We’re getting quite good at this, even if I do say so myself! Our first was the £400+ pushchair group test back in March where the UPPAbaby Vista came out on top, the second was our Stroller Group Test in June when the Maxi-Cosi Noa romped in ahead of the competition. Now is the turn of the Tandems.
As usual we appealed to our Facebook community for willing testers to come forward to join us in Boston for the day to play with pushchairs. Once again, we had an incredible response but had to limit our panel, especially as we were asking them to be there with two children of pushchair age and possibly a helper....that’s a lot of people and a lot of noise!
So, to introduce them...
Katherine and Nick Rawes brought Charlie, 22 months and Jamie, a teeny and very gorgeous 11 weeks.
From Selby in North Yorkshire, Kat and Nick stayed over the night before our test so that they could be well rested for the day ahead.
Heather and David Bilton brought Scarlet, 3 years and Max, 18 months.
Heather is our Guest Tester from Lincoln with a pushchair fetish like no other. What she doesn’t know about pushchairs is not worth knowing! Having come to terms with her addiction, her husband David joins us on our group tests to make sure that Heather isn’t falling in love with anything too expensive or impractical!
Rebecca McLuckie trekked from St Ives in Cambridgeshire to be with us for the day with her two year old twins Jasper and Tilly.
Rebecca is an avid scribe on her blog www.twobecome4.com but had never tried a tandem before so was a blank canvas regarding opinions.
Josephine Meakin from Derby came with Abigail, two and a half and Owen, 16 months.
Her name might ring a bell with some of you - Jo is one of our most regular contributors to our Facebook page and has owned a great many pushchairs. Having read many of her posts it was lovely to finally meet her in person!
Hayley Nixon is from Kirton in Boston and she was accompanied by Jack, three years and Ollie, eight months.
Thankfully Hayley didn’t have far to come to join us but unfortunately had to rely on the unpredictability of our public transport as her car was poorly!
Kate Hopkins from the Weston joined us with Keegan, two and a half and Keona, 8 months.
Kate and her best friend joined us for the day, having to get up at 3am to be with us on time...that’s dedication!
Our criteria for this category was not price but whether the pushchair can be transformed from a single pushchair into a double, catering for a typical expanding family.
The contenders for the day are:
The Mima Kobi
Single = £950: includes 1 seat with carrycot, 1 canopy, shopping basket, changing bag and 1 starter pack – seat pad, harness, apron and mattress
Double = £1165: Kobi single (£950) + second seat (£160) + comfort kit (£55)
Twin Double = £1275: Kobi single (£950) + second seat with carrycot (£225) + starter pack (£100)
Accessories available: Blanket £19.99, Footmuff £79.99, Car seat adaptors £28, Changing bag £95, Parasol £49.99, Mosquito net £17, Double mosquito net £29.99, Double rain cover £39.99
Combinations = 7: single – carrycot, single - toddler seat parent facing, single – toddler seat forward facing, single - car seat, double - two carrycots, double - carrycot / toddler seat, double - two toddlers
Single = £641
Double = £750: Single Verve (£641) + double kit (£109)
Carrycot = £149.95: for use in single mode only
Accessories available: Bottle holder £18, Food tray £11, Car seat adaptors £25, Single storm cover £18, Double storm cover £25, Mosquito mesh single £25, Mosquito mesh double £31
Combinations = 7: single – cocoon, single - peanut carrycot , single - car seat, single - toddler seat, double – second seat and car seat, double – second seat on front, double – second seat on back.
Babyjogger City Select
Single = £489.99
Double = £634.98: comprising single (£489.99) + second seat (£144.99)
Carrycot = £84.99
Accessories: Car seat adaptors £25.99, Raincover – fits seat/carrycot £20.99, Adjustable belly bar £20.99, Child tray £20.49, Select carrybag £49.99, Select footmuff £39.99
Combinations = 16: Single – carrycot, Single – car seat, Single – toddler seat parent facing, Single – toddler seat forward facing, Double – two car seats, Double – car seat/toddler seat parent facing, Double – car seat/toddler seat forward facing, Double – car seat/carrycot parent facing, Double – car seat/carrycot forward facing, Double- two toddler seats parent facing, Double – two toddler seats forward facing, Double – two toddler seats facing each other, Double – two toddler seats back-to-back, Double – Carrycot on top/toddler seat parent facing, Double – Carrycot on bottom forward facing/toddler seat parent facing, Double – Carrycot on bottom parent facing/toddler seat parent facing.
