Biking with Kids: Choosing a Kids Seat and other Biking Accessories

Blog written by BikePGH events director Mike Carroll

Tips for Biking with Littles Ones

Let me start out by saying that my wife and I love to ride bikes together. When we had our first child last January, it was only a matter of time before we got our little person on a bike. After 9 months, we finally had our first bike ride.  I can’t thank the friendly staff at Thick Bikes enough for helping us out to get my family equipped to ride bikes together.  

I get a fair number of questions about riding with kids so I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss why we chose this bike setup for our family.

Equipment is the first challenging question you have to get over before trying to ride bikes with small children. Shop owners Chris and Elizabeth of Thick Bikes have a toddler as well and had amazing recommendations to guide us on choosing what was best for us.  

Kids Bike Helmet

First things first. Get a bike helmet for your child, make sure to get one that fits and have them wear it.  Our little guy HATED wearing the helmet at first. As they say… if at first you don’t succeed try and try again. Sure enough, it took a few days but practicing wearing a helmet and going for a 5-10 min quick walk really helped.

There are only a few options out there for toddler sized helmets but get one that is sized correctly for your child.  We decided to go with a Giro Scamp but there are other options available such as the adorable P’Nut helmet by Lazer. Just be sure to check the measurements recommended for your child’s head size and make sure the straps are tight enough to keep the helmet in place.

Kids Trailers

So I’ll be honest, my wife and I did not really give a trailer much thought.  Pulling our child behind us did not seem like the direction that we wanted to go for starting out biking with our son. We may get one in the future and can see the benefits of pulling our little guy around, but for a first year of riding with our child, it did not feel like the direction we wanted to go.  Don’t get me wrong, trailers have a place and seem to be a great option for parents with two kids. They just are not the first choice for my family right now.

Rear Rack Seat

We gave some serious thought to the Rear Seat. Co-pilot, Thule, and Topeak (in addition to dozens of other companies) all make rear rack mounted seats. Some are mounted in place of a rack while others “clip on” to existing rear racks. Since my wife and I already have racks on our most used bikes it seemed like it would be a fun way to quickly add a seat and be able to change bikes fairly easily. If we were on a budget or had an older/larger child we likely would have gone with a rear seat. Rear seats keep your child close so that you can talk to them during the ride and engaged with you.

Front Seat

The Yepp has been around for some time and brings your child right between your arms for an upfront view of the action.  This was the most appealing option for both me and my wife as being able to share in the experience of what we see on the bike and have our child as close as possible. We were apprehensive about what it would be like riding a bike with a large seat between your arms.

With the encouragement of Thick bikes, however, we took out their sample bike and found it to be far less intimidating than it looked. You might feel a little more cramped than usual on the bike with a seat attached but as soon as a child upfront you quickly forget. My wife and I really enjoy the closeness that the front child seat brings and can’t wait to share many bike adventures with our family.  One quick note of caution, the Yepp front seat setup does not work with every bike so be sure to ask a dealer for some help to make sure your bike will work.

These are just a few of my recommendations but feel free to comment and let us know if you have any questions!


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