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BabyStyle Oyster Max Review

Review Overview

BabyStyle Oyster Max Review
Expert Reviewer
143 Reviews
Reviewed On: 09 Jan 2014
Helen Taylor
Expert Reviewer
Helen's Verdict:

One of the most hotly anticipated releases in the world of tandems this year has to be the BabyStyle Oyster Max. We give it a thorough going over to see if the world really will be your oyster as your family grows.

Review Summary

Summary

If you are looking for a great looking, high quality, great performing and importantly, realistically priced single to double tandem travel system, you must look at the BabyStyle Oyster Max whether you have one child or two. We love it.

What’s good
  • Versatile in single or double mode
  • Exceptionally easy to push
  • Stylish
  • Great comfort for both children
What’s not so good
  • Awkward fold with the seat on

Review Content

BabyStyle Oyster Max Review
The review

The BabyStyle Oyster has always been a firm favourite in the pushchair world. Stylish and practical, the Oyster and its clever design and wide range of colour and comfort pack options has made it an exceptionally popular pushchair amongst its peers. BabyStyle have now spent considerable time and effort creating an Oyster perfect for the future growth of your family. Read our BabyStyle Oyster Max Review to learn more.

The BabyStyle Oyster Max is a single to double, in-line tandem, travel system compatible, from birth pushchair (phew!). You can use the Oyster Max in around 25 different seating arrangements, with various options available to suit a variety of family situations.

You can buy the Oyster Max as a single pushchair, and then buy the second, lower seat or other accessories such as car seats and carrycots at a later date. For this reason when you get the Oyster Max out of the box it is set-up for use as a single pushchair. BabyStyle have cleverly designed the Oyster Max to look as elegant in single mode as it does in double mode – so the sockets for the second seat are removed and covered over, and the mud guards are not attached. These need to be popped into place before use as a double, this process is very simple. This was the first of many examples of the exceptional amount of thought that has gone into the BabyStyle Oyster Max.

Chassis

The frame on the BabyStyle Oyster Max has been finished in a very high gloss, shiny chrome. It looks and feels amazing and co-ordinates perfectly with the chrome frames of the seat units themselves. The frame feels robust and well made, with the various parts finished off to a very high standard with neat joins and welds. It looks fashionable and modern. If you are anything like me you will be getting palpitations every time it is in a potential scratch situation - I'd hate to scuff something so pretty and it does look a little vulnerable.

The Oyster Max's adjustable height handlebar is covered in a soft leather style material that feels warm to the touch and should be easy to keep clean. The same material is used to cover the bumper bar on the main seat. The range of handlebar adjustment is good and the curve of the handle means that it is set well back from the pushchair in most positions, making it less likely you will catch your toes (or even your knees) on the back of the second seat.

The Oyster Max shopping basket has plenty of room (see image below) even with the second seat in place. Our sample had the shortened version of the basket seen in many of these photos, but consumer testing pointed out this was a potential flaw and BabyStyle made the modification required to give a much bigger version.

BabyStyleOysterMaxChassis

The high density foam wheels on the Max are well made yet still lightweight. The front 23cm diameter swivel wheels have in built suspension and have a really easy to do push button mounted on the top to change from swivel to fixed position. The rear 30cm wheels are a nice large diameter which should make for an easier push for you and a smoother ride for little ones. The rear suspension is carried in the chassis. Although the wheels feel a little cheap and plastic, they will more than do the job and the lightness of them will only be a benefit when you have two toddlers on board and every ounce counts.  The rear wheels on the BabyStyle Oyster Max protrude slightly from the chassis – but not so much so that you feel you are going to knock things over or get stuck in doorways all the time.

The brake is a foot operated pedal, located on one side of the rear axle. Although a hand brake might have been more user friendly here, BabyStyle have done a good job keeping the foot pedal out of the way yet easily accessible. It would be great if it was just a little bigger making it easier to find with your toe, but I am really nitpicking here. It goes on with a reassuring clunk (although you MUST ensure it is fully depressed as it is possible to push it halfway down where it sticks without it properly engaging). To release it you flip it back up with your toe, not the easiest of jobs for open toed sandals.

Although the frame feels heavy, the feeling is a good one. The BabyStyle Oyster Max chassis gives you great confidence that it will be able to withstand years of use with two hefty toddlers in it. It's not the lightest in weight but it is exceptionally light to push. It's the easiest of this type of tandem I have pushed, it has a very small footprint and feels much like pushing a single pushchair. There is no feeling of pushing a tank, or steering a double decker bus. BabyStyle have really got both the weight distribution and the setting of the seats as good as I think it would be possible to get.

I could pop the Oyster Max up and down kerbs easily enough, although with the heaviest toddler in the top seat and facing me a little more effort was required to lift the front, with the roles reversed though I hardly knew I had any passengers on board.

