Our 2.2 year old toddler seems very interested in a random, abandoned bike seat we found, so we're considering some method of letting him ride with us. But I am not sure whether to get ...

  • A bike seat, which fits one toddler, and mounts above the rear wheel on the rack

  • A bike trailer, which fits possibly two toddlers, has its own wheels and attaches to the rear of the bicycle.

It seems to me the trailer is more flexible and potentially safer, since the center of gravity is much closer to the ground. I also worry that having a thirty+ pound weight on the rear rack will cause us to make more riding mistakes, and if the bike falls over, there goes the toddler.

However, the bike seat seems more fun for the toddler since he can see more of the ride and feels more like a co-rider than a passenger.

It's hard for me to decide without trying both, and right now I've tried neither. Can someone who has tried both a bike trailer and a bike seat with their toddlers share their experiences and thoughts on this? I'm interested in the pros and cons from people who have spent some time in the saddle with their toddlers using both.

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    Both are quite common in Holland (as in, you see them all the time). However, I think a seat is easier to combine with a typical dutch bike (which is less race-y than the crazy bikes people in other countries seem to use for daily use), for instance the foot-in-wheel scenario as described in one answer is impossible, since there is standard protection around the backwheel. Since most people still stick with seats, it apparently isn't that dangeroes. I do however see that more parents are starting to fit their children with helmets.
    – markijbema
    Commented Jul 31, 2011 at 6:52
  • Anecdotal: My mother used a bike seat with my brother, fell in traffic, and was so terrified by the experience that she hasn't ridden a bike since.
    – fbo
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 14:35
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    See also this question on Parenting.SE: At what development stage is an infant ready for a ride in a bike trailer? Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 19:54
  • Related question that I'm not sure if is appropriate to ask on this site: Does anyone make a rear facing bike trailer? It's not like I can keep an eye on them while biking and they wouldn't have to look at my butt the whole time. Mom would even be able to watch easier from behind. Am I missing something there?
    – Eric G
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 19:05

18 Answers 18


I've had both. A really nice trailer and a child bike seat -- where the child sits between the rider and the handlebar (like this WeeRide Kangaroo Child Bike Seat).

Weeride kangaroo child bike seat

My daughter was ok with the trailer, but absolutely preferred the seat.

I found with the seat in front of me, the weight didn't affect me almost at all, and if the bike was going to fall, I'd be in a much better position to protect my child (since she's directly in front of me).

We used that for a long time and never ever had an issue (and let's face it, with the kid along for the ride, you're not likely to ever ride like a madman, right?)

She's six years old, and still misses it (we stopped when she was about 3.5 yrs old--just getting too big!)

  • I second the above answer, we had the WeeRide and our child loved it too (nice to be able to talk while riding) ... but like above it has a limited time that it can be used. My wife used it mainly and by the time our boy was 3 yrs old he was too big. My wife is shorter (5 foot 1) so a taller person could get more use out of it.
    – dark fader
    Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 2:38
  • From another perspective: When I was a kid, my dad had something similar on his bike. It was a lot of fun and we never had any problems with it.
    – Daenyth
    Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 17:27
  • I used to have a seat like that between saddle and handlebars. But having to pedal with my knees out (to not hit the seat) became really painful.
    – SERPRO
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 12:06
  • I have one of these. A word of caution: I could no longer hop onto the top tube to put my foot down, because the child seat is right there. After a tumble at a red traffic signal, I lowered the saddle so I could reach the ground, but lowering too much results in some splayed-knees like @SERPRO. Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 15:56

I would never use anything but a trailer for safety reasons alone. The amount of force which can be applied to a small child's head from a fall from a bike seat can cause a severe injury. Even as an adult riding carefully on a bike path I've had an accident (dog running in front of me). With a trailer it is nearly impossible to flip or cause other blunt force damage to the passengers. Short of riding off a cliff or getting run over by an automobile the kiddos are safe.

