Shotgun 2.0 Child Bike Seat Review
My husband and I have spent our share of time at trailheads trading off kid duty with bike laps. We like to bike. No one wants to be left at home. Arguably, though, the most fun we’ve had on bikes in the past two years is when we’ve brought our son riding with us.
There are lots of ways to do this – bike trailers or bike trailers with ski attachments on fat bikes work great! -, but a front-mounted bike seat allows kids to hold the handlebars too and provides a literal front row seat to your love of biking.
This is a review of the new Kids Ride Shotgun 2.0 which I got a chance to try after riding with our Mac Ride bike seat. The TMM team has spent time riding with other major models as well so you’ll find features and design compared against the Shotgun Original, Pro, and Mac Ride too.
As always, we’re providing links to products and as an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, we earn from qualifying purchases.
A Bit About Front Mounted Bike Seats
A front-mounted child seat is installed at the front of the adult’s bike over the top tube and behind the handlebars. By placing kids mid-way along the top tube, you’re able to maintain a centered weight distribution on the bike. You can take them for a cruise around town but it’s also balanced enough to ride on singletrack.
Depending on brand, the seat attaches to either the headset, seatpost, or frame. When our son was 1.5, he rode with us in the Thule Yepp Mini, a front-mounted seat with a harness to keep him safely strapped in (the size of the seat forced the adult to sit pretty upright and the looped handlebar is face-height which can make quick stops dangerous but it was a fun introduction to bike seats for all of us!).
The Kids Ride Shotgun and Mac Ride models are designed for slightly older kids, marketed to the 2 to 6-year-old rider (though I’ll explain why I think we’ll outgrow far before age 6). These are considered “open” seats because they don’t have a harness; kids need to have the core strength to hold themselves up on themselves. And while they do have foot straps and I’m not generally worried about my son falling off, if he’s not into riding (and more curious about the flower we just rode by or hungry, for example), it’s not going to work.
The great perk compared to models like the Thule Yepp Mini, though, is that you both sit in a more realistic position, as the adult you ride more naturally, and everyone gets to really experience the flow of the trails.
A Quick Note About Safety
We get a lot of comments while we’re out, mostly positive whooping as we squeal and giggle down the trail but we’re occasionally stopped by someone who doesn’t think a front-mounted bike seat is a safe idea. There are actually several arguments that it’s safer to have them on front than back. In front, my son is in a better position to see and communicate with me. He’s less likely to be injured in a fall because he’s closer to my center of gravity and the position of the seat makes it easier for me to cradle him in my arms.
With that said, riding with your child should be guided by your skills – and your gut. I’m certainly not taking him down the “hard” trails and we’re definitely not going fast. As with any outdoor activity, especially with kids, we all have to find comfort in our own approach toward risk management.
For me, the questions are always: are we safe? are we comfortable? are we having fun? If yes, then let’s go!
How the Kids Ride Shotgun 2.0 Seat Works
As a mountain biker who wants to share my love for flowy singletrack with my son, here’s what I’m looking for in a child bike seat:
- Easy to install and transfer between bikes (we’ve got one kid but two adults he can bike with)
- Potential to grow as he grows
- Compatibility with other bikes (I’d love to use the same piece of equipment with our gravel or e-bikes)
- Price (because this is one.more.piece.of.gear)
- Comfort for him and control for me (as I’ll write about below, these bike seats are so similar; I consider the big, noticeable difference between them to be the seat height and angle and how your kid fits between you and your handlebars)
The Shotgun Original and Shotgun 2.0 seats ride on your bike’s top tube and are secured to the frame (the 2.0 attaches with two quick-release skewers – one between the seat’s legs, another between the foot pegs – which are a big upgrade from the Original); you can adjust the width to fit all modern mountain bikes.
The Shotgun Pro and Mac Ride models attach to your headset and seat post which means there’s no contact with your frame (there’s a separate mounting bracket that replaces one of the spacers on your headset). On all models the saddle can be rotated forward or back, allowing it to maintain a level position regardless of the angle of your bike’s top tube.
On all models, textured metal foot pegs and flexible rubber foot straps provide a secure place for feet. Kids Ride Shotgun sells mini handlebars separately which can be mounted to your own handlebars for kids to rest their hands (they’re awesome!).
What We Love About the Shotgun 2.0 Seat
Our TMM team spent time reviewing the difference between the Shotgun Original and Pro in 2022. The Shotgun 2.0 is an upgraded version of the Original Shotgun, making these major improvements that we love:
Shotgun Seat 2.0 Installation and Removal
All models of the Shotgun have straightforward directions which make for clear, easy installation. With the Original and 2.0 models, there’s no bike modification required. We love this. However, the simpler and quicker method for getting the Shotgun 2.0 on and off your bike is probably the major benefit of the 2.0 over the Original Shotgun.
Increased Weight Limit on 2.0 Child Bike Seat
The higher 60 pound weight limit puts it in the same category as the Pro and the Mac Ride. I’ll go into more detail about this, but more than weight capacity, the ability to adjust the position and angle of the seat should be the key factor when you’re thinking about how big your kid can be and still comfortably ride with you.
