The Kids Ride Shotgun bike seat allows adventurous mountain biking parents to bring little groms along for the ride. Designed to fit a wide range of bike frames, the Shotgun seat will allow you to share your love of the shred with your little one. Start ’em young and raise ’em right!
While the Shotgun seat isn’t easy to swap between bikes, we love that it fits on a wide variety of bike styles and comes in at a very fair price point. Read our full review below to see if the original Kids Ride Shotgun will work for your bike! (The Shotgun PRO came out in 2022, and we have that review here.)
Shotgun Bike Seat
RATING: Highly Recommended
BEST FOR: Ages 2 to 5. With no straps, kids must be able to sit still and hold on!
MOUNT TYPE: Front mount MTB child bike seat
AGE RANGE: 2 to 5
- Fits on a wide variety of bike frame styles
- Sits lower on the frame than other MTB seats
- Suitable for full suspension or hard tail bikes
- Padded, adjustable saddle
- Keeps a centered weight distribution on the bike
- Allows kids to be front and center and participate in the rides
- Mini-handlebar attachment available
- Does not quickly move from one bike to another
- Sits directly on your frame
- Spacers for mini handlebar could be improved
- Not compatible with e-bikes
How the Shotgun Seat Works – In a Nutshell
Specifically designed to fit mountain bikes (both hardtail and full-suspension bikes), the Shotgun seat puts your little one aged 2 to 5 front and center. By placing kids about mid-way along the bike’s top tube, you’re able to maintain an overall centered weight distribution on the bike.
The Shotgun seat rests directly on your top tube and is secured tightly to your frame with a quick-release skewer between its legs. The thickly padded saddle rotates forward or back so that it can remain horizontal, no matter the angle of your top tube.
Textured metal foot pegs and flexible rubber foot straps provide a secure place for little ones to rest their feet. Optional (and adorable) mini handlebars ($35) can be mounted to your own handlebars for kids to rest their hands (and keep them off your handlebars!).
Removing the Shotgun seat from your bike (or re-attaching) requires you to remove both the quick release skewer from the legs, as well as unscrewing the foot pegs. This isn’t the most convenient system on the market, but still allows for relatively quick mounting and un-mounting (about 2-3 minutes for each).
NOTE: This review is for the original Shotgun mountain bike kids seat. The newer Shotgun Pro seat is quite different, as there is no frame contact with your bike. There are pros and cons to that set-up, which you can read in our review of that MTB seat.
Shotgun Bike Seat Review – Results of our Test Rides
As a dad of 4 kids, I understand the struggle of having a passion for mountain biking vs. being a responsible parent and taking care of the kids. There used to be limited time to get out on my bike. I had what I would call “the window” and I would rush as fast as I could to get a quick ride in.
As my kids got older and could ride with me, there became more “windows” to go riding. But there was still conflict because the younger kids would get jealous that they couldn’t come. Now with kids’ bike seats that are designed specifically for mountain biking, like the Shotgun seat, I can get a ride in and at the same time become Superdad! These mountain bike kids seats are definitely a game-changer for parents!
Once we had the Shotgun mounted up, I grabbed my daughter and immediately went out for a quick lap around the neighborhood. My daughter is almost 4 and is on the taller side for her age. She still fits comfortably on the seat as well as between me and the bars.
However, she could have benefitted from being able to bring the footrests down a couple of inches. Unlike other seats (including the Mac Ride and Shotgun Pro), the footrest on the Shotgun is not height adjustable.
As we pedaled around the neighborhood, I quickly noticed how the Shotgun mini handlebars (which sit above my bars a couple of inches or so) put my daughter in a bit more comfortable and confident position. Mini handlebars aren’t an option on the Mac Ride. They can be purchased as a combo set with the Shotgun seat, or separately for just $35.
However, because the handlebars cause your child to sit more upright, they may not be the best option for taller kids with shorter adult riders.
While not everyone will love that the Shotgun seat rests on your bike’s frame (carbon-framers, we see you!), there is a definite advantage to this set-up. Of the three major mountain bike kids seats (Mac Ride, Shotgun Pro, Shotgun), this original Shotgun sits the lowest on the bike. Here you can see how it sits lower than the Shotgun Pro (Pro is on top, original on bottom).
This makes it a pretty good fit even as your kids grow older and taller. In the image below, you can see how this plays out in real life with a tall 3.5-year-old. The original Shotgun is a better fit for parents who plan on using the seat until their child is 4 years or older.
Suitable for sloped or flat top-tubes, the Shotgun is highly adjustable. Upon unboxing the Shotgun I was happy to see all of the tools needed for proper installation. For a lot of mountain bikers this wouldn’t be necessary as a lot of us have those basic tools already. However, it still saved me from having to go collect the tools from my garage on my own.
The initial installation and attachment of the Shotgun to my bike was pretty straightforward and simple. I was happy to see I didn’t need to remove my handlebars and stem like I did with the Mac Ride (a similar seat I reviewed last year).
That said, you do have to make several adjustments to make the Shotgun fit your specific bike, so tweaking these settings to get them just right can take a bit of time. It’s not as plug and play as the Mac Ride.