iCandy Peach Blossom
Single = £595: includes raincover
Double = £785: comprising single (£595) + second seat and pip converter (£190)
Carrycot = £195
High carrycot = £160
Low carrycot = £160
Double twin = £1050: comprising single (£595) + High carrycot (£160) + Low carrycot (£160) + second seat and pip converter (£190)
Accessories: Car seat adaptors £30, Changing bag £110, Travel bag £80, Parasol £25, Upper footmuff £85, Lower footmuff £85, Cup holder £15, Parasol/cup holder clamp £5.
Combinations= 9: Single – car seat, Single – carrycot, Single – toddler seat forward facing, Single – toddler seat parent facing, Double – two car seats, Double – two carrycots, Double – two toddler seats, Double – Car seat parent facing/Toddler seat front facing, Double – Front facing carrycot and toddler seat.
Single = £449.99
Double = £549.98: includes single (£449.99) + second seat (£99.99) includes raincovers
Carrycot = £129.99
Accessories: Soft carrycot £79.99, Babysafe sleeper £199.99, Cosytoes £51.99, Infant carrier frame £49.99, Change bag £41.99
Combinations = 22: Single – car seat, Single – hard carrycot, Single - Baby-safe sleeper, Single – soft carrycot parent facing, Single – soft carrycot forward facing, Single – toddler seat parent facing, Single – toddler seat forward facing, Double – car seat/car seat, Double – Baby-safe sleeper/car seat, Double – Baby-safe sleeper/soft carrycot, Double – hard carrycot/car seat, Double – car seat/soft carrycot, Double – soft carrycot/car seat, Double – hard carrycot/soft carrycot, Double – soft carrycot/soft carrycot, Double – soft carrycot/toddler seat, Double – Baby-safe sleeper/toddler seat, Double – hard carrycot/toddler seat, Double – car seat/toddler seat, Double – toddler seat/car seat, Double – toddler seat/soft carrycot, Double – toddler seat/toddler seat
Mamas & Papas Skate
Single = £549: includes raincover, drink holder, car seat adaptors
Double = £648: comprising single (£549) + junior seat (£99)
Carrycot = £149
Accessories: Car seat – Primo Viaggio ES £145, Bag £58
Combinations= 6: Single – Carrycot, Single – car seat, Single – toddler seat forward facing, Single – toddler seat parent facing, Double – car seat/junior seat, Double – toddler seat/junior seat
To the test
With tandems on the agenda we had to make sure we picked a venue that could cope with at least six pushchairs (not counting the pushchairs the children would be arriving in!), at least six adults (not counting friends or partners) and twelve children....eeek! A downstairs meeting room was a must with wheels friendly access...mmmm? Inspiration struck our office manager, Andrea, who’s also a bit of a luvee and she came up with the perfect venue - our local theatre. Blackfriars is a beautiful old building, with lots of attractive features, including a ground level performance room, ideal for toddling children and a pack of pushchairs.
Once we had all assembled, there were twelve adults (including myself and Jo), twelve children and thirteen pushchairs, but we still had room to spare...thank goodness. While the children played with the Duplo, a clever decoy supplied by Jo, we pressed on with the demonstrations. Showing each of the test pushchairs in single mode then transforming them into doubles seemed the best way to illustrate the full range of their capabilities. It took a while but the children were distracted for just long enough and the parents managed to retain some focus on our well practiced routine (not!).
Load up and stroll on
Inviting the parents to pick a pushchair and take it out, they dived on their favourites and installed their children for a brief stroll round town. Given the quantities of children/straps/blankets/toys involved, it possibly took longer to load them than it did to accomplish the walk but everyone had an insight into the performance and capabilities of their chosen model.
Back at the theatre, Mr PT brought lunch and set it out for the wanderers return.
