Best Family Biking Solutions for Toddlers and Pre-K

Plus a Great Find for Older Kids Who are Still too Small to Ride on the Road Alone

One of the most charming things that I had discovered when looking for a baby bike seat was browsing vintage bike seats like this one.

Nowadays, it seems like it’s easy to find a solution for biking when you have a baby. We actually didn’t get into biking until our little guy was about 3, so by that time most of the baby seats had been far outgrown. In my mind I guess I had hoped to find a seat like the ones that were used for babies but for bigger kids. At 3, I knew he not only would have trouble keeping up with us, but having him bike on his own was dangerous and therefore out of the question.

We bike on public trails, so we also get to see solutions that other people like to use when biking. I’ll let you know about that too.

The Classic Bike Seat

The first one that we will cover is the standard baby/toddler seat. Like this one:

These types of seats have been around for ages. My mom had one when I was little, so it may have been the first thing that you thought of when you heard “toddler bike seat” too. The one that I’ve linked is a good brand with great reviews. Schwinn has made that seat for decades so it’s a tried and true one.

Perks

  • Great reviews
  • Well known brand, with this model (or nearly identical) having been around for decades
  • Decent price (this one is around $100, though some are as low as $60 for off brands and others go up to $300)
  • Sturdy, secure, and safe for children over age 1 (read the description on each to be sure if the model that you are looking at is)
  • Great for kids that can’t hang on, because it has a 3 point harness

Drawbacks

  • Only good up to about 40#
  • For long legged children (like mine) even when under weight may be cramped
  • After hundreds of bike trail rides on different trails, I have never seen one in use.
  • The 3 point harness may feel restrictive and unenjoyable to your child and makes more work for you getting them in and out.

The Bike Trailer

Next, we bought a bike trailer. We had a hard time finding one that we really liked. There are a lot of these on the market ranging anywhere from about $100 to well over $600. These were recommended by a friend when I discovered that our bug was getting too big for the bike seat option. We only have one child, but we have the extra seat if his cousin visits or he’s brought along various plushies. Our dog has also ridden along in the extra seat (buckled in no less). My friend’s was a Burley and she loves it. That one was too pricey for me, but after a bunch of research we chose this one.

It’s the Clevr Two in One Bike Trailer :

Perks

  • Can seat two children
  • Can seat larger children
  • Nice interior pockets and rear pocket
  • Very sturdy and well made
  • Converts to a stroller, so dual purpose
  • Folds down completely flat
  • Hooks up/unhooks quickly and easily
  • Two 3-point harnesses (which we don’t use much now that he’s bigger anymore)
  • Fairly lightweight for a pull behind
  • Can pull up to 88 pounds so lasts a while
  • The rain/sun shade is option and easy to add or remove
  • I see a lot of these on the trail, leading me to believe other people like them too
  • Secure
  • The child isn’t actually on the bike, so you don’t have to worry as much about balancing. It’s easier to manage.
  • After the child outgrows it, can be used for pets or towing groceries, etc
  • This is the longest lasting option, as it works for both very small children as well as older ones.

Drawbacks

  • A bit pricey for a good quality one
  • I’ve seen a lot of complaints about cheaper models, so you have to be careful what model you pick (ours has been great though)
  • You are towing extra weight, that’s undeniable
  • A little extra setup before you can take off biking as you do have to hitch the trailer to the bike

Front Bike Seat

Our next discovery was a front mount handlebar bike seat. Like this one:

 

 

Here is ours in action:

If you like that bike helmet, by the way, it’s this one.

Perks

  • Way more exciting for the little rider
  • Helps teach balance
  • Mounts onto the bike, so it’s pretty much just sit the kid on the bike and go
  • Lightest weight option
  • It has foot pedals and handles, so it’s fairly solid. The little rider doesn’t have to balance and we’ve never had an issue
  • This is a popular option and we’ve been stopped by people asking how to get one
  • We really like this option
  • Inexpensive (ours was in the $50 range, though I have seen them up to $135)
  • Great for riders age 4 or 5
  • The adult may feel more in control of the child, since the child is seated in front of them

Drawbacks

  • No seatbelt, so a child who is likely to let go of the handles or pull their foot out of the stirrups may be a fall risk (most don’t as not wanting to fall is instinctual, but some kids have motor control issues that may make this a concern). Helmet is a must with this seat.
  • While the child does not have much control over the handlebars due to positioning, children who have control difficulties may torque on the handlebars and create more tension for the adult.
  • May be too much stimulation for sensitive children
  • Won’t work for very small children
  • May block vision of the adult if the child is tall and the adult is short
  • There is more weight on the bike frame

Rear Bike Seat

This one is the closest to that classic one on the cover. The rear bicycle seats have mixed reviews, but that was our next planned step since he was getting too big for the front seat.

This one is the closest to a vintage seat.

Perks

  • Secure and can handle up to 120 pounds
  • Can add a seatbelt (not included)
  • Mounts to the bike, so just put your kid in and go
  • Arm rests provide a more stable seat.

Drawbacks

  • Most of these have quality issues regarding rusted metal and cheap materials
  • Adult cannot see the child behind them so had little control over them
  • Extra weight added to the bike frame and extra balance required

However, this one doesn’t have the quality issues, but has the added drawback of no armrests or seatbelt. This is our next choice for biking with a 6 year old.

Copilot Bike Trailer

Last, but certainly not least, we’ve seen this several times on the trail with kids ages 7 – 12. They work magnificently

This is our pick for our last growth spurt.

Perks

  • Secure and safe
  • Riders up to 75 pounds
  • A great bridge before the child is old enough to pedal around traffic alone
  • Extremely popular. The parents who have these really seem to love them.
  • Child can pedal and contribute to forward motion

Drawbacks

  • Expensive ($120 – $250)
  • Require balance on the child’s part to some degree so they don’t fall off.
  • Imbalances can be felt someone by the rider. A strong adult can handle this, but if a child is rocking side to side it can knock you both over.
  • Bike is much longer, so it will have to be unhitched to fit in a vehicle
  • These can be hard to find.

A final option is this cute little towbar that allows you to attach a smaller bike to a large one.

Perks

  • Inexpensive (about $50-$75)
  • The child’s bike can be used independently of the adult’s when not attached.
  • Parent has control of both vehicles
  • Holds up to 70#
  • Front wheel of the child’s bike is off the ground so steering will not affect the driver

Drawbacks

  • No seatbelt, so it relies on trusting the child to stay in their seat and hang on
  • Bike is much longer and will take some getting used to for the adult
  • Bike will have to be hitched/unhitched in a vehicle

That’s it! I hope one of these will work perfect for you. Happy biking!

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