The Mac Ride bike seat is a unique front-mounted child bike seat that places kids front and center while riding with their parents. Mounting to the steer tube and the seat post, it’s one of the few child bike seats compatible with a wide variety of bikes – from hybrid city cruisers to full-suspension mountain bikes. And it’s super easy to swap between bikes.
While originally created as a mountain bike seat, we’ve found that the Mac Ride is a fun choice for any biking family on the go. Read the review below for all the reasons why the Mac Ride excels on everything from paved trails to singletrack!
Mac Ride Bike Seat Overview
BEST FOR: A unique seat for adventurous riders, the Mac Ride is highly adjustable to fit a wide variety of parents and kids
MOUNT TYPE: Mid-mount / MTB
AGE RANGE: 2 – 5 years
- Can be taken off the bike or re-installed in less than a minute
- No frame contact
- Seat sits lower, is more compatible with shorter parents or taller kids
- Lower seat height allows families to use the seat for a longer period of time
- Our favorite saddled shape – the saddle cups the child’s bum, keeping them secure on bumpier terrain
- Stirrups and legs are adjustable to fit younger and older kids
- Steer mount fits bikes with slammed stems or bikes with limited clearance
- Has an adapter for quill stems
- Easy and quick installation
- Some parents have issues with stirrups moving or spinning while riding
- Needs slightly more clearance on the seat clamp post than other child mountain bike seats
- No extra frame padding to further protect your bike from accidental contact during install or if legs become loose
Mac Ride Bike Seat Review – Results of our Test Rides
From riding singletrack to commuting to preschool, the Mac Ride is suitable for a wide variety of rides and riders. We’ve been using and testing the Mac Ride for several years with five different families. From Park City to Bentonville, Fort Worth to Moab, the Mac Ride is an incredible seat that we enthusiastically recommend to every biking family!
Over the last biking season, I (TWT adventure mama Lauren) have really put the Mac Ride seat to the test by riding over 130 miles of singletrack trails – from Moab to Brian Head to all over Park City, Utah. And of course, the daily neighborhood rides. I’ve also extensively tested both the Shotgun Pro seat and the original Shotgun mountain bike seat for an accurate comparison of kid mountain bike seats.
While we love a good ride around the neighborhood, riding singletrack is our true passion. Last riding season was a little tricky because my son wasn’t yet old enough for a Mac Ride seat. This season, the Mac Ride quickly proved to be an absolute game changer for our family bike life.
I decided to ride a popular 13 mile downhill ride in Brian Head, Utah with my son and the Mac Ride seat. It was the first time the shuttle driver had taken a 2-year-old up to ride this trail, and it was all made possible by this amazing product.
I was overly pleased with the performance of the Mac Ride on such a demanding trail, and for a sustained period of time. It’s rides like these where you get a true feel for a product’s benefits or drawbacks.
Curved Saddle Keeps Bums Secure
It was on this ride that I fell in love with the curved saddle of the Mac Ride. The cupped shape of the saddle handles rocky and rougher terrain amazingly well. When using other child mountain bike seats, my little guy would shift forward into the handlebars.
The Mac Ride, however, cupped my child’s bum and kept him securely in his saddle. There was no shifting forward. It felt safer and more stable for me and my little guy.
And while I would certainly do this trail again (and have done others like it), it’s important to note that your child absorbs more motion from the trail than you do as the rider. Your child can’t get up and out of their saddle to lessen movements and jolts. So be mindful to ride slow and controlled, even with the Mac Ride cupped saddle.
Lower-Set Saddle Offers More Room for Growth
Compared to other child bike seats I’ve used, the Mac Ride sits the lowest on the bike’s frame, with more space between my chin and my child’s helmet. After 13 miles of pure descending, I realized how valuable the low-set saddle of the Mac Ride saddle is.
