Hello fellow Pushchair enthusiasts! I'm Louisa, I live in Surrey and I'm a busy, happy, family-focused person. I've been married for 5 years to Tom, and in April this year our beautiful daughter Violet came into our lives. Before going out on maternity leave I worked in marketing as a brand manager, and while I've always worked hard, this parenthood vocation takes overtime to a new level! But I'm really loving being a Mum - making lots of new friends thanks to Violet, and spending time with my sister who had her 2nd child 5 weeks after Violet was born.
The Urbo arrived on Tuesday 18th September and was promptly unpacked in my lounge while a bemused baby Violet watched from her baby nest. First impressions were that it was very shiny and glam, even while still wrapped in cardboard. Excitement was building!
Practically speaking, I was glad the chassis was already built, although I needed the instruction manual to figure out how to open it up. The manual isn't extremely clear on exactly how to work the button to release the opening catch, and it does require a good yank to open it up – not as easy or smooth as my current pushchair.
However the seat
clicks into place easily, and is a doddle to take out and flip around either
forward or rearward facing.
Closing the pushchair is also not terribly easy – it's a 2 handed (almost 3 handed!) job with a push button on the right, 2 buttons to be slid up simultaneously (1 on each side) and a firm push down to collapse it.
I am looking to see if this gets easier with time and I develop a knack for it.
Adjusting the handlebar height is also straightforward, although I nearly nip my fingers in the robust, metal catches several times – those on the handlebar adjusters, the opening catch and closing catch.
However, any frustration with the opening and closing mechanism is immediately forgiven and forgotten when I give it a test push around my living room.
It glides around with ease, seemingly requiring hardly any effort at all.
Can't wait to take it out for a test drive!
Later on during the day, I take the Urbo out for a short spin around the block. As expected, it is a dream to push – very smooth. It almost feels like it has suspension as its eases out the bumps in the pavement. I expected Violet to notice something is up, and fuss a bit in the new chair. But she seems happy – victory number 1. As my husband has joined us on our walk, I'm expecting him to find the raspberry colour too feminine or garish. So imagine my surprise when, asked if he would be willing to push it, I meet with no resistance, as according to him "she's a girl isn't she?". I can't argue with that kind of sound logic – victory number 2
Two small irritations I have noticed with the pushchair on our first outing. Firstly the brake works by a small, foot operated plastic lever sliding in between the spokes of a small wheel attached to the main wheels. While this means it is very secure while on the brake, it also means that you have to concentrate to align the pin with the hole, and can require several attempts. Secondly, the seat only has 3 positions, while in my other pushchair, it has a slider which allows any position in between fully flat and fully upright. I find that Violet would ideally be halfway between fully upright and semi-reclined.
September the 19th 2012
Violet and I head off to our Baby Sensory class with the new pushchair in tow. It is definitely bigger than my current pushchair when folded flat, despite being the same weight at 9kg. It will only fit width-ways across my boot, unlike the B-Agile which fits length-ways, making it harder to get in and out, and taking up more space. Although the seat does slot in neatly on top of the folded frame, the overall space required is a bit disappointing, and quite surprising.
On arrival I notice it does take me a bit
longer than usual to get us setup and ready to go, although this could just be
down to the fact I'm still learning how it works, plus I need to take Violet
out of her carseat and strap her into the pushchair rather than my usual
routine of popping the carseat straight onto the chassis.
After the class, we sit outside with some of the other mums and enjoy a picnic in what is probably the last of the summer sun.
One Mum remarks on how smart and glitzy the pushchair looks. I'm inclined to agree - as the metal frame gleams in the sunlight, it is definitely for the Mum who likes to stand out!
The sunshade really comes into its own too. I hadn't realised quite how big it would be when fully extended – I can hardly even see Violet anymore! This works really well for blocking the sun, but also for creating a cool, calm place for siesta time – bonus!
Week 2 – getting to know the pushchair better
Having had the Urbo for a week, I've started to notice more of the small details in the design which aren't apparent at first. The more I use the seat in particular, the more I'm growing to depend on it! It is really well padded and contoured plus it has slits at the side for tucking the pram blanket in. Its a small feature, but I find it so useful as the weather gets colder – anything to prevent Violet kicking off her blanket is a big bonus!
The sliding mechanism for adjusting the seat is smooth and easy either with the baby sat in there or not, although sometimes a little too easy – on occasion when adjusting the sunshade I have accidentally pulled her into a more upright position, so a tip from me would be to always hold onto the seat firmly while pulling up the sunshade to avoid this.
