Baby Seat for a Bike
Archived Q&A and Reviews
- Front or rear mount baby bike seat?
- Biking with my 2 year old plus errands --bike seat or trailer?
- Baby bike seats vs. trailers
- Child seat - my heels are hitting my child!
- Child bike seats: front or rear mounted?
- Bike with seat for 5 year old - xtracycle?
- Bike Seat: Front vs. Back
- Bike seat for babies
- Bike carrier for toddler for riding in the hills
- Earlier reviews of bike seats
We are in the market for a baby bike seat in order to take our baby to and from daycare and have been considering both front and rear mounted bike seats. Does anyone have a recommendation for why one would be better than the other? We have looked briefly at bike trailers but I feel somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of a trailer in traffic.
Hi, we debated about that too, and we decided to do the rear mount. We started taking our daughter in the bicycle when she was almost two, and that worked well. Front mountings might work well too for younger babies, but then she'll outgrow it. The back mount feels safe and stable to me. We've been using for over a year now and we like it. She can perfectly see to the sides, so she's not missing on anything. Like any weight on a bike, I think the weight in the back is more stable than in the front. Hope that helps! Carolina
Hi, I have used both seats extensively as I commute by bike and used to do so with my kids (they ride their own bikes now, yeah!).
Personally, I much preferred the front mount because it was so much more stable-the rear mount wobbles a lot. I loved having my child right near me an found it much easier to talk to her. It can be tricky to find the right bike-many complain of bumping knees or feeling crowded. An upright bike works best. Another advantage to the front mount is the flexibility to bring paniers on the rear. You can't attach the bike bags with the ear seat.
I recommend trying both if you can and see what works for you. Good luck! Biking Mama
I'd like to use my bicycle more and my car less for errands and whatnot, and I have a baby seat on the back of my bike that my 2 year old daughter rides in and enjoys. My problem is that getting even a few groceries while I'm out is uncomfortable because I have nowhere to put them but in a backpack, and then the pack is inches from my daughter's nose. So--I'm thinking of new options. The top of my list is a bike trailer, but I'd like to hear more about safety considerations in traffic considering that the trailer runs so far behind the bike and so low to the ground (like, have you ever heard of a car clipping the trailer??? That freaks me out. I live in El Cerrito, BTW--not SF, so it's pretty tame riding). Also, do you think it would be more comfortable/safer getting one of those bike seats that go over the front wheel, and then panniers over the back wheel for carting supplies? Or are there other options that I haven't touched on? I'm hoping that there are some biking experts out there who can help with recommending a riding configuration as well as some good brands/models!
We live in El Cerrito as well and I bike a lot with my kids and have since they were small....we have a dutch cargo bike a 'bakfiets' which holds a lot and is fun but also heavy and expensive... The I have a Zigo bike..which is not quite as expensive and sometimes you can find them on craigslist..it has the trailer in the front and I have a basket in back and pannier bags so I can schlepp a lot of groceries... Astrid
I've heard great things about the Xtracycle. I'm hoping to try this once we're able to take our kid on the bike. They have several set-ups for carrying both cargo and kids, plus the kid is on a seat right behind you, rather than a trailer. I totally agree that trailers scare me in traffic! Though I do see a fair amount of them and have yet to hear any horror stories. Anyway, I'd check out the Xtracycle site and see if they have something that looks like a good fit for you. They're also local which is a plus! Bike fan
If you do some reseach on bicyclist discussion boards and the like, you will find some intense disagreements about whether bike-mounted seats or trailers are safest for toting kids. The data is scarce and subject to interpretation. But I personally find the arguments for trailers far more persuasive and would not allow my children to ride in a bike-mounted seat. Trailers are extremely visible and car drivers tend to give them *more* room than they do single bicyclists, and even if a car did 'clip' a trailer, the trailer -- unlike a rider on a bike -- will most likely *not* flip over. Kids don't fall out of trailers, but it's ridiculously easy to fall off of the top of a bike, especially when the bike has been rendered top-heavy by the addition of the mounted seat and the child's own weight. Falls in a minor accident (bike wheel hitting a groove in the pavement or a rock) are *much* more common than bike-car collisions, and young kids can so easily be seriously injured by a fall from the height of a bike seat. A seat affects the rider's balance *far* more than does a trailer, and mounting/dismounting without dropping the kid is difficult -- whereas if you're using a trailer, you can safely load child and groceries first and then mount the bike without having to balance the extra weight at the same time.
That said, front-mounted seats probably are safer than rear-mount (though they can interfere with pedaling), and something like a Bakfiets or Xtracycle which has the child seats designed and built into the frame of the bike is probably safer than a separately mounted accessory seat. And trailers do have their risks; the motion may be more jarring to the neck and spine (one reason that babies should not ride on bikes nor in bike trailers at all), and the passenger may be affected by dust/grit or noise. Also, you need more space to maneuver and to park, and more storage space at home, if you're using a trailer.
But still, where are you going to carry your groceries? A trailer offers the huge advantage of cargo space, for using your bike as daily transportation for shopping and other errands. So I say, go for the trailer; make sure it's a respected brand (e.g., Chariot or Burley, not the cheap knockoffs you might get at Target or Walmart), that the cover is BRIGHT yellow or green, and that you always use flags and reflectors, and lights if you ride at night, dawn or dusk. Happy biking!
Bike trailers are by far the safest way to bike with your child. They don't affect your center of gravity and minimally affect the handling of the bike. Use the 6 foot flag and it'll be noticed. Getting hit by a car is a concern, but I find with the trailer cars give me a w-i-d-e berth -- much more so then when I'm just on my bike. It's easy to overlook how much more common it is to simply wipe out, which can create some pretty significant injuries if the child is in a bike seat and you're moving. With a trailer, if the bike falls the kid is fine -- they're designed not to tip over. It's also glorious how much you can hold in a trailer. I have a small one-kid trailer (Burley Solo) and can easily fit two bags of groceries in the little 'trunk' space. As for which brand -- I got mine of Craigslist for way cheap, and had a bike genius neighbor check it over. Craigslist usually has at least a few for sale. Hands down, go for the trailer. biker chick
Looking for recent recommendations on front- and rear-mounting baby bike seats and trailers. Would like to know experiences with or reasoning on choosing one vs. the other and recommendations of specific brands. Thanks. biking mama
We have been using the rear mounted Yepp Maxi seat for almost a year for commuting and it's been great. It's an attractive seat compared to most kids' seats, is mounted high enough for our toddler to look around and enjoy the ride, and is very safe. I love that its surface is more pliable than most seats, thus making it comfier for our kid to ride. He LOVES riding on this thing and we have really loved it. It's easy to slide the seat on and off and you can also lock the seat to the mount when you're out running errands. My only issue with the seat is that I wish it came with a chest clip. We actually sewed one on just for my own piece of mind. Biking Family
This question has been asked before (and I have responded to it, as have others with differing opinions). That said, my standard response has changed over the years. We live on a busy street in the hills and I would not use a trailer there. Too low down and harder for cars to notice. However, there are many places where parents might feel more comfortable with a trailer, and it may take less bike handling skills to handle a trailer (unless you're going through narrowly spaced posts on bike trails). We used a rear seat with both our children. At the time, the model was called the Rhode Gear Taxi. It's still being made but by Blackburn. Francesca
I have bought a city bike and together with it a child carrier for my 2.5 year old son (He is a pretty big boy). Although HE sits very comfortable I continuously hit his feet with my heels. Of course it has to do in some way with the construction of the bike. However, I did have a look online at other carrier constructions, but they all seem to be to close to the peddling feet when you don't sit up straight on your bike. Does this problem sounds familiar and do you know a carrier without this problem, please let me know. Thanks
Get a trailer. More manageable and versatile too, plus most experts consider them MUCH safer.