I’m a relatively short rider at 5’4”, so I need all the clearance I can get. I was able to comfortably descend in a low ready position without my little one being in the way – i.e hitting my chin, impairing my vision, or forcing me to cock my head to one side of my child’s body.
I really value my downhill shuttle rides and have continued to do lots of shuttle riding in Park City with my kiddo and the Mac Ride. Pedaling up extra weight is tiresome, so shuttle days are definitely appreciated! And being able to ride in a low ready position has been valuable for me to be able to ride more effectively and to feel more stable.
This lower-set seat also means that there’s still plenty of room left for my son to grow and for us to ride together comfortably next season as well.
While I couldn’t ask my son how comfortable he has felt on his seat, his squeals and glee say enough. He rarely has a bad day when riding on his Mac Ride seat and he has spent a lot of time in the saddle (so much time it might be impairing his desire to use his balance bike).
So Easy to Use!
The ease of using the Mac Ride has been a game changer for our family. Getting out for every ride, from the mountains to just the neighborhood, is quick and simple. No hooking up trailers and pulling all that extra weight. My husband and I both have Mac Ride mounting spacers on our headsets so we can swap the Mac Ride between our bikes in 60 seconds.
Bowing Your Legs to Pedal – Not that Big a Deal
One common annoyance parents have with kids mountain bike seats is how the child’s body can interfere with your pedal stroke. The truth is, you’re going to have to bow your legs out some as you ride to accommodate the passenger in front of you. The bigger the kid, the more space you will have to create for your passenger.
While this sometimes can be annoying, it honestly didn’t affect my ability to ride. You quickly adjust to bowing your legs slightly while pedaling, all the while feeling stoked to have your little one along for the ride.
For parents annoyed with bowing their legs, they may consider another mountain bike seat that puts the kid up higher and less “in your lap”, like the Shotgun Pro. However, then you have less clearance between your chin and the top of your kid’s helmet. We talk more about the difference in seat heights with the Shotgun Pro and Mac Ride below and why it is an important factor to consider.
Foot Rests and Stirrups
While I will sing Mac Ride’s praises all day long, no product is actually perfect. One slight annoyance I had occasionally was with the foot rests and stirrups. The footrests are rubber pieces that can spin. The foot side is flat, while the opposite side is curved.
It would be much better if the footrests were stationary. My son wiggles his feet free and often spins the footrests upside down. I have to stop my ride to readjust them. I found that having my son ride with Crocs has helped as the material is tacky in conjunction with the rubber stirrup and footrest material.
Bikepacking: Mac Ride vs. a Trailer
I recently took our Mac Ride seat on a bikepacking trip. In the past my son has ridden exclusively in our Burley D’Lite X bike trailer during bikepacking adventures, but this time he had the option to sit up front. This was especially helpful on some rougher terrain.
While bike trailers are great for so many things, at the end of the day even with suspension they don’t handle rougher terrain as well (even with Burley’s fat tire kit). Your child is closer to the ground and absorbs more motion from the trail than they do sitting up high on your bike. The Mac Ride certainly made some of those rougher sections easier to ride with a toddler and we were able to get through the terrain quicker.
We also can’t emphasize enough that the Mac Ride seat is not just for mountain biking families! It is for any family with a love for bikes. Especially with Mac Ride’s unique adapter for quill stems, this seat is compatible with so many bikes – beyond just mountain bikes.
How safe is the Mac Ride?
Is Your Child Ready?
A common hesitation for parents considering an open style bike seat like the Mac Ride is safety. So just how safe is riding with the Mac Ride seat? The child isn’t strapped in! How does that work?
First and foremost it is important to recognize if your child is developmentally ready for this type of seat. Can they sit up by themselves? Can they balance and hold on? Can they understand and follow instructions? And can they stay awake for the duration of your rides?
Typically it is recommended to start a child somewhere around the age of 2. Some parents have started their kids as young as 18 months. However, we recommend starting kids at the age of 2 at the youngest. This is typically when a child is developmentally ready for a seat like this.
