Durable construction, quick and easy adjustments, secure shoulder straps, and the ability to recline make Hamax Caress a winner. The Caress is available in both rack-mounted and frame-mounted styles. This review focuses on the rack-mounted version.
Hamax Caress – Rack Mount
BEST FOR: Families wanting the ultimate in comfort in child bike seats, but have a bike whose frame isn’t compatible with a frame-mounted seat.
MOUNT TYPE: Rear-rack
- Shocks for a comfortable ride
- Shoulder straps are easy to adjust and stay put – can even be adjusted while on the child
- Safety buckle 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
For parents who use a bike rack, but want the option to transport their child as well, the Hamax Caress rack-mounted bike seat is ideal. Although you can’t use your panniers at the same time, the Hamax Caress easily comes on and off the rack for easy versatility. The carrier-adapter also has shocks, which is essential for a comfortable ride and also extremely rare among rack-mounted seats.
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 adaptor to the rack is quick and easy. By simply pushing in and turning the knob on the adaptor, the large teeth slowly begin to squeeze the rack. While it takes multiple turns, the adapter easily tightens and can be locked to the rack by pushing a single button.
While the adaptor can be mounted separately from the seat, it is best to mount them together to ensure a proper fit. Attaching the seat to the adaptor is quick and easy as it simply requires threading the locking seat shaft through the adaptor and the bottom of the seat. The frame-mounted and rack-mounted versions of the Caress are in the same, so to switch from frame to rack-mounted, only the purchase of the adaptor is required. Prior to mounting the seat, be sure your rack is compatible. Many racks do not have the minimum 48.5 lb. weight capacity or are too wide for the required 120 to 180mm width.
Where you mount the seat to the rack 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 the adaptor forward or back on the rack. With the two bikes we tested, our saddle got in the way of properly positioning the seat within the given 10cm. By sliding the saddle on one bike further up on its rails and by raising the seat on another bike, we were able to get the seats in place. As a result of being so close to the saddle, in order to recline the seat, we had to move the seat farther back on the rails.
The Caress is easy to use, easy to mount and easy to love. One of our favorite rack-mounted seats we have tested. Be sure to check your rack’s weight capacity before mounting any child seat.