There have been plenty of debates across the globe on whether cycling with babies is safe or not. According to the Dutch, it is okay to take your newborn on a bike ride. Brits think around nine months is safe enough while Americans believe that a child should be at least a year old. Regardless of what age you want to take your child, you should use a baby bike seat to ensure his safety.
Furthermore, no matter what advise your friends or family give you or what you read online, it will still be up to you on whether you think your child is old enough to tag along with you safely. If you feel like it will not be safe for him, then don’t push through with it. However, if you feel that it’s safe to take your child mountain biking with you, there are a few factors you need to take into consideration and reading various tips for mountain biking with a baby online will also be helpful.
A 2023 Guide To Mountain Bike Travel With Your Young Kids
Understanding The Laws
Before going on a bike ride with your child, it is vital that you are aware of the biking laws in your area including the bike helmet law which you can read at the National Bureau of Economic Research website.
It is not recommended to put a bike helmet on an infant when biking with them. It will do more harm on them since their necks are not that strong yet to accommodate the added weight. Your baby can use a helmet once he is around one-year-old.
There are states that strictly imposes a no-biking policy for kids below 12-months old, while most states require for all kids to wear a bike helmet. Although we often neglect these laws and not enforced most of the time, it will be an advantage on your part as a parent to know them before mountain biking with your child.
What Is A Baby Bike Seat?
Baby bike seats are compact and small safety equipment that you can mount on your bike to carry your baby when cycling. They come in a wide range of mounting styles and suitable for kids between the ages of around nine months to four years old. Their lower limitations will mostly depend on your child’s ability to sit up without any support.
There are some child bike seats that you can recline and can be used by infants as young as six months, as long as your baby can sit up when he’s propped up. Your little one can even snooze off without slumping forward or sideways.
The seat’s upper limit, on the other hand, will depend on your child’s weight instead of his age. Normally, baby bike seats are considered for passengers with a weight of about 20 kgs. It is never a good idea to exceed the weight restriction even if the bike seat seems strong enough. The seat may not break, but it’ll be harder for you to control your mountain bike with a heavier passenger on, especially in the case of a rear-frame mounted seat.
Front-Frame Child Bike Seat
Front-frame child bike seats changed the game for mountain bike-loving parents out there. It can provide your one-year-old with the excitement of rushing above the ground and darting around bends while safely around your arms. It also allows you to share the joy of riding a bike with your child instead of being a mere passenger.
Moreover, you will be able to have a conversation with him, sing, encourage and check your child anytime during the whole ride. Your child will feel more comfortable sitting over the suspension. Compared to dragging a trailer, this type of seat allows you to enjoy riding in a terrain that’s moderately rough and singletrack as well as make climbs relaxed.
You can use a front-frame seat when:
- The neck of your child is strong enough to support his head when going through rough surfaces.
- Your child is at least 12-months old as per the recommendation of most brands.
- Your little adventure seeker does not weigh more than 15 kgs.
Consider the following things when shopping around for a front-face child seat:
- Make sure that you can easily fit and remove it from your mountain bike.
- Most seats can fit any modern MTB, but if your steerer is cut or rather short with less than 20mm of spacers, you’ll need to buy new forks for it to fit.
- Look for the lightest model possible.
- Check to see if you have enough knee room to paddle comfortably.
- Consider getting a model which features more head support that’s suitable for sleeping kids if your child tends to sleep even when the ride is bumpy.
Always double check that you’ve fitted the baby bike seat accordingly to ensure your child’s safety. It is also essential that your mountain bike is maintained at high standards, and your child is wearing a helmet every time you’ll take him on a bike ride.
Rear-frame mounted bike seats come in three different designs:
- Cantilevered seat. This type comes with a plastic bracket that has a couple of holes bolted into the seat tube. The seat is supported by a two-pronged rack. However, the drawback here is that the suspension tends to be springy which may not flex adequately under smaller kids and may result in them slightly tipping forward. While larger children or when used long term may flex it a bit too far.
- Seats fixed to a carrier rack. You can slide and lock this type onto the top of your rack using a safety strap around the seat tube or seat post for added protection and safety. You can also use the rack to carry panniers when you remove the seat.
- Bike seat directly fixed to the seat tube and seat stays. This type which often uses quick-release features long legs that you can bolt to the seat stays. It also comes with a bracket that you can fit on the seat tube to limit apt movement and force. Most of these child bike seats are ideal for medium to large MTBs that has a traditional top tube.
Rear-fitting seats that you can bolt to your MTB’s frame or to its rack that’s bolted to the bike’s frame are sturdier and more stable, but you will not be able to fit it to a bike with a rear suspension.
Bringing your child along on a bike trip is a great way to bond and share your passion with them. However, you have to make sure that they are always safe and protected. If you want to be on the safest side of things, wait until your baby is at least one-year-old before riding with him to ensure that his neck is strong enough to endure the jostling that MTB rides create.