Bike child seats and trailers

Choose the best child seat or bicycle trailer for taking your toddler for a ride.
 
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01 .Introduction

Bike trailer

Test results for seven bike seats and four trailers, priced from $73 to $1530

Until your child is old enough to ride their own bicycle, you’ll need to carry them on yours, either in a child seat mounted on your bike or in a trailer towed behind. But with so many child seats and bicycle trailers on the market, which is the right one for you and your child?

CHOICE put seven bike seats and four trailers to the test to find which are safest and easiest to use. We assessed the child seats against the voluntary standard for child carrier seats for pedal bicycles, AS/NZS 4287:1995. Unfortunately this standard hasn’t been reviewed since 1995, and while still useful, in some aspects is rather outdated; for example, it only covers rear-mounted seats. Several of the seats in this test don’t meet the standard, suggesting industry isn’t paying much attention to it any more.

One of the most important safety considerations for a child seat or trailer is its harness. Your child will be moving at speed and sitting relatively high off the ground if they’re in a bike-mounted seat, so they must be securely strapped in. Therefore, while we used the child carrier seat standard as a basis for testing, we also assessed the seat and trailer harnesses against the most up-to-date and rigorous requirements available: the harness clauses from the Australian stroller standard AS/NZS 2088:2000. This standard calls for harnesses to be five-point (with shoulder, waist and crotch straps), which is the most secure type.

There are centre- and front-mounted child seats now on the market, and we think the standard should cover these as well as rear-mounted seats. As more and more people are now cycling, we also believe it’s time AS/NZS 4287 was updated to be more relevant for today’s cycling parents and manufacturers.

Please note: this information was current as of June 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market.


Models tested

Child seats

  • Beto BSC001DB
  • Cyclops 170/10250
  • OKBaby Ergon
  • Repco Child Safety Seat R92600
  • Rosebank Deluxe Child Safety Seat HS2002
  • Topeak Baby Seat - caliper brake
  • Weeride Kangaroo Baby Carrier

Trailers

  • Chariot Cougar 2
  • Croozer 535
  • Cyclops Master Cycle Explorer
  • Pacific Steel Kiddie Trailer PSKT

Recall Notice (February 2012): Morris Stanley Pty Ltd, the distributor of Chariot bicycle trailers, has issued a recall notice for Chariot trailers manufactured from December 2005 through July 2010. On some of these models the bicycle trailer hitch mechanisms can crack and break, causing the trailer to detach from the bicycle. (This problem didn't occur with the sample we tested.) For more details see the full recall notice at the Product Safety Recalls site.

Untested brands

We weren’t able to buy or test all the brands and models we’d have liked. However, the Burley Solo single seat trailer was recently recommended in a test by Bicycle Victoria, which also recommended Hamax and Bobike child seats. Go to www.bv.com.au and search for “kiddie carriers” for more information, including advice on choosing and using child seats and trailers.

There are some innovative alternatives to child seats and trailers which we didn't test. The Taga is a Dutch multifunctional urban vehicle that converts in seconds from stroller to three-wheeled bike with built-in child seat (it’s not yet available here, but retails overseas for about $3500). Cargo cycles such as the Christiana tricycle are another European design, having a wooden cargo box built into the frame and big enough to carry a child or a large load of groceries; these are available in Australia.

 
 

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The following models scored the best results in our test.

What to buy
Brand Price
Child seats
Weeride Kangaroo Baby Carrier $180
Rosebank Deluxe Child Safety Seat HS2002 $99
Trailers
Chariot Cougar 2 $1530
Croozer 535 $743

Results table

Full results for all models are shown in the table below.

