Shotgun Kids Front-Mounted Child Seat, Handlebar Combo for Mountain Bikes (MTB)$150 - $185
- Works with horizontal AND down tube bikes
- Minimal biker interference
- Quality material
- Rubber to minimize bike damage
- Thrilling for child to ride
- Child could fall forward during hard stop
- Takes some time to remove/install
- May not work with some e-Bikes
- Only for children up to 48 lbs (2-5 years old)
Child Bike Seats
My son already knows how to bike, but there were times when I wanted to take him for a quick ride around the neighborhood at my own, faster pace. I also would like to take my younger daughter about without having to bust out the Burley D’Lite bike trailer that takes some time to set up. So, I went to evaluate and purchase a few child bike seats, and surprisingly, there was a far wider range of prices, styles, quality, and safety options available than expected.
My Purchase Considerations
These were the factors I had considered in my search for bringing children along on a bike ride:
- Child safety
- Minimal interference to parent riding
- Stowability for when child is not present
- Should be able to take kid mountain trail biking, too
- Interoperability with existing bikes
- Minimal damage to/scratching of bike frame
- Material quality
- Ease of installation and disassembly
- Appropriate pricing relative to perceived or actual quality
- Designed for only a young age until child can confidently and reliably bike alone
- It is my belief that the child should exercise their own muscles as much as possible
I looked at the following products and styles before choosing the one I ultimately kept:
- Bike Trailer
- Perhaps the safest option, but I already own the excellent, two-seater Burley D’Lite
- Takes some time to set up, occupies a lot of space, can be tiring to tow, and cannot be brought onto narrow mountain trails
- Rear Child Seat
- One of the safer options, but I wanted my kid to experience the thrill of riding up front without falling asleep
- Co-Pilot style Bike Trailer or Trail-Gator Tow Bar
- These were strong contenders for what my children would enjoy for years to come
- Would be difficult to maneuver on narrow, curvy mountain trails
- Child could stop pedaling and just tag along — something I want to avoid
- Child could fall off without me noticing
- Handlebar-mounted Child Seat (like iBert or Thule Yepp)
- Bulky. Difficult to put aside if I wanted to ride solo
- Front-mounted Child Seat
- This was when things got really interesting!
- Allows kid to ride shotgun (like the Handlebar-mounted ones) and experience the thrill of being at the front
- Two options commonly found: mounted to seat post (for down tubes) or to horizontal top tube
- Some styles can easily be put aside for solo riding
- Minimal interference to how I would maneuver around the mountain trails
What kid does not like riding shotgun (front seat)? It is much more thrilling than sitting behind the parent’s back, right? I chose to look closer at the front-mounted child seats.
Front-Mounted Child Seats
There were those mounted to the seat post and those onto the horizontal top tube. I tried both styles.
Seat Post Mounted (For Down Tube)
Product: Together-Life Kids Bike Seat. Made for downward sloping frames (aka “women” bikes, although this style is no longer associated for just females).
- Its foot rest could not accommodate the larger diameter of the Macwheel Ranger 500/ Ancheer AM001907 and barely cleared the Metakoo Cybertrack 100 horizontal tube. That gave me concerns for scratching the bike frame
- It was foldable when not in use, but its wide seat made it awkward to ride with or without the child
I returned it.
Top Tube Mounted
The New Zealand-designed Shotgun Kids MTB Seat/Handlebar Combo caught my eye the most for this category. It looked unique (high pricing aside), could accommodate a wide range of both horizontal and slightly downward-sloping tube thicknesses, appeared to take up minimal space, would not interfere much with the parent rider’s maneuverability, and might work with e-Bikes. There were copycats available that also cost far less. I tried both the Shotgun and the similarly-looking Lilith123.
- Lilith123 Kids Bike Seat, Handlebar Combo: A very good copy of the Shotgun for 1/4 of the price. Came with no instructions, but the Shotgun manual worked with it (see below photos)
- Other copycats available, but I did not test
Even though the Lilith123 was an extremely good copy of the Shotgun, I ultimately chose the Shotgun for its better, overall quality, and to show support for the (presumably) originator of the product. Full review of the Shotgun follows below.
Shotgun Kids Bike Seat, Handlebar Combo
The Shotgun Kids MTB Seat/Handlebar Combo is designed for kids ages 2-5 years (up to 48 lbs). It can be used with both horizontal AND downward sloping tubes (include many e-Bikes) by adjusting the seat and foot rest angles. Additionally, the foot rest’s spacing can be adjusted to accommodate a range of bike frame diameters. The rubber lining has protected the bike frame very well from scratches, and maneuvering around the mountain trails was much easier than with the Together-Life seat post-mounted seat I had previously tried. There were cheaper alternatives (or copycats) available, but their quality was not as good as Shotgun’s (although by not much).
What’s Good? What’s Bad?
- Excellent build quality
- Mounted on my Googo SY26 and Metakoo Cybertrack 100 electric bikes perfectly with its wider top tube
- Also worked with the Ancheer AM001907 e-Bike
- Carried my 5.5 year old, 42 lb son well and securely
- Gave him a LOT of joy and thrills sitting up front. He wanted to go for a quick ride every night after dinner!
- Did not interfere with me biking, especially while on easy mountain trails
- Foot rest and seat angle can be adjusted to accommodate both horizontal and down tubed bikes
- Top portion can have its width adjusted to fit larger-diameter bike frames
- Rubber everywhere to protect this Shotgun from scratching the bike frame
- Seat is not too wide, making it still easy for the adult to pedal
- “Quick release” feature to more “quickly” remove the product from the bike frame
- Pleasant, thoughtful packaging
- Clear instruction manual
- Fun stickers to put onto the bike
- All tools were included
- Very pricey compared to cheaper alternatives that look and work nearly the same
- “Quick release” feature is not really a fast way to remove the product from the bike frame
- You still have to remove the foot rests before you can fully take the whole thing off, but at least this can be done without any tools
- Makes it easier for thieves to steal this Shotgun
Child may fly over the handlebar during a sudden stop. Replacing the stem with an adjustable/taller one is recommended
- Kid handlebar is low and in a sudden stop, the child may fly over the bar
- Replace stem with a taller one for better grip like the Liteone MTB Adjustable Stem (110mm)
- May not work with some electric bikes
- Company stated that an e-Bike version is under development
- Shotgun handlebar interferes with the bike’s handlebar accessories
- Had to mount my bike light upside down, although with added padding, I could mount it to the smaller-diameter kid handlebar too
- Had to move my electric bike control panel lower so the kid handlebar is cleared enough for the child to hold on to
- Can be remediated by adding third party handle bar extenders onto which to mount the Shotgun one to
- Could only be used until the child is 48 lbs (2-5 years old)
- Installation manual asks to remove the kid’s seat when transporting outside of the car as the air turbulence could loosen up bolts and screws and make the seat dangerous to sit on
Note: Shotgun-style, front-mounted bike seats are perhaps most thrilling for the older kids but are not as safe as those for the rear. The child may launch forward during a sudden stop. There are safer alternatives available, but in all cases, ride with vigilant caution.
- Consider replacing the handlebar stem with an adjustable one (like the Liteone MTB Adjustable Stem 110mm) to increase both comfort and safety for the child by raising the handlebar up as shown in the below photos
Installation: Shotgun Kids MTB Seat
For your (and my own) reference, here are the installation instructions for the Shotgun bike seat. The Lilith123 alternative works similarly.