Kids Ride Shotgun GG NSMB AndrewM (22)
REVIEW

The Kids Ride Shotgun Pro Saddle System

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date May 16, 2022
Reading time

Kids Ride Shotgun Pro

I have mixed emotions about having reviewed the first generation Kids Ride Shotgun saddle system. My daughter and I loved it. Loved it. But even with my size large bike frame we were on the very cusp of usability and it was hard not to lament that we hadn't jumped on a similar kids-forward cycling experience sooner. It's probably why I'm the Barney Stinson of telling every parent and grandparent I know who mountain bikes to get one. There is no setting too inappropriate or out of context to bring up how AWESOME the KRS is and ignoring me just results in me doubling down on the conversation.

The new Kids Ride Shotgun Pro, doesn't change anything about the riding experience. It uses a much cleaner mounting system that's easier to remove and install, and run on multiple bikes while removing any frame contact which could damage their carbon frame. It looks like a much more polished, high-end product and that shouldn't be surprising since it also costs 100 CAD more. You can still buy the KRS saddle I reviewed in 2019 for 220 CAD. This new KRS Pro saddle will run you 325 CAD. If you're going to be removing and reinstalling it frequently or running it on multiple bikes then I'll say right now it's worth the extra c-note if you can afford it. If a front mounted kids' seat is a luxury you're stretching into, doing these things with the original unit is time consuming rather than difficult, and people I've talked to have said the resale value has been excellent. Min-maxing my bicycle budget, if I had to choose between a Kids Ride Shotgun saddle and having a dropper post on my mountain bike I would have picked the KRS every day.

Kids Ride Shotgun GG NSMB AndrewM (27)

The shorter you are the sooner I'd recommend getting on the KRS program. Even with an XL frame there's only so much space for a kid before you're pedaling with your knees flared out and banging your chin on their helmet.

My child is no longer KRS-sized, and I don't own an expensive carbon fibre mountain bike to mount the KRS Pro saddle on, so I've borrowed these things for the purpose of talking about this product. The quality appears to be superb to me, but my friend Aaron - who's kid and bike I borrowed for these photos - is going to use it for a while and then in the future Cam is going to use it with his niece, and I think at some point in the distant future it would be cool to do a follow-up because I feel this thing is going to survive a lot of kids. The saddle is swappable to any standard unit out there, and beyond that, Kids Ride Shotgun does a good job of stocking spare parts.

KRS also sells a couple of handlebar systems if you want to spend some more money and get fancy, or hide the signs that you take a small child mountain biking from your friends. There's a regular bolt-on system for 50 CAD and there's a Pro QR system for 90 CAD. KRS says: "the shotgun bars provide a warmer alternative for little hands, and stop your co-pilot from playing with your gears, brakes and dropper post!" I just taped my handlebars with a bit of roadie bar tape - which is what Aaron has done here as well - and told my kid not to hit the shifter, dropper, or brake levers unless I asked her too. It worked awesome. She loved shifting. If you're on the KRS site looking to drop a few more bucks, the weatherproof hip pack is rad and gets lots of compliments on the trail. I also love Shred Til Bed.

I was going to say I've yet to meet a parent who advocates strongly for the add-on handlebar but our own Cooper 'Shore-Country' Quinn messaged me before this piece went live to say he loves them. Specifically, how they create a more upright riding position. I'll admit I haven't ridden a KRS setup with one as wee as his, so take my recommendation to spend the bar money elsewhere as one side of a debate.

Clairebarian Marin KRS Hip Pack NSMB Andrew Major

Routine shout-out to the weatherproof Kids Ride Shotgun hip pack, featuring the cast of creatures from Shred Til Bed.

Showers Pass Kids Jacket NSMB AndrewM

Half the adults we meet want one. The other half want to know where they can get one for their kid, partner, etc.

From the moment I opened the box it was immediately apparent how much KRS stepped up the manufacturing compared to the initial product. From mounting the saddle to adjusting the pegs for leg length, there is not an adjustment that hasn't been cleaned up significantly. The front clamp and leg length adjustments require a hex key, removing a bolt and sliding the post, while most of the other assembly is performed tool-free using quick releases. The kit includes two of the proprietary headset spacers needed to mount the system, so a household with more bikes will need to purchase extra spacers at 14 CAD per unit.

