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Bike seat vs. bike trailer: Which is safer for your kid?

Kid in bike seat riding through a field

Biking is a great activity to get the whole family some exercise and fresh air. But what is the safest option when it comes to strapping up your little one that can’t ride yet? There seems to be an endless debate about bike seats vs. bike trailers, but it's hard to know which one really delivers on its safety promises.

Regardless of which one you choose, it's important to protect your bike seat or bike trailer with an extended warranty. Between flat tires, broken seatbelts, and general wear and tear, there are plenty of issues your bike seat or trailer might run into. An extended warranty plan like MulberryCare can help ensure it's covered for any type of damage.

Bike trailer

Bike trailers are a very popular option, especially for families with multiple young children. They are roomy and comfortable, and give your kid space to stretch out if they need. However, one of the main drawbacks is the extra weight added to the back of your bike. This will affect its handling ability, making the bike more difficult to maneuver and increasing the energy you have to expend to keep the bike moving.

InStep bike trailer 

The InStep bike trailer allows you to take 2 children along for the ride. It features a weather shield and bug screen, and has 16’ pneumatic tires for peak performance, comfort, and safety. There's also an included orange safety flag to ensure motorists or other bicyclists see the trailer.

One of the issues with bike trailers is they can be fairly pricey. The InStep bike trailer can go for hundreds of dollars, depending on the model.

Bike seat

When it comes to a kids bike seat, there are options for your child to ride either behind or in front of you. Be sure to review guidelines for the specific bike seat you choose, as some are only allowed for certain weight, heights, and ages. A few tips to follow when looking to purchase a bike seat for kids include:

  • It must be able to securely attach over the rear wheel.
  • Look for spoke guards to protect little hands and feet.
  • Check for a high-back, sturdy shoulder harness, and lap belt that can support a sleeping child (much like your car seat).

There are also some drawbacks to bike seats for children. Because these seat attachments are higher off the ground than bike trailers, kids have further to fall if there's an accident. Children are also left more exposed to the open air, which might be problematic if the weather changes or you're riding through an area with a lot of dust or allergens.

Topeak bike seat

The Topeak BabySeat II is popular kids bike seat option. It features an innovative suspension system that provides cushion as you ride, and a roll bar that gives extra head protection and doubles as a carrying handle. There are also adjustable footrests and straps to keep your kids feet safely away from the bike's wheels.

A Topeak bike seat for kids is a bit cheaper than bike trailers, selling for about $200 retail.

General safety tips when using bike seats or bike carriers for kids

There is always some risk when taking your kids on a bike, but following these guidelines can help decrease potential problems:

  • When using a bike carrier for kids like the InStep bike trailer, have a tall (3 ½-7 ½ foot), high-visibility orange flag on the trailer.
  • Always put a helmet on your children.
  • Only adult cyclists should carry young passengers.
  • Ensure children are strapped in properly according to the bike seat or trailer instructions.
  • Stick to riding in parks or on bike paths or quiet streets.
  • Babies under 12 months old are not recommended to be in a bike seat or a bike trailer. It is also not recommended to have them in a back or front pack while riding, since they cannot wear a helmet.

So which one wins: The bike seat or the bike trailer? 

Ultimately, the bike trailer is what's preferred by the American Academy of Pediatrics. They are lower to the ground, making them less risky overall than a kids bike seat. However, if you follow the safety guidelines above, you can greatly decrease risk of injury all around.

Whether you choose a bike trailer or a bike seat for your kids, it's important to protect your purchase with an extended warranty plan. Bike seats and trailers are bound to experience significant wear and tear, which a manufacturer's warranty won't cover.

Shop with the Mulberry browser extension to view the product protection plans available to you in real time.

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Kim Miller

About the author

Kim Miller is the Head of Consumer Marketing at Mulberry. She is passionate about building products and brands that make consumers happy, save them money and make their lives easier. Have an innovative idea for Mulberry you'd like to share? Give her a shout! She'd love to chat about anything from fintech and UX to gardening and antiquing.

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