As a MTB parent, there’s nothing cooler than being able to ride with your kids. But sometimes you want to be able to go further than a trailer or balance bike will allow – and that’s where the shotgun seat comes in.
So if you’re new to front mounted seats, here are 6 ways you can help your little ones get stoked on riding shotgun:
1. Make it their own.
As every parent knows, kids like to stamp their claim on all kinds of objects – even ones that aren’t theirs! Now’s your chance to use this to your advantage, and help your little one feel more excited about mountain biking – by letting them claim the shotgun seat as their own.
You could get them to help you open the box when your shotgun seat arrives, help you put it on, and call it “your seat” when you refer to it. Your shotgun seat will also come with some rad ‘shred til bed’ stickers which they can use to deck out their helmet, or your bike!
The more pumped they are about their new seat, the more excited they’ll be to go for rides on it – which is win-win for everybody!
2. Layer up the gear.
Even though you’ll get hot and sweaty whilst mountain biking, your little riding buddy won’t.
Since they’re not the ones doing the pedalling, it’s important to remember they’ll need a few more layers than you to stay warm. And remember, warm means comfortable, and comfortable means staying out longer 🥳
Add a helmet, gloves (or pogies when it gets cold) and some clothing layers to your little shredder, and keep their stoke high.
3. The maiden voyage, start small.
For your first ride, it’s a good idea to ease into it.
Getting your kid feeling comfortable and safe on the shotgun seat starts small. You want them to get used to riding up front and up high, before you take them for their first off-road adventure.
Start with a few neighbourhood laps before you progress to the trails, or try the playground commute on the shotgun (rather than the balance bike) a few times. The more comfortable and stoked your little one is on riding upfront, the further you’ll be able to adventure with them down the track.
A pro tip for your first ride is to bring along another family member or friend. This means you’ve got someone to check Google maps, answer any calls or generally tackle anything that comes up so you can focus on riding with your little one.
4. Pack the essentials.
Journeys with little people always involve a packing list, and bike rides are no different.
On top of your usual bike kit (tools, spare tubes etc) you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of water and snacks. Your little one’s favourite snack as bribery can go a long way in a sticky situation.
If you’re tackling a longer journey make sure you’ve got a map, or a phone with plenty of battery and a map of your route on it. “I’m not lost, I just don’t know where I am” won’t necessarily go down so well with a toddler who’s tired and ready to be home.
5. Communication is key
One of the great benefits of a front mounted bike seat, and having your kid positioned in front of you, is how much you can engage and share in the stoke with with them as you ride together.
This easy communication allows you to point out any changes in terrain or incline before you get to them so your kid can be prepared for bumps or slopes.
Narrating your ride means there’s no surprises, and as a bonus they’ll start to learn how to look ahead themselves, and pick up on how to adjust their body for different terrain.
6. What's next?
Now you’ve got your co-pilot riding shotgun with you, it makes adventuring and family rides so much more fun. To keep them stoked on the experience you can try adding in some other fun activities.
A lot of MTB parents like taking the balance bike with them - either in their backpack or attached to a pannier with bungee cords - so their toddler can have a go themselves on the easier trails.
Playing games while you ride is great fun and something you can come back to every time, seeing who can spot the most birds or name the most wildlife.
How about a mummy / daddy date where you ride to a new place every time, or stop for a sweet treat together at the end of your ride? The possibilities are endless.
Have you tried using the shotgun seat?
Let us know your first-ride tips by leaving a comment below, or by joining our Shred Til Bed community on Facebook. It’s filled with MTB parents sharing photos, trails and ideas.