Sure the BabyBjörn Carrier offered some immediate-aha freedom of movement. And an off-road-ready Bob Gear stroller seemed to offer a similar revelation: That having your child with you does not totally limit your outdoor ventures. But for an active new dad, no other single parenting product has provided the same bang-for-buck, shared joy-for-minute-used as the Mac Ride kids bike seat.
Every place that I’ve arrived by bike using the Mac Ride with my daughter—whether it’s a park or a trailhead where there is another parent who knows how to ride a bike—yields instant wonder: Huh, that’s genius. How has no one thought of this kind of bike seat sooner? Who makes that thing? Made in Canada, eh? The quick conversations add up, where I’m not sure there’s a parent product I’ve been asked about and recommended more.
What It Is
The Mac Ride is a saddle that fits nearly every bike and expands to grow with your child, beginning as soon as you feel safe with them sitting upright, holding on and taking directions (call it age 2) until they hit 60 pounds. The saddle is positioned so your kid rides just like you, directly in front of your seat, feet secured in stirrups and hands on your handlebars, right inside your grips. Meaning, your child rides securely between your arms without crowding you or getting in the way of your pedal strokes. Your child’s weight is centered on the bike, distributed just like yours—between front fork and seat post—where the bar running under the saddle is connected.
Setup requires the initial installation hurdle of needing to remove your handlebars and then replacing the headset spacer on your steerer tube with an included modified spacer. Tighten the front clamp onto the spacer with the Allen key bolt, then thumb-tighten the three-point rear clamp to your seat post, adjust stirrups to your kid’s leg height, and you’re set to ride. There’s extra replacement spacers so you can remove and move the simple bar-saddle-stirrups system from bike to bike in your fleet, going from town cruiser or e-bike to your mountain bike. Yes, mountain bike. The whole idea of the Mac Ride is your kid is engaged in the ride the same way you are, seeing the trail ahead, absorbing bumps the same way, in your arms and not falling asleep strapped in some bucket behind you.
Why We Like It
I can recall (albeit quite hazily) riding in one of those plastic buckets, staring at my dad’s sweaty back, trying to yell things to him he couldn’t hear. The Mac Ride gives you a co-pilot. You see the ride through their eyes. Suddenly you are playing ‘I Spy,’ hearing them scream with terror and joy while racing down big hills and, my favorite, hitting an extra speed when huffing up steep hill sections where a rested voice beneath you belts out, “Go daddy go! Go daddy go!”
The interaction is one key component. The versatility of the Mac Ride is another. It’s simple to remove the seat and take it from bike to bike. Adjusting the saddle as your child’s legs grow isn’t quite as easy. But easy enough: We’re talking about a few twists of an Allen hex wrench (same for pivoting the stirrups’ forward position, so your kiddo’s toes don’t hit the front wheel during turns). Adjusting the stirrup height is a thumb button, and rubber straps with various holes tighten feet down to different shoe/foot widths. After a ride or two with such a simple, elegant and effective tool for totting your child in a way that’s as comfortable and safe as it is engaging, other ways to carry a child on a bike ride seem to make less and less sense. (Check out #macridemore for more evidence.)
Other than the minimal use of your brain for initial installation, it’s hard to find many faults in the design. The foot straps seem like they need one notch hole more for tightening/adjustability, and also seem like the holes could give way if stretched too much (though I’ve had no issues yet). But again, the thought is you want your child able to break free of the bike with you, in your arms in the event of a crash, and not locked onto the bike anyway. You may also need an adapter if the included spacer replacement isn’t a perfect fit.
Really the only problem with this seat, however, is one of attachment. That is, your kid may, if anything like mine, end up liking using the Mac Ride seat on your bike more than his or her own strider or training wheels, causing some learning setbacks to get them off yours and riding their own.
If that means an extra year of having that extra go-daddy-go gear, I’ll take it.
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