if they feel that there is any possible safety implication.

Features: (Not on all seats)
  • Headrests
  • Cushion covers
  • Tool free fitment
  • Grab bars
The basic seats generally have a weight limit of 15kg (34lb). In real terms this is the equivalent of an average 3 to 3 1/2 year old.
Some seats do offer an increased weight carrying capacity of 18kg (40lb).
Please check that the weight capacity of any seat you buy is suitable for the child you intend to carry.
A front seat allows more interaction between rider and passenger and is commonly more stable when occupied but the down side is that the child is placed in a position with no protection from the elements ie wind and rain, or from debris thrown up by vehicles infront. In Rear seats, the child is partially shielded by the adult rider.

Things to look for..

Quality stainless or chromed fixings.
5 point harnesses (2 straps over the shoulders, one between the legs and a full width waist strap.
Availability of spare parts and accessory items like spare fixing brackets or pannier racks.
Adjustability - Foot rests which extend as your child grows.
Foot retention straps.

Pros...

Allows a child as young as 6 months to be transported.
Better quality seats offer a variety of additional features, such as quick removal when not required.
Made of very robust materials but are relatively light weight.
The quickest and simplest method of child transportation.
Spare fixing kits are commonly available for better quality seats allowing the seat to be used on more than one bike.

Cons...

Child is carried quite high from the ground and this raises the centre of gravity of your bike potentially altering its handling.
An over excited child or one which is particularly active can affect the handling by constantly moving their body weight.
Unsuitable until child can sit up unaided and support the weight of their own head.
As the seat is commonly located directly over the wheel, the ride for your passenger can be a little uncomfortable.
Hardest to get the child into seated position owing to the height from the ground.

Expect to Pay...

You can buy a child seat for as little as £15 but we'd strongly recommend that you look toward the higher quality seats which feature better materials and increased comfort. Better seats range from £30 to £130 depending upon the features you require.
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