PRODUCTPERFORMANCEFEATURESSPECIFICATIONS
Brand / model (in rank order)Overall score (%)Performance score (%)Ease of
use score
(%)
Harness compliant
with stroller
standard
TypeNumber
of
children
Maximum
load
(kg)
Weight
( kg )
Dimensions
(cm, H x W x D)*
Price
($)
CHILD SEATS
Weeride Kangaroo Baby Carrier
www.weeride.com.au
77 81 73 centre mount seat 1 18 2.7 43 x 26 x 44 180
Repco Child Safety Seat R92600
www.pacbrands.com.au
69 69 69 rear mount seat 1 18 3.5 96 x 40 x 42 118
67 65 68 rear mount seat 1 22 3.5 75 x 43 x 60 179
Topeak Baby Seat - caliper brake
www.cassons.com.au
67 70 64 rear mount seat 1 18 4.2 102 x 41 x 48 220
Rosebank Deluxe Child Safety Seat HS2002 (A)
www.rosebankhelmets.com.au
66 74 58 rear mount seat 1 22 3.4 97 x 40 x 43 99
Cyclops 170/10250
www.hunterleisure.com.au
64 65 62 rear mount seat 1 22 1.9 72 x 33 x 57 73
Beto BSC001DB
www.bicorp.com.au
57 61 53 rear mount seat 1 18 3.2 95 x 35 x 38 135
TRAILERS
Chariot Cougar 2
www.morrisstanley.com
85 91 79 axle mounted trailer 2 45 12.6 86 x 82 x 142 1530
83 91 74 axle mounted trailer 2 45 14.9 84 x 88 x 149 743
Pacific Steel Kiddie Trailer PSKT
03 5248 2208
80 81 79 axle mounted trailer 2 36 14.5 84 x 97 x 135 359
Cyclops Master Cycle Explorer
www.hunterleisure.com.au
79 90 67 axle mounted trailer 2 45 9.4 75 x 78 x 135 149

Using the table

Overall score This is made up of:

  • Performance: 50%
  • Ease of use: 50%

Performance score This is made up of:

  • Riding / starting / stopping on level ground: 40%
  • Rider mounting / dismounting the bike: 20%
  • Riding / starting / stopping going uphill: 10%
  • Riding / starting / stopping going downhill: 10%
  • Manoeuvrability: 10%
  • Off-road handling: 10%

Ease of use score This is made up of:

  • Loading / unloading a child into the seat or trailer: 50%
  • Connecting / disconnecting the seat or trailer to the fitting: 30%
  • Assembly: 10%
  • Installing the bike fitting: 10%

Price Recommended or average retail, as of May 2009.

Table notes

* Maximum dimensions when in use, rounded up to the next cm.

(A) Harness is not compliant with stroller standard, but the seat met all key requirements of the standard for child carrier seats.

How we test

Safety – child seats Our tester assesses the child seats against key clauses from the Australian standard for child carrier seats for pedal bicycles, AS/NZS 4287:1995, including dimensions, labels and instructions, construction and preventing access to the bike’s wheels. As this standard is quite old, he also assesses the harnesses against mandatory requirements from the more up-to-date stroller standard, AS/NZS 2088:2000.

Safety – trailers As there is no Australian standard for bicycle trailers, he assesses the trailers against relevant clauses from the stroller standard, looking at the harnesses and folding mechanism and checking for any finger traps and sharp edges.

Performance The seats and trailers are attached to a bicycle as per their instructions, a dummy child is strapped in and an experienced cyclist then rides the bike around a fixed course. The rider assesses the bike’s handling while starting, riding and stopping on a level path and up and down hills, and also manoeuvrability and off-road handling (bumpy terrain). Mounting and dismounting the bike with the seat or trailer attached is also assessed; in the case of the seats, this is assessed by both a male and a female rider, as males and females often mount bikes differently.

Ease of use Our tester assesses ease of assembly, installing the bike fitting (the rack or mounting to which the seat or trailer connects), connecting/disconnecting the seat or trailer to the fitting, and loading/unloading a child.

Profiles - what to buy

Child seats

Weeride Kangaroo Baby Carrier

Weeride kangerooPrice$180

Good points

  • Child is within view of adult rider at all times.
  • Very to easy to mount the bike with seat in place.
  • No assembly required for the seat.
  • Very easy to connect and disconnect seat to bike.
  • Harness meets stroller standard requirements.