In terms of fitment concerns, the rear mounting clamp for the Pro system's rail doesn't require space between the frame and dropper post seal head in order to clamp to your seat post but it is rubber lined so it's possible to clamp it to your seat tube if there's some frame proud above the top tube but below your saddle clamp. You need to have enough steerer tube to run a spacer under your stem as well, either swapping out an existing headset spacer or moving your stem up. If you're managing a frame with proprietary bullsh*t going on at the steerer tube you're currently covered with adapters for Trek Knock Block frames and the Scott-Syncros 1.5 system but for any other 'unique' setups you'll want to contact KRS directly.

Kids Ride Shotgun NSMB AndrewM (7).JPG

The original KRS system is still available for 220 CAD. It works great and I wasn't concerned about frame contact. I had no issues installing and removing it between uses, although the Pro setup is much faster to swap.

Kids Ride Shotgun GG NSMB AndrewM (22)

The KRS Pro system is 325 CAD. It has a cleaner fitment with no frame contact. The slider attaches to your dropper post and to a proprietary headset spacer. Once the spacer is installed removal and installation takes seconds.

KRS Installation

The most technical part of a KRS Pro installation is swapping out a headset spacer. As long as your OneUp EDC Lite tool housing hasn't decided it's now one with your steerer tube this is a quick job. If it's in there proper you can use the mini-tool inserted with the bits folded out to create some leverage to twist it or I've also had luck wiggling it out with Knipex pliers before. I only mention it because it's come up once or twice when I've needed to remove a fork in the shop. Once the stem is off you simply swap a stock headset spacer for the KRS Pro unit. If you don't have any spacers under your stem but have them above then you can swap things around although this will change your riding position a bit. If you're not certain you have enough steerer tube I'd recommend seeing your local bike mechanic for assistance; there's likely a lower clamp-height stem that will get you there if necessary.

Once the headset spacer is installed, mount the slider on your frame. The next tricky part is deciding what height to set the foot pegs at. It's helpful to have a second adult for this part of the process so the bike is upright with the grom on the saddle while you play with the leg extension. All told the installation of the KRS Pro probably takes less time than installing the included front fender - at least assuming you trim the Zip-Ties cleanly.

As with every part on your bike, it should go without saying that the bolts on the KRS Pro should be routinely checked for tightness. Other than that, I don't anticipate any maintenance needs. Buying used, in the future, the whole KRS Pro system can be torn down to the bare bolts, cleaned, and reassembled. As mentioned, all the small parts are available separately and in kits, so performing a full refresh is a choose your own adventure. I'd like to come back to the system a few kids down the road and see what, if anything, actually needs to be replaced. Just from wear and tear I can see needing to replace the saddle and the straps for the foot pegs.

From a marketing perspective I think it would be neat if Kids Ride Shotgun followed some of these saddle systems through multiple kids in a family and even through multiple families as they're sold or passed on. I met a kid last year riding a heavily upgraded ten-year-old Kona Kula 24" that had been re-sold so many times that his dad couldn't guess how many kids had owned it. It would make a really neat story if it was possible to trace it back to when it was new on a shop floor.

Guerrilla Gravity (GG) Aside

I was about thirty two seconds into writing up the KRS Pro saddle when it occurred to me that folks would probably be interested in a more thorough look at Aaron's GG Smash. It's a cool rig with some parts you don't see every day like a the Velocity front rim (made in the USA), a min-maxed drivetrain, and Shiguras done the right way. If you are interested, here's more information about Aaron's rig.

Kids Ride Shotgun GG NSMB AndrewM (16)

If you're curious about Aaron's Guerrilla Gravity Smash, I've put together an aside about the bike.

Kids Ride Shotgun GG NSMB AndrewM (17)

Now that the Colorado bike manufacturer has caught up with the pre-sales of it's USA Made 'Revved' carbon frames, hopefully NSMB will have an opportunity to review one.

Kids Ride Shotgun Now

I've enjoyed experiencing every age of my kid's progression and I'm not one of those parents generally lamenting the passage of time, but I admit every time I see a kid and their parent out enjoying a behind-the-bars cycling experience, like KRS delivers, I get an aggressive case of FOMO. I do caution that said experience is different for every kid and parent. I know some who will only go on pavement or very light trails and I'll never forget stories of my friend Rick and his son hucking the stair case into their backyard or seeing them launch off the sidewalk down into the original home of SuspensionWerx.

