Kids Bike Seats vs Bike Trailers: Which Is Better?

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What bike carrying system should you use to ride with your kids? The aim of this post isn’t to just join the huge debate over kids bike seats vs bike trailers and impress our choice on you. But it is to share information about the two systems that will help you make an informed decision. As with everything else, choosing the right option depends on a variety of factors and your unique need. The best place to begin is to understand the different types of each category.

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Kids Bike Seats Vs Bike Trailers

mom riding a bike on a mountain trail with her son sitting on a front-mounted bike seat
mom towing bike trailer burley

Bike adventures are a great way to enjoy the outdoors with your family. You can even bring along the little ones using kids bike seats or bike trailers for kids. Biking together as a family is a great way to stay active and share quality time, and the kids will absolutely LOVE IT! 

Deciding whether you should use a bike trailer vs bike seat might seem difficult. There are so many options and each seems like a completely different system. But there’s no need to worry! In this complete review, you’ll discover the best solution for your biking needs.

Here is everything you need to know about kids bike seats and kids bike trailers. We’ll be sharing the pros and cons of each bike-carrying system, so you can make the best choice for your family. And most of all, have fun on your family biking adventures! 

a dad riding a bike on a mountain trail with his son sitting on a front-mounted kids bike seat

Before deciding how to carry kids while biking:

There are a few things to keep in mind when deciding on the most ideal bike carrying system for your kids. Each system offers unique pros and cons to your biking experience. Depending on your needs, you may find one system is the perfect solution.

Here are some questions to answer before deciding between a bike seat vs bike trailer:

How old are your kids?

Depending on the age of your child, a bike trailer or a bike seat might be better for them. Within the bike seat vs bike trailer comparison, there are multiple styles. Your child might begin in a front or rear bike seat and then progress into a mid-mount seat or trailer as they grow a little older. 

Bike trailers can be used with kids as young as 1 month old (with a special attachment). It can also be used more easily with older kids, so the overall longevity of a bike trailer is longer.

How many children will you need to carry while biking?

If you have more than one child to carry per bike, then a trailer is your best option. The bike trailer can comfortably and safely carry multiple children, whether you’re bringing a sibling or friend along for the bike ride.

What type of roads or trails will you bike?

Some carrying systems work better for bumpy or gravel roads. If you’re choosing a bike trailer, you’ll have to also consider the wheel structure, to ensure it can smoothly handle the roads that you’ll be crossing. You’ll also have to be aware of location, as trailers can be harder to transport, so you might want to get a good bike rack.

If you’re choosing a bike seat, then you’ll want to consider how stable you feel while riding on the roads or trails, since you don’t want to crash your bike while your child is in the bike seat. 

How long is your bike rides with kids?

If you plan on going for long bike rides with kids, a trailer might be most comfortable for you and your child. I find that when we go on long bike rides as a family, our kids often fall asleep in the bike trailer. So we prefer biking with a trailer for longer distances. Children can also benefit from the shade coverage, which lets you ride further distances even on sunny days.

You also need to factor in that it’s more difficult to pull a kid’s bike trailer than to have a bike seat.

So if you’re worried about your own strength, a bike seat may be better. Or you can recruit a partner to pull the trailer!

man biking with trailer

Types of Bike Seats:

Front-Mounted Bike Seats For Kids

Best for infants and young toddlers

A front-mounted seat is the smallest option. It’s a great choice for kids 9 months to about 2.5 years old. The seat is mounted on the handlebar. Kids will enjoy the front-seat view and rest comfortably between the adult’s arms. Most young children will find being close to their parent to be more relaxing, and it also provides a smoother ride than rear mounted bike seats. It’s also good in terms of being a safety child bike seat, because parents can help protect their kids quickly when needed.

Mid-Mounted Bike Seats For Kids

Best for: Mountain biking with kids, older kids who want a front row seat to the action

Mid-mounted bike seats for kids are fairly new to the market and they’re seriously so amazing. We first learned about these when we were trying to find a solution to mountain bike with our entire family, while our youngest was just 2-years-old. After trying several different types of bike seats, we found that a mid-mounted kids mountain bike seat allowed him to be upfront with the action, see the trail ahead (and even lean into the turns), and also to benefit from our mountain bike suspension for a smoother ride.

A mid-mounted seat is the ride of choice for slightly older kids, or if you will be mountain biking with kids. There is a custom seat that fastens to the top tube, which is the main bar that connects the adult seat and handlebars. Children should be a little older, usually, around 2 to 5 years old, when using the mid-mount mountain bike seat for kids. These seats are well suited to older kids because they don’t have a harness, instead, kids need to balance on their own seats and hold the handlebars. This design is ideal for difficult terrain and mountain biking. And this setup is also perfect as a safe child bike seat because kids are wrapped by the bike rider’s arms.

Rear-Mounted Bike Seats For Kids

Best for: Older kids, best budget bike seats for kids

A rear-mounted seat is the most popular bike seat for young kids, and can often be found at discount prices used. These are perfect for children 12 months old, or around 50 lbs. They look similar to front-mounted seats, but are often larger and offer more features. From reclining to greater suspension to more adjustable harness straps, this seat will feel like luxury for your baby the whole ride.

