January 7, 2009

A Tale of Two Bugaboos

So now that we're a two-Bugaboo family, I thought I'd share some thoughts about the pros and cons of the Bee and the Frog.

The Bugaboo Bee

The Good
  • The Bee is a great city stroller because it is compact, light-weight, and folds up in one piece. This makes it great for walking in the city and for riding public transit. It also fits into elevators quite nicely. Since it's so small, it fits (folded) very nicely into the trunk of a compact car.
  • Has a large basket under the seat. Great for groceries!
  • Can be used for newborns, since the seat reclines all the way to a vertical position.
  • Comes with a nifty little rain cover which fits very stylishly onto the stroller.
  • The seat can either face the person pushing the stroller, or it can face outward.
  • Has an adjustable-height handle.
  • The seat has a 5-point harness, and the height at which the shoulder straps sit is completely adjustable.
  • The seat tilts VERY easily. You can tilt the seat one-handed. This is VERY handy. When I go out with PK, she starts out awake, so I keep her in a more upright position. She usually falls asleep, however, so I recline the seat all the way in order to make her more comfortable.

The Bad
  • Learning how to collapse and un-collapse the stroller takes a bit of time and is definitely NOT as fluid as the lovely dancers in the Bugaboo Bee video would lead you to believe.
  • The seat is a bit large for newborns, and I highly recommend that you purchase the baby nest for the Bee, as it makes the seat nice and cozy for baby.
  • The sunshade is extra.
  • The cup-holder is extra and costs a whopping $30 in Canada!
  • The handle is not reversible like on the Chameleon or the Frog, so to reverse the seat direction, you need to physically remove the seat from the frame.
  • Has a foot brake. At first I thought that this was good, because it means that you don't have some dumb cable running down the frame of the stroller. Unfortunately, I have found that the brake on my bee is a little inconvenient to reach when I'm sitting down on the subway or in a bus. My brake also sticks, so even though the pedal is flipped to indicate that the brake is engaged, the wheel-locking mechanism doesn't budge. I have to give it a swift kick on each wheel to engage the mechanism. It does not, however, stick when I disengage the brake. (Yes, I know that some WD-40 would probably do the trick.)
  • The seat is a bit squishier compared to the Frog and the Chameleon.
  • Most importantly, if you decide to buy the Bee, you must know that IT IS NOT A WINTER STROLLER. Those little wheels add too the compactness of the stroller, but they are also part of its down-fall. They are no match for un-shovelled sidewalks.
  • Has no bar across the middle. The only sucky thing about that is that I can't easily hang any stroller toys for PK.
The Bugaboo Frog

The Good
  • Light-weight (though not as light-weight as the Bee).
  • The seat frame is easily removable AND reversible. While removing the seat IS a two-handed job, you just need to push these buttons on the seat and that's it. Removing the seat on the Bee is a multi-step process which has made me want to throw the seat out the window on more than one occasion. Having a removable seat is handy-dandy if you're like me and live in a house with steps leading up to the front door. With the Bee, I had to carry the stroller outside, carry PK out with me, and bundle her into her seat. This is REALLY annoying when it's -10C outside and your hands are falling off. With the Frog, I can bundle her into her seat, take the stroller frame outside, and grab PK in her seat as I walk out the door.
  • Great hand-brake. It is very conveniently-located, locks well, and can be released with the push of a button.
  • Has big-ass back wheels, which are great for the snow. If you want added manouverability in the snow, get the snow wheels too (these replace the smaller front wheels). They do cost ~$100, but after navigating the sidewalks during Wednesday's snowfall in TO, they were well worth the money.
  • Has a reversible handle, so that if you'd like to change the direction that junior is facing, all you need to do is push a little mechanism on the handle and it flips over to the other side. This is also nice if you don't opt for the snow wheels, since you can use your back wheels as front wheels to push through the snow.
  • Comes with a rain cover and a sunshade.
  • Has a middle bar - great for hanging stroller toys.
  • Has a 5-point harness. It's not nearly as snug as the one on the Bee. The one on the Bee is almost like a freaking seatbelt. This one is looser along the chest, but snug along the waist. I think PK likes it better.
  • Has a larger seat. PK doesn't like being smushed in (cozy yes, smushed, no), so I think she prefers the Frog's seat width over that of the Bee.

The Bad
  • Unlike the Bee, it does not fold in one piece. You need to remove the seat first, and then you can fold the frame.
  • While it IS a relatively compact stroller as far as most strollers are concerned, it is definitely bigger than the Bee (though a tad smaller than the Chameleon). The big-ass back wheels and the bigger seat make it heavier.
  • The seat frame can be used for either a bassinet or a toddler chair. I'm sure that some people see this as a plus. I just see this as more configuration to worry about. I also find that because it's the same frame for both, the bassinet just looks absolutely ridiculously huge, especially with a new-born.
  • The seat can be a bit big for a baby, though a baby of PK's age is too alert and interested in his/her surroundings to be lying down in the bassinet. We only use the toddler seat for PK, and when she's in there, she seems to sink back and look like a sad little frog whenever I put her in her Frog. (No pun intended!)
  • Tilting the seat on the Frog is a two-handed job, and is ESPECIALLY annoying when you have a diaper bag hanging over the handle, because the bag gets in the way when you're trying to incline it from a horizontal position.
  • My only beef with the snow wheels is that they don't tilt. That's fine when you're pushing your way through the snow, but if you find yourself indoors at a mall or something, it gets a bit annoying to try to turn the stroller. I actually screwed up my wrist a bit today from doing that.
  • I think you need to take a special course to try to get that friggin' rain cover on. Or maybe I'm just used to the Bee's super-slick rain cover. :)
  • The basket under the seat is WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too small. I'd say it's maybe 1/2 the size of the Bee's basket.
  • The stroller is a bit back-heavy. I sometimes find that as I push the stroller, it's going to tip back towards me. This is especially true when I've got the diaper bag on (which is always). I guess it's not so much of a problem when the seat is reversed.
  • The middle bar is a bitch to get on and off.
  • You cannot adjust the height on the handlebar. This sucks if you're tall. I'm not tall, so it doesn't bug me.
So there you have it. All of the good and the bad about the Bugaboos. Hopefully this little comparison can help people decide which stroller to buy. My only thought is this. There is no such thing as an all-in-one stroller. If you want to be able to trudge through the snow, you're going to have to give up on compactness, and vice-versa. Most people end up getting a Frog, a Phil and Ted's, a Mountain Buggy, or a Peg Perego Uno as their main stroller, and wind up getting an umbrella stroller for that little extra bit of mobility. Think of the Bee as a fancy-dancy-├╝ber-umbrella stroller/regular-stroller hybrid.

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