Which Bike (Mountain, Hyibrid, Cruiser or Road bike) I should buy if I want to carry my 3 year old daughter on a Child Carrier (fits in rear).

Here is one image of child Carrier I have. It attaches to the rear carrier and stays quite stable for normal usage. enter image description here

As I want to use my bike for occasional office commute as well, cargo bikes doesnt fits my need.

Safety, Ease of use, utilitarian value and reliability are primary factor for me. Any advise is welcome. ( I am also fine with changin child seat if it is not safe)

Thanks in advance for you advise.

  • 1
    Are you talking about a carrier that attaches to the bike frame, or a cart that is pulled behind? If you are talking about a pull behind, you need one that will work with whatever style of attachment system the cart requires. For direct attach carriers, you'll likely want something that is designed for rear racks (likely not a road bike). Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 15:22
  • @SuspendedUser there are seat-post-mount, rack mount, and rack-mount with dedicated rack designs that I'm aware of. For the first of these the only requirement is that there's a (metal) seat post within a fairly wide diameter range.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 16:02
  • @ChrisH I am unclear what you are referring to. I would be unwilling to place a child on a rear rack that hung from seatpost only, or was attached to a frame with clamps (no frame bolt holes). Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 16:33
  • @SuspendedUser this is the seat I have. It mounts on the seat post. Those are 10mm (aprox) steel bars taking the weight. It's rated to 22kg, while many rack-mount models are only 20kg. That works out to an six months to a year of growth so is significant
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 16:41
  • 1
    My answer is rather generic, and I would quite like to keep it that way. But if you give a little more detail of the riding you plan to do we may be able to help a bit more (distance with and without child, road conditions...)
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 19:09

4 Answers 4


A 3-year-old affects the bike's balance and handling, so you want something quite forgiving. Suspension will make you work really hard with the extra weight bouncing around over the back wheel (even just front suspension) and you should be wary about riding the sort of thing that really needs it on a back-heavy, top-heavy bike.

Road frames are often carbon fibre -- don't even go there with trying to mount heavy loads. Plus they aren't built for forgiving riding. There's also no point -- a child in a seat (or an empty seat) is an effective airbrake. Skinny tyres aren't great either. If you really want drop bars, go for a tourer, they're more designed for attaching and riding with loads.

So you're left with hybrids, cruisers and other upright (city-style) bikes. These tend to be alloy or steel, and often have rack-mount points, which you might need. I normally ride a hybrid, and take my 3 year old on the back. Having carried her on an e-bike with cruiser bars and a very upright sitting position I would said the hybrid is easier, but that may be about bike fit. Among these, it should fit you (you'll be riding slower with a heavier load, fit matters) and should handle well including riding one-handed to signal.

The ability to carry some form of front luggage is very useful. This could be a front rack or handlebar bag. I can squeeze a pannier onto the rack under my rear seat, but it's behind the back axle and makes the handling even worse. Conversely a front bag actually helps with the weight distribution, as does a well-balanced pair of front panniers.

Reading your "on a child carrier" as meaning a seat mounted to the bike, you have a few options:

Front seats. I've only mentioned these in case you don't know about them and to get them out of the way.

  • Top-tube seat (between your knees). Example, (almost) minimal example, common in mainland Europe. This needs horizontal (or nearly) top tube.
  • Front seat (stem mounted) . I've never seen one in real life.
    • Pros: you can see and talk to your child; weight distribution; may be used as well as a rear seat to carry two children
    • Cons: get in the way of your knees even when unoccupied; child is very exposed to wind/rain/debris flicked up by passing vehicles; small weight/size range for a given model.

Again only to get it out of the way:

  • A trailer. While there are a variety of attachments, most clamp on in some way -- metal frame usually necessary, and often a pain with disc brakes. These will last longer as they have a higher weight limit. Most if not all are compatible with at least some full-suspension mountain bikes. Some attach to the axle, which increases the range of bikes they'll work on.
    • Pros: protection from the elements; available for two children; may be useful off the bike if you can fit a front wheel etc.; a good chance of staying upright even if you don't. Good for heavy children or children plus lots of stuff.
    • Cons: heavy; extra rolling resistance; lots of drag; too wide for some bike infrastructure and drivers; hard to store/lock up. The drag/rolling resistance really is a big deal compared to a rear seat, having tested both over the same ride in recent weeks. I've also found trailers to be worse than rear seats on rough gravel tracks, especially uphill. Many designs have a surprisingly low height limit (my daughter is well within the weight range but doesn't really fit with a helmet on).