Wouldn't let her kids ride in a bike-mount seat
I'm looking for some advice about a bike seat for my 15 month old. I'm primarily interested in a front-mounted seat, and would love to hear from anyone who has used one. What brand do you have? Do you like it? Does it affect the way you pedal/steer/stop? Is there a local bike shop you recommend who sells/installs the seat? (I've tried Missing Link and Tip Top, and the both only sell rear mounted seats). Has anyone tried the Yepp Mini? I like it because it seems to have a higher back than other brands like the I-Bert. I'm open to suggestions.
I'm sort of a novice bike rider, so am looking for a seat that will affect the bike's center of gravity the least. I've been told that front mounted seats are easier to handle than rear seats in this regard, but am curious to know people's experiences with this.
We plan to ride mostly on paved trails or empty streets- please no cautionary tales or scary stories about traffic and bike accidents! Thanks.
We have the i-Bert. It is easy to mount on the bike and our 18-month old loves it. Riding is also comfortable, but the tricky part is starting and stopping. The seat comes pretty far back towards the saddle, and there isn't enough room to get off the bike behind the seat. You have to either start/stop on a curb, to be higher up, or tilt the bike side-ways... It takes some practice and really isn't trivial. Some bikes might be easier to ride, but the distance between the handle bar and the saddle is pretty similar in most adult bikes, so I think this is a general problem. For any seat: measure your bike and make sure you check the manufacturer's specification about the distance between the handle bar and saddle. You mentioned another seat with the higher back - that seems more impractical, since it might make riding harder. Oren's mom
we love our iBert. I would definitely go to a shop and get it fitted as chances are good that it will not fit on a woman's bike it you are a regular sized women (we changed the stem on mine and now it works on it). We went to roaring mouse in SF. doesn't impact the steering at all (it mounts below the steering) and I love the way I can talk to my child as we ride around and observe things. Both my kids love this seat. biking mama
As a biking mama, I highly recommend the ibert! I love it. I put my soon to turn 3 year old in the seat when she was 12 months and we've been commuting daily ever since.
With my older child, I used a rear mounted seat. It was great, too. But I prefer the front mount because I can hear/interact with my daughter and I feel I have much more control. I'm an avid biker and have good bike handling skills, but the rear mounted seat felt very wobbly, especially if I stood up to climb a hill.
Also, the front mounted seat allows for carring a trail a bike on the back and/or bike bags!
Good luck and happy riding! kris
Hi there- I am a front-mounted fan. I lived in the Netherlands for a few years after marriage/before kids and only saw front mounted seats until baby two came along and then the Mom would travel with a child in front and back.
We had front mounted seats for both of our girls from 9-months until 3 1/2 years (and then we moved to the mountains, so we pretty much stopped riding with them). They were great. Our girls even took naps in them, despite our best efforts to get them home before they fell asleep.
I did have to adjust my ride slightly. It may have been because I was riding on a bike that was too small for me. But, considering that my riding was flat and recreational, I didn't really care. It never seemed to bother my husband who was riding on the proper size bike. jan
I have the ibert seat, and have used it for about a year with my now 3 year old. I mostly love it. It did take me a little time to figure out how to negotiate the small space between my bike seat and the rear of the ibert, but now it feels fine to me. The balance is really no problem (haven't tried a rear seat, so I'm not sure how much of a difference there is). I really like having him in front of me -- we are able to have ongoing conversations about everything (as long as I'm not going up a big hill!). I'd say the only significant downside is that there's no place for his head if he falls asleep -- he just kind of plops down on the front handlebars (luckily, his helmet protects his face from smashing in!). Other downside is that it really won't fit, or fit well, on all bikes -- definitely no drop handlebars. But -- super easy (5 minutes) to install. If you'd like to come check it out, or go for a test spin, feel free to contact me -- we're in North Berkeley/Albany border. esme
My son is the same age as yours and I use a Wee Ride and love it. It is mounted on a special sort of cross bar and so it does not interfere with handling at all, nor does the seat move with the handlebars. The bike's center of gravity is the same and you can use rear-mounted panniers like normal. It's so great having the child in front, we talk about what we see, point at cars, birds, balls - I really recommend a front-mounted seat.
I would love some recommendations/advice for how to ride with my 5 year old on the same bike. We have a tag-a-long but I am not a strong rider and it feels too wobbly. My son is too big for a rear or front seat.
I recently saw a guy with two kids (maybe 3 and 6?) riding on the back of the bike- it may have been a hand-made contraption- they were seated behind him on a flat wooden surface and seemed to have a foot rest- they were holding on like motorcycle passengers. Does this ring a bell with anyone? Is it too unsafe compared to the tag-a-long? I would love some advice and recommendations on this. biker mama
Tag-A-Longs: All of the tag a longs currently available, except the Burley, are wobbly. The Burley is by far the best tag a long availabe. It turns your bike into a tandem. You need to mount a rear rack on your bike and the Burley tag a long attaches to this rack. You can mount a second rear rack on a second bike, making it possible to swap the burley between bikes in a quick manner. I have seen ten/eleven year olds ride centuries on Burley tag a longs.
Other Options: The kids you saw seated on a ''flatt wooden surface'' were most likely riding on an ''Xtracycle.'' You can read about Xtrcycles at this website: http://www.xtracycle.com/ Xtracycles are wonderful, however, I think you should try one before you invest in one. The Xtracycle is a wonderful way to convert a bicycle into utility vehicle capable of carrying all sorts of cargo, children included. They can be modified in all sorts of ways to fit your needs.
