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I would like some recommendations for womens bikes that i can fit a rear toddler seat on to. The reason i would prefer a rear seat is because i am short (5ft 3) and my son is quite tall for his age. My little one is 2 and a half and weighs approx 18kg.

I live in a suburban area with a lot of hills so ideally something that will help me push up these would be great.

I would like a bike to commute to the local parks or woods approx within 2 miles of our home and maybe some longer commutes to the city approx 6 miles. So ideally want a bike that can be comfortable both on and off road.

I would also like to still have the function of a panier rack for carrying light loads of shopping or just snacks etc out for the day.

My mind is blown by the amount of information out there about riding with a toddler seat and i am looking for more specific advise about what bike i should buy and the best type of seat to fit.

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    Note that most bicycle seats (at least in Europe) have a weight limit of 22 kg (see e.g. Max weight of child, for rear bike seats - why is it always (seemingly) 22kg? ) - so depending on how quickly your son grows, a child seat may only be for a year or two.
    – sleske
    Apr 11 at 7:54
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    @sleske a lot of things are only for a year or two at that age, but with little kids a year is a long time. But their growth rate slows a bit anyway. I replaced mine with a simpler seat that had a higher weight limit, and got another couple of years, but that wouldn't be suitable for a 2-year-old - examples in my comment under the linked question
    – Chris H
    Apr 11 at 15:33
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    How athletic are you? Can you handle the hills with the extra weight of a toddler with pure muscle power or do you want something electric? What is your budget? Electric bikes are considerably more expensive, cargo bikes can transport even more but are even more expensive.
    – quarague
    Apr 12 at 7:32
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    Not an answer, but from all the conditions you put it looks to me that you would be better off with a child cart. Some of them are really cheap (<300 $/€/£, sold used for 100 or less, in my opinion they are often uncomfortable for the kids, lacking any kind of suspension so they feel every little bump and irregularity of the pavement) and some of them are more expensive but well-built (>800 $/€/£ , high resale value, you can see they have some kind of shock/suspension system ... as an example check the Croozer Kid Plus : please note I am not advertising for it, since it is discontinued )
    – EarlGrey
    Apr 12 at 13:19

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Product recommendations are usually off-topic here, as the availability of products depends on the region, so I'll define some guidelines and give some examples.

Generally speaking, what I commonly see around here (Central Europe, living in a street with schools) for this use case (short rider with kids) are compact cargo bikes with central motor with 20" wheels, like the Tern NDB/HSD/GSD, Trek Fetch 2+, Cannondale Cargowagen, Specialized Porto to take brands that are widely distributed. But these are not endorsements, and better local brands can be available as well. It's a booming segment. Note that some of the examples are expensive, but they are competing with second cars rather than regular bikes.

By compact cargo, I mean bikes designed to be loaded with luggage and kids with 20" wheels - note that only the "loaded wheel" needs to be 20", some have larger front wheels, which is positive for comfort and obstacle clearance. The benefit of 20" inch wheels, besides the compact side, is that it lowers the center of gravity, which makes it easier for shorter riders to control the bike when it is loaded - and lowers the height at which kids have to be lifted to be seated. Another when it comes to carry people of cargo bikes (in general) is that they are typically designed to carry bigger kids than what you can do on regular bikes: some have rear racks rated for much higher loads (generally around 50-60kg, the max being 100kg vs 25-35kg for normal bikes) and you install other kind of seats that the "conventional child seats", that can work even for adults. But that allows to fill up the gap that some have when kids are becoming to big to fit on a child seat, and it's still too early to let them ride on their own.

The central motor is recommended, because the alternative (motor in the wheels) doesn't handle very well hills and/or high load. Although, I have to admit a European bias here, where the limit for electric assistance is one third of the US one. So it's possible that a hub motor in US works as well (RadPower RadWagon, Aventon Abound).

For short riders a kickstand with two legs is highly recommended. Having a front rack is also important for utility purposes: it allows a better weight distribution when a kid on the rear seat, as items can be loaded on the front rack. If the budget allows it, an internally geared hub is recommended, as well as a belt drive instead of a chain (belts are virtually maintenance free).