Consider Your Own Abilities
As the adult rider, you should always be riding well beneath your skill level with the Mac Ride. If you aren’t confident on dirt, then don’t leave the pavement. If you aren’t comfortable on a bike, then don’t start riding with your toddler until you yourself have mastered your skills on the bike. You need to know your abilities and limitations on the bike.
If you are a confident rider, you still need to take it slow and easy when starting out on the Mac Ride seat. We don’t recommend jumping straight to singletrack. Acclimate yourself and your toddler with neighborhood rides.
Determine that they are indeed ready for this type of seat and riding. Gauge what kind of rider they are going to be. Are they wild and wiggly? Are they engaged and content? It is also important to gauge your comfort level when riding with your child. And if you aren’t sure you or your child is ready, just wait!
I waited to hit singletrack until my son passed the “standing test” (something I made up). I felt he was ready when he was comfortable enough on the seat that he could sit there by himself while I stood next to the bike and simply kept it upright and stable.
How Aggressive Can I Get?
If you decide to take your rides to the trails, be sure to ride slow and controlled. Your child absorbs much more movement than you do when riding. Also recognize that some of your form when climbing, descending, or cornering won’t be the same. Practice and add mileage on different terrain as both you and your child become comfortable.
Be Cautious When Stopping and Dismounting
A common reason that bikers fall off their bikes, even slowly, is from coming to a stop and dismounting. Now also add a child sitting directly in front of you to that equation. If you have a mountain bike with a seat dropper post, be sure to practice good riding form by lowering your seat when you come to a stop.
This is a much safer way to dismount and you will find it much easier, especially when you have cargo directly in front of you. Proper form is also mounting your bike with a lowered seat and then raising your seat as you get going. If you don’t have a bike with a seat dropper post, then consider lowering your seat slightly so that dismounting and mounting is easier until you are more comfortable.
But What If You Crash?
But what if you crash with your little one? Well, we hope it doesn’t happen, but clearly it’s a possibility. Here is our experience. Fressia, one of our Mom testers of the Mac Ride, crashed while riding with her 3-year-old daughter.
Luckily, it was a pretty slow-moving crash. Fressia was relieved that as she bailed off her bike and grabbed her daughter in her arms, that her daughter was easily released from the foot stirrups.
This is a benefit even over a bike seat with straps to secure a child in. You wouldn’t be able to easily bail with your child securely strapped in. The Mac Ride is designed for the child rider to fall away from the bike during a crash, much like skis when skiing. Fressia’s daughter had some short-lived tears, but was back up on the bike a few minutes after crashing.
Bottom Line on Mac Ride Safety
Overall, each of our Mac Ride parent testers have concluded that they have felt safe while using the Mac Ride with their kids. I’ve used my Mac Ride seat on some slightly technical terrain and have always felt safe. I feel very much in control with my child nestled between my arms and legs. Together we’ve developed a good rhythm on the bike.
In fact, often my son feels so comfortable and at ease on our rides that he won’t hold onto the handlebars. Sometimes I have to instruct him, “Hey you need to hold on for this part”, which he listens to and will.
I want to re-emphasize that all of the riding I’ve done with the Mac Ride has all been well beneath my skill level. I take everything slow and controlled. My husband does a lot of waiting when we ride, compared to our kid-free riding when I’m always on my husband’s tail.
Choosing to involve your toddler or kid in this kind of open style riding is a very personal decision. This type of seat is not for everyone. We recommend the Mac Ride bike seat for parents with strong bike skills – whether as a city commuter, road biker, mountain biker or neighborhood rider.
Mac Ride Bike Seat Features
The unique saddle shape on the Mac Ride is our favorite of all the child mountain bike seats on the market. The saddle shape cups the child’s bum and keeps them more secure during their ride.