It is wonderful you are trying to get your children on the bike and are open to incoorprating cycling into the life of the family. I encourage you to join a group of like minded people, like the Grizzly Peak Cyclists. They are the only cycling group in the bay area that holds rides explicitly for parents of small children. Feel free to contact me for more information. I am a cyclist and would be happy to talk to you more. I ride with my kids! jeremiah
I think the most stable way for your child to ride is with a trailer. They should still fit in a Burley trailer for example. The benefit of the trailer is that they are very stable to ride with.
I ride on a tandem bicycle with my son, but am an experienced rider. The length is not as long as with a tag-a-long bike, so it should be a bit more stable, but it is still wobbly, especially when the child moves around in the back.
--I don't know if you have ridden your bike with a child seat in the back. If you were okay handling the bike with a child seat, then a tandem may be ok for you. If you get a tandem bike, then you may need a ''child stoker kit''. They are attached to the drive train and pedal along with you. Kids really love it. Good luck, Cycling dad
What you are looking for is an Xtracycle. My husband has one, and he rides our 6-yr old all over town on it. You can check out a video of my husband riding his xtracycle at www.houseman.org and click on the picture of him on his bike. My daughter loves riding on it. dawn
I think you're talking about me! My wife saw this post. I drop my kids off at school most days using my Xtracycle - you'd see me cruising down College Ave around 8:45am.
The Xtracyle is an extension added on to a regular bike that moves the rear wheel further back and thus gives you great kid-/cargo-hauling capacity. The company website is very informative: http://www.xtracycle.com . I bought mine at Tip-Top Bike Shop on Telegraph Ave (Temescal part of Oakland). I highly recommend Tip-Top - their deal on Xtracycles was excellent, and they can help set you up to carry a kid.
I love my Xtracycle! I am a bike nut, and the Xtracycle rides great and is easy to manage: parking it, carrying it up stairs (heavy-ish, but not awkward), putting it on a bus rack, taking it on BART, putting it up on a car rack, etc. I ruled out the trail-a-bike for the same reasons as you, and also because my commute often requires me to do all those things with my bike that I just mentioned. Justin
You probably saw one of two things:
1. a regular bike with an Xtracycle attachment on the rear: http://www.xtracycle.com/
2. a purpose built long bike, like a Kona Ute: http://www.konaworld.com/09_ute_u.cfm
Solano Ave. Cyclery is listed as an Xtracycle dealer, and Kona bikes are carried by Hank & Frank's (College Ave), and also REI I think. Dad on a bike
To the Biker Mama - describing the bike with the flat wooden surface on the back, it's called an Xtracycle! And yes, they're wonderfully safe and surprisingly easy to ride on - especially with kids.
I happen to work for Xtracycle and commute on a bike very similar. And I tote my kids around on one as well. We make a cruiser bike with the extension already attached and we make the extension that you can add onto an already existing mtn or road or hybrid bike.
We also make a kid specific seat that fits on the back for toddlers - as well as the footsies and stoker bar set-up that you described seeing. And even better is the amount of stuff you can carry in addition to two kids. Lauren
the seat you saw is called an Xtracycle. They are awesome and have many uses, including riding up to 2 passengers. Check them out at Solano Avenue Cyclery..... http://www.xtracycle.com/ Bike enthusiast
My husband and I have finally gotten on our bikes since having kids. Now we have a 2 1/2 year old and 1 year old that we would like to take out on rides with us. We live in West Berkeley, and would be mainly biking on wide streets or paths with moderate street traffic. I am 5' with a traditional mountain bike and my husband is 6' with a cruiser. I am seriously considering the iBert seat or the Hamex Discovery front seat, anyone had any experience with these? Alternatively, an InStep Rocket or similar trailer for both of them? Any advice or product suggestions from your experience? New biking mom
Another factor you may want to consider is your bike's specs. We had to return the iBert (and got a Blackburn rear-seater) because there was not enough stem area on our bike to attach it to. Baby D
While there seems to be little or no hard evidence on the subject, pretty much every expert you ask will tell you that a trailer is the safest way to transport a child by bicycle. Bike- mounted seats, whether front or back, interfere with the adult rider's balance and range of motion, and carry a risk of very serious injury from a fall in even a minor bike accident. Trailers mean more weight to pull but don't significantly affect the rider's balance, and they almost always remain upright and unharmed no matter WHAT happens to the bike. Trailers, being large and brightly colored, are also more visible to car drivers, who tend to give them a much wider berth than they do to just a bicycle.
Trailers also give you the option of bringing two children along with one adult bicyclist, or of carting groceries or other cargo along with a child. And some of them convert easily to jogging stroller, ski trailer, or other uses -- so, more value for your money. We have an ''Equinox'' which is designed to be a multipurpose bicycle trailer and has worked well for our family; the Chariot trailers are also very popular and I know many people who absolutely love theirs. Insisted on the Trailer
We had front seats for our girls (wee riders/safety centrex)and loved them! I am a SAHM, so I could never get both girls out at the same time. If I had a do-over, I would have had front seats on both of our bikes (the wee rider takes a minute to remove) for rides together and a trailer to use when I was heading to the grocer. -anon
My wife and I clashed over this. Our ultimate compromise: bike trailer for my bike, bike seat for hers. There are pros and cons of trailers, rear seats, and front seats (and there should be advice in the archives -- I know, because I asked a similar question a year or so ago...).
Trailer: If your bike falls over, the trailer is still okay. Plus, the child can shift weight all he wants and that doesn't screw up your balance on the bike. Negatives: low to the ground and some people think this means they will be breathing in more fumes. Also, some say this means less visibility, which translates to more danger. Difficult to park sometimes.
Rear seat: Benefits: you can park your bike just like you normally would; less expensive, child is up high. Negatives: if you get hit by a car, your child goes flying, too. In a trailer, they're strapped into a safety cage.
Front seat: awesome because you can actually SEE your child at all times. Negatives: They take the brunt of wind and rain themselves.
Apparently all parents bring their own biases into which one, if anything, to get -- if you and hubby disagree, perhaps this will reassure you: I am happy with my trailer, and my wife is happy with the bike seat. (Of course, she did ask me to buy another coupling so that she could attach the trailer when she wanted. It was cheap, ten bucks. Also, the trailer is awesome for going grocery shopping in and of itself, and if you're into feeling superior, there's nothing like rolling up to Whole Foods on a bike...) kevin
I am wanting to get a bike seat for our one year old. I've heard that the kind that trail behind the bike are safer than the bike seats that get attached behind the seat. Or than the ones in which the baby faces you, which look like so much fun. Still, I would like to hear what other people's experiences have been with various bike seats. Thank You!
