Bike seats are simple by nature, but can quickly become technical and complicated. Mounting and adjusting bike seats can especially be challenging, but Hamax, a child bike seat maker out of the Netherlands, who has been perfecting their line of seats for years, set out to change that. Simple, easy and elegant, yet full of features, there is a lot to love on the Hamax Caress rear bike seats. Available frame-mounted or rack-mounted, the frame-mounted seat is reviewed here while the rack-mounted seat is reviewed here.
Shoulder Straps and Buckle
Starting at the top, the shoulder straps easily adjust by simply sliding the lever on the back of the seat up or down. Quick and easy, the straps can be adjusted even when the child is seated. The seat also has a recessed pocket to prevent the helmet from being pushed forward on a child’s face. When the straps are in the lowest position, the helmet pocket is reduced, but manageable as our 12-month tested had just enough room.
For added comfort, the upper portion of the straps are encompassed soft and slightly tacky foam to prevent the straps from sliding off the shoulders. The safety buckle does take time to adjust to, but its unique one-handed safety buckle allow you one free hand to hold the bike. To release the buckle, you must press down exactly on the center of the button, not too high, too low or on one side or the other. After a couple days, we quickly got used to the buckle, while our child testers never came close and gave up trying.
In addition to adjusting the height of the shoulder straps, each strap can can be tighten individually by pulling down on the nylon strap. To lengthen the straps, simply push up on the red horizontal button on the straps upper buckle.
Mounting and Centering
Mounting the frame-mounted bracket is quick and easy. The mount comes apart into two main piece that wrap around the seat tube of the bike and clamp together with four hex bolts. The back mounting bracket is very thin and could potentially be mounted behind any wires on the seat tube as shown in the user manual screenshot below. The mount also lock has a lock that locks the seat to the mount.
To mount the seat, simply place the end of the mounting arms into the top of the brackets. When properly inserted, two green safety tabs will protrude through the bracket. To release, simply push on group of eight circles on the face of the mount.
Placement of the mounting bracket on the seat tube is also important to ensure the proper height of the seat. The seat should be about 10-12cm above the rear tire when mounted. To get the proper height, partially adhere the mounting bracket, then before tightening the bolts, shift the mount up or down until the seat reaches optimum height, and then tightened the bolts.
Centering the seat is also important. For optimal weight distribution on the bike and for easily handling and balancing, the center mark on the seat should be no more than 10cm from the rear axel of the bike. To center the seat, simply adjust it forward or back by unlocking and removing the black shaft below the seat (shown below) and then slide the seat along the mounting bracket.
While simple in concept, with the two bikes we tested the bike on both had challenges getting within 10cm of the rear axel. With both bikes (Specialized Ariel hybrid and Priority Biycles) the saddles got in the way, preventing the Hamax seat from moving forward enough on the mounting rails. In both cases, however, we were able to move the saddle forward on its rails or by moving the saddle up. Upon doing so, the seat became too close to the saddle to allow the seat to recline. In order to recline the seat, the seat had to pushed back beyond 10cm past the center axle.
Solutions for Problematic Fits
Differences in frame design and saddle placement, can make it challenging to properly fit the Caress. While we were able to make it work with our two bikes, for many bikes, a different mounting bar will be required to make it fit. As shown in the screenshots from their Owners Manual, Hamax offer for different bars to help the bike fit problematic bikes.
The Caress is easy to use, easy to mount and easy to love. The Caress is easily one of best bike seats we’ve used.
Where to Purchase
FTC Disclosure: All opinions stated in this review belong to Two Wheeling Tots LLC. No momentary compensation was provided for this review, although seat was provided to help facilitate the review. Two Wheeling Tots LLC is not an affiliate of Hamax.