If you’re a casual biking family and are on a tight budget, the Bell Cocoon 300 bicycle child carrier is an insane bang for your buck. Often on sale for about $35 (MSRP $50), it’s by far the cheapest rear child bike seat we’ve seen. (Our other favorite seats retail between $90 – $250.)
Of course, you get what you pay for. In exchange for your $35, the Bell Cocoon has a lot of limitations. It is basic in quality, has less room for growth, and is difficult to assemble. But for just $35 you can also happily and safely bring your little one along for the ride. Will it be the most comfortable ride for them or you? No, but it gets the job done. Read the review below to understand the Cocoon’s benefits and limitations.
Bell Cocoon 300 Overview
BEST FOR: Families on a tight budget, who won’t be riding often
MOUNT TYPE: Mounts to seat post and seat stays
QUICK RELEASE: No
AGE RANGE: 12 mo. to 40 lbs, 39″ height max
- Very affordable
- May fit on some bikes that can’t mount a seat to the frame or a rack
- Very basic quality
- Smaller than other rear seats – child will outgrow it more quickly
- Mounting system requires narrow diameter seat stays to install – hard to know ahead of time if it will work with your bike
- Installation is time consuming
- No quick release – tools required to take the seat on and off
- Footrest is stationary, cannot adjust
Bell Cocoon 300 Video Review
Prefer watching over reading? See the Bell Cocoon in action in our video review below.
Results of our Test Rides
We tested the Bell Cocoon 300 with our two toddler bike testers, on an entry-level budget adult bike and well as a higher-end Priority Cycles adult bike.
Depending on your bike, the Bell Cocoon may either be a comfortable or awkward ride. As with all child bike seats, the Cocoon fits very differently on different bikes. But compared to other child bike seats, it was much more difficult to get it set up correctly, and much more difficult to adjust its position. All of this requires loosening and tightening of a lot of different bolts!
Potential for a Cramped Ride with Older Toddlers
The Cocoon’s design has two limitations that create the potential for a cramped ride. The seat itself sits a bit closer to the adult rider than other seats on the market. If your child is small, this won’t be much of an issue.
However, as your child grows to the higher end of the sizing spectrum, the narrow, stationary footrests force a child’s knees into a high position that makes them more likely to hit the adult rider in front of them.
As you can see in the image above, our 37.5″ tall 3-year-old has her knees directly in her dad’s bum! However, on our other test bike, our 40″ tall 3-year-old tester’s knees were super high, but didn’t touch the adult rider in front of her at all.
In a nutshell, all child bike seats have the potential for fit problems, but the Cocoon’s closer-set seat and high foot rest may create the potential for more problems. This will depend on your specific bike, including how high you set your saddle, and if you have your saddle set closer or farther away from the child behind you. Unfortunately, a great fit is really hard to determine before a child bike seat is mounted on your bike.
Bike Compatibility Can Be Tricky
Before we discuss the features of the Cocoon, let’s talk about bike compatibility. Nothing else really matters if the Bell Cocoon 300 can’t mount to your bike! While most rear child bike seats mount to the seat tube of a bike’s frame or to a rear-mounted rack, this Bell child bike seat is different.
The Cocoon is the only rear child carrier we’ve tested that mounts to the seat post and the seat stays of your bike. While the seat post mount wasn’t an issue for us, we had difficulty mounting the Cocoon’s mounting arms to the seat stay.
To secure the black metal mounting arm to each seat stay, the bottom of the arm has a pivoting metal piece that essentially wraps around the seat stay. It is secured with a bolt to connect the two sides of the mounting arm. If your seat stay is too round or too thick, it’s pretty tricky to get the two sides of the mounting arm to close tight enough to be secured by the bolt.
If you have trouble getting the bolt to secure, try removing the plastic frame protectors. Also, while it may look like there’s not enough room to safely tighten the bolt, we found that once we were able to just barely thread the end of the nut on the screw, a wrench was able to tighten it much more securely than we anticipated.
We have a few mountain bikes (recreational and true mountain bikes) that have seat stays that are too thick. Unfortunately there’s no metric to definitively say that your seat stays may be too big. But for $35, it’s probably worth a try!
If you’re unsure and want other mounting options, we have plenty of child bike seats that we’ve tested and recommend on our list of 10 Best Child Bike Seats. If you’re not sure if a child bike seat will mount to your bike’s frame or to a rack, check out our child and baby bike seat buying guide.
Size and Age of Child – Seat Smaller than Most
The Bell Cocoon is the smallest rear child bike seat we’ve seen. While most rear seats have maximum weight capacities of 40 lbs. for US standards and 48 lbs. for Europe, the Cocoon has a flat 40 pound max, with an additional height max of 39 inches. This makes sense because the seat is clearly smaller than every other rear seat we’ve used.
