Boom! You’re a parent, well there’s a little more to it than that, but you know what we mean. It’s not easy transitioning from carefree adventurers, with all the time in the world, to sleep-deprived baggage handlers who need at least two hours notice just to leave the house. We tell ourselves that we won’t lose track of the things we used to love, but it’s easy to slip into the ebb and flow of family life. Being a parent is tough, being a cycling parent is even tougher.
The next generation of e-mobility is dawning, but also the next generation of riders. How do we connect with the riders who will shape our sport in the future?
There is a compelling reason to continue to ride bikes though. As they grow, our kids mimic everything we do. If we slouch out on the sofa, taking the easy road and eating junk they will do the same. If we make every effort to get out and enjoy nature and the thrill that riding a bike can bring, then our kids will desire that too. Combining family time with riding a bike is a win-win situation, building bonds, sharing experiences and allowing our children to develop skills that will form the foundations for years to come. The biggest motivator to remain fit, healthy and strong is our children. Given the right tools, they will also become our biggest inspiration.
At what age can you start your child’s journey into the world of cycling?
Earlier than you may think. If you already own an eMTB, there are now a range of specialist seats and trailers that will allow you to take your kids safely onto gentle trails from as young as 6 months, sharing the joy of being out in the fresh air and experiencing nature.
Gone are the days of rear mounted kids seats, giving your child an inspirational view of your back. With the front mount kids seats, your child now sits up front, captain of the ship, leader of the pack.
For many, a front mounted kids seat is the beginning. If you already have an eMTB, and want to share the stoke with your mini-shredder, then a front mounted seat is an inexpensive passport to trail fun. How else can your toddler experience the wind and exhilarating thrill of speeding over the ground, in between the arms of the person they trust most in the world? With your toddler between your arms, you can interact, sing, laugh and reassure while they build memories that will last a lifetime – or at least until their first hangover at 16. Time flies, savour it.
The best front mounted kids seats allow you to ride comfortably on gentle trails and flowing singletrack. They can be attached and removed in minutes and provide a secure and comfortable ride. Most brands recommend you should wait until your child is 12 months old before use and we have found that this is a good age to get your small ones started. At the other end of the scale, most bike child seats have an upper weight limit of 15 kgs. By the time your child is this heavy, they will probably want to progress onto their own bike or trailer.
When choosing a front mounted kids seat:
- choose a design that can be removed and installed quickly. This will allow you to quickly swap the seat between bikes should you want to share the load with your partner (often with the purchase of an extra inexpensive adaptor).
- If your child is young, they will get tired, choose a model that can offer support for their head if they should fall asleep.
- look for a simple and lightweight design, while your forks do carry the load minimising the system weight will improve the handling of your bike.
- get complacent. You are 100% responsible for your child’s wellbeing. Be sure to secure the safety harness, ensure you have correctly fitted the seat and maintained your eMTB to a high standard. Most importantly, make sure your child is wearing a helmet and you are riding well within both of your capabilities.
- Forget to fit a fender to your bike to minimise front wheel spray should the trails be wet.
With many dads on our editorial team, we’ve already tested all the kids seats on the market. After extensive testing there are two clear winners that ensure the time you spend with your little ones is full of smiles, not tantrums.
Thule Yepp Nexxt Mini
The Thule Yepp Mini is the best MTB child seat for children under two. The tall back, excellent 5 point harness, magnetic buckles and foot straps inspire confidence. Made from a non-porous foam that is soft and warm to touch, the Yepp Nexxt Mini offers a reassuringly supportive and comfortable ride for your nipper. An additional face pad can be purchased and fitted to the handlebar if you want your child to take a nap in comfort. For compatibility. you will need 2.5 cm of available steerer tube under your stem, but once fitted the seat is lockable and comes off quickly, leaving only the steerer mounted bracket in place. The Thule Yepp Nexxt Mini is perfect for family rides and as your child grows, can be used on easy flowing singletrack.
Rider owned, parent designed and a Kickstarter success story, MacRide’s lightweight and adjustable front MTB child seat is the best option for over 2 year olds. The MacRide puts your child on the top tube, rather than the steerer tube, and features a large and grippy silicon seat with rubber foot straps. Instead of sitting on a rigid seat, your child is free to move, lean into turns, stand up in the saddle and enjoy the feeling of moving dynamically with the bike. The telescopic design will fit any bike with 25 mm of free steerer tube below the stem. Once the ‘fit and forget’, special headset spacer has been fitted the MacRide can be fitted on the bike in seconds with no tools. Without an enclosed seat or sleeping support, very long rides are out of the question, but for fun family loops, the MacRide is unrivalled. Once on, our kids loved it, a game changer for mountain biking with your child.
If you have an outdoor focussed family, and want to enjoy longer rides, the combination of an eMTB and specific kids trailer is the perfect combination
Trailers, the essential family tool. A specific child’s trailer will not only allow your kids to enjoy the thrill of cruising down a trail, but also give them a comfortable place to sleep should the excitement get too much. Using a trailer with an optional infant seat allows you to enjoy fresh air with your child when they are as little as 3 months old. At this stage, short trips on very gentle trails are your only option but after 90 days abstinence from any outdoor activity it will seem like sweet salvation! As your kids grow, a trailer will become a trusted companion, a workhorse with a million uses.
When choosing a bike trailer:
- choose a trailer with suspension. Even basic leaf-sprung suspension will make the ride more comfortable for your children. If you want to ride off road, the best trailers feature an adjustable air shock with damper.
- Invest in a Tout Terrain Singletrailer if you want to ride singletrack. The narrow width, 200 mm of suspension and single wheel make it the only real choice for adventurous riding.