My daughter and I tapped at doing laps of High School Trail on Seymour and spinning through Circuit 8 in the demonstration forest. It was helpful to get her going with mountain biking, and those are two of the first trails she rode on her own bike as well. I've talked to some parents who are planning to get a bit more aggressive than that and others who can't envision going off the gravel and I want to say if you keep it light and make it about your grom I think you'll both have a lot of fun.

While the system changes how your bike handles, it's easy to adapt. If your rear shock has some kind of pedal platform that's not a complete lock-out then you'll probably use it. I've heard a range of experiences in terms of riders adding air pressure to their forks and increasing damping and other riders who change nothing and just go ride. I've even talked to one fellow who added pressure front and rear to account for his kid and then ended up preferring the firmer setup for kid-free riding too. Be prepared to play with your settings, or don't and just go ride; you're not exactly going to be schralping at maximum velocity on trails you're barely comfortable on.

Kids Ride Shotgun GG NSMB AndrewM (26)

KRS is making some sweet Pogies now for those rainy winter rides. It's not cold enough for them right now, but look for a review in the fall. In the meantime I've seen everything from mitts to gardening gloves in use.

Kids Ride Shotgun GG NSMB AndrewM (30)

Every kid takes to the KRS experience differently. Some just it when you shred, and some are more cautious. Just like adults and mountain biking I suppose. Still, I've yet to meet a kid or parent who didn't love the experience.

The KRS Pro saddle system looks like a couple of others, including the popular Mac Ride saddle system, and in turn they all look like a better-supported universal bike rack adapter with a seat and some stirrups attached to it. It's the most logical design for the most universal fitment. Many riders will be able to justify paying a bit more for the KRS Pro based on the increased adjustability over other systems, especially saddle position and tilt if you're mounting it on smaller frames. Functionally it's the nicest system currently made. But best answer to which kids-forward system you purchase is: Yes, you should purchase a kids-forward saddle system.

If you have a grom, or grandgrom, who's right-sized for a KRS Pro system, and it's in your budget, get one. From the standpoint of someone who has installed both, the 325 CAD KRS Pro wins over the 200 CAD KRS on absolutely every metric except for price. Even factoring the extra one-time effort of installing the proprietary headset spacer, assuming no one is going to have a dedicated Kids Ride Shotgun setup, you will never regret buying the KRS Pro when it comes time to fire it on or off for a ride. I'd go as far as to say that when people have the chance to open both boxes, the Pro will outsell the original system so many times over that even with the $100 difference it will be the only option in short order.

There's more information at Kids Ride Shotgun, and, of course, whatever system you buy I'm certain it will pay for itself in smiles.

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Comments

just6979
Justin White
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+3 Andrew Major BadNudes Zero-cool

"There is no setting too inappropriate or out of context to bring up how AWESOME the KRS is and ignoring me just results in me doubling down on the conversation."

Strongly Agree.

If you have small children and you like biking, you absolutely owe it to yourself and your kids to get one and use it! Did you hear me? I said get a KRS. What, not sure it'll fit your bike or that your kid will like it? It will*, and they will. Are you listening? Get one!!

*Well, if you have a 34.9 seat-post, the (original) adjuster bolt on the quick-release is just barely long enough. I actually unthreaded it very slightly (still have like 5 threads engaged) from the cam side to get a couple more threads (than the default 2-ish) of engagement when clamped to my post. I sent them feedback (I should check my Gmail drafts folder and make sure I sent that...), so maybe we'll see a running change to a longer adjuster on the QR for those with wide seat-posts.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Justin White

Ah! 34.9! Did you try a longer (standard hex) bolt as a solution?

I still think Joel Smith deserves a lot of credit for the idea of marketing 34.9 as 35mm. I think 35mm (vs. 30.9 and 31.6) with its lack of decimal places would have caught on much more aggressively and most companies would be using the size now. So compatibility stuff like this would not come up.

