Effortlessly adjustable, incredibly durable and also reclinable, the cream-of-the-crop Thule RideAlong child bike seat is easily one of the best rear-mounted bike seats on the market.
So what makes the Thule RideAlong stand out in a sea of other child bike seats? And what makes it truly worth a slightly higher investment? Read the review below to find out!
BEST FOR: Parents who want the best quality child bike seat on the market, but don’t need a ton of ventilation.
MOUNT TYPE: Rear frame
AGE RANGE: 9 mo. to 48 lbs.
- Easy to install, mount, and unmount
- Backpack-style shoulder straps are soft, padded, secure, and don’t slip down. Adjusting them is a breeze!
- Continuously adjustable shoulder strap slider
- Blue color-coded adjustment system is so easy to use
- It reclines!
- Soft, dense padding
- Easily adjustable footrests
- Mounting block lock to prevent theft
- One of few rear seats sized right for 12 month olds
- Kids can easily remove their feet from the footstraps
- Less ventilation than the Thule Yepp seats
Thule RideAlong Child Bike Seat Review – Results of our Test Rides
Before we sell you on just how rad the Thule RideAlong is, let’s make sure it will fit on your bike! The Thule RideAlong is only available as a rear frame-mounted seat. It mounts to the seat tube of the bike (the bike’s frame below the seat post), placing the child behind the adult rider.
While we’ll explain much more about the details of mounting later, you will need about 6 inches of open space on the seat tube to attach the mounting block. The seat tube should be round and cannot have any cables running down it.
Does this describe your bike? Sweet! Now let’s make sure your child fits the seat!
Size and Age of Child
Like almost all rear-mounting child bike seats, the RideAlong has a weight capacity of 40 lbs. in the US and is safety rated for babies as young as 9 months. (Depending on state laws, you may be required to wait until 12 months, which is what we recommend in most situations).
If you’ve heard that the RideAlong or other seats are safety rated to 48.5 lbs, that is according to European standards. According to ASTM standards, no rear child bike seat can be rated over 40 lbs.
Not all seats are really the greatest fit for the entire range of weight and age of the seat. Most rear seats are a poor fit for babies and young toddlers because their shoulder straps don’t go down low enough to sit snuggly on a baby’s shoulders.
The Thule RideAlong has a very wide range of shoulder strap height and is one of the few rear child bike seats that we’d also call a baby bike seat. As you can see here, we have a 12 month old baby secured in the seat. The shoulder straps fit snuggly at his shoulders.
Compare that lowest setting to the Thule Yepp Maxi. While an awesome seat, its lowest shoulder strap setting is 12.5″ above the seat, while the RideAlong’s is just 11″ inches. As a result, the RideAlong is a much better fit for younger riders.
How does the RideAlong fit older kids on the higher end of the size spectrum? With a max weight capacity and max shoulder height similar to Thule’s other rear seats (Thule Yepp Maxi and Yepp Nexxt Maxi), it’s max range is pretty standard.
Parent Experience – Ease of Use
One big frustration many parents have with child bike seats or bike trailers is that they aren’t always the most intuitive to use. Thule goes to extra pains to ensure that the process of using their child bike seats is simple and straightforward by using a blue color coding system.
The blue system makes this seat pretty fool proof. Anything on the seat that can be adjusted is blue. From shoulder strap height and shoulder strap tightening and loosening, to the buckle, recline and footrest… they’re all blue!
Almost all adjustments can be done using just one hand, leaving your other hand free to hold up your bike! It’s the little details like this that make every Thule product so easy to use, making it just that much easier to get your little ones out for a ride.
While pretty much everything about the RideAlong is incredibly well designed, the harness is the truly standout feature. It’s hands down the best and easiest to use harness of any child bike seat on the market.
The wide, sturdy, back-pack style straps stay in place better than any other straps we’ve tested. And adjusting them is a breeze!
The RideAlong has a 3-point harness, while many other seats have 5-point harnesses. A 3-point harness has shoulder straps that meet at the buckle to keep your child secure. A 5-point harness has shoulder straps and waist straps that meet at the buckle.
While both styles of harnesses have the same safety ratings, if your child is likely to try to get out of the seat, we highly recommend a 5-point harness like that found on the Thule Yepp Maxi seen above. Determined kids can wiggle their way out of shoulder straps on almost every seat we’ve tested.
If the seat also has waist straps, those additional restraints will keep the child from standing up in the seat. The Burley Dash is the only seat we’ve tested that our toddler hasn’t managed to remove the shoulder straps.
One additional important note about 3-point harnesses. The shoulder straps are permanently connected at the buckle, so the entire harness must be lowered over your child’s head to buckle it.
Depending on how tight the shoulder straps are and how large you child’s helmet is, you may have to elongate the shoulder straps in order for the harness to fit over your child’s head. Luckily the process for loosening and tightening the RideAlong’s straps is super easy, so it can actually be faster than trying to connect a 5-point harness.