Bad points

  • Doesn’t comply with Australian standard for child seats for bicycles, due to centre mounting, method of attaching to bike and seat dimensions.
  • Small seat.
  • Seat is secured to mounting frame by only one screw.

Rosebank Deluxe Child Safety Seat HS2002

Rosebank HS2002We also recommend the Rosebank since it’s the only seat that meets all key requirements of the standard for child carrier seats.
Price $99

Good points

  • Can accommodate a larger child.
  • Rigid cross bar.
  • Secure four-point bike attachment.
  • Has a waist strap.
  • Second-cheapest unit tested.

Bad points

  • May be difficult to mount bike with seat in place.
  • Harness is awkward to use and is not compliant with the stroller standard.

 

Trailers

Chariot Cougar 2

Chariot cougar 202Price $1530

Good points

  • Five-point harness that meets the stroller standard.
  • Can carry two children.
  • Very to easy to mount bike with trailer in place.
  • Excellent bike handling.
  • Very easy to load and unload a child.
  • Can convert to a stroller, and other conversion kits are also available.
  • Certified to the American standard for bicycle trailers ASTM F1975-02 (we didn’t test this).

Bad points

  • Very expensive.

Croozer 535

Croozer 535Price $743

Good points

  • Five-point harness that meets the stroller standard.
  • Can carry two children.
  • Very to easy to mount bike with trailer in place.
  • Excellent bike handling.
  • Can convert to a stroller.

Bad points

  • Too wide to fit through an average doorway.
  • Second-most expensive unit tested.

 

Profiles - the rest

The other child seats are worth considering, but have some drawbacks compared with the recommended models. None of their harnesses meets the stroller standard requirements, and none meets all the key requirements of the Australian standard for child seats for bicycles. The Cyclops distributor disagreed with our assessment, stating they have certification for their seat against AS/NZS 4287:1995.

Child seats

Repco Child Safety Seat R92600

repco child safety seat R92600Price $118

Good points

  • Can accommodate a larger child.
  • Rigid cross bar.
  • Secure four-point bike attachment.

Bad points

  • May be difficult to mount the bike with seat in place.
  • Front end felt light going uphill.
  • No waist strap.  

OKBaby Ergon

OK baby ergonPrice $179

Good points

  • Very easy to connect and disconnect seat to bike.
  • Can accommodate a larger child.

Bad points

  • May be difficult to mount the bike with seat in place.
  • Front end felt light going uphill.
  • Awkward to strap child.
  • No waist strap.
  • Only two-point attachment to bike.

Topeak Baby Seat - caliper brake

Topeak baby seatPrice $220

Good points

  • Can accommodate a larger child.
  • Rigid cross bar.
  • Secure four-point bike attachment.
  • Almost no assembly required.

Bad points

  • May be difficult to mount the bike with seat in place.
  • Awkward to strap child.
  • No waist strap.

Cyclops 170/10250

Cyclops 170/10250Price $73

Good points

  • Secure four-point bike attachment.
  • Rigid cross bar.
  • Cheapest unit tested.

Bad points

  • Small seat.
  • May be difficult to mount the bike with seat in place.
  • Front end felt light going uphill.
  • Not easy to connect and disconnect seat to bike.
  • No waist strap.

Beto BSC001DB

Beto BSC001DBPrice $180

Good points

  • Secure four-point bike attachment.

Bad points

  • May be difficult to mount bike with seat in place.
  • Front end felt very light going uphill.
  • Inadequate assembly instructions.
  • Awkward to strap child.
  • No waist strap.

Trailers

The Pacific and Cyclops trailers are worth considering if you’re on a budget, as they’re significantly cheaper than the recommended models. Both perform well, and the Pacific is easy to use; the Cyclops a little less so, as its safety strap is difficult to undo and the harness can be awkward to use.

However, as their harnesses don’t meet the full stroller standard requirements, we don’t think they’re as safe as the Chariot and Croozer. The Cyclops distributor disagreed with our test method, stating their trailer is certified as meeting the American standard ASTM F1975 – 2002.