Over a sandwich or two, the parents jotted a few notes on their first impressions. Once fed and watered, we set them out on the road again after we had photographed each pushchair folded in the boot of a Landrover Discovery supplied for our use by Duckworths of Kirton. Of course, they all managed to fit, but some of the size differences are obvious in the photos.
There just wasn’t enough time for everyone to try every pushchair with their own children, however whilst walking they were encouraged to swap pushchairs, regardless of the passengers on board to be able to give a more informed and balanced opinion.
So what did they say...
Babyjogger City Select
The Babyjogger City Select was met with a great response when we showed the panel all the possible seating combinations, all of which work well for the children and give them ample room with neither child being compromised for the sake of the other.
Kate had plenty to say...”My first impressions on this were good, the wide variety of combinations looks like the dream pushchair. I love the fact that children can face each other and add to the sibling bond. The fact that it can take a carrycot, car seat and can accommodate twins gets the attraction of all markets: – single, 2 siblings or twins! The seats are spacious and black so can be easily personalised....”
“However, all of this seemed too good to be true and it was. The minute that it turned into a double it was a nightmare to lift up a kerb. ..you need to push ALL your weight on the handle!”
Katherine was just as excited about the possibilities of this pushchair but once again it fell short of expectations. “Love the possible combinations of the Babyjogger and I was really excited about trying this out as I love the idea that children can both be parent facing or face each other. However, I was seriously disappointed by the poor manoeuvrability – I could not manage to lift the pushchair onto the kerb, even when placing my full body weight on the handle.”
Heather was also disappointed with the performance of the Babyjogger but did like some of it’s features. “The hoods on the City Select give an excellent coverage and the basket is a really decent size. I like the position of the brake, at the side of the frame near the handle. Plus, the fold is really compact, probably the best out of all of them.”
Both Nick and David felt that the frame is very long, especially as the front seat is low and overhangs the front wheels. David said “You have to be careful when you are waking behind people so that you don’t run into them.”
Rebecca loved the Britax B-DUAL, describing it as “My favourite”, she did expand on this saying “I love the fact that there’s lots of space for both of them, plus it’s very easy to steer, even one handed”. Her only complaint was that it isn’t very compact.
Hayley was not quite as enamoured with the B-DUAL as Rebecca: “I think the B-DUAL is rather heavy up and down kerbs and it lacks suspension, I thought the boys felt every bump in this pushchair. The seat unit at the back needs extra support for younger children; Ollie, who’s only 8 months kept slumping to the side, even with the straps at their tightest tension, bearing in mind he is not a very small baby!”
Katherine came out as a big fan of the B-Dual: “In comparison with the other tandems, the functionality of the B-Dual is superior. It may not be gorgeously stylish, but it looks smart with its black chassis and vibrant fabrics.”
“It moves smoothly, although the length and weight make it difficult to get up kerbs and it packs away nicely into the boot of a car. I love the size of the seats and the cots, they are spacious giving it the ability to last for older toddlers”.
Heather knows a bit about pushchairs and was quite impressed by the B-DUAL: “This is a brilliant all rounder, I love all the extras: the built-in sun mesh in both hoods means the hoods can be pulled all the way forward eliminating the need for a parasol. The basket is huge and accessible from four sides (three with the second seat in place). It also has a good brake that is easy to use”.
iCandy Peach Blossom
Although quite an expensive offering at over £1000 for a twin model, most of the panel thought that the iCandy Peach Blossom was good value for money after testing. With the shortest wheel base of the six pushchairs on test it makes mincemeat of nipping around town.
Hayley felt it was really nice to push and its manoeuvrability is fantastic but had reservations about the toddler seat: “I found the front seat to be too small, however my 8 month old was very snug and comfortable in the other seat unit.”
Nick echoed this sentiment: “The toddler seat is a nice shape and looks cosy, the down side is the metal rim. Charlie is nearly two and his head almost reached the top and his legs overhung at the bottom”.
Katherine found it really easy to steer: "The iCandy Peach Blossom gave such a smooth ride, even on cobbles, both the boys slept happily!"
