At A Glance
Being a mountain biking parent it's inevitable that one's offspring will have a childhood surrounded by bikes. From an early age, my son has had various wheeled machines to play with and fall off. The boom in kids bikes means there is now a plethora of choices from balance bikes to full-on performance machines for the little people. What has been lacking are quality ways to take your child on your bike with you.Buy Saddles on
The child trailers have been around for a while, but the child is isolated and you end up limited to wide smooth trails. Your child may sleep, you might get exercise, but it's not great, plus if you get on the roads your children are vulnerable low down. Rear seats are ok, but they don't get to see where they are going and get bounced around all over the place. I even tried riding with him in a sling on my back which worked surprisingly well, but wasn't a long-term solution.
I started looking into front seats, and again there is a big range of plastic monstrosities which flex, bend and try to strap your child in so they can sleep. I remembered bikes from the 80s with tiny crossbar seats fitted for kids which is when I stumbled across Mac Ride. This family business has been developing a child seat for some years, and I was keen to try it as my son had become the right size for some more advanced adventures.
Simply, the Mac Ride is an adjustable crossbar seat which clamps between the seat tube and steerer tube of any bike. The seat is a saddle-shaped scoop with two stirrups for their feet. Again these are adjustable. Replacing one headset spacer with a 'special' one to allow the bars to rotate is the only bike modification required.
The construction is excellent, a far cry from the plastic crap that most child seats are made from. Good quality bolts and fastenings secure the seat and no flex can be felt. Crucially here, the seat is designed to be used actively with a child i.e. they can't just fall asleep and be passive. They sit on the seat and hold your handlebars (with mini grips supplied) and together you go riding.
On The Trail
Installation is easy, really easy. Just clamp onto the seat tube and the pre-installed spacer below your stem. Fold the footrests down and adjust the length to fit. Small grips can be installed, or just some bar tape wrapped round to provide grip and insulation for small hands. Job done.
All that is required then is to find a child of the correct size (not supplied) and go for a ride. I've been using this since my son was 2.5 years old, but if they can ride a balance bike they'd be fine. They sit comfortably in front of you, holding your bars, and you feel close and secure with them. Sure, there is risk involved, they're not strapped in, but you pretty much have your arms around them already, so it feels normal and not alien.
Once riding the first thing that is instantly noticeable is that you can chat and talk really easily. This dialogue allows for your child to easily tell you if they are happy, or not, and you can adjust accordingly. Starting with very gentle rides on tracks it was clear that it was enjoyable for both of us. Pedalling is pretty good, and on shorter bikes, you need to pedal a little bow-legged, but modern, long enduro bikes are perfect!
We've now had plenty of adventures since the end of winter (snow and ice seemed a bit sketchy) and things have warmed up, as it can get pretty cold on the front of a bike if you're not pedalling.
Riding off-road is definitely possible, but this will depend greatly on the parent, bike and child. We've had great fun on blue grade trail centres, but anything rough doesn't work well in our case. Speeds have to be reduced and care taken - no Rampage lines allowed - but it's certainly the best way to travel on a bike with a child. You can even strap the balance bike to your rucksack and give them uplift!
Mac Ride have created an absolutely stellar product for cycling families. This seat actually allows you to go riding with your child, ride off road and do so in a way that feels engaging, safe and loads of fun.
For more information visit Mac Ride
By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.