Review: Child Bike Seat, iBert Safe-T-Seat
I love products that are well designed, functional, and multipurpose. My smartphone is probably the best example of this: phone, GPS, camera, music player, plus a layer of apps on top for even more consolidation and convenience.
Well, the iBert Safe-T-Seat may not be the same caliber of Swiss army knife as the modern smartphone, but by doing one thing really well, it makes my bicycle far more useful and multifunctional.
Check it out. Steve Jobs compares bicycles to computers, too.
I’ve been using the iBert Safe-T front-mounted bicycle child seat since January of this year, and I’m certain Lucy and I have logged hundreds of miles together in that time. I track my miles like I track calories and carbs — I don’t.
What I really love about it, is that it allows me to spend time with Lucy while also spending some of my own excess energy. Since she sits so close to me, we chit-chat the entire time we’re out riding together. Unlike rear-mounted child seats or pull-behind child-carrier style trailers, we are very much together on our rides — and I’m sure she enjoys her view and her level of engagement quite a bit more than staring at her dad’s back.
With the baby able to join us so easily, the iBert has helped make it possible for Amy and me to spend fitness time together, too. We’ve even committed to using our bikes for transportation (when reasonably possible) on those rare occasions when we eat out. Without any hesitation whatsoever, I can say that Jerk Chicken at the local gluten-free Caribbean restaurant tastes far better when you’ve biked your way there. Riding several miles on an empty stomach is a magical seasoning that goes great with all meals. 🙂
Furthermore, our almost-daily bike rides provide Lucy with an example of human powered transportation, which I think is both good for her cognitive development and for helping her feel connected to the world in a way that is just impossible in a car. It provides her with what seems to be a very interesting perspective, perched upon her little handlebar-captain’s-chair zooming along at medium speeds with yours truly peddling happily.
All day, Lucy runs around a house that is designed for people 10 times her size. She climbs stairs that come up to her knees. Chairs and sofas are almost eye-level, and she boulders right onto them. Her life is a workout. So for her, the opportunity for rest and relaxation, while actually sitting still for a while is a nice change of pace.
We also get a chance to explore places and to do things we otherwise wouldn’t.
For example, here’s a little stream that runs through a neighborhood we rode through on our way home. It proved to be the perfect little pit stop on our 1-hour, 10-mile ride.
You can’t force quality time — it happens spontaneously and is a subset of “quantity time.”
I purchased the iBert from Amazon for about $85, which is $15 to $20 cheaper than what you’ll find at bike shops and stores. It’s an Amazon Prime item, so as a member, I received the carrier in two days at no additional shipping cost.
Considering how much use we are getting out of the iBert, it represents a tremendous value: fitness, cardio, family time, fun, transportation, and providing my daughter with an alternative, non-motorized view of how humans can go from points A to B efficiently and enjoyably.
Build Quality & Installation
Installing the iBert Safe-T is an easy process that shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes or so. Simply tighten the mounting bracket around the stem of your handlebars. This will very likely scratch and leave marks on the stem. I was OK with this. If you’re not, plan ahead and wrap the stem before mounting — perhaps an old tire tube, cloth tape, or something along these lines will do the trick. Your inner McGyver will assist you, when the time comes.
Once the mounting bracket is on, the seat slides into place and is secured by a pin and clip, as you can see here. It might look a little flimsy or precarious, but it does do the job. The seat is intended for kids 4 and under, or up to 38 pounds.
I’m looking forward to at least a couple of more good years out of it. Lucy’s almost two and just shy of 20 pounds. It may turn out that one advantage of her tiny preemie stature is that we’ll get an extra few months out of this daddy-daughter bonding gadget.
The hard, molded plastic has not shown any indication of warping or losing its shape. In Arizona, the January through March timeframe that we’ve been using it means that we’ve been riding in temperatures ranging from about 45º F to 85º F. When summer comes along, we’ll be limited to early morning and post-dawn rides, because it will surely be too hot for us…and possibly the iBert as well.
Clean-up is super easy, although the comfort pad is showing some signs of darkening that comes with sliding a kid in and out. Shoes, snacks, and such rub off a little filth each time. If…who am I kidding…when it gets dirty enough, I’ll remove and wash it. The straps are black and should conceal their soil nicely.
As you can see, ours still looks close to new, even though we’ve logged hundreds of miles and tens of hours.
Riding & Comfort
I was concerned that any front-mounting child carrier would interfere with my legs and the steering of my bike.