Kate has the Peach Blossom at home and loved it: “The toddler seat and carrycot was a fab combination but the second seat is such a let down. My little one hates the fact that it doesn’t fully sit up. It is too small for my 2 year old. However, it is a dream to push even with two children on board. Accessories for the Peach Blossom are expensive but well worth it. “
Josephine noted: “The Peach Blossom looks fantastic and the seats are bigger than they look. It's very easy to push up kerbs. As far as tandems go, this is almost perfect and after the new ‘Pip converter’ is out, it will be even better”.
Mamas and Papas Skate
The Mamas and Papas Skate was one of the pushchairs that most of the room had not tried or seen around and came as a pleasant surprise to most of them – depending on the age of their children. The parents with a child over two years old much preferred it to those with younger children.
Heather with Max who’s 18months and Scarlet who’s 3 found plenty of good things to say about the Skate. “I found both seats useful, both children fitted in the front seat, even Scarlet. The hood is huge and has a brilliant zipped section for added ventilation. It’s easy to fold and fairly compact for a double. However, the Junior seat is definitely more suitable for the older child, as there is no hood and it only has a 3 point harness. The main seat can only be slightly reclined with the Junior seat in place so would only be suitable for a newborn with the car seat at the front”.
Katherine and Nick had reservations: “We loved the fact that this was on a single chassis with an add-on seat which made manoeuvrability easy but we didn’t like the basket or the bucket seat as it doesn’t have a hood or the ability to recline.”
Kate loved a lot of the features on the Skate: “I am really impressed by how the second seat folds so compact for storage. Steering and pushing with two children on board is surprisingly lightweight and Keegan was very happy in the ‘Big Boy seat’, but it is definitely aimed more at the over twos. The main seat is really cosy and has a massive hood providing great shade and wind protection. The only negatives are the fact that it doesn’t have an adjustable leg rest and the basket is only a cargo net and leaves you no room for shopping when the junior seat is occupied.”
And now for something completely different....Heather was the only tester to have seen a Mima pushchair having road tested the Xari earlier this year. Nobody doubted the good looks of the Kobi but in practical terms it didn’t tick all the boxes.
Rebecca was rather choked on the price, at £1275 for the twin set, she wasn’t the only one, whereas David thought it was reasonable for a pushchair of this quality.
Hayley liked the fact that the carrycot is kept inside the seat unit, “The only down side is storing the seat shell when using the carrycot. Plus it’s a shame that it can’t be parent facing when it’s in double mode, I don’t like the fact that I can’t see the kids without going around the front of the pushchair to see what they’re up to”.
“My children were in this one for a test drive,” said Kate “and I can say it was surprisingly light to push, but not as light as the Peach Blossom. I love the fact that the seats are also carrycots to give you the option of swapping and changing to and from carry cot to seat. My daughter was in her iCandy carrycot until she was 7 months old and having to carry all the pieces in the car was a bit of a nightmare. I also like the thought put into the design of the mudguards so that the child in the second seat doesn’t get splashed when going through puddles and they can’t trap their fingers in the wheels.”
Heather loves the looks of the Mima Kobi “The Kobi looks very stylish and definitely looks very upmarket but it does have flaws; the hood on the second seat only has two panels which doesn’t provide enough cover when it’s reclined and it doesn’t really ever sit upright. The Kobi is HUGE when folded, the chassis is large and seats don’t really fit inside one another, plus there is no clip or mechanism to keep it shut”.
Tandems and phil&teds go hand-in-hand as they were the pioneers of the genre. Well known to our panel, some have previously owned older models of p&t pushchairs. With the Verve, we found the configuration really swayed opinion.
Nick was initially impressed, “At first glance, this seemed to be a possible contender until we realised that the top seat was squashing the baby below. This made the pushchair useless as a double. The lack of recline on the top seat was not good either.”
Hayley was more enthusiastic: “The Verve was very comfortable for my tall three year old and it was easy to move around, even with his weight at the front. I love this tandem, although the only downfall is that you can’t attach the second seat to the front without removing the hood. I like the fact that it can be virtually folded in one piece without having to break it down into lots of smaller elements.”