Pacific Steel Kiddie Trailer PSKT

Pacific steel kiddie trailer PSKTPrice $359

Good points

  • Can carry two children.
  • Very to easy to mount bike with trailer in place.
  • Easy to load and unload child
  • Very Good bike handling rating.

Bad points

  • Widest trailer.
  • Unpleasant pulsing felt under acceleration or going uphill.
  • Waist strap not connected to harness.

Cyclops Master Cycle Explorer

Cyclops master cycle explorerPrice $149

Good points

  • Can carry two children.
  • Very to easy to mount bike with trailer in place.
  • Excellent bike handling rating.
  • Cheapest trailer tested.

Bad points

  • Waist strap not connected to harness.

What to look for

General

  • Comfortable fit Take your toddler to the shop and put them in the trailers and seats mounted on bikes to be sure they fit safely and comfortably. Check the dimensions and weight rating suit your child now and into the future as your child grows. If you’re choosing a trailer, check your child is fully contained within the frame (roll-cage), even when sitting upright and wearing a helmet.
  • Loading and unloading It should be easy to load your child into the seat or trailer. Remember you’ll have to stabilise the bike while putting your child into a child seat, and you’ll probably need both hands to manage your child. Trailers are more stable but you need to bend down.
  • Harness Look for models with a five-point harness. The straps should be adjustable (allowing for growth) and the buckles easy to use for you, but not your child.

Child seats

  • Type Rear-mounted seats are still the most common, and can often take a larger, heavier child as they’re mounted on a well-braced rack over the rear wheel. Centre- or front-mounted seats generally don’t take as large a child, but have the advantage of keeping the child in your sight and easier to talk to while riding. Long-legged riders might find a centre-mounted seat gets in the way of their knees, requiring a more splayed pedalling action.
  • Installation Check the seat fitting suits your bike. Most fittings suit most bikes, and some seats have different fitting options to suit different bikes – depending on whether the bike has disc or caliper brakes, for example. If possible, take your bike to the shop and get them to fit the seat mounting, as we found this task difficult for several of the tested seats due to poor instructions and the need for tools such as Allen keys which were not included.
  • Connection The seat should connect securely to its fitting and not wobble about, but still be quick and easy to remove and attach.
  • Mounting and dismounting Check you’re comfortable getting on and off the bike with the seat attached. Rear-mounted seats in particular make it harder to swing your leg over the back wheel. A step-through (“women’s”) bike frame helps eliminate this problem.
  • Standard certification While the standard AS/NZS 4287:1995 is not as up to date as we’d like, it’s still worth looking for certification. The standard only covers rear-mounted seats.

Trailers

  • Installation and connection Trailers generally connect to the bike via a quick-release mechanism that attaches to the bike’s rear wheel hub. It generally won’t matter whether the bike itself has a quick-release or nutted hub. We found these mechanisms easy to fit for the tested models. The trailer arm should have a back-up strap connecting it to the bike in case the main connection fails; all the tested models have one.
  • One or two seats We tested two-seat models, but you might find a slightly smaller single-seat model better suits your needs. Two-seaters should ideally be easily adjustable to sit a single child in a central position.
  • Visibility aids Trailers sit low to the ground, so a brightly coloured flag on a mast is a good feature to make the trailer more visible, particularly in traffic. Of the tested models, only the Pacific didn’t have one. All the trailers also have reflectors. However, even with these aids, avoid using the trailer at night or in low-visibility conditions such as rain.
  • Folding Trailers are fairly bulky, so it’s useful if the frames fold and the wheels are easily removed for easy storage or transporting in the car. All the tested models can be folded and their wheels are removable.
  • Conversion kits The Chariot and Croozer can be converted to jogger or four-wheel strollers. Hiking and skiing kits are also available for the Chariot. Conversion kits extend the useful life of the trailer. We didn’t test these models in stroller configuration, but may include them in future stroller tests.
  • Standard certification There’s no Australian standard for bike trailers, but there is an American standard ASTM F1975. The Chariot and Cyclops are certified to this standard. Trailers that convert to strollers should meet the Australian stroller standard AS/NZS 2088:2000 when in stroller configuration.