There are usually two types of mounting options: directly to the bike frame or on a rack. This gives you flexibility to fit the seat to various bike models. The main disadvantage to a rear mounted bike seat is that they are often very bouncy for kids, so they don’t work well on gravel or dirt trails. Rear mounted bike seats usually do not work with full suspension mountain bikes.

biking in yellowstone giant with a rear-mounted kids bike seat

Bike Trailers for kids:

Bike trailers are small carrying systems that hitch to the back of a bicycle. The bike pulls the trailer behind using two large parallel wheels that support the trailer. Bike trailers are very study, with a low center of gravity.

You can buy trailers that accommodate up to 2 children, which is a great option for larger families, or if you need to carry gear. We love our bike trailer since it’s perfect for picking up groceries, hauling balls and toys to the park, or for carrying towels to the swimming pool. They are generally easy to pull (though more difficult than a bike seat), but require more space and a flatter ground to maneuver.

mom towing bike trailer burley

At what age can kids start riding in a bike trailer?

While traditional advice recommends that kids not ride in a bike trailer until they are age 1, there are a few products on the market that allow younger kids to ride in a bike trailer. If you’re in the US, the best product is the Chariot Infant Sling attachment that fits into a Thule Chariot. This device allows babies as young as one month to ride in a bike trailer safely. If you are not using something like the Infant Sling, pediatricians recommend waiting until your child is one year old to ride in a bike trailer to make sure that they have good head control and balance for sitting.

Kids Bike Seats vs Bike Trailers: Which is better?

There are lots of options for taking your kids biking. So, which one should you pick? 

Well, it depends! 

Some bike seats might not be an option for you, if your kids aren’t the appropriate age. Your choice between a bike trailer vs bike seat also largely depends on your biking style.

While trailers are generally easier to bike with on flat surfaces, they are a challenge to bike up hill. At the same time, bike seats can be hard to balance with, due to the extra weight. But once you get the hang of it, bike seats can be used across more diverse terrains. 

Some kids have a preference, too. Generally, most parents say that kids find bike seats to be more engaging. Kids can engage both with you and the scenery. Comparing a bike seat vs trailer, your kids will enjoy the seat because of the fresh breeze in their hair and closeness to you during the journey. Although, comparing a bike trailer vs seat, some kids find trailers to be more comfortable, especially for longer rides. Kids can also take naps and relax in their trailers more easily. Plus most trailers can accommodate two kids, so a sibling or friend can be fun company for the trip!

Ultimately, each carrying system has its own merits in the bike seat vs bike trailer debate. You can use this guide for insight into which system is best for your needs. As your children get older, you may end up using different systems over the years. Whatever you decide, you’ll be sure to have great outings on your family bike rides. Your kids will certainly get a thrill out of the adventure!

Are Bike Trailers Safer Than Bike Seats?

One of the key points that guide parent’s decision-making between a bike seat vs bike trailer is based on whatever system is safest. Overall, bike trailers are safer than bike seats. This is because trailers are lower to the ground. There simply isn’t much distance to fall if the bike were to tip over. Trailers also have their own wide-based from the two parallel wheels. This adds stability and makes it much more difficult to tip the trailer over in the first place. It also won’t throw your balance off while biking. 

Trailers are also fully enclosed using metal rode framing and durable plastic covers. This will protect kids from the elements, whether that is wind, rain, or sunshine. And again, if the trailer were to tip over the metal structure is protective. 

At the same time, a bike seat can be a perfectly safe and sound option. Many parents comment that the mid-or front-mounted seats are the ideal bike safety seat for a baby. Kids are already in the warm embrace of their parent’s arms in their bike seats. This can be quite comforting and very useful if you needed to make a quick reaction decision. These seats ensure parents are ready to help soften a fall if the bike were to tumble over.

man and boy riding a bike

The Final Verdict: Kids Bike Seat Vs Bike Trailers

It is great that there are so many ways to carry kids on a bike so you can always bring your kids along on biking trips. Bikes seats and trailers each have their own benefits and drawbacks. Depending on your situation, one of these options might be shining like the perfect solution. 

If you’re still a bit stumped on if a trailer or a bike seat is right for your kids, consider your strengths as a cyclist. Are you a powerhouse of strength but have difficulty with balance? then a trailer might be your best choice. If you’re a balancing master but not quite as strong, then a bike seat is probably a good option. 

Hopefully, this bike seat vs trailer comparison is helpful for you. Ultimately, picking the right seat is important. If you can be rest assured that your children are safe, and you can comfortably ride your bike with your child in tow, then you’ll be guaranteed to have a more relaxing ride.

Read more actionable and informational posts on Biking:

Kids Bike seats vs Bike Trailers: What’s your favorite way of riding with your child? Share with us in the comment below!

About Jessica Averett

Hi, I’m Jessica, a mom of 5 kids and married to my favorite adventure partner. I love to bike, ski, camp and hike. We've visited over 40 countries with our kids, but are equally happy on the road as we are exploring our home state of Utah.