Josephine was also keen on the two toddler combination (with the second seat on the back): “I really like this one; it’s not great for newborn and toddler, but great for two toddlers. The front seat is massive and will last until they no longer need a pushchair. I love the fact it has four wheels and the ability to recline the second seat.”
David thought the price was reasonable but didn’t like the lack of distance between the two seats, “I’m not keen on this pushchair and feel that there is a lot better on the market”.
It has to be said that there will always be compromises in buying a tandem. Seems we have not found perfection yet, but our search will go on. The pay off between length of wheel base and distance between the passengers is always going to be hard to overcome. Of course, the shorter the wheel base the easier it is to push but then you have to sacrifice some of the space between your children to make sure you don’t overbalance the pushchair at the front or rear.
We had a great day testing the tandems and it was interesting to see those with preconceived ideas having U-turns in front of us. Putting all these doubles in the same room really highlighted the pros and cons; weight, space for the children, combinations possible, manoeuvrability, etc, etc. But a clear winner did emerge...
We have only fully reviewed two of the models on test, the Mima Kobi and the Britax B-DUAL, but having seen the other four we could not help but form an opinion especially with live testers to watch struggling with some and succeeding with others.
The Babyjogger was initially my winner. With so many combinations possible that actually worked I was sure that it was bound to come out on top. I like the fact that with both seats in situ the basket can still be accessed , it has a clever, relatively compact fold. The only place where the City Select falls down is it’s manoeuvrability, with such a long wheel base and a childs weight right over the front wheels, it is hard to navigate obstacles unless you’ve had at least three Weetabix for breakfast.
The Britax B-DUAL has been one of my favourite pushchairs in this category for some time. Since reviewing it I have struggled to find anything more practical. The engineering of everything we have seen from Britax so far is hard to beat but the styling is a little ‘safe’ which might deter the fashionistas.
British brand, iCandy have wide appeal and I can see why. Our base camp in the theatre was quite a poorly lit room which made all the pushchairs look a little dull. The only one that looked brand new and ‘shiny’ was the iCandy peach blossom. With the introduction of the new ‘Pip’ converter it will give more room between the primary and the second seat. The only element I don’t like is the location of the recline buttons (on the side of the chair), it’s not something you can perform from the pushing position. Watch out for our full review of the Peach Blossom coming soon.
The Mamas & Papas Skate was a pleasant surprise to all of us. It has plenty of brilliant features; the knuckled bumper bar, the one handed rear recline button, the enormous expandable canopy and the tidy fold. As a double, the rear child in the junior seat does seem a little exposed, but it is a true junior seat and sits upright for children that no longer need to sleep in transit. The basket is a little disappointing as it hardly exists but apart from that it meets the criteria of toddler/infant very well.
One of the great things about the phil&teds Verve is the fold, it’s really compact. The four wheels give it brilliant stability and it will accommodate your children until they no longer need a pushchair. Plus, whether it’s on the back or the front, the second seat is really easy to fit and remove. However, I’m not keen on the angle of the second seat when it is at the rear, it seems quite reclined even at its most upright setting but when you no longer need it, you are left with the most enormous shopping basket!
All the testers marvelled at the Mima Kobi, its style was not disputed but its practicality was. Some of the elements we picked up in the review became crystal clear in the test, such as the angle of the second seat being very reclined. One thing they did pick up on that the review didn’t, was the fact that the rear seat could do with an extra panel in the hood, especially when it’s reclined, as it leaves the occupant really exposed. Being a bit of a heavyweight, everyone was surprised at how manoeuvrable it is. You need plenty of room for this beast though, as our boot shot shows.
Thank you to all our brilliant testers for their time and valued opinions. Plus a huge thank you to some very patient children who managed to survive the day without any catastrophes.
The winner of our Tandem group test is the
iCandy Peach Blossom
Congratulations to iCandy. Worthy winners of our Tandem group test. Side-by-side, comparing like for like, our testers found the Peach Blossom met more of their criteria with five of the eight testers giving it a higher score overall than the other pushchairs on test. It gained the most points in the 'looks/desirability' category also scoring highly in 'manoeuvrability'.