As parents, we become masters of balance. We balance housework with playtime, sleepless nights with frequent naps, and our hobbies and passions with family time. When it comes to that last point, that means bringing the kids along. When it comes to biking, there are many options for getting out for a ride with your kids. Deciding which option is right for you will depend on your comfort level, your child's age and abilities, and the terrain you choose to explore. Best place to start is looking at the pros and cons of a bike trailer and a child bike seat.
Bike trailers are little tow-behind systems that hook onto your bike and provide your child with a little home on wheels to nestle into for a ride.
The advantage of a bike trailer is that ultimately, it’s lower to the ground making it safer, some would argue. Your child is enclosed in a bit more material and is generally a lot closer to the ground in case of a fall. Another benefit to a bike trailer is that it doesn’t alter the balance on your bike as much. Having the weight being towed behind the bike rather than mounted on the front or the back can help you to remain balanced as if you were riding alone. The added room in the cosy little trailer means kids can bring blankets and toys along for the ride.
Trailers can make braking more difficult especially in wet or slippery conditions due to the weight coming up from behind. This weight can also make it hard to back up or manoeuvre around corners. The big concern with bike trailers is that if you are on any kind of road or near traffic, the low positioning of the trailer can cause drivers to miss noticing it. Not to mention, the wider shape of the trailer can lead to it being nearer to traffic than a bike. A real downside to a trailer is how your child is too far away to interact with on a ride. This is a big one for us. As mountain bikers, we love to be able to chat with our kids on the trail and we want them to have a great view to experience all that the outdoors has to offer.
Child Bike Seat
There are many kinds of child bike seats. You can have front-mounted and rear-mounted, little chair-like seats or seats like Mac Ride that mimic a usual bike seat. For the sake of this blog, we’re going to talk about the broader category of child's bike seats that are mounted directly onto a parents’ bike.
With a front-mounted seat, you can anticipate weight shifts more easily, helping with any decreased balance you may find from having your child on the bike with you. The big advantage we love is that our kids can talk to us and share in the experience of the ride. With your child on the bike with you, they can point out things that interest them and ask questions. Another big benefit is that being on the bike itself is helping them to learn the mechanics of riding a bike and how it feels to lean and turn.
The biggest disadvantage of using a child bike seat when riding is how it affects the balance of the bike. This extra weight can make mounting and dismounting difficult and we do recommend being a very comfortable biker before choosing to use a children's bike seat over a bike trailer. Some parents find that a front-mounted seat limits their range of motion for pedalling, so this will depend on your bike and your stature.
Overall, what your choice will come down to is your preference. We love using the Mac Ride child bike seat as a family because we want our kids close enjoying the adventure with us on the trails. It was this desire to have our children involved in the experience that pushed us to design the Mac Ride seat in the first place. The choice between a child bike seat and a bike trailer will depend on your goals and hopes for your ride with your child. If you want to know more about other families experiences with the Mac Ride seat, we have a few stories on our blog. To shop online for a Mac Ride child’s bike seat, check out our online store.