MBA Product Test: Kids’ Ride Along Seat Shootout
Yesteryear’s rear-mounted children’s seats gave kids a lame passenger experience. They left the child staring at the pilot’s backside for the entire ride, and they were dangerous due to the uneven weight distribution. These new, center-mounted children’s seats put the passenger in a much more interactive position. The child gets to hold on to the handlebars and have an unobstructed view of the trail ahead. Gone are the bulky shoulder straps and harnesses that strap a child to a giant molded-plastic seat that absorbs every bump in the trail. Instead, the passenger is placed in the middle of the bike, centered over the front and rear axles, safely between the pilot’s arms, providing the opportunity for both pilot and passenger to talk and also to dismount quickly together, if needed.
The Shotgun kid’s seat attaches to the frame of an adult’s bike.
Tech info: The Shotgun kid’s ride-along seat weighs 1518 grams (3.35 pounds) and mounts to the frame of an adult’s mountain bike. It features rubber padding to protect your frame and is adjustable to fit most full-suspension frames. It is easily swapped between bikes with no additional adapters or clamps required.
Combining simplicity with a rugged design, the beauty of the Shotgun is the saddle’s adjustability. The passenger seat is attached to the Shotgun chassis via old-school, BMX-style seat guts, which allows for a wide range of tilt angles that may be required to mate with the host bike’s geometry. Whether your bike has a flat or drastically sloping top tube, the Shotgun can provide the appropriate saddle position for your passenger.
Mounting the Shotgun takes a little bit of time with multiple bolt adjustments, but the unit is solid once set up and accommodates children up to 48 pounds.
On the trail: What’s great about a center-mounted kid’s seat is the feeling that your little one is “driving” mommy’s or daddy’s bike instead of just being along for the ride. Aboard the Shotgun, the tiny passenger can see ahead and begin to learn how to interact with the trail. After just a few rides, we found our new riders learning to look ahead and anticipate the trail, even standing up on the pegs when necessary to absorb bumps like a pro. The child’s footpegs include stirrups to help keep little feet in place. When the Shotgun is set up properly, the unit only slightly restricts full leg clearance for the pilot, which allows mom or dad the ability to pedal with only slight interference.
Of course, the child being positioned between the pilot and handlebar does restrict weight distribution for the duo, making steep trails off-limits. While you can’t—and shouldn’t—be attempting any drops or gaps, the center-mounted child’s seat does act as a sort of built-in restriction to keep even the bravest duo from attempting any trails that are too dangerous. Fire roads and wide singletrack trails are still fair game, though—and now, dirt paths at the local park are transformed into a fun opportunity for child and adult to enjoy the outdoors together.
The Mac Ride kid’s seat attaches to the steer tube and seat tube or seatpost of an adult’s bike.
Tech info: The Mac Ride’s main chassis is an aluminum rod that runs between—and mounts to—the adult bike’s fork steer tube and seatpost or seat tube. Its telescoping action allows the unit to shrink or stretch to accommodate any-size full-suspension or hardtail mountain bike. The Mac Ride integrates a seat on top with a pair of extendable steel legs with stirrups to accommodate the passenger footholds on each side of the bike. The entire unit weighs 1654 grams (3.65 pounds) and accommodates children up to 60 pounds.
The seat itself has a similar design to a horse’s saddle, while the stirrups and legs adjust in length to grow with your child. You can adjust the angle of the stirrups using one Allen key bolt, and the length is adjustable via a simple spring button. The stirrups feature rubber straps to secure your child’s feet.
To attach the Mac Ride unit to an adult’s bike, you must pre-install a modified headset spacer to the host bike. Additionally, the rear clamp attaches to the seatpost or seat tube using a simple twist-knob-actuated quick release.
On the trail: To ensure the Mac Ride is set up properly, it’s important to rotate the handlebars left to right to make sure the child’s feet are out of the way of the front tire and any moving parts. Once aboard the Mac Ride, your child shares the handlebars with you. The interaction helps mimic a real ride experience; after all, only you know your little passenger isn’t actually steering. With the ability to stand up on the stirrups going off curbs, your child learns to use his or her arms and legs as shock absorbers to absorb bumps in the trail, just as you do. The Mac Ride unit does a good job of tucking the passenger into position while allowing for a nearly normal pedal rotation for the pilot.
While you won’t be shredding black-diamond trails together, moderate trails are fully accessible, as the Mac Ride’s scalloped saddle does a great job of cradling your child for support so they don’t need to use a lot of arm strength to keep themselves in place. With a little practice, you can even do an occasional wheelie with the stability of this center-mount child’s seat. This seat will give your little one the feeling that he or she is a real mountain biker, just like mom or dad.