I have a bike trailer for my 4 year old, 36 lb daughter. It is a Burley single seater, and it is about the same width as the bike, which makes it pretty easy to maneuver. I chose it on the recommendation of my brother, who works in a bike shop. He asked, if I were in an accident, would I rather have the kid strapped to the bike or strapped into what is essentially a roll cage? I had had a bike accident some years before starting a family (I was doored), and I don't really like visualizing how that would have gone with a bike-mounted seat . The trailer hitch allows the trailer to stay upright even if the bike falls.
The downsides: Like cars with trailers, you have to take wide turns or run the risk of hitting a curb or parked car. They're heavier than a carseat.
More upsides: They carry more cargo (I put my laptop in the back of the trailer and drop my daughter off at preschool on the way to work). My daughter can have a toy or a snack during the ride (probably not an issue with a one-year-old, but they grow). The trailer has a net screen and a rain screen.
Other issues: Install a flag on the trailer for safety and a flasher if there's any chance you'll be riding at night. The trailer comes with reflective stripes. Child should wear a helmet regardless of the type of seat. Be sure your child's neck is strong enough for the helmet--12 months is marginal for this, so you might want to wait until you are sure. Also it's hard to find helmets this size. I had to visit several stores--I think we got ours at Missing Link in Berkeley. Good luck!
I think there are some archived bits on this topic, fyi. My wife has the bike seat that sits on the back of her bike, while I have a trailer. There are plusses and minuses to each: bike seat: if the bike falls, the kid falls, which is not the case with the trailer. Higher from ground, less fumes? If kid shifts weight, you feel it -- hang on! More fresh air, cooler. More sun exposure. trailer: pretty sturdy if bike falls. you're a long vehichle -- crosswalks suck when you're so long, so be careful. Good sun protection. Very warm in winter, believe it or not. Limited view. Good luck! Email me if you want to talk more. kevin
Hey all you biking moms and dads. I'm looking for advice on biking in the Berkeley hills with my 17 month old son. We live near Grizzly Peak Ave. and I would like to be able to bike down to campus or the Shattuck Ave. area and then, potentially, bike back up with groceries, etc. (or we'll take the bus). He already weighs close to 30 lbs and is over 34 in. long. A trailer doesn't seem like a good idea because I assume it will be too heavy for me to tow uphill, and I'm worried about visibility issues with inattentive car drivers. The two options I'm considering are a rear bike carrier and a front carrier. Do any of you have a carrier you really like? Where did you get it? What are the issues I need to consider? Thanks for your help.
We've got the WeeRide front carrier. Love it! We got it on Amazon for just under $45. http://www.amazon.com/WeeRide-Kangaroo-Child-Bike-Seat/dp/B000FIH0EG
I am thinking of getting a front mounted seat for my toddler on my bike. I checked old postings and there was only one message from 2002. I'm hoping design has changed and improved since then. Has anyone had experience, good or bad, with a front mounted seat? Is it hard to reach the handlebars around your child if you are an average sized woman (5'4'')? Any other impediments to riding comfortably? Where did you get your seat? Finally, anyone out there have a seat that they are ready to get rid of for a fair price? Thanks for any information. holly
I got a bobike mini off of ebay and my 1 year old son loves it. I tend to ride with him slow on the berkeley bike streets where there is negligible traffic. One thing to note is that it won't fit the stem of some newer bikes. My wife's cannondale has a stem that is too big for the mounting bracket so we put a rear seat on her bike.
I can't tell you if your arms would fit around it since I'm pretty tall. I was initially concerned that my knees would hit the seat but I found that since I'm going slow anyways that I just adjust my peddling accordingly. A great addition to the front seat is one of those jellibells that your kid can spin. Alex
We have 'wee riders' for both of our children (tall 4 & 2 year olds). Our eldest has been using it since 11 months. I am 5'10'' and my husband is 6-foot, so I can't speak to your height issue. I can reach the handle bars without difficulty, but my knees have to flex outward a bit to accommodate the seat. jan
The only one that is widely available is called the Weeride and it is available from target.com (not in the stores). It only costs about 0. I think you have to have a ''boy'' bike for the bar to sit on. My daughter and I like it. Reaching the handlebars is not a problem at all. The only inconvenience is that you may have to stick your knees out a little bit. You get used to it. Especially for a younger toddler, I think it is a lot better than the back seat. anon
Anyone have any advice about which toddler bike seat is safe and sturdy. I have read about the Kettler Dumbo seat. Also I can't seem to find any bike shops with a good selection, any recommendations? Is it safe to buy a used one?
we got a bobike for our second daughter. it fits in front of the rider, and you can get a windscreen for it. http://www.koolstop.com/bobike/index.php is one site i found googling bobike. we ordered it from the one step ahead catalog. it was ?$100 with the screen. for our first daughter we got a used behind the rider seat, the usual type, grey plastic, can't recall the brand. we got it at a school rummage sale. with used, you take your chances, as with car seats. we got the new seat because our first daughter complained she couldn't see, and that it was too bumpy (seat is over the back wheel). and the goal was to have a trail a bike in back, so papa could take both kids out, but we haven't tried that yet. bike widow
Have you considered the ''WeeRide'' front seat? It goes between you and the handlebars. It is $60 at Target.com. My 1 1/2 year old daughter loves it and we saw a dad and a 3 or 4 year old girl who love it too. that lady you see riding the bike with that thing
Bicycle touring with toddler
I'm planning a 4-5 day bicycle touring trip with my son (he'll be almost two then) and his grandfather. My son will go in a trailer that I will haul, and grandpa will cover the rear. Am I insane? Any advice from parents who have done this? We are planning to camp, ride an unchallenging terrain, and put in 40-50 miles a day. Is that a reasonable expectation? Will we have enough energy and time left to play with my son at the end of the day? I'd love to hear from anyone who has attempted a similar trip. Thanks!! marjorie
You may want to look at a bike seat the sits up front near the handle bars. My daughter loves that view (a trailer is very boring for an almost two year old) from her bike seat up front. I can give you the name of the brand if you want it (there is a place for her feet, access her sippy cup and a place to rest her head when she is tired).
40 to 50 miles a day may be a lot for your little one. I would plan on 2 hours before lunch and maybe 1 1/2 to 2 hours after lunch. I would do lots of 2 hours stints before the ttip so that your child gets used to it. Actually, I guess that is 40 to 50 miles a day on flat ground moving pretty slowly. Jan
I am trying to decide among the available models of front-mounted bicycle seats, and wonder if anyone out there has tried one or more of them. Which model do you use? How easy is it to get your toddler in and out of the seat? How much does it affect your pedaling? How easy is it to take on/off as needed? many thanks! Rebecca
My husband and I have the Wee-rider/Centric Safe Haven mounted on our bikes. My daughters are 3 1/2 and 2 and love to sit up front. Granted, we've never used rear seats, but I can't imagine that the view would be as much fun. We generally use them two or three times a week for rides under five miles.