  • I felt unsafe on the road with a rear seat. I would constantly stop at stop-signs and hold onto them because I felt so top-heavy. Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 18:10
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    just to clarify, you have ridden with both a trailer and the rear seat.. yes? Commented Aug 2, 2011 at 8:06
  • @memnoch_proxy How did you stop? When carrying a heavy load I find that braking and using the pedal as a step to step straight forward off of the seat, and then using the pedal to step up onto the seat helps a lot. That way the bike stays straight up when stopped instead of being leaned over. Trying to lean over and touch the ground with a foot without getting your butt off the seat will always be a little unsteady.
    – freiheit
    Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 17:33
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    Strangely enough, the trailer also makes it safer for you. The extra weight at the back axle makes it impossible for you to flip the bike over the front wheel.
    – Ernie
    Commented Sep 20, 2011 at 17:44
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    FWIW, I did flip the trailer with my daughter in it - trailer landed on its side. She just woke up and was suspended in the 5 point harness, kind of curious as to why the world was sideways. Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 19:51

We live in the country, and ride on gravel roads pretty much exclusively. We used a trailer for years and have kept it even though the kids outgrew it long ago. It remains useful years later when the kid(s) are riding solo. Our trailer is over 20 years old and we used it just last week, riding out to pick up our CSA veggies, which probably weighed more than many toddlers.

The big trailer advantages are that it can hold two, it can hold stuff (snacks, drinks, diaper bag, picnic blanket) as well as people, and it can hold a sleeping infant in a car seat. As well, if you need to stop and get off your bike for something, you don't need to get the child out of the trailer and you probably would need to get them out of a seat. Since ours comes with a cover, you can also keep a little one shaded or rain-protected easily. It lets you start taking your child with you much younger than a seat does, and simplifies longer trips.

Be aware that some older trailers have safety issues around finger entrapment in the wheels. If you buy a used one, check first if it was recalled for those problems.

  • 3
    Stopping, and carrying two, or two plus groceries is a big advantage. If you bike with canvas or nylon grocery sacks, consider keeping some large D-clips attached to the top bar of the trailer so that you can dangle your grocery bags from them and the items don't spill under the seat and get stepped on. Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 18:09

I'll not speak for the trailer, so much as against the rear child bike seat. My sister, was at 2 years old, riding in a high quality, bike shop sold and properly mounted bike seat.

She was strapped in, and all was well. My dad was the captain of the vessel, and they were having a grand time.

My dad hit a broken bottle on the road. Never saw it, he said. But the cut in the tire was enough to deflate it pretty instantly, and between balancing the weight of the child on the back, and the suddenly squirrelly handling of the bike, he crashed.

Dad was fine. He was able to protect himself as the bike went down. My sister, in her strapped in condition, was less ok. She had 31 stitches in her face and whiplash, before all was said and done. Because she hadn't the age, strength or experience to protect herself, and my Dad couldn't do it either in the middle of an unexpected emergency.

There is a post here which says:

(and lets face it, with the kid along for the ride, you're not likely to ever ride like a madman, right?)

The facts are that you don't wear a seat belt for the days when you plan to get in a crash. You do it because you can't guarantee you won't, and it's just smart.

I feel the same way about child seats on bikes. You can protect yourself. The kid can't. And you can't protect them by guaranteeing no accidents.

  • great point about unconsidered enthusiam Commented Aug 6, 2011 at 6:53
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    I was about to post a hypothetical scenario about this, but you have an actual story. I fully agree with this, I ride motorcycles and there is a big reason why there are no seat belts on a motorcycle, because being strapped in would be a lot worse in a crash, you can not be thrown clear of the bike. In a trailer, the child is protected by the frame in a roll.
    – BillyNair
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 12:31
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    I'm gonna add the other side of this story. Last year I was pulling my daughter in a bike trailer, and it started raining a bit. In my hurry home, I came around a surprisingly slick corner and totally washed out my front tire and went down pretty hard. I ended up with a big bruise on my buttocks, but my daughter was 100% fine. She was barely even startled.
    – Eric G
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 19:03

Speaking as a parent and a former 3 year old, I'd advise against the rear bike seat. When I was 3, my mom bought one of those and popped me on it. We were out riding for a long time and I wanted to stop, so... I jammed my foot into the rear wheel. That was a REALLY bad idea. Lesson learned: don't stick foot in bike wheels.

Now that I'm a parent myself, I think I'd rather have my kid in a bike trailer or one of the seats like Chris or Garret mentioned that goes between your seat and the handlebars. To me, it seems like you'd have better control and could better protect the kid if something bad happens. And the something bad would NEVER be your kid sticking his foot in the wheels.

