Up until recently, there haven’t been many suitable ways to bring your child along with you while mountain biking. Rear-mounted child seats have of course been around forever, but they’re typically designed for commuting, touring or bike-path riding. Most of them attach via a pannier rack system too, which means they’re only compatible with rigid bikes or hardtails.
Another option for taking a little tacker along for a ride is a rear-mounted kids trailer, though those tend to be pretty spendy. They’re also quite wide (not great for singletrack) and they stick out quite far from the back of your bike, which can present some logistical and handling issues. Well, unless you’re Danny MacAskill perhaps.
Ok. Maybe the trailer isn’t such a good idea.
Why Not Let ‘Em Ride Shotgun?
Three years ago, a Kiwi bloke by the name of Dan Necklen decided there had to be a better way to bring along his 3-year old son while mountain biking in Rotorua. Dan wasn’t able to fit a rear-mounted seat on his full suspension bike, and the front-mounted options on the market were either incompatible with his stem or used a permanent fixture that posed a risk to the paintwork on his pride and joy.
Looking to create a solution that would be more suitable for use with high-end full suspension bikes, Dan collaborated with a fellow mountain biking Dad by the name of Tom Hayward, and they developed the original Shotgun seat prototype. Ten families jumped on board to help with early testing, and by mid-2017, Dan & Tom were taking pre-orders for the very first production models.
Fast-forward two years, and the Kids Ride Shotgun MTB Seat has grown in popularity to become one of the most in-demand kids seats on the market, with distributors in the UK, the US, and Australia. That’s pretty wild!
How’s It Different Then?
The Shotgun seat is a front-mounted seat that’s designed for children between two to five years old, with a stated max weight of 22kg. It allows your child to take the best seat in the house, with an uninterrupted view of the trail ahead.
Using textured metal footpegs and an adjustable saddle, the Shotgun seat plonks your child right in front of you, with their legs straddling the frame’s top tube, feet on the pegs, and their little digits holding onto the handlebars. For an extra $49, you can buy an additional bolt-on handlebar that comes with a set of rubber grips if you fancy. Either way, they’re able to easily stand up when needed, without being strapped in like they would with a traditional bucket seat.
Installing The Shotgun Kids MTB Seat
A key aspect of the Shotgun seat’s design is its adaptability. Using two metal legs that clamp down on either side of your bike’s mainframe, the adjustable width allows it to fit a broad range of frame shapes and sizes. The top tube can be as wide as 68mm, and the downtube can be up to 100mm.
The metal legs are lined with thick rubber padding, and there’s also a big rubber block underneath the saddle support. As well as providing a bit of vibration damping for your little person’s derrière, the rubber is also there to protect your frame. And because the metal legs clamp across both the top and downtubes, the clamping force is actually a lot lower than you might first expect. According to Kids Ride Shotgun, that means the seat is compatible with carbon fibre frames, as well as alloy and steel bikes.
To see what it’s like to ride with one of these fun little contraptions, we caught up with ex-Aussie enduro champion, fireman, and father of two, Dan MacMunn, who’s been using a Kids Ride Shotgun MTB Seat with his two kids Lottie and Jack.
How long have you had your Shotgun Seat for?
We bought the seat a few years ago now. We originally got if for our daughter Lottie, who was about two and a half years old. I thought it would be a great way to introduce the kids to some singletrack, and another fun way to get out of the house and into the bush. It also gave us an alternative to using the car for the daycare drop-offs, which is great!
Were there any alternative kids seats you looked at?
This was the only off-road style kids seat I knew of to be honest. Prior to getting the Shotgun seat, we did have a WeeRide set up on a commuter bike. That was great for when the kids were quite small, but it isn’t really really suitable for use off-road. It uses a bucket-style seat, which can make it uncomfortable when bouncing around on the trail.
What bikes have you fitted the Shotgun Kids MTB Seat to?
I attach it to my Specialized Epic Evo. It’s a pretty simple tool-free setup, which is good, and it takes about two minutes to fit and remove. I often have ride up to daycare with Jack, drop him off, take the seat off and leave it there, so then I can take the long singletrack route home. Then when it’s time for pickup, I can just re-fit the seat at the daycare centre, plonk Jack onto the bike, and ride home.
Does it add much weight to your bike?
What sort of riding do you do with it?
We mostly either use it for transport or on pretty mellow trails. Lottie and I did have a great ride up in the Mt Beauty bike park when she was smaller though – we came down some pretty techy stuff too, which was great fun. Crashing with a kid on the front obviously would not end well though, so we don’t go too crazy!
Any limitations to consider while you’re riding with it?
Your kid has to be the right size. Too small and their legs won’t reach the foot pegs, which is pretty crucial for the whole thing to work as intended. On the flip side, when they’re older they just get too heavy to push up the hills! Remember that because of the extra weight, you’ll want to add some pressure to your tyres and suspension to compensate.
What age and size do you think the seat works well for?
Jack is three and a half, and it’s about perfect at the moment, but at 13kgs he’s pretty small for his age.
What does Jack think of riding with Dad?
Jack loves it! I think it’s great that he’s up the front with the best seat in the house. That’s a big difference compared to a rear-mounted child seat, where they’re a bit removed from the riding experience. The other good aspect of the Shotgun seat is that the design allows him to stand up on the foot pegs to absorb the bumps more readily. Hopefully that should get him more familiar with the right technique for when we get him onto his first proper mountain bike.
Do you think the secondary handlebars would be worthwhile?
I haven’t tried the handlebar attachment, and him holding onto the bars seems to work fine anyway.
Pretty cool eh? And as far as getting your young’uns into mountain biking from an early age, we’re not sure there’s a better way to do it than this! If you’re all inspired after reading Dan’s experience, here’s the basics of the Shotgun seat they’ve been using;
Kids Ride Shotgun MTB Seat Specs
- Front mounted child seat for kids two to five years old
- Max weight limit: 22kg (48lb)
- Adjustable width and angle to fit all mountain bikes
- Full rubber protection – compatible with both alloy and carbon frames
- Quick release fitting for easy installation and removal
- Additional handlebar add-on available (+$49)
- RRP: $220 AUD
For more information on the Shotgun MTB seat, head to the Kids Ride Shotgun website, or get in touch with Jet Black Products to find your nearest dealer in Australia.
Mo’ Flow Please!
Enjoyed that article? Then there’s plenty more to check out on Flow Mountain Bike, including all our latest news stories and product reviews. And if you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel, and sign up to our Facebook page and Instagram feed so you can keep up to date with all things Flow!