We found that this specific saddle shape handles rougher terrain much better – bumpier, rockier or even small roller drops. The child doesn’t shift forward in their saddle and into the handlebars like on the Kids Ride Shotgun seats. This is especially important if you’re a confident MTB parent who will be tackling some technical terrain.
That said, we aren’t necessarily advocating for rough and aggressive riding, but some areas have rockier trails and terrain. If that is true for you, this saddle will provide a better riding experience for you and your child.
A common question asked about the Mac Ride saddle is what material is used and is it as comfortable for little riders? While we can’t ask many of our young testers how comfortable the seat is, we know that it has kept our little riders happy for rides as long as 15 miles.
The saddle is made from a hard, yet surprisingly comfortable plastic. The Mac Ride’s seat has the tackier feel of rubber (like those used for the soles of athletic shoes). The combination of the cupped saddle shape and this rubberized feel is what keeps your child so secure with no movement front to back or side to side.
Although the Mac Ride’s saddle is not padded like other similar seats (Shotgun and DoLittle), we have found the rubber-like material and molded shape to be quite comfortable for little bottoms.
The other incredible benefit to the Mac Ride saddle is how low it sits in relation to the rider. The way a bike seat positions your child in relation to your body is extremely important when considering the comfort and longevity of the bike seat. Since the Mac Ride saddle sits lower than other seats, on average it will work for more families and for longer!
In the pictures below you can see the difference in seat height (in relation to my saddle) between the Mac Ride and Shotgun Pro.
Both the Mac Ride and Shotgun Pro can move along their rail to position the child closer or farther away from you. In the images above, they are both set the same distance away from me.
In that position, you can see the difference it makes for me and my 2-year-old when on the bike. I have much more clearance when using the Mac Ride. (My seat is in the raised position for these photo comparisons. Ideally, you want to assume a slightly lower position for descents out on the trails. )
Why is this important? This will directly impact your ability to ride. Neighborhood riding is not as big of deal, but for true mountain biking it proved to be a big deal.
I found with less clearance while using other seats, I couldn’t assume as low of a descending position on descents, my son was in the way on climbs, at times my vision was impacted, and the riding was less comfortable – often my child was smacking into my chin or neck.
On a subsequent ride, I moved the Shotgun Pro seat closer to me, which lowered my son and provided more clearance which you can see below. But even then, the Mac Ride still had more clearance set to its original position!
This matters because it affects the longevity of use for the seat. I want to be able use an MTB seat until my son is 3 or 4-years-old, so for two more riding seasons.
While the Shotgun Pro’s solution worked for now, next year when my son is taller, I don’t have any additional adjustability for the seat position on the Shotgun Pro. But with the Mac Ride seat, I still have room to move it back.
The Mac Ride definitely gives me enough room to be able to ride comfortably with my son for two more years. While it provides great clearance in its current set-up, next summer I can move the seat towards me to keep that maximum clearance.
Additionally the Mac Ride seat is currently in a more ideal riding position for my son (notice the difference in his seated positions). Adjusting the Shotgun Pro seat back stretched him out into a less comfortable riding position for his current height and age.
Ultimately, as a rider who primarily rides singletrack, I much preferred to have ample clearance to ride comfortably. It should be noted that I’m a relatively short rider at 5’4”. My 2-year-old is about average at 33”. The seat height is going to impact shorter adult riders more.
However, you should also consider the size of your child. If you have a taller child, then even taller parents can be impacted with less clearance and more riding interference. Overall, the Mac Ride bike seat is going to accommodate more families and on average for a longer period of time.
Mac Ride Legs – Highly Adjustable
We love the adjustability of the Mac Ride legs. You can comfortably suit the leg length of any rider. The legs adjust both up and down as well as forward and back. This makes for more room in the child’s personal cockpit while riding because their knees can be adjusted lower in relation to their body.
34.75″ Tall Child vs. 40.75″ Tall Child
On the original Shotgun seat, all riders have their feet at the same height, regardless of their size. As a result, taller children end up with their knees in their chest while they ride.
