With durable construction, modern styling, quick and easy adjustments, and the ability to recline make Hamax Caress a smart choice. The Caress is available in both rack-mounted and frame-mounted styles. This review focuses on the rack-mounted version.
Hamax Caress – Frame Mount
BEST FOR: Families who want the ultimate in comfort provided by a frame-mounted seat. One of the few frame-mounted seats whose mount is compatible with wires on the seat tube.
MOUNT TYPE: Rear frame
AGE RANGE: 9 mo. to 48.5 lb.
ADDITIONAL MOUNTING INFO: Mounts to 1.1″ – 1.6″ diameter seat tube (must be clear of wires), needs 3″ of space on seat tube
- Mounting bars flex to provide shock absorption for the seat
- Shoulder straps are easy to adjust and stay put – can even be adjusted while on the child
- Safety buckle is easy to use with one hand, but kid-proof
- Mounting the seat to the bike is quick and easy
- If the seat is not centered over the rear axle just right, seat may not recline
- Differences in frame design and saddle placement can make it challenging to properly fit on certain bikes
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 is 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 allows 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 be tightened 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 of the Hamax Caress is quick and easy. The mount comes apart into two main pieces 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 a 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 to 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 easy handling and balancing, the center mark on the seat should be no more than 10cm from the rear axle 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 axle. With both bikes (Specialized Ariel hybrid and Priority Bicycles) 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 push back beyond 10cm past the center axle.
The Hamax Caress is easy to use, easy to mount and easy to love. The Caress is easily one of best bike seats we’ve used.