Now for the rear seats:

  • Seat-post-mounted seat. This is what I had. With some models you can get a (narrow) luggage rack underneath, but you can only use the rack with the seat fitted if your bike has an unusually long wheelbase and then not well. These require a metal seat post of the right (within a fairly wide range) diameter. For the price of an extra bracket you can easily swap between bikes. This is probably your best choice if you really want to fit to a bike with disc brakes, and potentially your only option to put a seat on a bike with rear suspension (though you'll need to check compatibility very carefully).
  • Rack-mounted seat. While some of these are universal, most have a dedicated rack. I've seen a few of these. They often have a lower weight limit than the seat-post mounted ones. You can't usually get panniers on the rack at the same time as the seat. Again, buy another rack and you can swap between bikes. They need proper rack mounting points (not P-clips), which normally means an alloy or steel frame, and may not be compatible with disc brakes. There's no way for these to work with rear suspension - they're too heavy when occupied for the only racks that would work there.
  • Rear seat replacing the rack. Now my daughter is older she has a new seat (with just a lap belt). This clamps to the seat post and seat stays, so is for steel or tough alloy bikes. There's some luggage-carrying capacity but the thing that looks like a pannier rack isn't really, However the seat is far enough back that I can wear a backpack. These older/bigger seats are rare in the UK; mine is one of only two I've seen of this model, but I've seen a few cheaper ones I didn't trust.
    • Pros (of rear seats in general): you shield the child from the worst of the weather and debris; the seat can be large and supportive; seats are usually (but by no means always) easy to remove/swap between bikes; the same seat can do 9 months to 6 years; you can ride like normal
    • Cons: you don't know what the child is up to (falling asleep, unclipping and dropping toys); you can't hear what they're saying if there's traffic around; fitting panniers not simple.

Examples are for illustration only. Sorry they're only links but image licensing is a pain.

  • It's now clear that you have the last type in my list. I happen to have that rack or one very similar on two of the bikes I care for, so I think that they make a version for disc brakes in case you really want them. That rack would fit nicely on most hybrids (also tourers), just check that the three bike you end up going for has rack mounting points.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 20:23
  • +1 for The ability to carry some form of front luggage is very useful. With small children, there is always a need to carry around bags of extra stuff Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 22:22
  • Some more modern design of trailers (Thule/Chariot) actually have a very nice hitch system that the brakes don't matter at all (nor the frame material for that matter) they attach at the rear axle.. Additionally, some the the more expensive trailers can be re-purposed for multiple things (stroller, jogger, skis, etc), so they may provide greater benefit to active families. Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 1:19
  • @SuspendedUser, I've not long fitted one like that myself (don't know how expensive it was new, we didn't pay much 2nd hand). I'll edit that in - are they really OK on carbon frames?
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 7:36
  • I've added some pros and cons of the various options. I'm sure I've missed some (and there are always edge cases, but I'm trying to keep this aspect compact)
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 8:07

After @ChrisH's thorough answer (+1) I thought I'd give an experience report.

When my kids were small, I used a general purpose touring frame for this job. It has more relaxed geometry than a road bike, mudguards (fenders), wider tires, and SPD pedals. It's also heavier, which is an advantage for this application.

The child seat I used was similar to the one shown in the question.

I found that we never did actually put the seat on my wife's bike. If the family is going for a ride together it turned out to be better to have it on the stronger rider's bike, and she could both keep up, and was able to ride beside the child and interact or check on him / her.

If the seat has the ability to be tiled back then my advice is don't use it. The child's weight is already so far back on the bike that the extra tilt made the bike less stable and caused the front wheel to lift on steep hills. If that happens, of course you will just lean forward.

When the kids were reaching the weight limit of the seat (18 kg IIRC) they were big enough to ride on a trailer-bike such as enter image description here (Set it up properly with the seat at the correct height and angle).

When my daughter was riding the trailer-bike I had to tell her to stop pedaling, otherwise I could not stop at traffic lights :-)

I used to take my daughter to kindergarten using the bike seat and later the trailer-bike. At the kinder I was lucky that I found a place I could leave them safely so that I could continue my commute unencumbered.


  • Avoid suspension.

  • Avoid a pure road bike. Touring or hybrid is ok, and can be used for commuting.

  • Get the kid a balance bike to ride when they're not in the bike seat. Soon after they graduate to the trailer-bike they're ready to move on to their own bike, sans trainer wheels.