Reply

just6979
Justin White
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Mine has just a threaded rod, with a barrel on the cam side, and a long nut on the release-able side, so not a bolt per se, but yeah, I did think of getting a bolt and chopping the head off (or just a bit of all-thread, though a bolt is probably cheaper than even a short length of rod). I'll put it on the actual shopping list now so I remember next time.

Reply

BadNudes
BadNudes
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Thanks Andrew! This review really serves to validate my recent purchase of the original KRS seat, even if I may be getting ahead of myself a bit (little'un is so close but not quite walking on his own yet). I guess it's not surprising considering you gave me the nudge to buy in a recent email with your 'Barney Stinson' 'KRS rulez!' routine. But it's uncanny how you pinned me down with your thoughts on "if I had to choose between a Kids Ride Shotgun saddle and having a dropper post..." because I'll be high-posting this year in exchange for the option to bring a little passenger. So excited!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+2 Justin White BadNudes

Cheers! Please feel encouraged to post back up here with your experiences. I have a few friends with kids / grand kids the right age and I think I’ve worn most of them down into getting a kids-forward saddle system. I’m about the concept over any specific product, but KRS does have two great options. 

Way down the road I’d also be very curious to know how you do on resale. I’ve heard stories recently of folks getting most their money back after a couple/few years but pandemic supply issues has really made that feedback unreliable.

Cheers!

Reply

just6979
Justin White
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

You don't need to high-post it. If your dropper is [almost] fully hilted with no room for the clamp (assuming it is if you're thinking about going fixed post), just raise it up a bit: the clamp is only like 10-15mm tall. Sure, your max saddle height will now be a bit too high for comfort, but you don't have to extend the dropper all the way! I use this technique for my wife to carry a kid on my hardtail*: the dropper is too tall even if it was slammed, but she just starts low and lets it come up only high enough for a good pedaling position.

*(Actually that bike has a non-Pro KRS pretty much always on it, so the room for the clamp doesn't apply, but same thing applies to the saddle height)

Oh, I just noticed you also have a non-Pro... Why would you need to high-post in exchange for the passenger?

Reply

BadNudes
BadNudes
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+2 Justin White Andrew Major

The mooh-lah baby! My self inflicted b-day present this year was either a second hand Thomson and the KRS or a new dropper. 

And honestly, I'm loving the no dropper only two cables look, very "ATB",  and at the trails I ride regularly I can manage fine with a QR seat collar.

Reply

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major Tjaard Breeuwer

Good stuff. Though be careful if you get into more technical terrain with the passenger - I liked having the dropper available so I could quickly lower the saddle to get both feet down. Didn't want to try tipping the bike enough to put a foot down while seated, and with a kid in front standover doesn't exist.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 1 week ago
0

You can certainly go with the old “inch for fun” (or a bit more) and just lower the saddle a bit. I’d prefer to run a dropper too, but choosing between a dropper and a KRS, I’d pick the KRS and make it work with a QR.

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

They're great fun. 

Reply

cheapondirt
cheapondirt
1 month, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

I'm pro-handlebar because I think it gives my son better leverage against his momentum under braking. Is it worth the money? Maybe not to the extent that the seat itself is. But the [original] seat is the best value out of all the bike related products I've bought in recent memory.

If someone is on the fence between original and Pro, they may consider whether the seat height will be different. On my XL frame with good standover but long seat tube, I'm confident the original sits a fair bit lower than the Pro would (YMMV). I want all the over-child's-head visibility I can get.

I would also note that in my opinion, a dropper post is an essential pairing with KRS. I use it every time we come to a stop, even on the street. There's no room to step forward off my saddle.

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
1 month, 1 week ago
+1 cheapondirt

Yeah, agreed on the dropper. I use it dropped ALL the time and its a bit easier to keep him wrangled - he's also still new to it and quite young, so perhaps this will change as he gets stronger.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 1 week ago
+1 cheapondirt

That’s an interesting point. It’s going to very much vary frame to frame and the Pro does have a lower stack height for the actual saddle clamp, but on many frames I think the saddle will be lower on original version (notably lower on some) and when you’re at the cusp of your kid growing out if the system the head-to-head (your chin / their helmet) contact can be a bit vicious as is…

Reply

D4nderson
D4nderson
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Everything about this system seems right. It’s a great idea, good execution, gets good reviews. It’s just way to expensive.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+2 Justin White Cooper Quinn

Do you mean to say it’s overpriced for what it is (quality of manufacturing, proprietary parts, design, shipping included) or that it’s over priced compared to competing products, or the category is over priced in general (or all three)?

