What's Better for You and Your Child: Bike Seat or Trailer?

It's difficult juggling the responsibilities of parenthood and maintaining your biking routine. Often, activities like running and cycling take a backseat to changing diapers and watching cartoons. Thankfully, child bike seats and trailers offer a great way to keep that ever-watchful eye on your kids while enjoying your ride.

Child bike seats and trailers are safe, reliable ways to carry your most precious cargo and allow you to share your love of cycling with your children at a young age. There are a lot of factors, including age, size, safety, comfort and budget, that determine which arrangement is best for you and your child. Here's a list of the three common setups with each arrangement's pros and cons.

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Front-Mounted Seats

Front-mounted child bike seats are built primarily for children between the age of 9 months and 2 years old. A good barometer is whether your child weighs more than 33 pounds. If so, you probably want to try another option.


With your child seated in plain view, you can see him or her at all times, allowing you to anticipate weight shifts. Also, this setup gives your child a wonderful view. Nothing beats riding with your kid between your arms, talking about everything you see.


All mounted seats carry some risk. Front-mounted seats raise a bike's center of gravity, which makes handling and dismounting a bit trickier. In addition, tall riders might find they have little knee-to-pedal room. There's also the risk of the child interfering with your steering.

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Rear-Mounted Seats

Today's child bike seat is a big step up from what many Gen X and millennials road in as children nearly 30 years ago. Rear-mounted seats offer excellent stability, cushion and head support, with the backside extending beyond the head, which also includes side supports. Unlike front-mounted seats, most rear-mounted seats can carry children up to 70 pounds.


If you have long legs, you'll find this is far more comfortable than the front-mounted seats due to its lack of obstacles up front. Another advantage is protection for your child from debris. If you come up quickly on a low-hanging branch, your child seated in the rear will likely dodge being hit.


Like the front-mounted seat, a rear-mounted seat affects your bike's balance and makes mounting and dismounting difficult. According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, nearly one-third of injuries involving children in bike seats occur when getting on and off the bike. Another flaw is being unable to see your child while riding.

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Bike Trailers

An increasingly popular choice for parents, bike trailers are essentially little sidecars attached to the rear of your bike allowing you to tow your kids with a decreased risk of falling. Bike trailers come in an assortment of shapes and sizes, with some capable of carrying up to 125 pounds.


Unlike mounted bike seats, a bike trailer's low profile makes it unlikely to tip over in the event of a fall. Thus, safety is the No. 1 advantage for bike trailers. A bike trailer offers a great deal of room for your child, allowing him or her to take toys and games along for the ride.


While going forward is easy and smooth, bike trailers make it cumbersome to back up and park. Not being able to see or speak to your child might also be a concern for parents. The bike trailer arrangement also takes away the opportunity for your child to be fully engaged in the bike ride. They may miss out on the sights and sounds of a ride.

More: Road Safety Tips for Kids: Cycling, Skating and Skateboarding

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