- Check out the options list. Some trailers offer many accessories such as a jog wheel, stroller wheels or even skis, increasing their functionality for the needs of your family.
- Forget to check if your eMTB warranty permits the use of trailers. Many eMTB brands still do not permit the towing of trailers.
Can you just put a trailer on your eMTB?
Before you turn your trusty eMTB into a towing machine, there are a few aspects you need to consider. Trailer manufacturers already offer thru-axles in many lengths, maximising compatibility with most bike designs, but it can be tricky finding the correct axle for your eMTB. Also, you need to check your bikes warranty as many brands do not permit the use of trailers. Fitting a trailer will affect the handling of your bike, especially in corners, so it is recommended to practice somewhere safe. We’ve already done a lot of the hard work for you and tested all the best MTB kids bike trailers, and there are two stand-out options that impressed our demanding teams most.
Tout Terrain Singletrailer
The Tout Terrain SingleTrailer is the undisputed champion when it comes to enjoying single track with your little one. If you have not already seen Danny MacAskill’s showing the trailers capability, you should check it out on YouTube, it will blow your mind. With a narrow width of only 45 cm, a cro-mo steel roll cage and a whopping 200 mm of suspension travel, the Singletrailer is amazingly capable off road. Your child’s comfort is taken care of with a suspended seat, bug guard and waterproof cover. The Tout Terrain SingleTrailer attaches to the bike via an adaptor on the seatpost, ensuring compatibility with all eMTBs. You do need to disconnect your dropper post to fit the small adaptor, but once on you can leave it on the bike, and a quick release lever on the trailer makes removal effortless. It is expensive, but no other trailer is so capable off road. When riding on singletrack and flowing mountain bike trails, the Tout Terrain is in a league of its own, allowing you to carve berms, manual, and bunny hop, confident that your child will be safely following behind, howling with joy.
Thule Chariot Lite
The Thule Chariot Lite is the perfect companion for forest roads and cycle ways, at 63 cm wide, it will squeeze happily down family-friendly trails. It can be tricky identifying the correct thru-axle for your eMTB, and unfortunately not all bikes are compatible, but once fitted the QR connector can be left on the bike when the trailer is not in use. Non-adjustable leaf springs give the Chariot Lite just enough suspension to ride unsurfaced trails, but it’s not suitable for rougher singletrack. The basic seat is comfortable, and a range of additional infant and baby slings are available to extend the age range capability of the trailer from 6 months up to 34 kg. On an eMTB the Chariot turns and manoeuvres effortlessly, and comes with a rain cover, bug guard and enough storage to stow a rucksack, picnic and trail snacks. Thule’s attention to design is observable and their Click n’ Store concept allows the Chariot to function as a jogger, stroller and even a ski trailer. The stroller wheels click in above the hitch, so you can swap between trailer and buggy very quickly, meaning that you don’t have to take both a trailer and a stroller for a day out.
If you want to transport more than one child at once, the latest e-Cargo bikes will revolutionise the way your family travels
E-cargo bikes are one of the exciting new innovations for active families. If you have space to store one, they can become an essential family vehicle, not only for domestic tasks, but also to enjoy family rides on gentle trails and cycle ways. Your children sit low in the front of the bike, enjoying the view, all the time, secured by a three point seat belt and protected by a metal shell. Not only does an e-cargo bike allow you to have family fun on woodland trails and cycle ways, it also allows you to leave the car at home.
The school run will become a chance to bond with your kids, an opportunity for fresh air rather than stuffy traffic jams, and with enough space to stow all the paraphaniali that a kid needs, it will become an indispensable tool for your family. For those with an interest in cargo bikes, their possibilities and some wildly diverse takes on them, check out the group test with the 9 hottest Cargo-Bikes 2020 on our sister magazine DOWNTOWN.
When choosing an E-cargo bike:
- Think carefully about what tasks the cargo bike will be used for. If you plan to replace a car for the school run, be sure to get a cargo bike with a specific rain cover to protect passengers.
- Consider a cargo bike with front and rear suspension should you want to ride more than just tarmac roads, this will increase the comfort for both you and your passengers.
- If you want to transport very young children, look for a cargo bike that is compatible with your baby car seat.
- Don’t forget that you will have to store the bike too. Cargo bikes are huge and you will need ample space to store the bike and charge it.
The e-cargo segment is growing rapidly, with new designs hitting the market frequently. If you want to venture further than the urban jungle, there’s one standout bike for us, perfect for on and offroad adventuring.
Urban Arrow Family Performance CX Disc ZEE 500 W
The Urban Arrow Family E-Load has a cargo box made of EPP foam and comes with integrated adjustable three-point belts to ensure safety for up to three kids. The wide range of optional accessories includes a rain cover, an additional battery, pannier racks and a Maxi-Cosi adapter! The optimised geometry and low position of the cargo box ensure intuitive handling, even with a full load. The slack seat angle makes it easy for riders to reach the ground with their feet and provides a more balanced weight distribution at a standstill. While the electric Bosch Performance Line CX motor always pushes powerfully, the stepless hub gear runs on a low-maintenance belt drive.
The role of eMTBs and the potential for where they can be used are changing rapidly. We offer fresh impetus to that change while helping to maintain a clear overview. One thing is for sure: the future of the eMTB is more exciting than ever before! Our E-MOUNTAINBIKE Theory of Evolution provides context for this and all other articles in our New Generation series, providing new perspectives and broadening the horizon of what’s ahead.
Further articles in the series cover the era of E-SUVs, the new handling of Light eMTBs, the potential for off-road cargo bikes, our off-road step-through group test, connectivity and software solutions, the new generation Z and our guide to passing on your bike passion to your kids.
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Words: Photos: Trev Worsey, Christoph Bayer, Robin Schmitt