The ride isn't as comfortable as your knees need to be angled out a little. A nice feature of the wee-rider/Centric Safe Haven is that it comes off the bike pretty easily. It mounts onto a bar that runs just above the bar on a 'boys' bike. The bar stays on, but the seat is easily removed without tools. I have a 'boys' bike, so the bar isn't noticeable to me when I ride without the seat.
We also looked at purchasing a front-mounted Dutch seat, but they didn't look as comfortable as the Centric Safe Haven. Feel free to contact me directly with more questions jan
We have the WeeRide, which is the most widely available one (target.com has it). Both parents and child really enjoy it. We have been using it for about 1 year now, from 1 year old to 2 years old. I actually got it after contemplating it and then meeting a 4 year old and her dad who had one and told me they loved it. I think it is more secure than a rear seat. Lots of people will tell you that it is not as safe as a trailer, which is no doubt true. It is easy to put on your bike, and easy to take it off to ride on your own. (The bar that goes along your top bar stays on and the seat unscrews in a second. It is easy to put your child in. It does cramp your knees a little bit but not too much. I fully recommend it! WeeRider
I am considering buying a rear bicycle carrier (seat) for my almost 2-year old (24 lbs), and would appreciate recommendations for or against different brands. I would rather not spend top dollar but if that is what it takes for safety/tolerability I will. Recommendations for toddler helmets (that she might actually wear and is less likely to ride forward if there is a high headrest) would be helpful too. Thank you! Anna
Have you considered the ''WeeRide'' front seat? It goes between you and the handlebars. It is $60 at Target.com. My 1 1/2 year old daughter loves it and we saw a dad and a 3 or 4 year old girl who love it too. that lady you see riding the bike with that thing
Kiddie bike seats
I'm wondering when I can safely put my child into a bike seat (he is now 2 months old). At the least, I'd like to ride around town, maybe on the bike path for some errands or exercise. But I also love longer distance road riding and want to know if anyone has done this with a little one on the back or in a carrier. Can you recommend a seat or carrier? Thanks! BikerMom
I currently make a child bike seat that goes onto an adult three- wheeled bike that would hold a baby carrier. If you go to the website '2budsbikeseat.iwarp.com' you can see a picture of it. It just mounts to the back of an adult three-wheeled bike, in the place where they usually put a basket. Charlie
In general, it's not recommended to take a baby biking, especially not in a back-of-bike seat, until 1 year of age -- for much the same reason that you can't turn the baby's carseat forward facing until then.
I personally don't believe bike seats are safe, period. A trailer is the safer choice. (Though obviously opinion among bicyclists varies; I don't know if anyone's ever done any sort of statistical study.) In general, trailers also are recommended only for age 1 and up, and I was not comfortable allowing my son in one until he was walking well and fairly verbal, at around 15 or 16 months, but I have heard of people putting their baby's infant carrier carseat into the trailer, rear facing. I don't *think* there are any laws governing this, so it's up to you whether you feel comfortable with that solution. anon
Where can I get a front mounted child seat for my bike? I'm not sure what they are called, or what name brands they are. I've seen a few around town and would feel much safer with my child in front than in back. I've already had a couple of not so good experiences with the back mounted child seat and do not want a trailer. Thanks Biking mom
We just got a front mounted seat. Actually it's behind the handle bars and straddles the center post. See: http://www.centricsafehaven.com/ I found it difficult to get the bike started. My husband rode 25 miles with it this weekend on a mountain bike. I rode along side on my own bike, so I could see that our daughter loved it and sang nearly the entire trip. The straps aren't the best and need some fine tuning. It seems like it would work best for a parent who is taller with a toddler less than 36 inches tall (the weight limitation is 40 pounds). The clearance is tricky because your chin will be directly above your child's (helmeted) head. When you factor in the helmet and leaning over to reach the handlebars/brakes, it's tricky. Anyway, if you want to see it in person contact us. Good Luck! River
Do you actually use your bike seat?
Is there *anyone* out there who actually likes their bike seat? We live in an apartment, and there just isn't space in our living or storage areas for a Burley trailer. I want to bike with my daughter once she turns a year old, and of course we will get a helmet for her, etc. It would be nice to have some feedback from people who actually use a bike seat, rather than only from those who use a trailer. Thanks Donna
We have been using a Rhode Gear bike seat for about 3 months. I have not used a trailer so I cannot comment on pros and cons between the two, but I can say that I love our bike seat. We chose a seat over a trailer for a few reasons, 1) cost, 2) space, and 3) I felt more comfortable with my child on my bike frame rather than in a trailer. There seem to be many pros safety wise for the trailer, but personally I felt uneasy about pulling a trailer and for me a seat felt safer. I do think that in the case of a fall, a trailer is safer. But I was more concerned about being hit by a car, rather than falling. The trailer deal simply scares me, it scares me when I see them in the street and I'm driving. I don't trust other cars/drivers. I generally only ride on biking paths and sidewalks and with a trailer I'm not sure how easy it is to ride on sidewalks. My son loves the bike seat, he wants to ride in it every day! I sometimes wear a small backpack and have not had problems with it hitting my son's face, as others have commented. I also like having him close to me while we are riding. Good luck in making a choice! Rachel
At first I was nervous about biking around Berkeley with our kids, but the bike lanes have made it easier and I ring my bike bell like a maniac so we don't get doored by people getting out of their parked cars. Now I love it, because I can zip through the barriers and past traffic. It's great. Our daughters loved the Rhodegear bike seat up until the time they couldn't squeeze into it any more. It's very sturdy and has held up well. We bought a used Burley to tote around 3 toddlers, and now use it for groceries. Now that our girls are older, they are enjoying the tagalong bike which I can attach easily to my bike and convert it into a bicycle built for two. --- Franny
Yes, I use a bike seat with my son, although not regularly, and have found that it works fine. I ride an old, solid, 3-speed women's bike so there is less chance of falling off than with a racing bike with narrow tires and pedal clips, say. Certainly, in my ten+ years of daily commute bike riding from Oakland to Berkeley, I've never fallen off my bike and haven't come close to falling off riding around with my son either.