I took a close look at this product: WeeRide Kangaroo Child Bike Seat. The price is right, it looks very comfortable, and I like the center-mounting position. Despite the good reviews, it requires peddling with open-legged form that looks awkward, and I fear it would make long trips unenjoyable.
Fortunately, the iBert does not have this issue. I’m 6 feet tall and I’m on a bicycle that fits me with a 19″ frame. It’s not at all uncomfortable, and we routinely do hour-long rides.
I’m also very happy with the control I have over the bicycle, even though the seat turns with the handlebars. You won’t want to routinely make any highly technical, rapid steering maneuvers for the sake of your child’s comfort, but it’s good to know that you can if you have to.
My front forks do have shocks, which add a good deal of comfort Lucy’s ride. Instead of quick bounces dampened only by the air that inflates the front tire, she floats more softly over bumps.
The padding in the seat doesn’t offers a heck of a lot of comfort. Lucy still wears pullups when we ride, which may add a little extra cushion. More importantly, they help ensure I don’t get any unwanted splashing. Happily, no bodily fluids have showered us yet, and Lucy’s doing a great job with her potty training. Pit stops like this are common.
Some creature comforts would be nice.
As packaged, the iBert is not a great place for a kid to fall asleep. But, a rolled up blanket can help. This has only happened once for us, so far. I would also love to have some sort of snack tray or cup holder, but we’ve made it work without them. I usually just give Lucy a cup of carrot sticks or chocolate chips and raisins.
Anytime you’re riding on two-wheels there’s a certain amount of risk involved.
As someone who rode a motorcycle for over 20,000 miles in 2012, half during rush hour highway traffic — I have a heightened awareness of what cars and road hazards can do to two-wheelers.
Let’s be clear. If we ever take a spill, it’s gonna be a bad time. But, I’m a confident rider who hasn’t fallen off of a bike since childhood, my situational awareness is well-honed, and I find this small risk to be acceptable.
The iBert unit itself does provide extra confidence, too. I especially like the way the hard plastic surround’s Lucy’s legs. With her strapped in, a helmet on her head, and my own instincts to protect her at all costs — I’m pretty sure she would fare far better in a fall than would I.
Other safety concerns include the child’s ability to access the handlebars. Lucy often rides with her hands on the bars. Sometimes, she puts them on the grips, under mine. She has appointed herself supervisor and operator of my headlight. This is a nuisance in the day time, because if I’m not careful, she’ll turn it on and I’ll neglect to turn it off causing the batteries to drain. In the evenings, it’s a bigger pain. She’s not too bad about it, though. If it was a bigger problem, I’d just move the light elsewhere.
Her arms aren’t long enough to reach the brakes. Thank ye gods! And, by the time they do reach, her comprehension of the word ‘No!’ will hopefully have improved. So some things to consider:
- If your child is close to the 38-lb. weight max, maneuverability may be affected.
- If your bike is too small for you, the seat may cramp the situation even further.
- If you’re not very confident on two-wheels, the risk of riding may not be worth taking.
And if you’re going to use your bike for transportation or riding outside the neighborhood:
- Are you extremely good at slowing down before blind corners? Every single time?
- Do you look over your shoulder before crossing streets?
- Do you trust no cars ever and assume they will kill you?
- Do you trust yourself to avoid road hazards and handle things like loose gravel or small rocks on a turn?
If you answered no to any of these questions, then bike riding may not be the way to spend time with your baby. And that’s more than OK. If you answered yes to all of these questions, there’s still a chance things can go terribly wrong. Risk, reward. Your call.
Overall Value & Conclusion
When I consider the many hours of good times I’ve had with Lucy. The extra exercise I’ve been able to get, and the time I’ve been able to spend with Amy…this is one of the best purchases I’ve made, period. I highly recommend this product to anyone who is a solid rider.
Here’s an entire page of child bicycle carriers you can take a look at for your consideration. Based on my experience with the iBert, I wouldn’t trade it for any of the others, but your needs and taste may vary.
Note: I want to mention that I’m in no way connected with the iBert, except as a user. They didn’t ask for this review, nor am I being paid to write it. I am using my Amazon affiliate links to point you to the product, so if you use one of the link’s in this story and purchase the item, I’ll receive a small referral fee. This in no way influences what I have to say about the product. I want to encourage anyone who is NOT a confident bicyclist to overcome the urge to purchase this product.
Do you use a carrier for your bike? What do you think of this device? Safety concerns? Questions? As always, I’m looking forward to hearing from you in the comments.