If you love cycling, chances are having a child will mean that you’ll want to find some way of including your offspring in your two-wheeled activity. If you liked to use a bike to get around before you became a parent, it’s likely you may think about continuing to do so after having a baby. Either way, this review is aimed at you. Personally speaking I fit into a bit of both these (grossly over-simplified) categories. These days, with a daughter turning four in August, a bike is definitely the best way to get around, for distances less than five miles at least. It’s just so darn convenient. Not to mention inexpensive when compared to public transport, fuel prices and car parking fees.
Like every aspect of the cycling world there are many many options for a parent considering cycling with a young child. From my perspective, there are basically two categories for transporting a small child using two wheels. The first is the towed option and the second is the bike mounted option. Both options have advantages and disadvantages. They each will suit different riders/parents in different ways. The bike mounted options are generally cheaper (assuming you have a pannier already fitted to a suitable bike) but they raise the centre of gravity considerably and your child’s movements can effect stability as you’re riding. So they aren’t suitable for any inexperienced rider or one lacking in confidence. The various towed options don’t effect your stability at all but they extend the overall length of your bike and it’s width, so you need to be more aware when taking corners and passing between bollards etc. This review is going to concentrate on one of the ‘bike mounted’ options available from the Cycle Centre.
By ‘bike mounted’ I refer to a child seat that attaches to a part of your own bicycle. The standard method is for this seat to be positioned behind the rider, normally attaching to a pannier rack. This is how the Raleigh Boodie works, using a universal mounting clamp, and it fit nicely to the rack on my Cube Town. There is an additional safety strap that is attached to the seat tube. Your child is secured via a three point harness (easily adjustable and simple to operate) and feet straps (a bit fiddly and sometimes difficult to attach one handed). It’s important to remember that you must always ensure your child is wearing a proper cycle helmet despite the harness and straps.
The Boodie is a very affordable child seat with absolutely no bells or whistles. (Although I have fitted a horn for my daughter to constantly ‘honk’ as we pedal around, which you might be able to spot in the images accompanying this review). As such it is kind to the wallet but not too kind to your child’s bottom, as it has no padding or suspension – features that can be found on more pricey models. I stuck some padding on our seat to try and alleviate the lack of comfort but I still get the odd “daddy, that was too bumpy” yelled at me when riding over rougher roads or larger curbs. So this seat is really only suited for a bike that is going to be ridden on roads and pavements. If you fancy exploring bridal ways and trails I think a seat with integral springs would be a much better idea. The Boodie is rated for a maximum weight of 25kgs (assuming your pannier can handle that) which is quite heavy. I think that most children will have moved on to their own bicycle before getting to that weight, which is a good job as 25kgs is a lot of weight to have mounted high up on the back of a bike. My daughter is around 18kgs and I can already notice the effect this has on stability.
- Value for money: A budget way of carrying your little one around. It does the job but no more. 4.5 out of 5
- Design, style and quality: P for plain. The whole seat is moulded plastic and not much more. It seems reasonably durable (we haven’t managed to break ours yet), weather proof and is easy to clean. Surprisingly, there’s absolutely no reflective patches/stickers/panels on any part of the seat. I consider this to be a bit of an oversight for a child bike seat. I retrofitted ours with a load of proper reflective stickers. “Be safe, be seen” right? 3 out of 5
- Recommended? – If you already have a hybrid, town or mountain bike with a pannier fitted and you’re a competent rider not looking to ride on rough surfaces then this is a great and inexpensive option for carrying your child around. If you don’t have a bike with a pannier then you need to consider the added cost of that. If aren’t sure about your bike handling skills (especially around town) with the added weight of seat and child then this might not be the right option for you and the selection of towed child transport options is worth considering. I’m happy to recommend this seat as we’ve been using it happily for over a year and ‘inexpensive’ was the most important consideration after basic safety. 4 out of 5.
Written by Henry Aarvold, family bike guy.