With a 35-40 lb. kiddo above the rear wheel, the bike is very differently balanced from normal though, and it takes extra skill and diligence to ride the bike. Because of the reduced stability, I avoid heavily trafficked streets, parking lots, and other car-infested places. I can easily talk to my son about the stuff we pass, etc. because he is right there behind me. My son always enjoys the rides too. If I were commuting with my son or riding long distances, I would probably consider investing in a Burley, but for short jaunts, I find the bike seat to work well. Peter
We have had our daughter in a bike seat since she was 5 months old. She is now 2 1/2 and I ride her to school on my way to work. We have had a great experience using our bike seat, and she loves to be up where she can see, feel the wind, and feel like she is part of the bike ride. We have a Rhode Gear bike seat, which is reputedly the safest. They come in a regular type and one that can recline for a sleeping child. We have the regular one. I cannot speak to a Burley since I've never used one, but I can certainly highly recommend the bike seat!!! We just got another one to mount on my husband's bike for our newest baby so we can all bike together. -Jennifer
I use a bike seat and I love it. (I can't remember the brand name offhand, but it's a common one -- I bought it at Missing Link and it was the only kind they had.) (I never used a trailer, so can't compare.) I've used it for about 2 years, starting with my daughter at age 3, and so far haven't had a problem. Once my husband, who uses one too, fell on the bike. My daughter was a bit scared but not hurt, and didn't have a problem about going in the seat again. I like that she's close enough that you can have conversations with her while riding. I keep the seat on the bike permanently -- it's great for carrying groceries, a backpack, and most other miscellaneous items when she's not in it. Hannah
In reply to the plea for views from bike seat rather than trailer users: we have used a bike seat for three years, from the time when our son was also about one year old. We have never had an accident whilst he was on board (touch wood), probably, I think, because of the extra caution his presence inspires. (I fall of fairly regularly when on my own.)
At first, I was actually most worried about him falling out of the seat, but this is, in fact, not a problem at all. Falling asleep turned out to be more worrying. Any movement, including cycling, helps to put a little kids to sleep. Our bike seat at least provides little support for a flopping head. When our son was smaller, I always stopped riding and walked when he snoozed off, because I was worried about his neck.
Our seat is quite solid, curves a fair way around the sides, and I think would provide quite good protection were we to fall. We bought the seat in the UK - I think it was manufactured by a Scandinavian company - so I can't really give any useful advice on buying kids' bike seats here. You should, however, check that you bike is long enough for the seat to fit onto. In some cases the kid can end up with his or her face only a few inches from the adult's back. The proximity of a child on a bike seat has one important advantage: it must be a lot easier to talk to your child on a seat, than it would be in a trailer.
I hope that is of some help, and reassures you that bike seats are not necessarily accidents waiting to happen, Chris
We used a bike seat for our son from about age 8 months to 4 years and liked it. (Ended up getting two--one for each of our bikes.) The Rhode Gear series (Taxi and Limo they were called 8 years ago) fits on Blackburn racks that come with them, so you can use the racks for carrying things when the seat isn't on. I didn't notice any safety issues, except for using common sense. The bike does get a bit top-heavy, which is an issue when getting off and on. I wouldn't put one on a road bike--only on a mountain bike or cross bike. Fran
We use a bike seat (and a trailer.) We used the trailer more when our son was younger (we actually attached his carseat in the trailer). We LOVE the bike seat. It is very convenient and our son really likes to be able to look around and be closer to mom or dad. We probably bike more with our son now that we have a bike seat. I am part of a 'bike-riding mom's group' and many use bike seats. It allows us to do longer, harder rides and the kids all do great. I do agree that the trailers are somewhat safer, but if you ride cautiously and defensively, I believe the bike seats can be very safe as well. In addition, you can get a bike bag that attaches to the handlebars or a front panier to carry your stuff so you don't have to worry about the backpack in the face problem. We still use the trailer for trips where we need to haul stuff, like camping trips,etc. and also look forward to using it when we have another child. Elizabeth
I have used both a Burley trailer and a bike seat. There are good points and bad points to each. I would not give up my bike seat, however, since it is much lighter for hauling my son around and he seems to enjoy the ride more sitting up where he can see. He usually sleeps in the seat for about 40 minutes when I do a longer (1 1/2 hour) ride.
On the negative side, I can't carry as much with the seat (but I did put on a front rack with a pannier, which helps.) As far as safety, you're only as safe as the drivers around you with either the trailer or the bike seat, so you must be assertive in taking your rightful space on the road, or avoid traffic roads. I have felt comfortable riding in Berkeley and Oakland, but I choose routes/roads carefully. Some of the other moms with whom I've ridden prefer to stay on bike paths or designated bike routes. It can help to put a flag or reflective stickers on the back of the seat to make you stand out. Anonymous
We are very happy w/ our bike seat. My son is 17 mo. old & I started biking w/ him in his seat (made by Troxel) when he was 9 1/2 mo. We bike for transportation all over Albany, Berkeley, No.Oakland & Emeryville. We have also bike for fun on many of the trails in Contra Costa County. It's great. My son loves it, he will even fall asleep from the rhythmic movement. I highly recommend getting a bike seat that can be removed from the rack, that way if your daughter falls asleep you can lock the bike up & transport her in the seat still asleep. Also, if you us your bike a lot for riding w/out her, you can remove her seat & still attach whatever bike bag you might need.
I have heard from many people that they are afraid that the child's extra weight & movement will adversely affect their ability to balance & maneuver. I have never had any trouble. I started when my son was pretty young (didn't weigh or move around much), so maybe that helped me make the adjustment. I have cycled quite a bit & I had concerns regarding a trailer affecting my balance & movement, not to mention concerns about clueless motorists not realizing that they need to wait not only for the bike to pass, but also the trailer. I think both arguments have valid points & you have to make the right decision for your own situation. Good luck & happy trails:) Romy
I have been biking with my 16 month old daughter in a Rhode Gear Bike seat for the past few months, and it is amazing. I like having her right next to me, and the seat is certainly smaller and easier to store than a trailer. I feel safer having her next to me if I have to navigate through traffic or around potholes. I also opted for the seat so that I can take the bike on the back of my car if I want to drive to a bike path; I didn't think the trailer would fit in the back of my car very well. eeb
One of the posts regarding bike seat safety stated that the poster had used a bike seat since the child was 5 months old. They are usually not recommended until a child is around 1 year, since the child's neck muscles need to be strong enough to handle the added weight of the helmet in case of a sudden stop. (Same logic behind rear-facing car seats.) That was the recommendation when I worked in a bike shop 5 years ago; if it's changed since,someone is sure to post a correction. I have heard of people placing rear-facing car seat in Burleys to use them with much younger infants, but don't know enough about this to comment on it. Jennifer
I am new at riding a bike with toddler in tow (aged 19 months) in a bike seat. I haven't ridden a bike in years so I had little confidence in myself initially. But I took it slow on easy bike paths (the Bay Trail is great) and have worked up enough confidence to hit the streets, traffic and all. I haven't used a (Burley) trailer at all but I am finding that the bike seat is fine for my toddler and me. She's right there behind me instead of trailing behind where there is a risk of her getting hit by a vehicle. The load for me is lighter than with the larger trailer. My toddler loves riding on the seat for she can see a lot, probably more than sitting low in a trailer. She loves being close enough to hear my voice and see me when I glance back. We'll sing songs together as we ride. OK, so my toddler has the vote. For me, there is some balancing to get used to; the extra weight (vs. riding alone) sways around more. So far, I haven't fallen off and I've had a good time with this new activity with my toddler.