BabyStyleOysterMaxBasket
Seats

I would usually take a look at each seat individually here, but the seats on the BabyStyle Oyster Max are very similar so it would be easier to go through them together.

The seats will be familiar in style to you if you have ever seen the single BabyStyle Oyster. They are spacious and have an aesthetically pleasing feel to them – the main seat of the Oyster Max is full of features perfect for maximising the comfort of your little one and these are replicated well in the second seat too. This means both children will be able to travel in very similar standards of comfort. The Oyster Max seat units are good for a tandem and they both measure the same, so you wont have the I want the bigger seat argument. The seat base width, will be fine for average size toddler bottoms.

The padded adjustable calf rest will work well for supporting tiny tot's feet, and their calves when their legs start to dangle. The front portion of the pushchair frame between the two front wheels features a rubber footplate that the tallest of children should be able to comfortably rest their feet upon when in the main seat, all features that work together to give comfort to both the smallest, and tallest of little ones.

For children in the back seat they can rest their feet on the base of the shopping basket or on the calf rest itself, although there isn't too much room for giant sized feet or big boots.

The fabric finish of the removable seat liners (so you can swap to an alternative colour pack if you wish) is a rough to the touch hard wearing canvas material, that would last well and should be easy to keep clean.

The Oyster Max has a gate opening bumper bar on the main seat which is covered in the same easy to keep clean material as the handle bar. It's not the easiest to open and close and this becomes a bit of a pain if you want to take it off to fold the pushchair more compactly. Lastly it is in a bit of an odd place sitting just above your childs knees. This is due to the location of the seat release. If you child likes holding on to the bumper bar, reaching this far forward may become a little frustrating for them.

BabyStyleOysterMaxSeats

The recline is an easy one handed operation, nice and smooth with a lever on the rear of the seat to drop the backrest down (rather than the tilt/swivel style so often found on reversible seats). I am really pleased to see this method is present on both seats – so handy for the lower seat especially. There are four recline positions on the main seat– including a very flat position ideal for comfortable sleeping – this makes the main seat suitable from birth. The second seat has two positions, a very nice upright vertical position and a slightly reclined position for short napping, although not astounding it should do the job for an older child who is unlikely to need much sleep in the pushchair, perhaps not ideal for a little six month old though.  

The hoods on the Baby Style Oyster Max are excellent, the main seat features a concealed panel zipped into the middle. With this unzipped, you can really extend the hood right forwards and down giving great shade and protection from the elements. With the main seat parent facing and the second seat on you can extend both hoods on both seats right forward so they almost touch – giving a cosy and private nook for little ones to hide in. The hoods both feature a peephole window which is nice to see as the seat seems very distant to you when in forward facing mode. Although not on the same scale as the main hood, the hood on the second seat will give some protection and shade. Both hoods have the ability to slide up the frame to give a little more headroom to the occupants when the time comes. Brilliant!

BabyStyleOysterMaxSeatsx2

Removing and replacing the seats from the chassis is easy enough, you need to squeeze upwards and lift a small concealed lever on either side, and this can be done as you lift the seat away – making for a very smooth operation. To replace the seat just drop it back into its sockets and push down until you hear a satisfying ‘click'.

The five point harness is fully adjustable – all straps can be altered in terms of length and the shoulder and crotch strap can also be moved to various positions. Padded crotch and chest pads are included. The clip is plenty stiff enough to stop little fingers undoing it, it's almost too stiff to stop mummies undoing it too. The harness on the Oyster suffers from a similar problem we reported on the Jané Muum, in that the belts tighten as the seat is reclined. It would seem this is not as acute as the Muum, but you will have to alter the shoulder harness length if you prefer keeping your straps tight. This is very easy to do, so not so much of a problem.

Tucked away under the footrest of the main seat you will find an in built insect net/ sun shade. A great little touch that will be perfect for sunny days with your little one snoozing away the afternoon. Once more its the detail that makes the BabyStyle Oyster Max so special.

BabyStyleOysterMaxSeatsx2
Working Together

One of the most important aspects of this type of pushchair is how the individual components work together. A wide variety of versatile set-ups are available to use with the Oyster Max, but the possibilities are not endless as some are just not practical and a bit of trial and error will be required to see what set-up would suit you and your children specifically, although BabyStyle have given you a great range of options and versatility with the Oyster Max.

You can use the Baby Style Oyster Max as a twin pushchair from birth, where you have the choice of using it with two Group 0/0+ car seats on, two carrycots on, with a carrycot in the lower position and the main seat in a completely reclined parent facing position, with a car seat on the back and the main seat unit reclined, a car seat and a carrycot – either way round! Some of these options would work better than others and some are more suited to your personal circumstances than others.

