Family bike rides are a great way to get everyone out of the house, get some exercise and above all, spend time with one another away from the distractions of the modern world. However, some of us have small children that are too small to ride a bike, and need a seat. Attaching a child seat to a road bike is one potential solution, but is it practical?
Child bike seats can safely attach to a road bike as long as the bike has the correct mounting points for the child seat. The recommended child seat for a road bike is a rear-mount seat, as opposed to a front-mount seat, because it allows for the rider to have more space at the front of the bike.
Being able to put your child in a seat and attach it to a bike allows you both to get some fresh air, and ride sidewalks without the need for a bike trailer. Keep reading to find out more about attaching a child bike seat to your road bike.
Can child bike seats attach to a road bike?
Child bike seats are not generally seen on road bikes in the traditional sense of the word; D-shaped handlebars, thin frames and seats, skinny tires for low rolling resistance. That does not mean you cannot put a child seat on a road bike, it just means you will need to make sure there are safe mounting points.
There are factors you need to take into consideration before attaching a child seat to a road bike:
- Road bikes are designed for speed and sharp handling, not long distance cruising, and are as small as safely possible
- Attaching a child seat can throw that geometry off and make the bike distinctly unpleasant to ride
Road bikes also have skinny tires that need high pressures, and no suspension in the interest of weight savings, so they are uncomfortable to ride and will be quite bumpy for the child in your seat. It is possible to attach a child bike seat to a road bike, but in the interest of comfort you may not want to. The light-weight and fast design of most road bikes makes attaching a child bike seat counter-intuitive.
Safety is also a concern. Road bikes have small frames, and depending on the size of your bike, you may not be able to safely attach a child bike seat. You cannot ride at high speeds with a child bike seat attached, for comfort purposes but especially for safety reasons. Finding a child bike seat that is easily mountable onto a road bike can be difficult.
Riding a road bike with a child seat attached
If you can safely attach your child’s seat to your road bike, you can absolutely ride with the seat attached. However, you cannot ride as quickly or take corners as sharply with the extra weight on the rear of the bike. How much weight is on the back of the bike depends on the age and weight of your child.
Road bikes tend to have thinner and smaller frames than other types of bikes, depending on size and materials used; some are aluminium and more expensive models can be entirely carbon fiber. If your child is heavy and you ride a bumpy road with them in the seat, you risk bending the frame and compromising the geometry.
While bending frames is not a tremendous concern, it is something you should keep in mind. The constant pressure and varying twisting forces generated by bumps take a toll on road bikes. If you really want to carry your child on the back of your road bike, you should stop doing it after they surpass 40 lbs (18 kg); your legs and bike will thank you.
You can ride your road bike with your child seat attached, but it will be bumpy, less stable than before and possibly more unpredictable because of the extra weight over the rear end of the bike. There is also the concern of the child seat not remaining attached, but that is not a problem if the clamps are secure. Just be careful and you will be fine.
Mount the seat to the frame or seat post
Bike seats on any bike are safest when mounted to the frame or the seatpost. The two most popular locations to mount a child seat on a bike are the seatpost or the frame tube in which the seatpost resides. This is because this particular area of the bike flexes the least and so is the sturdiest.
Now, depending on the style of road bike you have, you may want to mount the seat to a rear mounted rack instead. Racks mount to the rear frame triangle and can provide a little more stability, as the rack acts like a platform and has support from the frame. If your bike is an all out racer, find a different bike to use,it is not worth the risk of damage.
Best child bike seats for road bikes
If you are determined to ride a road bike and have your child in a seat on the back, then you will need the appropriate seat. Here are some options:
The first option you can consider is the Schwinn Deluxe Child Bike Seat. This bike seat comes with leg restraints and a padded safety bar to keep your child extra safe during a bike ride. If you want to prioritize your child’s safety during bike rides, then this is one of the best bike seats you can find. This bike seat can handle a maximum weight of 40 lbs (18 kg) and can handle bigger toddlers compared to other bike seats.
Next, there is the Burley Dash, a model line up of seats that are either frame or seatpost mounted depending on preference. This is a no frills, bare bones seat, although it does feature a cup holder. However, it has a shorter back and lower weight capacity, so this is great for preschoolers; not so much for bigger toddlers.
Can a child seat damage a road bike?
As road bikes tend to have thinner frames than mountain or hybrid bikes, the chance for damage is greater when mounting a child seat, so this is a safety and damage concern for you and your child. Whether the seat is seatpost or frame mounted, it will flex and bounce, putting stress on the bike frame.
You also need to consider that as your child seat has a weight limit, so too does your bike. You plus your child and seat could be getting too close to or pushing past that weight limit. If you ride on bumpy roads frequently, your combined weight will put additional stress on the frame and potentially bend it.
Even a rack mounted seat will be an additional stress, because the seat will be bouncing up and down, pulling and twisting on the mounting points. It does not take much to flex or even twist frame tubes on road bikes, because they are generally a little thinner. This is not to say you cannot mount a child seat to a road bike, but be cautious.
The decision to mount a child seat to your road bike is up to you. It is possible to do, but be aware that it can bring extra wear and tear on your bike, and potentially damage it as well. Still, when mounted safely, a child seat on a road bike will bring good times for you and your child.
Though rear child bike seats are generally considered safe, it really comes down to your confidence and comfort level while riding a bike. It’s a good idea to practice riding with extra weight before buckling your child into the seat and always ask for help if you need it. And don’t forget, always wear a helmet!
My Recommended Child Bike Seats
Affordable and sturdy, I recommend getting the following child bike seats for anyone looking for a seat to ride together with your child. I’ve been using these two seats for more than 6 years for both of my kids and they’re still holding up great. If you want to see all the gear I recommend, check out my Gear page.
Recommended Front Child Seat: WeeRide
Recommended Rear Child Seat: Schwinn Deluxe