Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Featured Review: 2010 Bugaboo Bee
The first stroller I ever bought was a Bugaboo Frog and I still use it pretty much every day. The Bugaboo Bee is what I wished I had at the time to go with it, a smaller, more portable reversible seat stroller that folds in one piece. With the introduction of the 2010 Bugaboo Bee, I finally have the opportunity to see if it’s everything I hoped it would be. The new Bee offers several improvements and adjustments to the original Bee that Bee lovers will appreciate.
I received a press sample, so I did not have the same out of box set up experience that would normally accompany a brand new Bee. The procedure, however, is fairly simple- attach the back wheels and whichever canopy you’ve chosen and you’re good to go. I imagine it would be a few minutes from box to door.
The 2010 Bee does not include a canopy with the standard black seated stroller. Instead you purchase it separately in the color of your choice. I received a very cute black and yellow Bee to test, but there are several other options possible, as well as your choice of optional colored seat liners. It also allows you to easily change the look of your stroller just by buying a new canopy or seat liner and you can mix and match as desired. The Bee of course offers a reversible seat and one of the improvements to the new model is that the seat is easier to reverse than the original Bee. The seat also pulls out in both directions so that the height of the backrest and the length of the seat can be adjusted for different sized passengers. This model offers a 3 position recline, one less than the previous model, but sits more upright and has smaller side wings to offer more visibility for the rider. The handlebar is adjustable and the brake is an easy to operate rocker foot brake. The fold is not one handed, but it does fold with the seat on in either direction. A big plus compared to many reversible seat strollers. It’s fairly compact when folded and automatically locks closed. The handlebar can be used to hang the stroller from your shoulder for transport, as the side handle found on the original is now gone. The Bee is suitable for newborns and can use the optional baby cocoon for a more secure bassinet like ride. It is also possible to use a car seat adapter with both the seat on or off.
I have to admit that I had extremely high expectations for the Bee because of my experience with my Frog. I expected it to be the same, but smaller and easier to fold. It is however quite different. It’s not as rugged or robust a ride, more like you would expect from an umbrella stroller, but with suspension. It rolls quite freely and smoothly over a floor or a sidewalk, but it does get a bit sluggish with the smaller wheels over grass. But that’s basically what it is- a lightweight, small stroller for strolling around town or for shopping. It would be great for travel, in and out of the car or even for a busy city stroller since it’s pretty easy to pop it down to carry on the bus or the subway. It’s a really great little everyday stroller and makes strolling around, in and out of the car and shops a breeze. The more I used it, the more I liked it and looked for excuses to bring it along.
This is one Bugaboo that can fit through the turnstile without needing at least one helper to get you, the stroller and the baby to the other side. If the handlebar is extended a bit you can hang it over your shoulder, but there are occasions where a small side handle would make it easier to just pick up from the side and move around or, say pop over that turnstile or into the trunk. However, because it does not have a one handed fold, you’re not going to be able to fold it up quickly while holding your baby. At the very least the baby would have to be in a carrier or old enough to stand next to you and not take off. I found the fold a bit tricky at first, especially with the seat reversed, but it did get easier the more I did it. I imagine that’s a function of me getting used to the process and the frame loosening up a bit. Unfolding is quite simple and can be done one handed. It would be nice if there were a way to fold it one handed as well, but you can’t ask for everything.
The seat itself is what makes the Bee special. The new seat is more ergonomically shaped to offer a more comfortable ride, but the best features of the seat are the reversibility and adjustability. First of all, the harness is very secure and easily adjustable, so much better than the Frog harness I’m used to. You will not have to worry about the security of your baby in this seat. Once you add in the adjustability of the seat itself, you can get a really great fit for any of your stroller riders, big and small. All the way down, my six month old daughter has a great, secure seat with the canopy at just the right height to shade her well. Just a few adjustments and it all pulls up and out to a seat that comfortably holds my very large three year old with plenty of headroom under that same canopy. Unique to the Bee, the canopy raises and lowers with the seat as it is adjusted up and down. Add to that an easily reversible seat so that you have the option to watch your baby or let your older child face the world and you have something very special. This is really what you are buying when you buy a Bee. It does look cool, but the seat is really by far the coolest part.
You don’t buy a Bee to roll over muddy countryside, you buy it for the seat, then the size and then, because it is a Bee. It is, of course, a very expensive stroller. Add the optional accessories and you are choosing a very, very expensive stroller. Included in the purchase price of $600 are the chassis with wheels and seat, basket, rain cover, demo video and a two year warranty, with the canopy it’s $649 and then you can keep going for the cocoon, seat liner, Breezy sun canopy, footmuff or car seat adapter (available for Graco or Maxi Cosi). Other accessories are the parasol, cupholder, wheeled board, travel bag, the Bugaboo bag and the (BUGABOO)RED iPhone holder. It is quite a bit of money to spend on a stroller, even without the accessories, so it’s not for everyone.
Having spent quite a bit on a previous Bugaboo model, I can say that I do feel I got quite a bit of value for what I paid, especially because at the time there just wasn’t another stroller available that did the same thing, which is the case as well for the Bee. Just as the ride is not as robust as the larger Bugaboo models, the stroller itself does not feel quite as durable, but that is a function of the size as well, which in turn gives you the portability and the seat-in-place fold. It is absolutely an urban stroller with an image. But with that image you do get a reversible seat that adapts itself easily to such a wide variety of situations and riders in such a small package, that you do get a unique function with all of that form.
Specs: maximum weight capacity
wheels and suspension
size folded l x w x h (wheels attached)
maximum unfolded width
weight (chassis, wheels, seat)