BabyStyle Oyster Gem Review
BabyStyle always seem to come out with fabulous products, how good is the Gem?
BabyStyle seem to have perfected the art of the low cost, clever functional pushchair. The Oyster and Oyster Max have proved this point with a plethora of great reviews and awards. The Gem is BabyStyle's first foray into the smaller stroller sized market. Is it a Gem?
- Value for money
- Build quality
- Basket size
Black, Tomato. Grape, Lime and Ocean.
Bold, Shiny and Fat - all in a good way. That is how I would describe the Oyster Gem chassis. BabyStyle have come up with a very pleasing solution for their latest wheels. The chrome tubes are nice and chunky, particularly the lower one and the stance is certainly eye catching. With the smooth wheel covers the Gem looks very slick and well resolved.
There is an inherent quality feel when you hold the handle which is enhanced by the leatherette cover. The handle itself can rotate between two heights, 102cm and 92cm, so everyone will find a position that should suit them. The handle does not extend, but we all tried the Gem here at the office (we are all varying heights), and the lack of an extending handle did not come up in conversation.
Moving down to the wheels, the Gem has 17.5cm twin wheels up front and 14.5cm single wheels at the rear. All have EVA tyres and all have very good independent suspension, so you are guaranteed a smooth ride. I love the wheel covers as well, the simple wheel disc will make cleaning a breeze as you won't be tackling a load of spokes with a toothbrush!
The basket is a bit of a disappointment. At 40cm x 31cm x 12cm, it is only just big enough for a small bag of shopping (it shallows towards the front). Access from the rear is quite good, but no a match for similar products such as the Graco Evo Mini. This is function of the chassis design which provides a very compact fold – more on this later.
Lastly, the brakes are activated by pressing the rear of the red pedal that sits on the right rear axle. To release the brakes, you press the front of the pedal. Great if you are wearing open toe shoes or flip-flops - our favourite brake pedal design.
The Oyster Gem we are testing comes with a reversible seat - ours came in fabulous lime green. On first appearance the seat looks quite small, but it is actually quite a good size. The seatback measures 47cm and it is 32cm wide. Removing the gorgeous padded Oyster liner gives an even better feeling of a big seat. Don't be put off at first glance, the reversible seat has ample space.
Switching the seat from forward to rear facing and back could not be easier, especially as the seat is so light. Press in a couple of tabs located at the seat pivot point and lift the seat away. Turn it around and slot it back into place.
Seat recline is something that we know all mums use everyday often multiple times. The recline buttons are located inside the seat at the point where the seat attaches to the chassis. To recline or bring the seat upright, you must first press these buttons in and then, still with the buttons held in, move the seat to the desired position. It is quite difficult to press these buttons in and simultaneously move the seat to the desired position. If the seat is parent facing, this became almost impossible due to the required position of your hands and the location of the chassis rails and the hammock seat ferrels. Standing in front of the pushchair does make this a little easier, however, it is impossible to do with the hood up. With the seat world facing, recline operation is easier, but it is not perfect.
The Gem comes with a hood that is attached to the seat and rotates with it. The hood material is part of the colour pack (as is the seat pad) so can be changed to suit your mood, something we like very much. The hood itself, is great rotating up to 90 degrees from the seat frame and providing plenty of shade. One great last little touch is the zip that holds the rear panel of the hood together when not in use. It is the little things I like about products and the rubber covered Oyster logo zip on the hood is no exception – nice touch guys.
The reversible seat comes with a 5 point harness which has very simple straight forward adjustment. There are two locations for shoulder straps but you must unbutton and unzip the back of the seat to change from one to another. The harness clips up separately one side at a time making strapping a struggling toddler in that bit easier.
The Gem comes with a raincover which is easy to fit and provides great coverage.
The Gem can actually be fitted with two seats. The hammock seat provides a larger seat system that can also be used from birth. It is forward facing only, so possibly more suited to use with older children.
Fitting the hammock seat takes seconds and is accomplished by snapping and threading a mix of fasteners and Velcro in place. Once done the hood can be swapped across from the reversible seat.
If size is important, the hammock will be for you. It has a seatback measurement of 47cm and is 38cm wide.
The hammock seat will recline completely flat. This is activated by a toggle and strap mechanism behind the seat. It takes 3 hands to do it with a child in place, but then they all do.
Once more BabyStyle have fitted a simple easy to adjust 5 point harness, however there is only one shoulder strap position.
The Gem looks great with the hammock seat in place. It suits the design and is well worth the £25 investment to extend the life of the product.
In addition to the two seats available for the Gem, you can also get a carrycot and this deserves a special mention. Why you may ask, well, it is so light!! It weights just 3.5kgs. You can lift it with one finger! This is so important as when you have a baby in the carrycot, every extra kilo counts. Keeping the weight down is an important factor in the design.
The Hood is split into 3 fabric panels the lowest one being vented. The venting is concealed under a fabric flap which you lift up and over the 2nd panel to revel.
Internally the carrycot is nicely padded and cosy. The overall appearance in black and combined with the chassis really works. The carrycot should be on everyone's shopping list. We would like to see some foam on the carry-handle to make carrying your bundle a little more comfortable.
Folding the Gem could not be easier. It should be noted that you can fold it with the hammock seat in place,and with the reversible seat if in the forward facing position.
Folding is the same whether you have the hammock seat installed or the reversible seat removed.
To fold, first locate the sliding black actuators on the main uprights. They are up near the handle. Standing behind the pushchair, press in the safety catch on the right and pull both sliding catches towards you. Now begin to drop the handle to the floor. At this point you can press in the buttons and rotate the handle round so it sits against the frame. Carry on dropping the handle and the frame will come together folded. It is really simple and you end up with a very compact end result.
To unfold, hold the handle and open up the frame – easy!
The Oyster Gem has some clever seating options. The ability to switch from a car seat to carrycot to reversible seat to a hammock covers every seating requirement you will ever need. The Gem has the added bonus of being so compact and very high quality. It is a clever solution to an age old problem. It comes in a great range of colours which you can alter when you wish by purchasing more colour packs.
There are not many things wrong with it either. The basket is quite small and the recline on the forward/rearward facing seat is not very well resolved, but that is about it.
If you are looking for a lightweight urban compact pushchair, the Gem should be on your list. It is really flexible combining some clever touches to remain usable right through your little ones pushchair years. At £229 it is excellent value for such a great looking product.