A different kind of buggy…

“Nice buggy mate!”

Got stopped in the street today by someone that wanted to talk about my Phil & Teds baby buggy! First time for everything I suppose.

So I thought I may as well share my baby buggy experiences with an (ever so slightly) wider audience.

Before we had children we went to view a house, and we couldn’t believe how many baby seats and buggies were clogging up the hallway and front room. We had a good old chuckle at the mess! Fast forward three years and we now have two children, three baby buggies, and a whole house full of junk…

Bugaboo Cameleon

Bugaboo Cameleon
Bugaboo Cameleon

Positives

– Excellent for a small baby; carrycot can be used as a bed

– Solid construction and engineering

– Smooth running and maneouvreable

– Relatively compact when folded

– Kerb appeal (if that matters to you)

Negatives

– Expensive

– Under-seat storage limited

– Child will grow out of seat quite quickly

Summary

This was the first buggy we bought for our daughter. Despite the high cost we were won over by the design. It really is a superb buggy for a small baby, with a true lie-flat carrycot and mattress that can be used as baby’s first bed. The buggy itself has an aluminium frame, from which you hang your own selection of fabrics (we played safe with black and dark grey, and having seen some of the colour combinations on the street we are glad we did!). It is quite compact for a lie-flat pram, which makes it easy to move around shops, aided no end by the proper pneumatic tyres on wheels with proper bearings (I think they may be foam now). We also had the adaptors to fit the brilliant Maxi Cosi Cabriofix car seat to the frame.

When the child is too old to lie flat (around 6 months), you rebuild the buggy with a seat instead. This isn’t quite as good unfortunately, as the frame itself is quite small, so your child will outgrow it well before Bugaboo’s claimed 4 years. Our daughter (who is quite tall) was too big for it before her second birthday, her head rubbing against the frame and hood. The second small problem with the seat is its angle, it is either bolt upright or well tilted back, neither of which is particularly comfortable. If they built it with a setting in between it would be ideal.

The other problem with the buggy is the under-seat storage basket. Firstly, it is shaped like a semi-circle to allow the frame to fold with it still attached, which restricts the space inside. Second, it is only attached to the frame with velcro and usually falls off if you have any decent amount of weight in there. Thirdly, you can hardly reach inside it when the carrycot is attached because the two are so close together.

Oh, and don’t waste your money on the parasol, all it does is poke pedestrians in the arm, it completely fails to protect baby from the sun.

Chicco CT 0.6

Chicco CT 0.6
Chicco CT 0.6

Positives

– Cheap

– Very comfortable for an older child

– Did I mention it was cheap?

Negatives

– Well, it’s cheap; although it hasn’t broken, you can see how the design is very crude

– “Umbrella” fold is still very long so not always easy to get in the car

– Hard work to push

– No under-seat storage to speak of

Overview

At just £40 in Tesco, we got this for our first foreign holiday with our daughter in tow, mainly to avoid damaging the £600 Bugaboo. Turned out it was a great decision as the Chicco was a lot more comfortable for her (she was 21 months at the time), and the Bugaboo was more or less retired.

There is not much you can say about this kind of buggy. This design has been around for decades and it still does the job of moving a child from one place to another. But it is not without its flaws. The flexible frame and small, solid wheels (which do not run on proper axles or bearings) make moving it a real effort. Two seperate handles mean you can’t push it one-handed with any degree of control, although they are handy for hanging shopping from. The under-seat basket is good only for the rain cover and a pack of tissues. Finally, the umbrella fold means it is very long and thin, and only goes diagonally across the boot of our car (a big boot at that), taking up lots of unnecessary space.

Phil & Teds Sport

Phil & Teds Sport
Phil & Teds Sport

Positives

– Ingenious design, undoubtedly the most compact way of carry two (different aged) children

– Solid build

– Easy to drive

Negatives

– Some curious engineering flaws

– Quite heavy and bulky when folded

– As usual, not brilliant for storage

Overview

The arrival of our son meant we were in the market once again for a baby buggy. We test drove pretty much everything on the market; tandems, side-by-sides, budget and premium before settling on the Phil & Teds. And very much the Phil & Teds Sport, not the newer Vibe, which apart from the Bugaboo-esque frame, is bulkier, less manoeuvreable and less adaptable than its aged sibling. Strange that the new model would be a step back in pretty much every respect and cost 50% more…

The outstanding feature of the Phil & Teds is the double-decker design, which means that this double buggy takes up the same space as many singles. We currently have the “baby in the boot” (lying flat) and the “toddler on top” (doubles seat in the upper position). We’ll shortly be putting the doubles seat behind the rear wheels, and zipping up the main seat to face forwards again for a “two toddlers” layout.

Now, unfortunately, as well as a revolutionary layout, the buggy also suffers from some unexpected design oversights. One that is often mentioned is tyre failure – and I’ve worked out why it happens. The wheels are too small for the tyres. The wheels have a 12 inch outer diameter while the tyres are 12.5 inches, so the bead does not sit in the rim. Crazy. If you do ever inflate the tyres, make sure you take the wheels off so no weight is on them first, that way the tyre will settle evenly around the rim.

Other strange flaws include the doubles seat, which has a worthless recline position that puts a metal bar against the child’s head; the brakes which are needlessly difficult to set because of the long throw and stiff spring on the foot-operated lever; the flimsy links that connect the doubles seat to the top of the buggy (and the afterthought safety strap needed to hold it in place); and the ill-fitting hood with a random construction of bent wires and poppers.

The storage basket is OK in toddler/baby mode (albeit hard to access unless you unpop the side panels), but with two toddlers it is rendered useless because the dowstairs child’s feet rest in it.

The fold is larger than the Bugaboo, and the steel frame makes this a pretty heavy buggy to lift into the car.

Another surprise is that the raincover is an option, as is the (ubiquitous) doubles kit. Price it up carefully!

Conclusion

So what do I think after nearly three years of buggy ownership?

Well, the Bugaboo is a brilliant design and undoubtedly the most comfortable way of transporting a newborn or small child around. The Phil & Teds is another brilliant design, a great way of pushing a big sister and little brother around, but it does have some bizarre design quirks. If you know you want to have two children with a small gap, get one. The Chicco is exactly the same as every other umbrella stroller, everyone has one, you will too.

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