  • Give the kids gloves to wear, if you can find some small enough. It helps for when they become teenagers and start refusing to anything you suggest might be safer :-)
    So that they don't get lost (the gloves, not the kids), you may need to attach them with elastic through the sleeves and across their back, as you would for kids in the snow.

  • Attach any toys using a short string. Without a string they'll get lost on the first ride. If the string is too long they'll get tangled in the wheels.

  • Be careful to adjust the harness so that when the kids goes to sleep and slumps, they are still safely supported. I found a short piece of elastic tied from the back of their helmet to the seat back stopped their head from dropping too much.

  • All very good points. Swapping the seat was essential for us for nursery runs, but not for you -- the effects of daily routine can be important. I've had to turn back for a favourite toy many times. On the balance bike: mine has pretty much rejected hers as not being proper due to the lack of pedals!
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 7:36
  • 3
    As you're compiling useful tips, here's one in the same spirit: when riding you don't realise how cold it can be sitting still - the child could well need two extra layers plus gloves even on a mild day.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 7:48
  • The other tilting-back aspect is that when they get bigger it pushes their feet further forward, and mine is already kicking me in the backside. But it was great when she was little.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 9:20

Depending on your budget and family enlargement plans, what you can also consider is to buy narrow, 2-wheel cargo bike like below. It's easy to ride, like traditional bike and can be seen as multi-purpose mean of transport. bullit-like cargo Equipped with roller brakes and internal gear hub will be reliable, easy to handle and cheap in service.

After @Criggie comment

It is for sure more expensive than city bike with hamax seat, so you have to consider possible profits and savings. Even if the price is comparable to decent road bike price, it is the same situation as comparing Porshe 911 price to Scania truck. First one is for sure nice to drive, but Scania beats Porsche, when it comes to fulfill your requirements. It is not worth to buy such if it will be used just from time to time. But then a preferable option is to join/set up local cooperative. Read more here: MokoVeloCoop. Text is in polish, so making use of Google translate might be essential.

  • Cheap to service perhaps, but for me a cargo bike costs as much as a medium-high road bike. These things are not cheap to buy.
    – Criggie
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 19:18
  • 1
    @andy256 Not that the helmet is fastened... Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 0:58
  • 2
    They're ridiculously heavy if you have hills to deal with, and aren't very maneouverable or easy to store. I'd really like to give one a good try out somewhere flat and spacious.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 9:26
  • 1
    Can't wait to get something like this, been eyeing them for years already! @ChrisH They can be as light as 22-23kg: larryvsharry.com/technical-info I'd call that ridiculously light! Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 12:07
  • 1
    This kind of bike is often sold under the Dutch name 'bakfiets' (plural bakfietsen) and if bought second hand it will retain value for a sale when the kids grow out of it.
    – Willeke
    Commented May 22, 2018 at 15:16

I'd also recommend a cargo bike but instead of the "Dutch" style that krzyski mentions, there's also the "stretch" style. This particular model has an electric hub motor for additional oomph.

The step-through design also makes it easier for you to not kick your child in the head when you get on the bike. If you're getting any model of child-carrier where the child is in the rear, get a step through design especially if you want your kid to go to college and/or not need years of therapy.

These stretch designs tend to be a little cheaper than the Dutch designs as they don't require a complicated front steering mechanism. They are also lighter and may even fit on some bus racks (depending on how much they were stretched). They still cost the same as a low-mid road bike, though.

Step-through stretch cargo bike

  • 1
    There are also conversion kits to extend the back of a regular bike, like this Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 22:13
  • @DigitalTrauma I found it quite funny that you avoid man pages and yet wrote one in your profile :-)
    – andy256
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 22:39
  • @DigitalTrauma, have you ridden with a child on one? If the child's centre of gravity is behind the back wheel, or you put a heavy pannier behind the child seat, the front wheel has a tendency to lose grip or even lift. Of course on a steel frame Dutch bike this is less likely.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 7:40
  • Some electric bikes allow you to put panniers behind a child seat, if they have the battery down the back of the seat post,even without being described as stretched. They tend to be heavy, possibly too heavy for bike racks even if you can lift them (my wife's is over the weight limit for the two-bike rack on our van). But if stretched frames work for you, they work very well.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 7:46
  • @chrisH - Do you have any experience with the xtracycles? The bolt-on kits as well as the pre-made stretched bikes move the rear axle backwards so that for most panniers / child-seats, the weight is actually well forward of the rear axle. They are actually very stable.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 7:46

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