If you do choose to get a bike seat, make sure that the toddler helmet is one of those completely rounded styles vs. the pointed aerodynamically designed ones. That way, it's comfortable for your child to sit back against the back of the bike seat. Enjoy! Liz Many thanks to all who posted, and to the even more who emailed. I will be getting our bike seat soon...and maybe some panniers so we can shop as well as exercise. Thanks again. Donna
New ideas on bike seat vs. trailer?
It's been a few years since there was discussion in this forum about using a bike seat vs. a bike trailer for carting your kid around. I'm debating whether to invest in a Burley bike trailer or a Rhode Gear bike seat to use for recreating on bike trails - paved and unpaved - and commuting on streets that have bike lanes with my 24-pound, 10-month-oldb oy. Any advice or new thoughts from those who've done both? Danielle
My husband and I have a Burley duo trailer that we have been using for our 2 girls who are now 2 1/2 and 4 yrs. old. We thought briefly about getting a bike seat for our 2 1/2 year old, since our 4 yr. old often like to ride her own bike now. However, as a pediatric physical therapist, my biggest concern is if I were to crash with her strapped into a seat behind me. Yes, she always wears a helmet, and we are almost exclusively on bike trails, but if I were to crash with the Burley, it has a junction on it which swivels, thus keeping the trailer upright most of the time when the bike in front of it crashes. Obviously, it also gives much more protection by virtue of the frame. I have seen too many children with head injuries (yes, you can sustain a serious head injury even in a helmet) to allow myself to put her in a seat behind me, even though it would be much less cumbersome. Don't know if this helps, but we have visited and re-visited it and I just can't risk it. Trish
This is a response about a trailer vs.a bike seat. We have only used a trailer with our son so I cannot compare the two but from our standpoint a trailer is safer and more fun for the child. It is very visible and if the bike tips over, the trailer does not. My son can bring toys, books, etc.. in the trailer so he does not get bored. It is more comfortable for a child to sleep in and it offers shelter from the elements. If you want to talk about it more, please email me. Amanda
I haven't used a bike seat, having become convinced early on that trailers were inherently safer and more versatile, but I will pass along this anecdote regarding my Burley trailer (in which I've now pulled both of my daughters serveral thousand miles, both here in the E. Bay and during extended Italian vacations): early on, when I was still getting used to the handling of the Burley, I went around a right-angle, off-camber turn much too quickly, and I flipped the Burley, and then proceeded to drag it 50 yards before I realized what had happened. I note two things:
1. Even a high-speed rollover of the trailer didn't upset the equilibrium of the bike, thanks to Burley's well-designed hitch.
2. My young daughter, who had decided to take her nap during this ride, was entirely unharmed. Indeed, she didn't even wake up! I attribute this to the full set of restraining straps built in the Burley's seat, and to the roll cage design of the trailer's frame, which wraps the aluminum tubing entirely around both the wheels and the passenger compartment.
I've been riding, with and without trailers, for many years, and am convinced that an occasional crash is inevitable--and when that inevitable crash occurs, I would much rather that my precious cargo be in a trailer than on a seat.
One final note: my Burley is eight years old now, much traveled and heavily used. And although it looks a little down at the heels, it's still fully functional, runs fine, and has retained much of its original market value. Wish I could say that about my car! Steven
I can't say I've done both, but I have been grateful to have used a trailer to pull my 4 year old son for the past two years. It was just this past Summer when I lost balance, couldn't clip out of the peddles in time and literally flipped over my handlebars falling into a pile of ivy just off the trail. While I was banged up quite a bit, I was so relieved to look over at my son, sitting unscathed and perfectly upright in his Burley trailer asking, you ok mommy?. The mechanism that attaches the bike to this type of trailer actually swivels, so when my bike is down, the trailer stays stable. Also this trailer sits on three wheels which helps add balance when you ride.
Personally, though I see people all the time using them, would *never* use a bike seat - especially after the incident described above. Also recently, I was riding behind a woman with her infant in a seat and the mom's big backpack kept sweeping across the baby's face making Baby really mad. Mom was oblivious as to why her kid was fussy until I pointed out the obstruction. I'll also add that no matter what the method, try to avoid busy streets and follow all traffic and safety rules (they apply to bikes too) to reduce your risk of an incident. Otherwise, this is one activity you will really enjoy doing with your kid. Happy riding! Rue
One reason no one has mentioned so far besides how safe Burley trailers are and the protection from the elements is how convenient they are for carrying things along with my 2 year old daughter. I use the Burley to take her to preschool--most mornings there are lots of other things to bring with her which I can stash behind her. I can also grab a bag of groceries on the way home or our box of CSA vegetables. The Burley really keeps us out of our car more often than a seat on the bike would although we never actually tried one. My daughter is a lot more enthusiastic about getting in the trailer at the end of the day than her car seat. My only regret is not buying the double Burley because it adds a lot more space for carrying things (and for the eventual passenger number 2) and doesn't add much more weight! michele
From: Fran (7/98)
VeloSport (MLK and Virginia) and Solano Cyclery (on Solano in Albany, just east of Safeway) both carried it when we got ours 5 years ago. I wouldn't be surprised if prices vary by a few dollars from store to store. Also: there is more than one model of Rhode Gear bike seat. We've had the two top models-- I think they're called the Taxi and the Limo. The Limo's front safety bar is longer lasting and probably more convenient than the Taxi's, but they were both very sturdy seats. And Rhode Gear is good at sending replacement parts when necessary, for safety's sake.
Our Taxi model also tipped back for resting. The main difference I noticed between the Taxi and Limo is the restraint system. I thought the Limo's was easier to use and its restraining bar was sturdier. However, when our son became strong enough to pull off the Taxi's restraining bar, RhodeGear said the restraining straps were enough and not to worry about it.
From: Cindy (7/98)
we just purchased a rhodegear limo...i called all the bikestores in berkeley and oakland and virtually all carry the brand. the taxi is less expensive ($99-100); the limo reclines for when your child falls asleep and is $118-120. if you want to put the rack on more than one bike (the seat easily detaches), a separate rack costs $43-45. i have found the owners at square wheel to be very knowledgeable about baby/kid biking stuff, but i recommend just going to your cloest bikeshop since prices are comparable and depending on your bike frame, you may need some extra assistance when installing the rack.
