- Very adjustable
- Bar works very well
- Tricky to fit first time
- Won't fit all bikes
- Can mark the frame
The Shotgun is a child seat that attaches to the top tube and puts your child between your arms when riding. It creates an incredibly interactive riding experience that my children absolutely loved. It won't fit all bikes however, and can make pedalling harder.
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What rider wouldn't want to pass on their love and enjoyment of the sport to their children or younger family or friends? The Shotgun seat is aimed at those aged 2-5 years (weight limit 22kg) and gives an immersive ride, putting them right in front of you where they are not strapped in, but have to hold on themselves.
The seat rests on the top tube and will fit many mountain bikes, although it won't fit e-bikes with wide downtubes, road bikes or step-through frames. There are a few other potential fitting problems too, such as with cabling that runs above or beside the top tube.
I found fitting it quite tricky. There are a number of steps, and I found myself having to go back and re-adjust – the first fit took around 30 minutes, but following this the steps needed are reduced and it can be fitted in around 10 minutes. It takes around five minutes to remove.
The substantial bracket creates five contact points with the frame, and although all have rubber to prevent marking, I would strongly recommend frame protection tape as I found there is still the potential to rub the frame.
The Combo kit also includes the Shotgun handlebar, which changes the reach for your passenger and provides small diameter grips. The clamp fits 35mm bars, and has inserts to reduce to 31.8mm or 25.4mm bars.
I found the mounts for 31.8mm bars slightly oversized though, which meant I had to adapt the fit with tape, which isn't ideal. The foot rests are adjustable for height, and the rubber straps have two positions too – it's easy to adapt.
Getting a child on the bike and setting off I found significantly easier with a dropper post, as you can keep both feet firmly on the floor and lift the child into position. With a fixed seatpost, I found it easier to start the whole process next to a wall.
Being shortish at 168cm, I was restricted when riding with my four year-old (105cm tall) as her helmet was close to my chin, but with the two year-old (87cm) it was better. For general riding on roads or paths it was fine, though, and only difficult when going uphill – mostly due to having to pedal with my knees stuck out for clearance. It's enough to make clipless pedals uncomfortable, and works best with flats.
One major benefit of the Shotgun over a saddle or trailer is the extra interaction. You can chat as you ride along, and take in the journey together. Finishing a ride to get unprovoked responses such as “That was great!” or “I really enjoyed that, Daddy” put a huge smile on my face, and I think genuinely helped show both my kids some of the pleasures of riding.
My four year-old tester reports the saddle is comfortable, the handlebar feels good with the 'stripey bits' on the mushroom grips, and her position was comfortable up to 30 minutes at a time.
The seat's incompatibility with many e-bike frames is a bit of a downer, given how well the two things would complement each other, but Shotgun is developing a version for those. Certainly an e-bike will take a large amount of the strain off the awkward pedalling style.
Perhaps the Shotgun's nearest competitor is the Mac Ride, which it gives a similar riding position but a different fixing method. The Mac Ride keys into a bespoke headset spacer and clamps to the saddle, meaning once the spacer is installed it takes seconds to fit or remove the seat, which makes no frame contact at all. Mac Ride also does an e-bike adapter that works well.
The Shotgun wins on price at £120 for just the seat though, versus £189 for the Mac Ride seat. The handlebar setup for the Shotgun is also really good (and adjustable), while the saddle position is more adjustable than the Mac Ride.
My children loved riding in the Shotgun seat on every occasion, and found it comfortable. If can be fiddly and is limited in the types of frame it will fit, but both it and the handlebar section are well made, effective and impressively adjustable for your own kids' sizes.