The Thule RideAlong Mini is a versatile, high-quality kid’s seat that lets the fun shine through on family rides.
If you’re both a parent and a cyclist, chances are you have thought about, or are thinking about riding with your kids. I’m pretty new to the game. My son Charlie is turning two in a few weeks, and while I can say I think I have the general hang of things, I’m still more firmly planted in the learning side of parenting than the eternal wisdom side.
About five minutes after Charlie reached the recommended age, I ordered a seat for him. My first attempt was the Thule RideAlong rear seat, but I had trouble fitting it to my 29+ bike due to clearance issues. I knew it would be a gamble, but I thought it was worth a shot. That being said, I was impressed with the overall quality of the Thule, but compatibility issues with my non-standard setup made it impossible to use. After returning the RideAlong rear, I tried the iBert Safe-T front mounted seat and was dissatisfied with the way it attached to the bike. I couldn’t get the clamp to torque down tight enough and could pretty easily swivel the seat left to right at the point of attachment (around the headset spacers). After another round of returns I gave the Thule Ridealong Mini a shot.
I can’t say enough about the build quality of the RideAlong Mini. Its lightweight, but feels solid and on par with the quality manufacturing apparent in Thule’s other products. Its molded plastic shell has enough flex to cushion the ride, but is by no means flimsy. Aesthetically, the RideAlong Mini is about as cool as it gets for a kid’s seat. I perceive a strong sense of burning jealousy from other parents and children when Charlie and I roll through the neighborhood, but when you’re working hard to cultivate a strong Dad Brand, creating enemies is just part of life. The RideAlong Mini comes ready to install right out of the box, though some adjustments to the harness and foot platforms may be necessary depending on the size of your little one.
The harness is much like the kind you’d find on a typical child’s car seat, and is noticeably more secure than other child seat options in the market. Adjustment is pretty simple and there are multiple positions that the straps can be routed through to accommodate growing kids. Over time, the release buttons on the straps have become a little harder to press and sometimes make adjustments a little tricky. Tightening is always easy, but loosening the straps can be a challenge with your child strapped in. That being said, I don’t think the difficulty loosening straps is much of a concern because of the way it keeps curious hands from wiggling things loose. It can be annoying, and worth noting, but not a deal breaker. I have found the neck brace / pad to be helpful when trying to adjust and center the straps for a snug fit and much more reassuring than the basic straps found in competing models.
Bike Attachment & Compatibility
The Thule RideAlong Mini’s two-piece attachment system is rock solid and is compatible with both threadless setups and traditional quill stems. The first piece of the attachment process is the stem-mount bracket. The bracket includes an adapter for use with threadless steerer tubes, or can be used without the adapter for easy installation on a quill stem. The threadless adapter replaces headset spacers (about 26mm, or approx 1″) on your fork’s steerer tube and uses a couple of bolts to torque down the clamp and keep things nice and snug against your bike’s steerer tube. The one caveat here, is that you’ll need to have room for at least 26mm of spacers under your stem to use this seat. Sorry, no slammed stems allowed in Parentland. But hey, you’re a parent now, you should be getting used to adding a few millimeters of spacers every year to accommodate for your aging back. Attachment to a quill stem is even easier, and I haven’t noticed much difference in security when installed on a quill stem.
The seat itself features a quick release system that makes removing the seat from your bike quick and easy. The seat to bracket connection is simple, confidently clicks into place, and even features a lock for extra assurance that the seat will stay put while riding and offers added security when locking up your family bike rig in public. Additional stem brackets are available from Thule so you can install a bracket on multiple bikes and move the seat from one bike to the other easily.
Riding with the Mini
Expecting your bike to handle like normal with a toddler strapped to it is a pipe dream, but I found the weight distribution afforded by the RideAlong Mini to be very manageable compared to rear mount systems. It is a bit awkward getting used to having a kid’s head and seat back in close proximity to your chest while riding. Keep in mind that you probably won’t be trying to hit top speeds or achieve perfect form while on a ride with your kid. Have fun, forget all that stuff you think about when it’s just you, your bike, and Strava.
Front mounted seats don’t leave much room between the front of the saddle and seat back, so getting in front of the saddle to put a foot down when stopping isn’t likely. You’ll probably benefit from lowering you seat to a height that’s less respectable than usual for the sake of being able to put a foot down in the event of sudden stops. If you’re planning on installing the seat on your mountain bike, that dropper post will come in handy in more ways than you initially thought!
The Final Word
Looking back on a year of riding, the Thule RideAlong Mini has been a supportive partner in making the most of the time I spend with Charlie on the bike. We’ve explored mellow trails, cruised the beach path, and pedaled every corner of our neighborhood looking for speed bumps to roll over. While it’s more expensive than most other front mounted kid’s seat options, the construction quality, ease of use, and attention to safety features are well worth the price tag. Most of all, it’s dependable enough that once we’re all strapped in and ready to go, it’s easier to focus on having fun. Riding with a toddler has its own challenges unrelated to the bike equipment you’re using. It’s nice to focus your energy on making the most of the ride instead of spending time getting distracted by gear issues, especially when your child’s safety is concerned.
- Sturdy, elegant design
- Simple locking quick-release attachment
- Wide range of adjustability
- Smartly placed support bar for little hands
- Compatible with both threadless and quill stems/steerers
- Requires 26mm of space on steerer tube under the stem for threadless installation
- Harness straps are sometime difficult to adjust
- More expensive than most front-mounted seats