Adjustable Foot Pegs on Shotgun 2.0
The Original Shotgun only has one setting; the 2.0 has two so the foot pegs can be lowered as your child grows.
Kid Friendly Saddle
The Original seat might be the cushiest you’ll find. The 2.0 seat is the same as the Pro model – there’s still padding but less; it’s more like a traditional seat. Most noticeably, this means your child sits lower on your bike and you’ll have more room to see over the top of their head. (By contrast, the Mac Ride seat has no padding. I noticed he bounced around a lot more even on the 2.0 seat than I was used to on the Mac Ride).
Shotgun Handlebar Accessory is the Best!
There’s an Original and Pro model of the mini handlebar. We rode with the Original and I’m sold. The handlebar in general keeps your kids hands away from your steering (and brakes!). Also, we found that our handlebars themselves get really cold (we don’t notice it because we’re holding onto the grips) but it can quickly end an otherwise good ride if your buddy’s hands are too chilly to hold on.
What We (Still) Aren’t So Crazy About
Shotgun Seat 2.0 Foot Peg Straps
The straps on the foot pegs are the one thing that holds your child to their seat. There are two settings to tighten the strap depending on your child’s foot size. Even in the tightest setting, my son can still move his foot in and out. Comparatively, the Mac Ride has four holes on an easy to adjust rubber strap and it feels good to really crank down, knowing his feet (and legs) aren’t going anywhere.
(Relatively) Fixed Leg Length
Yes, there are two settings on the 2.0, but my long-legged, tall guy is going to grow out this relatively quickly (and long before he hits the maximum weight of 60 pounds!). We’re drawn to the Shotgun Pro or Mac Ride for their fully adjustable leg length.
Switching Between Bikes is Still Tricky
Yes, it’s quicker to take this seat on and off than the Original but it’s not any easier to transfer between bikes. Everything still needs to be readjusted to fit the next bike. Given we have two riders who want to ride with our child, this is our biggest hang up with the Shotgun Original and 2.0 series.
Shotgun 2.0 Child Bike Seat Bottom Line
Both Kids Ride Shotgun and Mac Ride make great products and we’d recommend any of them. The differences in foot strap mechanics, saddle cushion, and length of time to take the seat on and off your bike help to distinguish the models and are worth considering if you really want to geek out on the technical specifications.
In the end, I consider most of these differences relatively minor – and anything that can get you on trails as a family is great. (So if you’re fully driven by price, that’s going to be OK!)
In my mind, however, there are several significant factors absolutely worth considering related to how your bike will function with the seat attached and how you’ll feel with a rider on it:
- How it attaches to your bike. The Shotgun Original and 2.0 both attach to the frame of your bike. It comes with rubber pads to protect frames but I was reluctant to clamp the seat onto my carbon bike.
On the other hand, Shotgun Pro and Mac Ride don’t have any contact with your frame. Because they attach to your seat post, though, it’s important to know they can impact the function of your dropper post. They’re still compatible (and, yes, the dropper is so handy when you’re trying to get on your bike) but you need at least 10 mm of space between your bike’s seat clamp and the dropper post’s seal head. (If you don’t have the space, you need to raise the dropper post out of the bike’s frame which is fine as long as you have enough length in your dropper post cables.)
- How it impacts your riding. Obviously, no one is setting personal records riding with their child on their bike. The seat is added weight, the kid is added weight, and your pedal stroke will be disrupted by the seat – to an extent. The Shotgun Pro and Mac Ride seats do sit higher than the Shotgun Original and 2.0 which means the seat is more likely out of the way of your knees. That helps if you’re a taller rider. But a higher seat is going to impact the third factor to consider which is:
- How your kid fits between you and your handlebars (today and as they grow!). I’m 5’6” and have a tall 2.5-year-old. When he’s on our Mac Ride, I have a hard time already riding without his helmet hitting my chin. I can accommodate this some by messing with the position of the seat – moving it closer to my seat changes his angle and gives us more room between his head and mine. However, I imagine it won’t be long before seeing over his head to the trail in front of us is challenging.
The Shotgun 2.0 sits quite a bit lower so there’s naturally more room to grow. For a shorter rider or those hoping to ride with older or taller kids, the 2.0 is probably your best bet. (Our comparison of the Shotgun Original and Pro models have great photos that depict this difference – remember: the 2.0 sits like the Original but with a less padded seat so there’s even more space.)
Where to Buy
While this doesn’t impact the performance of the seat, the Kids Ride Shotgun packaging is real nice and includes a sweet collection of stickers. You can buy it directly from Kids Ride Shotgun, on Amazon, or check it out in person at REI.
- Kids Ride Shotgun Seat Comparison – Original VS. Pro
- Burley Dash Bike Seat
- Best Bike Helmets for Kids in 2022
Kids Ride Shotgun 2.0 Seat Review
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