Sitting front and center, toddlers age one to three love front-mounted bike seats. Close to the action, as well as mom or dad, they love taking in and talking about the sites and sounds of the world. As a parents, front-mounted seats allow you to see, feel are hear every squeal, smile and giggle along the ride and further solidify your love of biking. Easy to use, easy to mount, durable and fun to use, the Thule RideAlong Mini is sure to be a hit for biking (as well as soon-to-be biking) families.
Before investing in a front-mounted seat, it is important to make sure you bike is compatible. Due to the space they consume, front-mounted seats are best on larger-framed bikes with at least 20″ of space between the steer tube and the seat tube (distance between wear the child’s seat and the adult seats mount on the bike). Smaller framed bikes allow very little room for the rider and the bike seat. “Townie” style bikes (popular in Europe where many of these seats are designed), have a more upright seating position for the rider and are a better fit for front-mounted seats. Being 5’10”, however, I have had no problems using front-mounted seats on my men’s large framed mountain bikes over the years, as well as the “townie” style bike shown above (Priority Bicycles Commuter size M/L). As a reference, the mom riding below is 5’8″ and was able to ride just fine with the Mini, but the seat should have been mounted lower to allow more vertical space for her.
A bike’s stem and the headset type (the pieces that attach the handlebars to the frame) also need to be considered before buying a seat. All front-mounted seats mount differently, so not all seats will fit onto all bike setups. The Mini’s standard mount is compatible with both threaded (like the Priority shown on two left pictures below) as well as threadless headsets (shown on the bottom right). To mount the Mini, your bike will need 3/4″ of space on the stem for threadless setups or 3/4″ of spacers (smooth metal rings between the stem and the frame) on threaded. On both types, the mount can be adhered flush to the headset (gap beneath the mount, as shown in the first picture, is not required).
While there are many great features of the Mini, the backpack-style shoulder straps really distinguish it from other seats. Soft, padded and secure, the straps are firmly attached the seat as well as each other (to prevent them from slipping down). Adjusting the straps is also quick and easy. With the child seated, simply push down on the blue button and pull down on the nylon straps. For added security, the buckle is two-handed to prevent accidental unbucklings.
The shoulder straps can be mounted in lower or upper positions to increase comfort and safety. The seat pad is also reversible with gray on one side and purple on the other.
The included handlebar of the Mini is also a great feature for both parent and child. Inquisitive by nature, without their own handlebar toddlers often begin exploring the handlebar of the bike. Having had my own son shift my bike several times by accident, switching to a seat with a handlebar was extremely beneficial.
The Mini also comes standard with a lock, helping to prevent theft while on the go. The lock in only needed to prevent theft, not for securing the seat to the bike while riding. While a great addition, we learned the hard way that if the lock is in the locked position, the seat will automatically lock into place when mounting the seat. Transporting a bike with a bike seat attached is a challenge (we had to squeeze the bike in the back of our mini van with our seats moved out of the way), so be sure the bring the key along with you or double check to make sure the lock is not in the locking position when riding away from home.
Other features include adjustable seat rests and foot straps. The footrests are easily adjustable on the go without tools and provide plenty of room for growth. The foot straps, however, are a challenge to properly adjust. All of our testers where also able to pull their feet out of them. While a common problem amongst all bike seats, Thule’s design was our least favorite.
As mentioned previously, the size and headset of your bike should be the main factor when purchasing a frount-mounted seat. Polisport Mini‘s, is the most universal mounting system, while the Hamax Observer is the least for threaded and the easier for threadless with the available adapter (both not avail. in the US). For threadless headsets, the Yepp Mini sells separate mount that requires no spacers, while the RideAlong Mini’s mount fits both headset types with less than an inch required for both.
The Thule RideAlong Mini is packed full of easy-to-use features and is sure to be loved by both parent and child. From its soft shoulder straps to the easy to use, color-coded adjustment buttons, the RideAlong is sure to put a smile on the whole families face.