BabyStyleOysterMaxOptions

For siblings the options are similar, but you can use one of the seats with the car seat or carrycot in either the upper or lower position, so you have even more scope to ‘mix it up', the only real no-no is to swap the seats round, the main seat must stay in the main position with the second seat underneath.

With the two seats on in forward facing mode clearance is exceptional. There is more than enough room behind the main seat for the second child to sit happily, nice and upright and with a great view out. Although with the main seat parent facing the amount of space is reduced by the calf rest sticking out, it is still more than acceptable, and for a smaller baby in the main seat, you could lift the calf rest up and recline the second seat a notch giving more space all round. It is a luxury to be able to have your children arranged in this position and is worth the compromise on space in the second seat to be able to face the child in the main seat.

Fold

I have tried numerous times to achieve a compact fold from the BabyStyle Oyster Max with the main seat on but have been largely unsuccessful. I can achieve a fold compact enough to make it of a similar size to other tandems, but not the advertised ‘compact' size. The shopping basket's stiff board base also gets in the way as you fold; you need to ‘unpop' it if it tries to fold the wrong way causing the mechanism to jam, furthermore, it is a tricky manoeuvre to pop the handle bar over the hood peak and get the pushchair to fully lock shut. It is by far and away easiest to fold the pushchair with the seats removed and stack them up afterwards, although the option to fold as one when using it in single mode is handy for the train or the bus.

BabyStyleOysterMaxFold

So with the seat on; ‘shut' the seat using the recline lever, tipping the backrest all the way forward (you'll need to remove the bumper bar to achieve this). Then slide the latches on both side of the handlebar (whilst depressing small button with your thumb) and tip the handle bar forwards and over the top of the pushchair. It will begin to fold down on itself at this point you may need to tweak the shopping basket into the correct position (BabyStyle take note!). Once it is sat down you can firmly push the handlebar over the hood and lock it down.

To reverse the process unhook the lock, and rapidly lift the handle all the way up and over flicking the pushchair open and locking it into position. The same can be done with the seat removed and this results in an easier and more compact fold, although you then need to find somewhere to stash the seat (when you are already looking for somewhere to put the second seat). Luckily, because of their clam shell design the seats both fold shut very neatly and become quite compact in themselves - easily stashed in a footwell perhaps if boot space were limited.

Folding the BabyStyle Oyster Max without the seats on is simple and to be honest the only way to do it.

Carrycot

The BabyStyle Oyster Max carrycot once more matches the overall quality of the rest of the product. It is suitable for overnight sleeping. The hood frame doubles as the carry-handle making transportation of your bundle a simple one handed task.

Lined in a microfibre type material the interior is as snug as can be, with an excellent mattress rounding off sleeping arrangements.

The hood has a mesh section in the bottom to let some air in on warm days, the only thing is, the hood does not secure at its base and leaves a gap which, if you are pushing into a head wind will certainly let a cold draft in. We would like to see this 'fixed' in the future.

Don't let this put you off though, the Oyster Max carrycot is well engineered and great to look at!

BabyStyleOysterMaxCarrycot
Accessories

The BabyStyle Oyster Max can be teamed with several accessories, obvously you are most like to need the carrycot and doubles kit, but interestingly they also sell a Oyster Max Buggyboard. Perfect for that growing family!

BabyStyleOysterMaxBuggyboard
Conclusion

I really like the BabyStyle Oyster Max, I mean really like it..! I think BabyStyle have done an exceptionally good job at making a really smart, usable tandem. The seats are a good size, with the second seat being the same size as the main one so no compromise there. The seat positioning is good both in terms of weight distribution and comfort for both children, and most of all, it's exceptionally manoeuvrable and easy to push. It pretty much feels like you are pushing a single pushchair, even when you have two toddlers on board.

Certain scenarios in terms of car seats, carrycots and seat are more practical than others but on the whole, I find it hard to fault.

My only niggle is the fold. With the seat in place, I found it awkward to achieve and bulky when completed, although perhaps I had expected an unrealistic outcome. I think, if you want the exceptional amount of comfort provided by both of the seats on this pushchair then the fold may be where a compromise is required forcing you to remove the seats to achieve this.

The devil is in the detail with the Oyster Max. So much thought has gone into every element of this pushchair. There is nothing more you could want when it comes to features. It's the little things like the insect net that I really love. 

Yes there are some compromises, but with tandems, there simply has to be. Two onto one do go, but only with that compromise. BabyStyle have just kept it to an absolute minimum with the Oyster Max.

If you are looking for a great looking, high quality, great performing and importantly, realistically priced single to double tandem travel system, you must look at the BabyStyle Oyster Max whether you have one child or two. We love it.

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