I love cycling… I suppose that’s pretty obvious…. But I also would like my kids to love cycling to. Part of my cunning plan to get them hooked is to give them a taste of the feeling of freedom, the wind in their face and the thrill of being on two wheels as soon as possible. Enter Thule’s RideAlong.
I’ll admit it straight up, I am a serial purchaser of child related bike equipment. My daughter had a helmet before she could crawl, a balance bike before she could walk, and stayed up late to watch the Tour before she had experienced the Wiggles.
I’ve found loads of cool stuff to get the kids loving the cycling experience, but, and it’s a big but, I have never been happy with rear mounted bike seats… that is until the Thule RideAlong landed at La Velocita HQ.
The Thule RideAlong is the third rear mounted bike seat that I have tried, number one and two were both such a nightmare that I only ended up using them a handful of times. They were heavy (almost 10kg) and while they were safer than sitting inside a roll cage, it was a nightmare to get the small ones in and out of, with multiple buckles, safety bars, velcro straps and adjustments. I found the most dangerous part of taking the kids out on the bike was not the riding itself, but just getting them in and out without trapping a finger or the bike tipping over. The second issue was that they were mounted to a pannier rack. Extra expense and extra complexity and could only fit on bikes that could take a rack…. and to remove the seat you needed a degree in engineering. Being rack mounted also made the ride seriously uncomfortable and bumpy. It was a bad experience and they have been assigned to the shed. My advice, don’t touch them.
After that rant I was feeling pretty put off… but then the Thule RideAlong landed. From cracking open the box to having it fully set up on my BMC GF02 took less than 10 minutes. I think I would have been less than 5 minutes if I was not faffing around filming the process.
Set up is a breeze, attach the mounting bracket to your bike’s seat tube using the four bolts provided and slot two rails through the back of the bike seat and into the bracket. That’s it, you’re ready to roll.
The RideAlong is seriously well thought out. Everything that adjusts or locks is colour coded blue. I’ll run through the features:
Mounting unit - this box shaped mount attaches to the seat tube and is lockable (keys and lock included) and makes attaching and removing the seat a 5 second task. You can also buy extra mounting units if you want to use the RideAlong on other bikes.
Harness - The three point harness is adjustable for length and hight and straps into the base of the seat with a solid child proof buckle.
Reclinable - There’s a blue lever under the front base of the seat that lifts to let you recline the seat into three positions. If you’ve got a sleeper this is super useful, or helps younger kids that want to rest the head back a bit.
Foot restraints - The foot restraints can be adjusted for foot size and leg length.
On the back of the seat there is a built in reflector and and a bracket to mount a light.
The seat padding is reversible (grey or orange on ours) and can be easily removed for washing.
LIVING WITH THE RIDEALONG
The RideAlong hits a good balance of weight and protection. At 5kg it’s not a horror load to carry, and still feels very nicely built and put together. The seat can recline, has foot straps and reasonable sized rear reflector and places to attach my rear light.
Thule claim that the RideAlong can manage kids up to 6 years old and 22kg. My very long 5 year old just got in and is right on the weight limit and while the seat was fine with the weight, so much weight at the back made for a very light front end and I would not recommend it. At that size they are good on their own bikes or trailer/pull along bike. Unless you have particularly massive kids, I’d say kids aged 1 to 4 and smaller 5 and 6 year olds are where the RideAlong wins.
On the comfort side it’s great, the kids had no complaints and loved the smoothed out ride. The ‘bounce’ provided by the bars attaching direct to the seat tube results in a great level of suspension to soften the bumps and road vibration. The harness goes over your kid’s head easily and attaches via a child proof buckle into the base of the seat with a firm click. It’s simple and secure and effective against small meddling hands.
The toughest part of using the seat has been convincing them that the ride is over and it’s time to get out…
Finally, I loved how easy it is to remove. One turn of the lock on the mounting unit and the seat slides out. You are left with the mounting unit on the seat tube, but I can live with that on my kid/family bike. If you really don’t want the mounting unit on your bike it’s a two minute job to remove it.
The only thing to watch for with the RideAlong is that you will not want to be mounting it to a carbon frame. The forces just won’t work and you’ll likely crush your seat tube, so stick to steel, aluminium or Ti.
All up a RRP of $249 its great value, and I’ll happily admit that the RideAlong is hands down the best rear mounted seat I’ve used, plus as far as bike seats go it looks like it was made for the BMC!
There’s more detailed spec’s over at Thule HERE