  • the bike seat in question has some pretty serious velcro straps to hold the toddler's feet squarely in place; maybe what you're describing is why! Commented Jul 31, 2011 at 5:45
  • Yeah, the seat on my bike has guards so the child can't do that. Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 23:19
  • A seat should have straps and other design features against such things happening. I have reviewed my seat for this kind of danger and concluded that with the straps provided is not possible.
    – nightrider
    Commented Nov 11, 2021 at 18:29

Consider at least one alternative to your (seemingly binary) choice - trike with frontal bay:

Cargo bike makers carry high hopes

or their more attractive cousin

Kangaroobike by Winther

I'm sure there are similar ones available in your locality so you don't have to consider complex logistics to get them from Denmark or even immigration to .dk in the bottom line ;)

  • 1
    There are some US box-bike manufacturers (CETMA, Metrofiets, Bilenky, Hudson Urban Bicycles, Larry Vs Harry aka Bullitt, Madsen, etc) but $1200-$3000 for a cargo bike seems more likely to be out of budget (money and storage space) than a trailer or seat.
    – freiheit
    Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 17:54
  • 2
    The Kangaroo and Christiana are strictly for low speed situations. Having the steering pivot in the middle of a long front axle means that if one wheel hits a bump you're likely to lose control of the trike. The Nihola has proper steering with a pivot for each wheel, and avoids that problem. It's more expensive and has a narrower cargo bay, but it's much safer. I've ridden what I suspect is the only Nihola in Australia (and serviced it).
    – Móż
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 21:04

I've used both and prefer the trailer:

  • Weatherproof
  • Easily swapped from one bike to another
  • Works with my good racer and a mountain bike that would never fit a seat rack
  • A much lower center of gravity. You almost don't notice it's there, while the child seat makes the bike less stable.
  • Plus, you can also fit a picnic bag or shopping in the trailer.

I use both (we have an 18 month year old and a 3 year old). The trailer for going riding on tracks, small roads and old disused railways at the weekends, the seat for taking the older one to nursery on 'bigger' roads.

The trailer is fun for both of them, plus they can sleep in it, and we can cover a bit of distance - the seat is probably more comfortable and safer/more sensible for riding in town.

The seat does add a bit of weight and you can't swing your leg over the saddle to get on (or at least without performing a roundhouse kick on your son/daughter), so that can be a bit of a challenge - but really it works fine.


  • Napping in the trailer is a huge advantage, and if you want to be super nice, place a big stuffed animal in there for them to cuddle and fall asleep on. Rain and wind are other considerations. Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 18:06

Having used them both, I say they are useful in different contexts. The bike seat I have is someting like this:

Bike seat

combined with a dress guard like this:

enter image description here

I have no fear for small feet getting stuck. The seat is much faster when you just want to pop over to get some milk and such, but its limiting when bringing more then one child with you or have more goods to carry (on the other hand its wonderful when you have no kid but grocery bags). I stopped using it when my youngest was about 3½ years old, it then started to feel to wobbly.

On the other hand a trailer is more work to get going, but useful with heavier kids (mine is rated up to 35kg). I bought it when I separated and didn't have access to a car anymore and it have served us well.


I did some research on this issue and ended up going with a trailer for my two-year old son. We use it for our daily commute to day care and work, and so far it seems comfortable for him, and easy for me to handle. Cars give us plenty of space. My one issue is the amount of time it takes me to get the trailer out of its storage shed, lock up the shed, attach trailer to the bike, and then at day care, detach, lock both etc. I am starting to envy parents with bike seats who show up and get in and out quickly to drop off their kids.


Markijbema's comment on the original question touched on one aspect that nobody has mentioned:

"A seat is easier to combine with a typical dutch bike, which is less race-y than the crazy bikes people in other countries seem to use for daily use"

The construction and design of the bicycle determines how well it handles a load, either over the rear wheel, front wheel, or distributed evenly (in this case a 20-40 pound child). I'd like to compare three bicycles of roughly the same price point and frame/wheel size (~560mm, all measurements in mm or degrees).

