Sleek, modern, and easy to use, the Hamax Observer is a full-featured, front-mounted child bike seat, but the mounting bracket requires considerable space on threaded headsets. Read the review below to see if it’s compatible with your bike!
Pros & Cons
- Non-slip shoulder straps are padded with foam and easy to adjust
- One-handed safety buckle release (so that the other hand can hold the bike)
- Smaller than other seats, leaving more space for the adult rider
- Locking mechanism to prevent theft
- The mounting bracket requires considerable space to adhere to threaded headsets
- Smaller seat will be outgrown more quickly
Hamax Observer Review – Results of our Test Rides
Modern, sleek and easy to use, the Hamax Observer was designed to look as good as it functions. Hailing from the Netherlands, where bike riding is truly a lifestyle, the Observer is perfectly simple, built with everything you need and just where you need it. With non-slip shoulder padded with foam, to the one-handed safety buckle release (so that the other hand can hold the bike), the Observer is a perfect seat for young families on the go.
With all bike seats, compatibility with your bike is key. Bikes and mounting brackets come in all different shapes and sizes and are not all 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 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 and are generally too tight of a fit for comfortable use. “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 in the pictures below is 5’8″ and felt a little squished while riding with the Observer on a bike with a 600mm top tube.
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 on all bikes. The Hamax standard mount will only fit threaded headsets and requires about 50mm of space on the stem to mount. The threadless mount (not standard) only needs about 1/8″ and slide through the steer tube (requires the handlebars to be removed to install).
With a compatible bike, the Observer quickly mounts and will have you off and riding in less than 10 minutes. Smaller than many of its competitors, we found the Hamax offered more room for the adult rider, but the smaller seat is likely to be quickly outgrown by larger/taller kids. The child shown below is only 12 months old and will most likely outgrow the seat (or get too tall for mom to look over) with a year.
Shoulder Straps and Footrests
The Observer’s shoulder pads are certainly one of our favorite features of the seat. Surrounded by a foam sleeve on top, the shoulder straps easily stay in place while still being easy to adjust. Soft and grippy, the foam sleeve help to keep the straps in place while also preventing any chaffing from the straps. The straps are also easily adjusted by simply pulling down on the nylon straps.
While simple in design, the button to release the straps from the seat is a safety latch that requires a learning curve to master. To release, the circular red button needs to be pushed down directly in the center without tilting side-to-side or top to bottom.
For quick adjustments on the go, the footrests adjust up and down by simply pulling on the red tab beneath the platform. A rubber strap holds in the foot in the footbed and is tightened by pulling down on the strap. Like many of the child seats we have tested, our little rider was easily able to pull his feet out of the straps. Although the straps work better when shoes are worn instead of just socks, we found that kids can still pull their feet out, or simply pull their feet out of their shoes.
Lock and Windscreen
To prevent theft on the go, the Hamax Observer comes standard with a locking mechanism. Located underneath the seat, the lock adheres the seat to the bracket and also prevents the mounting bolts of the bracket from being accessed. Two keys, which are universal amongst all Hamax seats, are included.
An optional windscreen is also available, but only fits the standard threaded mounting bracket and not the optional threadless bracket. Large and transparent, the windscreen blocks wind, cold air and can deflect rain, making rides much more pleasant for kids and adults.
Compared to other front-mounted seats, the Observer is the sleekest and modern. It is also the narrowest, providing slightly more room for the adult rider, but less room for the child. The most notable difference between the Hamax is the width of the mounting bracket, as it requires 50mm of space, versus 45mm for the Yepp, 20mm for the Thule and 15mm for the Polisport.
Sleek, modern and easy to use, the Hamax Observer is a great seat, full of features, but the mounting bracket requires considerable space to adhere to threaded headsets (~50m).