You do need to be mindful of your turning radius as you find the correct position for your Mac Ride legs. Do a quick turning test to see if your handlebars or wheels are interfering with the seat or hitting your child.
We do wish the Mac Ride had some type of frame protection on its legs. While the point of many of these seats is to reduce contact with the frame, it is hard to avoid that completely.
I had my Mac Ride legs come loose on a rocky mountain bike ride, which resulted in some small scratches on my frame. I should have checked the bolts before starting the ride!
Be sure to always check the tightness of your bolts on your child seats before riding! You should definitely consider storing your Mac Ride seat in your car until you arrive at your destination to avoid loose bolts from the car ride up while on the bike rack. (To be clear, the legs coming loose does not affect the security of the seat on the bike at all, but could be a problem if your child tries to stand up during a ride.)
We would also love to see these seats have some type of protective material on the underside of the rail. Neither the Mac Ride or the Shotgun Pro seat provide this. So until that time, we recommend investing in some type of frame tape or frame protectors for added protection. Check out Ground Keeper Custom!
Mac Ride’s Optional Hand Grips
Mac Ride has mini grips that can be installed on your handlebars for your little rider. The Mac Ride’s hand grips require you to remove the adult handlebar grips, the brakes, seat dropper switch and shifters to slide the cylindrical foam grips onto the handlebars. This is a little more involved than we would prefer. However, if you plan to keep the grips on your handlebars for the duration of the season then it may be worth it.
To be honest we haven’t found these grips to be the most useful or even necessary. Below are some scenarios in which you may consider these grips.
In the winter or colder riding months, you enjoy your rubber handlebar grips while your child will take hold of your cold, bare handlebars. Keeping littles hands warm is already a challenge so adding some grips may help keep their hands warm and them riding longer.
If you have issues with your littles wanting to take hold of your handlebar grips, your brakes, or even messing with your shifting, then installing their own grips can help train them to where their hands should go!
Realistically some handlebar tape could also do the trick in both of these scenarios. If interested in grips, you may also consider Kids Ride Shotgun’s handlebar solution.
Mac Ride Bike Seat Installation
Installation differs slightly depending on the type of bike on which the seat will be installed. Most hybrid and mountain bikes are built with threadless headset, for which the Mac Ride mounts with a spacer bracket. If your bike has a traditional threaded headset, you will need to purchase an adapter in order to install the Mac Ride.
A 10mm spacer (common on many newer bikes and most mountain bikes) is simply swapped out for the Mac Ride’s Mounting Bracket Spacer. Once the spacer is placed and the stem and handlebars are re-tightened, the seat can easily be installed and removed within minutes.
Something we discovered about the Mac Ride seat is that its front clamp will work with slammed stems or those bikes with limited clearance between the mounting bracket and handlebars. You can see an example of a slammed stem and a stem with more clearance in the pictures below.
My 2020 Cannondale Jekyll has a slammed stem and limited clearance between the mounting spacer ring and handlebars. You can see in the pictures below that the Mac Ride barely leaves me with enough clearance between the front clamp and handlebars. However, it is ample clearance to be able to ride safely with the Mac Ride bike seat. There is no rubbing or interference with turning or moving my handlebars.
We don’t recommend riding with any mountain bike seat if there is rubbing between the front clamp and handlebars. This becomes a safety issue and could potentially cause the front clamp to open and the seat to come off your bike.
Now, look at the Shotgun Pro front clamp below. On my Cannondale Jekyll, the Shotgun Pro front clamp does not clear the handlebars and causes some rubbing. This proves to be an issue and unsafe to ride with.
You can see the simple difference in design between the two front clamps and how the design of the Shotgun Pro clamp causes it to stick out further and require more clearance for the bike’s handlebars. You will want to be sure to identify what kind of stem your bike has in determining which bike seat will fit your bike.