Which type is for you?

Seats and trailers each have their pros and cons. Here are the key points to consider when deciding which is best for you.

Seats

  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • Smaller and easier to store than trailers.
  • Your child sits close to you so conversation is easier.
  • No need to bend down while loading or unloading the seat, but need to stabilise the bike.
  • Can make the bike less balanced as it raises the centre of gravity.
  • Child isn’t sheltered from the weather.

Trailers

  • Stable while loading.
  • Can carry other cargo such as shopping bags.
  • Offer more shelter than seats.
  • Can be expensive.
  • Heavy and bulky compared with child seats, although they can be folded for storage.
  • Your child sits further away from you, making conversation harder.
  • Increase the effective length and width of the bike.

Is your child ready to ride?

Whether you use a child seat or trailer, your child must be strong enough to support their own head while sitting upright. By law, they must wear a helmet, even if in an enclosed trailer, so make sure they can bear that extra weight too. They’ll also need to be able to cope with the bumps and bounces experienced when riding, and with acceleration forces as you speed up or slow down. Most children are ready at around one year old. If you’re not sure, get advice from your child’s doctor.

Once your child is too big and heavy to fit in a child seat or trailer – typically from around four years of age – you can consider a tag-along style of trailer, which is like a partial bike with seat and handlebars and a rear wheel. Or of course you can start them on their own bike, with training wheels if necessary.

Riding with children

When riding with a child in a seat or trailer attached to your bike, pay extra attention to safety.

  • If you aren’t already a reasonably experienced cyclist, get some practice in before you start riding with your child. Confidence, skill and fitness will make you a much safer rider with baby on board.
  • If possible, try riding with the seat or trailer empty or with a dummy load, to get used to the bike’s changed handling characteristics.
  • Avoid riding in traffic. Stick to cycle paths in well-lit areas.
  • You and your child must wear helmets.
  • Don’t ride at night or in low visibility conditions such as rain or fog.
  • Be especially careful when cornering. The weight of the child in the bike seat could make the bike unbalanced, and a trailer could tip if you take a tight corner too fast.
  • Allow greater time and distance for braking.
  • Allow extra time for crossing roads and other danger points, especially with the extra length of a trailer.
  • With a child seat attached, your bike’s centre of gravity and handling will change.
  • Keep hold of your bike whenever a child is in the seat.
  • A child in a rear-mounted seat may be able to access your saddle springs, so cover these to prevent little fingers getting caught.
  • If you’re wearing a backpack, make sure it can’t hit a child seated behind you.
  • For more general cycling tips, see our report Getting around on a bike.

Helmets

  • You and your child must wear properly-fitting helmets when cycling. It’s the law, and in any case is a common sense safety precaution. Your child must be able to comfortably support the weight of the helmet for the duration of the ride, so make sure it’s not too heavy.
  • Helmets sold in Australia must meet the Australian Standard AS/NZS 2063 or US Snell Standard. All the major brands do, but check the packaging or labels to be sure.
  • If you’re using a trailer, make sure its roof gives enough room for your child to sit up straight while wearing their helmet, otherwise an uncomfortable stooped position can result.
  • Go to a good bike shop and try a few different helmets. Get the shop’s expert advice on fitting; the key points are that the helmet should sit level with the rim just above the eyebrows, with the chinstrap even on both sides and fitting snugly but not too tight. The helmet shouldn’t wobble or move about once the chinstrap is done up; if it does, adjust the padding or straps, or try another model.
  • Don’t buy a second-hand helmet unless you’re absolutely sure it’s undamaged. Damage, such as cracked foam, is often not visible.
  • If possible, give your child a choice of helmets; they’ll be happier wearing a helmet if they choose it themselves.
Your say - Choice voice

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