To set the straps at the appropriate height for your rider, the entire harness slides up and down the back of the seat so you can set it at exactly the right height, and easily adjust as your child grows. Just lift up and slide the blue handle on the back of the seat until the proper height is reached.
The straps should be placed so that there is little or no gap between the top of the shoulder and the bottom of the shoulder pad. The RideAlong is one of ONLY two seat to have a continuously adjustable harness like this.
ADJUSTING THE STRAP LENGTH
Once the right height is set, and you’ve pulled the harness over your child’s head, you’ll need to tighten the straps so they are snug against your child’s body. To tighten, simply pull down on the excess strap. To loosen, push the blue button and pull up. Seriously the EASIEST TO USE EVER.
The buckle snaps securely in place and can easily be undone with one hand by an adult, but requires too much force for a child to manage to unbuckle themselves. The buckle’s buttons are, of course, blue!
The Thule RideAlong is one of few child bike seats that can recline, and is definitely easier to recline than most other seats. The reclining mechanism simply requires pulling up one lever beneath the seat, which allows your other hand to hold the bike in place.
This can be done on the fly if you come to a stop in the middle of your ride. There are 5 different recline positions. The child’s harness straps do not need to be re-adjusted as they are not affected by the recline.
If your child falls asleep during a ride, this recline is a HUGE bonus! When sitting upright and asleep, your poor nugget’s head will bob on their chest. Being able to quickly recline a sleeping baby means a more comfortable nap and hopefully a longer period of peaceful ride for you. 🙂
Footrests and Foot straps
By sliding the footrest up or down, you can quickly adjust the foot platforms to be at a perfectly comfortable height for your child. The foot straps snap in place on the side to secure your child’s foot down.
The length of the foot straps is a bit trickier to adjust than most other foot straps, and once adjusted, often just come loose again. We’ve found that many kids can pretty easily remove their feet once secured. The foot straps are about the only real complaint we have about this otherwise well-designed seat.
Seat Material and Venting
The seat itself is constructed of a seriously strong and thick plastic. We’ve tested a lot of child bike seats, and it’s certainly one of the sturdiest and most durable. The side bumpers provide hand rests for your child, and also come in handy when you need to lean your bike against a wall to load or unload kids.
The high-quality, water-repellent padding is thin, but dense, offering enough cushioning without being bulky. It can easily be removed for washing, and is also reversible for you to choose either gray or magenta.
As you can see, there are no ventilation holes for air flow during hot weather. Whether or not that will be an issue for you depends on your climate and the season you’ll be riding in. If you’re concerned about air flow, check out the very well-ventilated Thule Yepp Maxi or Yepp Nexxt Maxi.
Mounting System – How does it attach to my bike?
Mounting a child bike seat to your bike for the first time can be a bit intimidating. But it’s honestly a super easy process.
Attaching the mounting bracket to your bike’s frame will be the trickiest part. Your seat tube will need to be round, and can’t have any exterior wires on the frame. Wires along the seat tube are very common, so check for this before you buy the seat!
You will also need about 6 inches of space, because Thule’s mounting block is very tall. In general, traditional women’s bikes with sloping top tubes do not have enough space on the seat tube to attach a rear-frame mounted seat.
If you have a women’s bike, you will most likely need to use a rack-mounted seat instead. I have three bikes – a city bike, a hybrid, and a mountain bike. I can’t mount a frame-mounted seat to any of them and have to use my husband’s bike!
As you can see on the left, the exterior brake cable and cable bracket interfere with a mount. On the right, the arc in the seat tube prevents a flush mount.
Once the mounting bracket is installed, putting the seat on and taking the seat off takes just seconds! After securing the mounting bars to the bottom of the RideAlong, you simply push the bars into the mounting bracket until an audible click is heard. To take it off, pull the blue button on the mounting bracket’s face and pull the mounting bars out!
For optimal and safest placement in relation to the rear axle of your bike, the RideAlong can be shifted towards or away from the adult bike by unlocking the blue side lever, sliding the seat, and locking it back into place. Easy peasy!
There is a small circle marked on the left side of the seat that indicates the “centered” point over your bike’s rear axle. For safety, you need to have that circle no more than 10 cm behind your axle. Within that 10 cm range, you can move the seat away from you to accommodate your saddle shape as well as to give yourself a little more space.
One helpful feature of the RideAlong’s mounting system is the optional low saddle (seat adapter). If you ride with your saddle within an inch or so of its lowest position, it can be difficult to mount a rear-frame seat because the angle of the mounting bars interferes with the saddle, and prevents you from inserting the bars into the mount. It can also be difficult to use the recline feature properly.
The low-saddle adapter replaces the standard mounting bars for a longer, angled bar. The drop in the middle of the mounting bar provides additional space for a low seat. The RideAlong is one of only two child bike seats we know of that offers this. (The Hamax Caress is the other.)
The Thule RideAlong is packed full of parent and child-friendly features. While on the more expensive end of child bike seats, the RideAlong is so durable and so easy to use, it’s worth every penny. In a nutshell, it’s all the little details done just right.