Mounting the threaded adapter bracket is equally as easy and convenient as mounting the standard threadless Mac Ride bracket. The handlebar stem is removed from the steerer tube and the adapter is placed on the quill stem of the steerer tube. The adaptor is then securely tightened to the stem using an Allen wrench.
Once the front mounting bracket is in place, the Mac Ride is secured in two places. The front end of the Mac Ride is secured around the mounting bracket spacer while an additional clamp secures the back end of the Mac Ride below the seat post clamp.
The rear clamp on the Mac Ride secures to the seat post. There has to be at least 2 cm of space on your seat post. The Mac Ride does require more space on your seat post than the Shotgun Pro.
Some mountain bikes with seat dropper posts will have limited space and may not work with the Mac Ride. If your seat dropper post does not have 2 cm of clearance, you can consider raising your seat to create more room.
However, this will only work if you have enough cable to accommodate raising the seat. You may have to have the seat dropper re-cabled. You also want to consider that raising your seat will raise the position of your regular seat heights.
Once the mounting bracket has been installed on the bike, putting the Mac Ride on and taking it off takes less than a couple of minutes. When not in use, the bracket can stay on the bike and does not impact the regular functioning of the bike. It’s not even noticeable on a threadless headset and is barely noticeable on a threaded headset.
Caution: Ensure that you have sufficiently tightened the handlebars after installing the spacer bracket!
Mac Ride vs. Shotgun Pro Seat
We have made some mention of how the Mac Ride and Shotgun Pro differ above. Here is a quick overview of the notable differences between these two open-style mountain bike seats.
Lower Saddle: The saddle sits lower in relation to the rider. Through testing both seats extensively, we have found this to be a big deal. The lower seat height will allow you to use the Mac Ride for longer. It gives your kid more room to grow without taking up too much space underneath or in front of the adult rider or parent.
Curved Saddle: The curved saddle shape on the Mac Ride is ideal for trail riding. The cupped saddle shape keeps the passenger securely seated even through bumpier terrain or even small roller drops. Young riders can’t get up and out of their saddles to reduce movements absorbed from the trail, so having a curved saddle helps them stay seated and secure while out on the trails.
Front Clamp Compatibility: The Mac Ride front clamp is compatible with more bikes including slammed stems and quill stems. We also in general love the sleeker design of the Mac Ride front clamp.
Leg Adjustments: No tools are needed to adjust the length of legs.
Weight: The Mac Ride weighs slightly less than the Shotgun Pro
Rear Clamp Spacing: The Shotgun Pro has a rear clamp that requires less space on seat posts. This can be a big deal for anyone planning to use their seat with a seat dropper post and you have less than 2 cm of space.
E-Bikes: The Shotgun Pro is compatible with e-bike frames from the get-go. No extra pieces or parts to install. Simply rotate the legs out to provide clearance for a wider frame.
Less Bowing of Legs: A benefit to the Shotgun Pro seat sitting higher is allowing the adult rider more space when pedaling. You don’t have to bow your legs out quite as much with the Shotgun Pro.
Footrests: The footrests have little grippers, designed after an adult-style mountain bike flat pedal. We found these footrests to perform well and had no issues of feet coming out or loose while riding.
Frame Protection: The protective sleeve on the Shotgun Pro legs was appreciated in case of accidental contact.
Mac Ride Child Bike Seat Bottom Line
The Mac Ride Bike Seat may just be the best and most enjoyable piece of bike gear you ever buy as a parent! From personal experience, we can pretty much promise that you won’t regret this purchase as a biking parent!
While not cheap, we appreciate how well the Mac Ride works for all sizes of adult riders and kiddos (kids between the ages of 2 – 5), giving this MTB seat increased longevity and lots of time for families to use and enjoy.
In addition, the Mac Ride is well-built, so incredibly easy to use, and highly compatible with many different bikes for both mountain biking and casual neighborhood riding.