For off-road, it depends what is defined by off-road, as paths in parks can be smoother than some roads. Compact cargo bikes typically come with wide-enough (55-60mm) tires that can handle rough surfaces - dirt, gravel, cobbles..., but not so well larger obstacles stones or roots. Most city bikes come with tires with light threads, that work well for that usage. The front suspension helps with comfort, but less than quality tires. True offroad requires a full-size bike, but that's probably not someone wants to do with a child anyway - and handling a full-size e-bike with a kid and some luggage is challenging for short/light riders.

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I liked a rear seat, and after the toddler size one (Hamax Siesta), I fitted a bigger one for another couple of years. I fitted mine to a hybrid with a wide range of gears (3x8, nearly as low at the bottom end as a mountain bike). This was a 2010 GT Traffic.

This was on 700c (28") wheels. At your height it smaller wheels (26" or 650b/27.5") might be more appropriate, and effectively lowers the gearing further.

Fitting a rear pannier rack as well is quite easy with a seatpost-mounted child seat (which are easy to remove). Using it at the same time is another matter. Very few, small, panniers would coexist with the seat. I extended my rack backwards but that's only for very light loads as you don't want even more weight that far back - it worked for commuting but not for much more. A large handlebar bag worked for most things, and I also fitted a front pannier rack (which my fork could take).

You could go for a hardtail mountain bike, but I don't really recommend it. A hybrid can handle anything you're likely to want to take a child on. But a hybrid that can take reasonably wide tyres (35-40mm), and tyres with a little bit of grip would be a good idea on unpaved paths. I used marathon plus, which are also rated to plenty of weight, but when I rode unpaved stuff it was generally dry. Really knobbly tyres are hard work and to be avoided.

The same seat went on my ex's step-through 26" e-bike (again a hybrid, but with minimal front suspension) . She liked it, but I didn't - although apparently it adjusted to my size, the geometry felt horrible, but I don't think it was worse with the child seat. Step-through is good for lifting the kid on.

So in summary: rigid frame, low gears, medium tyres, and one more thing - a two-legged kickstand. This supports the bike upright, not leaning, so when you lift your kid on you only have to steady the bike, not hold it up.

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    This is meant to be a non-electric answer, though that's slightly spoilt by a side note
    – Chris H
    Apr 10 at 16:51
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I don't have experience with child seats, but do have experience with rear mounted racks, which I once loaded with more than 20kg on a hybrid bike (MTB frame with rigid fork and 26 x 1.5 tires), and the weight over the rear axle was enough to cause unwanted front wheel lifting off the ground while I was off the saddle, so, I agree that a front mounted rack would be a very good idea for balancing weight distribution.

I used this bike for parcel delivery, and it was generally very good for that: the low MTB gearing made it good for hill climbing, at least for moderate inclines. Its major weakness would be the 18kg load limit that did not originate on the rack but in the geometry, since the chainstays where rather short. That forced the position of the rack very close to the saddle, so larger items would overhang the rear axle quite a bit.

A bike with a longer wheelbase is likely to have longer chainstays and allow for a rear rack that puts the weight in front of the rear axle. I later acquired a Dutch Gazelle 28" bike which had much longer chainstays and a built-in rear rack. This bike could be loaded a lot more without the mentioned issue.

I also have limited experience with a cargo bike (try searching for "bakfiets"), and can confirm that the low center of gravity makes it very easy to handle heavy loads. Also, the big "bucket" makes it very flexible regarding different sizes and types of loads. You can even carry adult people quite comfortably, and, of course, there are child seats designed to work with them. Some cargo bikes do have a "step through" design which makes it comfortable for short riders and most also have a "dual" kickstand with holds the bike upright while stopped, so it is very easy to load and unload.

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    A side-note: "bakfiets" is not a brand, it's a Dutch words that means "box bike", these are indeed fantastic to carry heavy loads, but have storage requirements that can make them impractical in some cases.
    – Rеnаud
    Apr 11 at 5:13
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I will say that buying an ANTHROTECH recumbent trike will be my advice. They are not too close to the ground, and being recumbent, you are able to push through the seat with your back as well as your legs. You can get multiple gears, electric assist and a very comfortable ride.

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