We have the 2011 model of the Britax B-Smart in for closer inspection and it is definitely worth a closer look; with a great colour range and car safety carriers to compliment your choice, Britax is fast becoming the one-stop-shop for your complete travel system.
Britax are a truly global brand, although they have their headquarters in the UK the parent company, Britax Romer, are based in Germany. Britax started life in 1938 manufacturing car accessories and safety equipment. During the 1970s they started to make child car safety equipment and with their lengthy pedigree they have become synonymous with travelling protection for your children.
There was a time when Britax would be your only choice in car seat, long before the days of Maxi-Cosi adapters being supplied with every pushchair on the market! Over the last few years they have ventured seriously into the pushchair market, firstly with the successful Vigour pushchair and are making increasingly popular models that meet the needs of a variety of family shapes!
We have the 2011 model of the Britax B-Smart in for closer inspection. We are testing the 3 wheeled model, although it is also available in a 4 wheeled version.
What's in the box
Black frame: Black Thunder, Blue Atoll, Purple Rain
Silver frame: Neon Black, Venetian Red
The RRP Britax B-Smart is £329.99
First impressions of the Britax B-Smart Black Thunder are surprisingly favourable. It has a fluid smooth push that is easily achieved with one hand, it has a large hood and a comfortable seat situated high on the frame.
The ‘Black Thunder' is a little sombre, however the ‘Purple Rain' colourway is such a vibrant shade, it contrasts on the black frame beautifully. This particular purple is fast becoming a signature colour of the Britax pushchairs as they use it on all their literature and it seems to be unique to them.
Black frames are extremely popular at the moment, to use that awful phrase, they are ‘on-trend'! The Britax B-Smart frame is matt black from top to bottom, including the wheels, the handle and all the function buttons.
The foam covered handle can be angled to suit any height, spanning a full 180 degrees.
Moving down the frame, next stop is the folding mechanism. There are two trigger latches on the either side of the handle; the right has a safety lock that has to be flicked before you can squeeze both latches to fold. You don't need to be Einstein or to have read the instructions to figure this fold out – it's really simple!
The B-Smart can be folded with the seat unit in place, as long as it is in the forward facing position and the seat is upright. With or without the seat in place, the frame stands vertically when folded compacting it's footprint to a tidy 34cms x 65cms with a maximum (with seat) height of 94cms.
Unfolding is, once again, self explanatory. Undo the holding latch near the back wheel and shake the frame out like a duvet until you hear the noise of open; a healthy click, then you are ready for action.
The brake, located on the right of the back axle, is a superb touch-on-touch-off lock that is bare-feet friendly – it's that good! We are told that this was further enhanced since the 2010 model.
The large 28cms, solid, moulded back wheels look and feel a little plasticy and the third, front wheel is nearly equal in size at 24cms. The swivel lock is controlled by a slider switch above the wheel, above which is the fixed foot plate, just enough to perch a toddlers toes.
The basket is a large 36cms x 41cms. It is perhaps a little shallow but given the location of the seat unit on the frame, it allows ample room for at least two large bags of groceries. At the back of the basket are two nets, perfect for a couple of emergency nappies and a pack of wipes.
If the frame isn't tasty enough, the seat unit brings more treats. Attaching and detaching the seat from the frame is among the easiest I've seen. Working with your body's motion, the buttons to release the seat are in the handles that you use to lift, so you simply grab the seat, squeeze and lift – job done! It really can't get any less complicated. Plus, the metal in the seat unit of the 2011 model is now aluminium which has reduced its overall weight by 1kg vs, the 2010 model.
The calf rest, like the handle, can rotate vertically 180 degrees by pressing the buttons on either side.
The recline control is at the back of the chair – the perfect place. Lift the lever to change the angle of the backrest. You have a choice of four positions, from sitting, to fully flat in both forward and rearward facing positions. The bumper bar has a knuckled, gate opening making it easy to get your child in and out, however the release button could be easier. The zip-on cover allows it to be removed for washing.
The already large canopy has a zipped, netted segment that, when opened allows ventilation and extended shade to your child, whilst giving you visibility of your passenger.
Each side of the five point harness attaches to the hub independently - handy when you are trying to contain a wriggler! With the 2011 model they have also lengthened the harness by 10cm to give more space for growth, plus you can request extenders directly from Britax to give a further 15cm if needed.
Overall, the Britax B-Smart is superb value for money, hardly surprising it has been awarded Practical Parenting Gold, Mother and Baby Gold and a Prima Baby Best Value award in 2010...to name only a few!
The areas where it scores highly are; the recline, the chair release, the multiple handle and footrest angles, the soft touch brake and the ample basket. In fact, the B-Smart works well in all the areas that you are going to be using on a daily basis, like dismantling and folding to stow in the car, reclining when you child has nodded off or applying the brake when wearing your flip-flops - there's nothing about this pushchair's functionality that could possibly frustrate you, it's a dream!
The only place where the B-Smart could be improved is in the quality of the materials. The fabric is a static loving nylon and the plastic is a little cheap making the ride a touch rattley. However, this is hardly something that should deter you from putting it on your hit list. It is priced correctly and does everything you need it to do - very well.
Britax have done their homework and the B-Smart is the product of a clever company that have listened to their customers and have nearly designed a perfect pushchair!