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It is the end of an era. My smallest child has learned to ride a bike by herself and I no longer have the dubious pleasure of a wriggly extra body weighing me down whenever we go on a cycle ride. I'm hoping that at some point one of the will be towing me, but that review lies in the far future!
This bike seat is made of moulded plastic (blue in my case, different colours are available). A slightly padded cloth insert fits into the shell, complete with straps going through various slots. The seat fits a typical toddler so that their head (with bike helmet on, of course) will just peek over the top. The seat extends below the horizontal part where the child sits, with two channels for their legs. Thus, they are pretty firmly encased in protective material all round.
Unlike a previous bike seat we had, which clipped on to a bike rack, this one attaches to the seat post. A fairly bulky plastic and metal block fits around the seat post, and is tightened into position with an allen key. Once it was in the correct position I just left it there permanently, it would be a bother to keep taking it on and off every time you took your kid somewhere. It isn't particularly obtrusive but does spoil the look of your bike a little perhaps!
Luckily the seat itself is easier to take on an off. The body of the seat sits on and is attached to two metal bars. These bend down at the forward end and go into two holes in the block described above. They click-lock into position through a ratchet type system. Removing it involves manipulating this in a way that couldn't possibly occur by accident, so once in plce, the seat is secure. It only takes a minute to release it, so at least you don't have to cart around the seat when you haven't got your child with you.
One effect of this design is that the seat dangles in mid air over your back wheel (and rack in my case), and is slightly bouncy. I imagine this might give a smoother and more enjoyable ride to your passenger, though of course I can't say from personal experience! Although it looks a little odd, the design works quite well. There is little or no sideways movement as the twin bars are both locked in place, and is probably the most important thing for balancing the load.
The headrest is adjustable in height by a few inches so you can make sure your baby's head is supported properly - more important with smaller children. You can also alter the angle of the back and headrest to an extent, though ours ended up sticking in one position.
Getting the child in and out of a bike carrier is always the trickiest part. Somehow you have to keep the bike upright whilst inserting a wriggling body into a tigth-fitting space. Once they are a bit older and thus more co-operative - or at least more bribeable - this isn't so bad, btu when they are small it can be quite tricky. My tactic was to wedge the bike into a convenient fence so that the front wheel couldn't suddenly turn, then lower the baby into position.
You then strap the kid in, with fabric straps over each shoulder which meet in the middle and clip together with the bottom half of the harness. You can just about do this one handed, if you need the other for holding the bike up or supporting the child, but it's a bit of a struggle. Two hands are considerably easier and highly recommended. Once this bit is done you can breathe easy as they can't escape any more. The position and height of the straps can be changed as your child grows, so they are in the right place. This is important because if they are too
Finally you strap their feet in, using plastic straps which go around the ankle and clip in either side, again with an adjustable height. This isn't the greatest bit of the design, I always found them a bit difficult to attach properly, and occasionally they would come out in mid-ride. This doesn't especially matter except it means that you will get kicked in the kidneys every few yards! Once my kids were old enough to know not to do this I stopped bothering to strap their feet in; it's not essential to safety, only to your comfort.
You then mount your bike - you may have to adjust your method here, as there is a body in the way - and away you go. The seat itself is not very heavy, so it's only the weight of your child you have to worry about, and that's no worse than a couple of panniers with shopping. Once she gets a bit older and heavier your passenger can unbalance the bike by leaning sideways, forcing you to compensate and making it harder work to go straight; I imagine this is inevitable with any design.
It does make the bike somewhat unbalanced, so even when the child isn't in place, you have to be careful. Several times I've leaned the bike against a wall, only for it to come crashing down a few minutes later. It just isn't as stable.
The cloth covers are detachable for cleaning, though it is quite awkward to get them off and back on again. Given that the child is practically always wearing a coat when on the bike the need for cleaning is rather low, so we didn't bother very often. The alternative is just to wipe it with a damp cloth in situ to remove any particularly muddy splodges. You can actually reverse the cover and have a different pattern.
Age of child
I wouldn't use this for a very small baby. The child has to be able to sit up, and has to be big enough to fit into the smallest possible positions for the straps. Even when they will physically fit in, if they loll around a lot it probably isn't comfortable for them, nor for you as the cyclist.
However, when they can sit in it they will find it really enjoyable, being able to appreciate some fresh air and some scenery at low speed, and will get a feel for what it's like to ride a bike which should encourage them to try it solo. It's also good exercise for parents, and a good way of getting around short distances.
I acquired this child bike seat from a friend whose kids had similarly outgrown it; I'm therefore not sure how much it cost, but looking at the adverts to buy it new nowadays would set you back about £100. We've had a lot of use out of it (and are about to pass it on), so it has a good long lifespan, and is obviously rugged and well constructed.
This is a well made and well designed child bike seat, which will last you well as it is very flexible in size. Although expensive, it is good value for money and will keep your child safe and snug, whilst giving you some valuable exercise!
At a Glance To ensure that children are well protected on a bike ride, Britax have developed the JOCKEY Comfort bike seat with their safety in mind, with extra large integral spoke covers minimising the risk of injury. Features and benefits for Britax Jockey Comfort Bike Seat - Nick Extra large integral spoke cover minimises risk of injury Single-handed backrest adjustment to easily change from upright to reclined position Single-handed headrest adjustment with 9 height positions Reversible cover offers change of colour, is removable and washable Cover is made from breathable fabric for improved air circulation Can be used with or without a luggage carrier Sturdy spring steel bracket Comfortable harness system with plug-in buckle with single-handed adjustment Multi-adjustable footrests Mothercare Loves...?? the single-handed backrest and headrest adjustment so your children can sit back comfortably and enjoy the ride.Want To Know More?To ensure that children are well protected on a bike ride, Britax have developed the JOCKEY Comfort bike seat with their safety in mind. The extra large spoke cover is an integral part of the bike seat and prevents the child's legs from getting caught in the wheel spokes, therefore reducing the risk of injury. The backrest adjustment is operated single-handedly, for an easy change of seat position from upright to reclined. Children can sit back comfortably and enjoy the ride. JOCKEY Comfort also features a height-adjustable headrest that can move up and down to suit the child's height, without the need to unthread the harness shoulder straps. With adjustable footrests, 3-point harness system, and a reversible cover made from breathable fabric you'll have a happy child on board too. Don't Forget...To take a look at our range of Travel toys for the journey.