I had to loosen the top bolt and adjust the Shotgun to the width of my top tube and tighten them back up. Then screw on the foot pegs, bolt on the saddle, and tighten the quick release between the top tube and down tube on my frame.
Adjusting the angle of the legs and the angle of the saddle are the trickiest parts, but definitely not too bad.
IMPORTANT INSTALLATION NOTE: If your down tube is wider than your top tube, the metal legs will bow out and bend as you screw on the foot pegs at the bottom of the legs. This is normal. We initially thought we had ruined our seat by bending those legs, but we verified with Kids Ride Shotgun that this should be expected.
One small item I would like to have seen included is a small piece of rubber to go between my downtube and the threaded piece that the foot pegs attach to. The size of my frame has that piece just touching my frame. (But this isn’t the case for all bikes.)
I will point out that there is ample coverage of frame protection on all other frame contact points. To solve this problem, you could just add a small piece of heli tape or in my case, a small piece of rubber I had lying around.
Mini handlebars that attach to your bars are available for the Shotgun as an optional upgrade. Attaching the mini bars was for the most part pretty simple. They wrap around your bars and are tightened via two small screws and an Allen key. They can be taken off or put back on in less than a minute.
Shotgun Seat vs. Mac Ride
I got ahold of the Mac Ride seat last fall and was able to put in a good amount of time on it. I was surprised how much fun my then 3-year-old daughter and I were able to have out on the trails together!
Here are a few features we loved about the Shotgun:
STACK HEIGHT: One reason to choose the Shotgun could have to do with the stack height of your bike. The Mac Ride relies on having enough room to remove a headset spacer and if you don’t have that room, it may not be compatible.
DROPPER POSTS: Another reason to choose the Shotgun has to do with dropper posts. For mounting a Mac Ride to the seat post, your dropper post has to have 2 cm of exposed space between the seat collar and the dropper seal. If your dropper is slammed all the way to your seat collar, you can’t mount the Mac Ride. (Unless you have enough dropper cable length to raise the dropper post out of the seat tube.)
CUSHIONED SADDLE: The saddle on the Shotgun is better looking and has more cushion than the Mac Ride. This is important as your child will typically be seated most of the time and that extra cushion helps filter out the bumps and trail chatter a bit more.
I feel like the saddle could be just a bit narrower however, and perhaps a bit shorter in length as well. It is worth mentioning that the saddle is on rails like a traditional bike saddle and is adjustable forward and back as well as being able to easily adjust the angle of the saddle.
And here are a few things we loved about the Mac Ride:
U-SHAPED SADDLE: The Mac Ride’s seat is longer and u-shaped to allow kids to naturally move forward or back on the seat. This u-shaped saddle also keeps kids in place better as you tackle more technical terrain. For this reason, we like the Mac Ride saddle better overall, although the Shotgun saddle’s cushioning is a really nice bonus.
EASILY SWITCH FROM BIKE TO BIKE: One thing I also liked a bit more about the Mac Ride was how quick it is to switch from bike to bike. Although it’s more work up front, the Mac Ride is easier to remove and attach between two bikes.
I had the headset spacer installed on both my bike and my wife’s bike. Once that was done it was quick and easy to switch the seat between the two of our bikes or just be able to quickly take it off to go on a ride without the seat attached to our bikes. (NOTE: The Shotgun Pro offers a mounting similar to the Mac Ride.)
With the Shotgun the seat has to be properly adjusted to fit each bike. While this process doesn’t take long, it does take about 10 minutes to remove and then set up on another bike. As a result, swapping the Shotgun from bike to bike on a regular basis would be much more work than with the Mac Ride.
So while both the Shotgun and the Mac Ride are great bike seats, they each have their own strengths.
Here’s what we like better about the Shotgun:
- On many bikes it will sit a bit lower, increasing its longevity of use as kids get taller
- Padded seat
- Mini handlebars attachment available
- Very affordable
- Doesn’t require any mounting space below the moving portion of the dropper post, or on the headset
And here’s what we like better about the Mac Ride:
- Quick and easy removal from the bike
- Doesn’t require adjusting the seat when swapping between bikes
- U-shaped saddle keeps kids in place when going over technical terrain
- Footrest is height adjustable
- No frame contact
Shotgun Seat for Mountain Biking Bottom Line
Riding with the Shotgun brought all the same giggles, laughs, and weeeees we had on the Mac Ride. There are other seats and other ways of bringing your kid on a ride with you, but there’s something about having the child being on the bike and holding the bars that gives them a more involved, connected experience. It also makes them feel like they are the ones in control!
If you have a passion for riding bikes, you’ll love sharing rides with your child. It’s a pretty unique bonding experience and will give your young one a taste of what mountain biking really feels like. It will also help give them confidence as they are learning how to ride their own bike.
If you have a kid between the ages of about 2-5 years old and you have a passion for getting outside on your bike (on or off the trails!) you owe it to you and your significant other to pick up one of these kids’ MTB seats! The Shotgun seat is definitely a great option, especially if you are using a dropper post that is fully inserted into the seatpost.
Check out this video from Shotgun that shows how much fun the ride can be for parents and kids!