The bikes: A) Surly Long Haul Trucker--700c, heavy duty touring, B) GT Zaskar Sport--29", hardtail mountain bike, C) Specialized Allez Comp--700c, speedy road bike

((I couldn't find any geometry details on Dutch-style cruisers, but I feel that they will be more in line with the Long Haul Trucker.))

  • Chainstay length affects whether your heels hit your pannier bags and the size of tire you can ride. (A) 460, B) 445, C) 405)

  • The wheelbase affects handling. A longer wheelbase generally increases stability. (A) 1056, B) 1110, C) 986)

  • BB Drop determines BB Height as well as the length of the stays and down tube, affecting the overall flexibility of the bike, as short tubes are stiffer and more responsive. (A) 78, B) 65, C) 69)

  • Fork rake influences steering stability. Larger rake offset means more stable steering. (A) 45, B) 39, C) 45)

  • Head tube angle influences steering response in concert with fork rake. (A) 72, B) 72, C) 73.5)

Each bike has its virtues, but not all bikes are designed to carry a load.

While the Allez is a fast and nimble road bike, it would feel twitchy and harsh with a child in a seat. There is no provision for mounting such a rack to this bike and frame clearance allows for 28c tires maximum, increasing the likelihood of a flat (also, this wouldn't be a fun ride for the kid!)

Mountain bikes like the Zaskar are becoming common for general riding. They're reasonably comfortable, have quick handling, and allow for large cushy tires. Like the Allez, however, that quick steering response is not a good feature when hauling anything. Also like the Allez, there are no provisions for mounting racks. With a high bottom bracket and cushy tires, your seat will be much higher and, consequently, you won't be able to put a foot down without dismounting.

The sensible choice would be the Long Haul Trucker, but of course it was designed for just such a load. It accommodates cushy tires, fenders, lots of racks, and a good deal of weight. It isn't as nimble as the Allez and can't ride over fallen trees, but it is very good at moving things around.

When it comes to choosing between a trailer and a mounted seat for hauling your kids around, not all bikes are equal.


A friend of mine wrote a blog post about this recently, building a pretty solid argument for a bike seat that goes between your seat and the handlebars:

We considered a bike cart, something like the InStyle Quick N EZ Bicycle Trailer, but honestly? I wasn't totally comfortable with the idea of Jasper being in a cart behind me — a cart that people driving their monster SUVs and trucks wouldn't be able to see easily. Since we ride on the road, I wanted something that meant I could see Jasper, know that he was safe, and not have to worry about him overheating or the driver behind us not realizing someone was in the cart in the first place.

So then we moved on to bike seats that go behind you — something like the Beto Deluxe Reclining Seat, or, if you're working with a budget, the Bell Classic Bicycle Carrier. The back-of-the-bike-seat seemed a little bit better, at first, but then it rapidly occurred to both of us that my balance would be thrown way off. Plus, I wouldn't be able to see him — my primary problem with the cart.

After some random Amazon searches, I happened upon the Bobike Mini Seat — a front-of-the-bike seat!


My wife and I have been riding our son around in an iBert front mounted seat since he was able to hold his head up with a helmet on.


The seat mounts on the handlebar stem and is easy to get on and off. It mounts on the handlebar stem, which can scratch the bike's paint...so i wrapped a piece of an old innertube around the stem before mounting it. Once mounted, it is not super rigid, and can move around a bit, but it is impossible for it to come off. At first, I was worried about the movement of the seat, but it ultimately served as a shock absorber. If I remove the inner tube, the seat is more rigid...but after testing I decided to keep the inner tube in place. I also put a swim noodle piece I cut around the seat stem to add a tighter fit.

Being that the seat mounts in the front, it is a lot of fun for our son because he gets to see everything very clearly, as well as put his hands on the handle bars, just like mom.


  • front mount provides lots of stability and ease of control

  • best visibility for the toddler

  • easy on and off, but near impossible to fall off
  • easy in and out, my wife puts our son in and goes for rides on her own
  • it is fun for toddlers to be up front and pretend to stear
  • very light weight, which makes for easy balance


  • it is a bit wobbly, but sturdy. I was worried at first, but it has turned out to be a non-issue

  • not really a "BAD," but this seat will only be useable for a short while as it is intended for toddlers...although I can see it lating into our son's third year and he is in the 105% for height.