Hi, I was the one who asked a few months ago about bike seats. My question was specifically about back seats vs trailers, and the age at which babies can start riding, but people replied with useful general information too. Below are the replies I got (I didn't know whether I should keep or strip contributors' names, so erred on the side of anonymity, but if you want to know who said something i can look it up). Basically the advice, in summary form, is:
- for commuting in traffic, you probably want a back-rack-top seat (for visibility) preferably mounted on a mountain bike, and the recommended brand of seat is Rhode Gear;
- for pleasure riding on bike trails, you probably want a trailer (for non-tippiness), and the recommended brand is Burley;
- for older kids, there is also an attachment available that turns your bike into sort of a tandem so the kid gets pedals and handlebars and everything;
- and of course, always wear your own helmet and have the kid wear one too.
(see the following for the full summary) Joyce
Hi, I bicycle a lot and my parents-in-law have offered to buy us a baby-seat for my bike. Does anyone know whether the kind that sits above the rear wheel is safer, or the trailer type? I'd be interested in hearing anything else you know about these things too. The baby is currently 5 months old and can pretty much sit up by himself, if that matters. For the time being we've just been taking the bus, which is fine most of the time, so there's no rush, if he's still too young. I'd want something that we could keep using till he can ride by himself.
In response to the bike seat inquiry: Because of the helmet law, most children are not able to ride in child bike seats until they are around 1 yr old and can safely sit and wear a helmet. If considering the trailer (ie Burley is best!), then I believe you can place an infant car seat in it until the child is old enough to sit and wear the helmet. The tricky thing about helmets is that once they fit the child, my experience is that the child DOES NOT want to wear it! Double check with your peditrician as to when he/she recommends taking your tot out in a bike seat or trailer and then have fun.
BTW: We have the Road Gear bike seat and our toddler loves riding in it and finally loves to wear her helmet, especially since Mommy and Daddy wear theirs as well.
Trish. mom of 22-mo-old
I have been commuting to work for over a year with my son, who will be 2 in July, stopping at daycare en route to UCB. We live in North Oakland and I work on the east side of campus--our roundtrip commute is about 3 1/2 miles. We use a RhodeGear bicycle seat which mounts on a back rack. I chose a bike seat over a trailer because I like the idea of Simon being as close to me and the orientation of the bike as possible, and because the combination of bad road conditions (potholes, variable bike lanes, stupid drivers, etc) and plain & simple traffic seemed like too many variables to navigate and control.
We use front panniers mounted on a (recrafted) front rack to carry diapers, lunches, laundry and whatever else we are carrying that day. I think a trailer would be preferable in more suburban, or at least less urban environment, or when Simon gets older because his movements (gesturing wildly at a cat crossing the road...a lost balloon...) can really make the bike sway. It is hard work carrying so much stuff if you add up the pounds (child, seat, wet diapers, bottles, 2 lunches, extra pants...something to the tune of 37-40 extra pounds!) but it sure is a lot of fun and feels really good to get off of a bicycle at the end of the trip, better than look for a parking place. Simon and I can sing, stop and look at things, and get lots of fresh air just getting to and from work, and it is such a pleasure. There is an article in the April issue of Mothering magazine about bicycling with babies & children which gives more good advice about gear, but I think most of it is attitude and commitment to bicycling. The lovely lad in the checkered pants is Simon and that's his mom on her trusty steed!! Good luck! Claire
I've always used a bike seat, rather than a trailer, for my kids -- they're much cheaper! Here are my thoughts on the decision, in no particular order:
1) I'd be reluctant to put a child much under 1 year old on a bicycle. Their necks are not strong enough to hold the helmet up. In Massachusetts, it's illegal to have a child under 1 on a bike; I'm not sure about in a trailer, but they do still need a helmet.
2) RhodeGear makes great bike seats ($70-$120, I think) that are extremely easy to mount and demount from your bike. We started with a cheap one from Toys R Us, and it was terrible, despite the advertisement mounts without tools on the box.
3) Bikes are definitely less stable with a child seat. I compensate by lowering my seat so I can put my feet almost flat on the ground, and have never had any trouble. The advantages to bike seats over trailers are that you can have a conversation with your child while you ride, and you don't have to worry about the trailer in tight places. If you'll be commuting on city streets with the baby, I'd get the bike seat; if you'll mostly be sticking to bike trails for recreational use, the trailer would be better.
4) As far as I know, neither one will hold your child until s/he is big enough to ride a bike without training wheels. Bike trailers are generally rated for ages 1-4; kids will grow out of a bike seat between ages 3-4 (my very small daughter barely fit through age 4.5).
5) There are trailers, made by Adams Trail-A-Bike, that will hold older kids -- the child rides on a regular bike seat and has pedals and handlebars. I use one now for commuting and drop my daughter off at school on the way to work. It's a little scary riding through the city with a trailer -- they're not very maneuverable, and even with the tall warning flag I'm afraid that some drivers won't notice the trailer. However, at least it's narrower than my bike, unlike the trailers for little kids. I think that some of these trailers can also be mounted with an infant seat, so you could look into getting one for the baby, but I'd be more comfortable with the bike seat.
Happy bicycling! Beth
I've used both the seats and the trailers and there's really no question in my mind that the trailers are MUCH safer. Having the seat on the back of the bike makes the bike very unstable. Also, if the bike goes down with a seat on the back, your child goes down with it. But, if the bike goes down with a good trailer, your child just sits back there and giggles at you... A well made trailer will also have a roll bar type of structure in case you do somehow manage to roll the thing over (which is VERY hard to do).
I've had a trailer made by Burley for several years and I recommend them VERY highly! It folds up pretty small, converts to a great stroller, and I think it's very safe. I was even hit (well, nudged) by a van once with my daughter in the trailer and she didn't even notice ('till she saw me screamin' at the bonehead who did it).
In any case, 5 months is probably still a little young. I would wait until you can fit a helmet on him (and he can still hold his head up). Our pediatrician made me wait until our daughter was about 10 months. And don't you dare take him anywhere in a seat or a trailer without a helmet on both of you! :) Craig
I pretty much discounted using a trailer for my son simply because of the idea of having him sit so close to the exhaust pipes of other vehicle on the road.
When he was one, I got the cheapest toddler seat model available, and he loved riding with me right away. The helmet was no problem, only he always made sure that I would wear mine too! I also love being able to talk with him and knowing I can check on him whenever I want to. The problem now is that he weighs 45 lbs at 3, and the seat has a max. capacity of 40 lbs. I love the idea of trailers in terms of weight distribution and carrying capacity, but not in the middle of city traffic. Eric
Just wanted to add something on getting kids to wear bike helmets: we got lots of cool, reflective stickers and put them all over my son's bike helmet and my own. Castles, dragons, spaceships, dolphins, rhinos, stars, birds, you name it. This worked well for us and my son has never objected to wearing his helmet. Of course, I always wear mine too, being a proper role model.