As a result, your child will outgrow the Cocoon more quickly than almost every other seat on the market. Our 39.2 lb. 3-year-old is just under the max weight limit. But she’s 40 inches tall, which is an inch taller than the max height requirement. Below you can see her in the Bell Cocoon on the left, and the Burley Dash rack mounted seat on the right. (The Dash has a 40 lb. weight limit as well, but no height limit.)
As you can see, she can fit in the Cocoon, but it’s quite snug compared to other seats she uses, and her knees are forced high from resting her feet in the footrests. (Remember, those high knees could be problematic because they’re more likely to come into contact with the adult rider’s bum!)
Bell Cocoon’s Harness System is a Hassle
The harness system of the Bell Cocoon 300 child carrier is quite unique, but not in a good way. It has two buckles on the shoulder straps, and a separate lap belt with buckle.
This is the only child bike seat we know of that has three buckles. While we appreciate that it has a lap belt, all other seats that have a lap belts have it incorporated into a single harness system with one central buckle. Strapping squirming toddlers into a child bike seat is often a frustrating task, so a three-buckle system with a separate lap belt does make it a bit harder.
That said, the harness itself is very decent quality and I felt confident that our toddler testers were safely secured.
On last note – the way the lap belt is threaded through the back of the seat leads to wear and tear, and eventually fraying of the strap over time. This is not a good sign from a longevity of use standpoint.
Like its sister child bike seat, the Bell Shell, the Cocoon shoulder straps tighten by pulling the strap up, rather than down. This leaves the excess strap hanging up, which is a little strange.
There are three shoulder strap height settings that should be adjusted as your child grows. Unfortunately, threading them through the back of the seat is incredibly difficult. It honestly took me 10 minutes just to do one side because the thick end of the strap wouldn’t squeeze through the stiff plastic hole.
Be aware that the instruction manual displays a completely different method for inserting the shoulder straps than you’ll see in any of the pictures online or on the box. In the image above, you can see both methods.
On the left (looking at the seat from the front) is what the instructions say, but unlike anything we’ve ever seen. On the right is how it’s done based on the picture on the outside of the box it came in, and similar to other child bike seats.
In the end, the method on the left acts as a third, higher, shoulder strap starting point that works quite well for taller toddlers like our 3-year-old here.
The Cocoon 300 is made from thick, durable plastic, and lined with a slightly-padded fabric cushioning. The cushioning is attached through the shoulder straps and a velcro strap at waist level. It stays in place well.
There is no ventilation on the back of the seat, which could be hot and sweaty in the summer. Not all seats are ventilated in the back, but if this is important to you, there are plenty of child bike seats that have ample vents. Below, you can see the how airy the budget-friendly Bellelli Pepe is by comparison.
Footrests and Leg Shields are Poorly Designed
Almost every rear child carrier has footrests that adjust up or down to accommodate the height of your child. They also have foot straps to keep your child’s feet secure. The Bell Cocoon has neither of these features, a clear indicator of the super-budget price of this seat.
As a result, a short child’s legs could dangle above the footrests, while a taller child’s feet will dangle below it, or their knees will be bent drastically. Your child’s feet will also be free to kick you in the back.
The leg shields provided by Bell consist of a large flimsy piece of plastic that attaches via equally flimsy plastic “zip ties”. Leg shields prevent a child from potentially sticking their foot in your wheel’s spokes, but this version is pretty underwhelming. That said, it absolutely does its job, it just doesn’t look very classy.
No Easy On and Off for this Bell Child Bike Seat
After testing and using many child bike seats, to us, the biggest drawback to the Bell Cocoon 300 Child Carrier is that it’s not designed to take on and off your bike between rides. Basically, if you get this seat, it will live on your bike until you decide you don’t want it there anymore.
Almost all child bike carriers have quick release systems that allow you to mount or un-mount the seat in under 30 seconds, without the use of tools. So when the baby isn’t coming along for the ride, you don’t have to ride with a child bike seat behind you.
Not the case with the Bell Cocoon. It attaches via bolts at the seat post, and on the left and right seat stay. It is a serious process to attach the seat to your bike, so it’s not something you’ll want to do more than once unless you really have to.
The Bell Shell frame mounted child bike seat does have a quick release system, but unfortunately we don’t recommend that seat for safety reasons.
Bottom Line on the Bell Cocoon Bicycle Child Carrier
Often selling for under $40, we understand the appeal of the Bell Cocoon 300 for budget-minded families. Just remember to factor in its small size, low-quality, very basic features, awkward harness, and finicky-fit mounting system before you click that buy button. But when found on sale, it’s hard to be disappointed, even if it doesn’t work out!
If you’re on a budget, be sure to check out the Bellelli Pepe rear child bike seat, or Peg Perego Orion front baby bike seat. Retailing for around $100, they are the cheapest seats we truly recommend.