  • there is not back head support, which is problematic when our son falls asleep on rides; we have to hold his head up until we get home.

Overall, I recommend this seat, and would but it again.

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    Taking a baby younger than one year old is not recommended. There is insufficient research about the effect of shaking during bike ride on baby's brain. Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 18:40

It would be great if there was scientific evidence for the safer option There are some crash videos (in German) but it gives an idea how seat vs trailer behaves in a crash

Here is an interesting information about european child test requirements and tests http://www.podilates.gr/sites/default/files/EN_14344.e.2004.pdf Thule provided this link to me and their carriers claim to pass these requirements

Personally, I was using a front seat that my child enjoyed a lot. I recently crashed in my bike, luckily without my child and it made me rethink my choice. During the crash I completely flew of my bike and it was scary to think what could have happened to my child if she was in it. The crash was absolutely unexpected, after looking at the road, my tire probably got into a metal piece on the road. Sadly I am abandoning biking with my child until I find a safer option based on tests and not anecdotal evidence.

Just a couple of weeks ago witnessed a bike standing with double stand falling with a kid. I don't remember the source but the article talked about most accidents are cause by stationary bikes falling with a kid; a parent forgot something, leaves the bike and the bike falls. Never leave a bike with a kid without holding the bike.

  • If you're really concerned I suspect a long john with proper infant carrier would be the way to go. In Oz we have the Gazelle Cabby with "Maxi Cosi" adapter that lets you properly attach a baby seat to the bike and I expect the same or similar things are available elsewhere, I've seen photos from Europe of them. For bigger kids a lot of those bikes come with seats and seat belts.
    – Móż
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 22:43

In France, bike trailers are forbidden for transporting children on regular roads.

Moreover, many car drivers told me that bike trailers are almost invisible, even with flags.

  • 3
    Please provide cite, I could find no mention of this.
    – Stimy
    Commented Aug 4, 2011 at 21:28
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    +1 for cite, I've never heard/read that (and I live in France). For the visibility issue, I've experienced quite the opposite, from the bikers standpoint: the cars give me with my trailers a much wider clearance than my companion with her bike.
    – jv42
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 17:13
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    i do not have a source but it was the point of view in the Netherlands when the first modern bike kid trailers hit the market. Not only are the trailers low and out of sight of cars in many situations, they also make your 'bike' much longer and it will take you longer to cross, leaving your kid in the path of cars while you are already across.
    – Willeke
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 16:37

After reading about this issue all night, and thinking about it for days, I think I'm going to go with a trailer. I may be able to do well enough with a seat, but I'd rather not risk my daughter's safety. I know my wife will feel even more strongly about that than I do. I just can't shake the chill I get when I think about tipping my bike over. I'm a pretty good rider, but even at low speed, things have caused me to spill. I can walk it off, but I can't imagine how awful I would feel if something awful happened to my little girl. I'd rather her be safe than I be sorry.

Thank you to everyone who has posted in response to this issue.

I must say, too, that the cargo bike and kangaroo (I think it was called) were certainly interesting. Had I known about them before we bought our bikes, I might have considered one.

  • 1
    I would update original question with this
    – Baumr
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 12:28
  • Yes, I think this would be better as a comment on the original question.
    – amcnabb
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 19:35

If the cyclist with multiple years of active driving experience keeps the clever speed for the situation, just a flat tire or a sharp turn is unlikely to get him falling on the ground. This does happen at times but mostly doing something stupid like going 40 km/h downhill or not watching your road, that with the child on the seat you for sure cannot afford.

I was more afraid of the possible collision, and I concluded that the trailer has the bigger chances for collision, because of it is low, difficult to see, extends dimensions and restricts agility if something.

After long thinking I decided that the seat is actually a safer alternative for me because its safety much more depends upon myself: I can pick the suitable and reasonably slow speed, I can watch where I am going and in case I see the danger I can brake, turn and evade more efficiently. Hence there was a seat at that time.


Be sure to take a look at the Weehoo pedal trailers. I have a single and a double and love them. Not for infants (I used a Mekaroo cargo bike then) these are awesome for kids from 3 to about 9.

  • 1
    Can you please expand this to say why you prefer the trailer to the bike seat ? What makes the trailer superior in your view?
    – Criggie
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 19:50

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