One of the biggest things most parents think about when a baby is on the way is how much life is going to change after said baby arrives. Then the baby comes and eventually you realize your pre-kid life isn’t necessarily over, it’s just different. Different sources of satisfaction and joy, different levels of sleep required to actually function as a human and, most definitely, different windows to ride. And you inevitably start plotting on how to incorporate the little one into a lifestyle shaped around bikes and an appreciation of the outdoors.
Almost from the time my son was born, I looked forward to him being old enough for a Kids Ride Shotgun set-up. It seemed like a way to introduce him to riding dirt that, selfishly, might actually be kinda, sorta fun for me and his dad as well. With an independent saddle, handlebar and foot pegs, the KRS is designed for your child to experience the trail close to how they would on their own, but while you’re still behind the controls. It’s easy to set up—the metal bracket slides over the frame’s toptube, the seat bolts to the top of the bracket and the foot pegs attach under the downtube. It has a rubber protector to avoid frame damage (and KRS’ new Pro model has no frame interface at all if that’s a concern), and comes on and off easily with a quick release.
Ours sits on a Santa Cruz Chameleon hardtail that fits both my partner and I, but as is evident in the images here of photo director Anthony Smith’s set-up, it’ll work on a wide variety of frames, and it’s easy to swap between bikes if both parents don’t happen to ride the same size, although the width and angle does need to be adjusted for each frame.
It’s designed for kids aged 2-5, with a weight limit of 48 pounds. We put our kiddo on it about a month before he was 2, but he’d been riding on the dirt on a front-mounted Thule Yepp Mini for almost a year by then, so he was familiar with the position and the act of holding on (the Yepp has an upside-down U at the front of the seat; not exactly a handlebar, but the same concept), and we were confident he was ready to level-up.
And he was. He knew exactly what to do as soon as he sat on the KRS, and has never had any trouble understanding that he has to hold on (Staying seated? Another story.). For the head pilot, riding with a loaded KRS takes a minute to get used to, but it’s all pretty seamless. There’s the added weight in the front to balance, and as our son gets more used to riding, he steers more and that sudden, unpredictable movement can catch you off-guard.
Our son is almost 2-and-a-half now, and riding together gets better as we go—it’s really fun seeing him start to read the trail, and hopefully pick up skills that’ll serve him well if he develops a love of bikes down the road, and the more we ride, the more confidence everyone gains. In the beginning, we rarely strayed from doubletrack, now, we’re on solid blues. Also in the early days, we went through a stage when he only wanted to ride for about five minutes, then get off and run instead, but like many things in childhood, it seems to have just been a phase and he’s back to staying on the bike. We also learned pretty quickly that bringing snacks on a ride is a must—a reward for getting to the top of the climb is handy, especially if your kid is like ours and tolerates climbs but revels in descents. No idea where he got that.
And his endurance has also improved as he’s gotten older, so longer rides are more of a reality now. He can happily stay on it for over an hour, as long as there are enough exciting downhills mixed in and not too many long, boring climbs. The one challenge is he can pull his feet out from under the rubber straps that are meant to cinch his feet to the pegs, even when the straps are looped onto the tightest hole, and start dangling his legs. When his feet are out, he could theoretically kick the front tire, which would be sketchy. But he mostly listens when we tell him to keep his feet in the straps.
He absolutely loves descending (smart kid), and honestly, hearing your toddler shriek with pure joy while riding on the front of your bike is better than the thrills any bike park can offer.
I have no idea if the KRS will lead to a life of loving to ride dirt— has very little interest in his push bike so who knows—but for now, we’re just enjoying these days, and looking forward to bigger adventures ahead.
The KRS seat and bar shown here runs $185, and also comes with mud guards, a sticker pack and a Shred ‘Til Bed stem cap. KRS also sells other accessories, like kiddo pogies and a tow rope. Check out the full line here.