I look at it compared to other cycling categories and I don’t really see it. 

This is 325 CAD. For that you could buy a GX 12-speed cassette. A OneUp handlebar bundle (bar, stem, grips). An XTR M9100 rear derailleur. A dropper post and decent remote. An okay rain jacket.

And none of that stuff has much resale value used where you’re going to get something back for a KRS Pro. And the memories/experiences probably make it a better value even if you recycle it after one kid. 

I don’t know. I guess you have to work out dollars/use and smiles/dollar (x2 - you and kid). I think from my experiences it’s a pretty solid value as cycling gear goes.

Reply

D4nderson
D4nderson
1 month, 1 week ago
0

I’m not saying over priced I’m just saying too expensive.

Reply

just6979
Justin White
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

It might be expensive compared to a low-end trailer or a cheap back-seat. But...

You don't want a back-seat. It's so awkward, especially if (when) they're flailing around trying to look past you, or trying to grab things along side the trail (because that's inevitable if their hands are free). Plus, having weight that high up directly over the back wheel makes the bike so unbalanced. Tough to load, to ride, to stop, to unload, everything about it becomes unbalanced and awkward. Front-riding is SO much better for both the driver and the passenger. They're right in between your arms, moving with you, and they're holding on to the bars, so flailing is minimal. Even if they are wiggling around, it doesn't upset the bike nearly as much as a back-seat, barely at all in fact.

And trailers are great for when they're too young or small for a front-ride, but every kid I know who has done both would rather be up front than down in the trailer.

So, yeah, might be expensive compared to the bare minimum alternatives, but actually quite reasonable for the real-world experience.

Reply

Zero-cool
Zero-cool
1 month, 1 week ago
0

I love the original ones we have abs not had any problems modifying it for ebikes (used a longer bit of threaded bar for the foot rests) hardtails or a full sus bikes. But I have to admit that the new one looks much better and easier to use.

Reply

UFO
UFO
1 month, 1 week ago
0

In response to these products being too expensive, my daughter enjoyed the Macride for about 6 months before she got too big, I wish I had ponied up for one earlier as it's better in everyway than the iBert that she spent so much time in as a toddler, but money. Her brother got to use it for a solid 1.5-2 years, and we used it especially since he had a tough time keeping up with us on his little bike.

That would be my one beef with these systems, they are so awesome they can demotivate a slightly less motivated kid to ride on their own.

After we were done with it we passed it on for what we paid for it second hand 👌

Reply

sweaman2
Sweaman2
1 month, 2 weeks ago
-1 Andrew Major

Someone has to say it so it might as well be me. This now looks incredibly similar to the MacRide for a slightly higher price.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+2 Cooper Quinn Tjaard Breeuwer

It’s right in the article. Last section, third to last paragraph.

Reply

sweaman2
Sweaman2
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major Tjaard Breeuwer

Doh. Sorry. That's what you get for speed reading at lunch.

Reply

Zowsch
Zowsch
1 month, 1 week ago
-1 Andrew Major

Macride is a BC family business out of Victoria if you like to buy locally developed products (and you’re from BC or Canada). 

For what it’s worth, macride also had this design first (stem to seatpost) where the original krs latched into the frame.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 1 week ago
0

Regarding "for what it's worth" I don't understand why this comment gets parroted in every piece about the KRS Pro. Mac Ride is right upfront about the fact they did not invent this design:

"Glen takes the best of what he's seen from other seats, ads [SIC] some magic sauce, and develops the concept of Mac Ride."

Their Kickstarter Campaign launched in June 2014. The folks at Mac Ride were barely parents when LOCT (Little Ones Come Too) was already using the design in 2008. This is easily verified information:

Bike Radar review of LOCT Body Space Child Seat

Photo from said review:

-------

Mac Ride makes a fine product and they have a great reputation for after-sale support. I think for off-road use your child will find the saddle on the KRS / KRS Pro systems notably more comfortable. 

I'd be surprised if Mac Ride doesn't release a system, or add-on, in the future that uses a similar railed saddle option for that reason.

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