Having seen the B-Dual on display at various trade shows, I have been dying to get my hands on the real thing to see how practical this multi-mode system really is. In the vibrant signature colour – Purple rain on the all black chassis - we have the B-Dual with car seat, carrycot, soft carrycot and second seat all in for review.
Who would have thought that purple could be bright enough to be so eye catching, but on the Britax stand at trade shows, the Purple Rain colourway really stands out from the crowd. On the B-Dual it has a double impact because the models on display are fully loaded with all their accessories and double options. With 22 possible configurations there is a combination to suit the shape of any two-child family.
What’s in the box
The RRP of the Britax B-Dual is £449.99
Silver frame – Neon Black, Venetian Red
Black frame – Black Thunder, Blue Atoll, Purple Rain
First impressions of the B-Dual, compared to the B-Smart, is just how large it is, it does feel a bit of beast but given that it can accommodate two children of 15kg it needs to be substantial. It can hold children of different ages, or twins, which I took for granted, but not all tandems are able to support two carrycots or two car seats at the same time.
The Britax B-Dual can, in fact, be assembled into 22 different configurations:
As a one-child pushchair:
The B-Dual is definitely the bigger sister to the B-Smart in every way. The frame is larger, the fabrics are superior and it is designed to grow.
The 180 degree adjustable handle is covered in comfortable soft-grip foam. Working your way down the matt black frame, next, is the folding mechanism. Along the handles are two easy-slide buttons, the right one is restricted by a safety catch. To fold, simply lift the safety catch and squeeze the sliders up, the frame breaks in the middle and the handle ends up at your feet. Once folded it can stand independently.
Opening the frame, given the size of it, is a bit of a wrestle if you’re small. Unlatch the locking device on the right and then lift up the handle, the knack is to put your foot on the back axle as you open it. It can be folded with the seat unit in place in the forward facing position and the second seat in place!
Among the great features of the B-Dual, the basket has to be one of my favourites. ...it is enormous, huge! When not in use as the footwell of the second seat you could definitely carry around the kitchen sink if you chose to! It is well thought out, with easy access provided by zips in the front and sides.
The basket is wide due to the span of the back axle; with wheels and mudguards the B-Dual is a hefty 70cms wide. Average interior door frames are 73cms wide, not allowing much room for clearance, however driving your tandem with a little more precision is better than having to unload your double and fold it to get through a door.
The large 27.5cm foam/plastic back wheels and the 20cm front wheels make a sturdy base. The one touch brake, on the back axle, has an indicator to show whether it’s engaged or not, red – on, green – off.
The seat unit
The seat unit is very similar to that of the B-Smart, except its fabrics are a little more luxurious in a soft-touch, cotton feel rather than the cheaper nylon.
The way the Britax seat attaches to the chassis is the best I’ve seen – it’s such a common sense practical solution; no fiddly buttons. Simply grab the chair as if you were going to lift it off the frame, the release buttons are concealed within the handles so as you lift it disengages from the chassis in one clean movement ...excellent! With this in mind, the chair can be easily rotated from forward to rear facing on a whim.
The removable, bumper bar is smooth, hinged and gate opening and covered by a removable fabric cover. If that wasn’t enough, the recline control is an effortless latch, easily accessible - on the back of the seat - allowing a possibility of three positions; from sitting to horizontal. Better still, the canopy is voluminous and can be further extended via the zipped, netted segment . The calf rest can be angled over 180 degrees. This is a truly, well engineered seat that really works with you.
The second seat unit
The ingenuity of the Britax B-Dual engineering extends into the fixing of the second seat. Without instruction it is easy to figure out how the lugs on the metal arms slide into brackets under the primary seat unit, where it then drops into place with a click.
The second seat has all the attributes of the first including the recline control and the canopy. Fully flat, the head of the chair can be made more box-like (by unclipping two straps) to insert the soft carrycot.
The soft carrycot
The soft carrycot is a gorgeous cocoon with a soft fleece lining and a Velcro body belt to hold your baby in place. It has a series of straps that firmly connect it to whichever chair you choose to use. Again, like the seats, it has a canopy with a zip-up, netted segment to extend it when necessary. Carry straps can be tucked into purpose built side pockets to get them out of the way when not in use.
The carrycot comes flat packed and is made rigid by struts that clip into place under the mattress. Once erect it is much like any other carrycot – soft, ultra white, cotton lining with a purple apron and a canopy supported by the arch of the carry handle.
Like the seats, it clips on and off the frame with the brilliant Britax ‘lift and squeeze’ mechanism.
Feet on the bottom allow it to be place on the floor when removed from the chassis and a handy little elasticated pocket at the users end, takes care of little bits and bobs like keys, phones or purses.
The car seat continues the quality with deep padding and soft cotton fabrics. It clips to the frame in the same way as it base in the car. By sliding one button on the handle and pressing another, the seat lifts seamlessly from the frame.
Using the second infant carrier frame (an extra accessory) you can place a car seat in the second seat position.
The Britax B-Dual is one of the best pushchairs on the market for its adaptability. As a single, it shares all the functionality of the B-Smart (which scored 4.5 out of 5 stars in its review) but is definitely more meaty; the protective older brother with brawn and brains to the more diminutive, A-star, little sister!
Where it shines is in the elements that you use every day – the recline control, the brake, the fold and the unit release – they all make sense and perform without you having to have a degree in pushchairs.
I’m a functionality girl, if it contributes to making my life easier I’m all over it. But I fully appreciate that not everyone will be swayed by how well the B-Dual does its job; it may not appeal to the style gurus, who will buy a pushchair on its appearance over what it can do. The B-Dual always does as it’s told, wins on sports day and bags all the achievement awards, whereas some people are after a pushchair that, even though it may occasionally rebel, looks sassy, and tells everyone you are ‘on trend’.
It seems as though someone who has actually had children has input functionality into this design. Nobody wants to be stood in the rain struggling to collapse their pushchair, or tear their hair out every time they try to take their car seat off the frame, it’s the day-to-day use that needs to be smooth. The B-Dual delivers a hassle free experience for parent and child in every element. I love it.
We give the B-Dual
4.5 out of 5 stars.