I've saved for last the best feature of the seat. On my current pushchair (and most others I've seen) the viewing panel in the hood is secured using Velcro patches, the loud rip of which on opening invariably wakes Violet up when she is napping. Mamas and Papas have completely sorted this with their genius idea of magnets rather than Velcro - it makes me happy every time I can peek through to keep an eye on the little one without fear!
October the 15th 2012 - Week 3 – Out and about
This week I've really been noticing how easy the Urbo handles, particularly in tight spaces. Without even noticing I've taken the lazy approach to driving it - pushing it round corners 1 handed, hopping up onto pavements, etc. The reason for my realisation is because this week I had another go at using my own pushchair – the Britax B-Agile (I wanted to use it as a travel system with the car seat for a quick nip into the DIY store). All I can say is I was certainly put through my paces while browsing round the shop! Suddenly I was very aware how with the B-Agile I needed both hands and a strong grip all the time to keep it under control.
My husband Tom has also commented several times on how easy he is finding the Urbo to use – for pushing around but also for quickly adjusting the handle height to make it taller for him.
I've found that the opening and closing mechanisms have become much easier the more I use it - I think that there is just a knack for it. Plus it seems much easier when folding just to leave the seat in facing forwards rather than taking it apart as I was at the beginning – all helping to make it fit in with our lives and save precious time!
October the 22nd 2012 - Week 4 – Caught in the rain!
This week while out and about with the pushchair we got caught in the rain several times so have had ample opportunity to try it out in wet weather.
The rain cover that comes with the pushchair seems well designed. It covers the pushchair well and has a couple of nifty design features such as poppers that go round the frame to keep it in place when the British weather does its worst, plus the edging is a smart silver colour to match the metal frame of the chair. There is also a flap in the top which I think is to allow you to adjust the hood from outside, although I didn't need to use this.
The only thing I would say I had any trouble with is that
I'm still not completely sure I have it on the correct way round, although this
didn't affect how well it kept Violet dry. Also, she could grab hold of
handfuls of it as its very close fitting to the chair, but this actually seemed
to entertain the baby so no issue there!
Despite the ever worsening weather, I am determined to make sure Violet still gets a decent dose of fresh air. So I head out on a countryside walk with a friend of mine and her daughter, who are using their Uppababy Vista.
Although we stick to paths, there is still a fair amount of mud around along with the first fallen leaves of autumn. I am a little apprehensive as to how my shiny, snazzy urban pushchair will fare. But guess what – it is still shiny at the end!
Admittedly as it is so low to the ground, it does require some careful driving around puddles and keeping away from the softer ground (which the Vista, being set higher, seems to manage better). However I don't find this an issue at all, especially as it is so easy and smooth to manoeuvre . The wheels trap some leaves which require occasional unblocking, but the same happened on the Uppababy so I think that would probably happen with most pushchairs.
As you can see, the only evidence of our country caper was a
bit of mud on the wheels, so the Urbo can work for walks in both town and
country no problem.
November the 15th 2012 - Trying out the Urbo as a travel system
One thing I was keen to try out with the Urbo was how it operated as a travel system when used with a carseat, as with my own pushchair I use this feature all the time. My sister has a Mamas & Papas Cybex Aton carseat which she kindly loaned me for the purpose of trying it out.
The adaptors slot in easily to the Urbo frame, and the Aton in turn clicks in neatly. I can hardly even spot the adaptors once its all put together and it still retains the overall smart design aesthetic that the Urbo is all about. I actually find I prefer the height of the carseat in the frame versus the regular Urbo seat which seems to sit a fair bit lower.
While pushing Violet around in the carseat, I am impressed at how sturdy it feels while locked into the frame compared to others I have used, and it doesn't wobble or move at all when going up and down ramps and stairs.
Taking the carseat out is straightforward too, although I'm not sure whether you can leave the adaptors in the frame while it is collapsed. This would be handy, but I'm not sure it is possible.
Overall, the frame is definitely well suited to taking the carseat – happy customer!
November the 27th 2012
I've discovered a nifty trick for the Urbo that I only discovered since the weather has turned colder. As Violet's number of layers vary from day to day according to the temperature, from a light jacket a few weeks ago to the full on bear pram suit now, I'm constantly needing to adjust the strap lengths. The buckles for adjusting the straps are inside the should pads, and while to begin with I struggled a little to try and adjust them by scrunching up the padded fabric, I have since realised that they have a Velcro opening on the back.
So now all I have to do is flip them round and undo the
Velcro and hey presto, easy access! This also seems a great idea for easy
cleaning of the fabric in case of any spills. Compared to my car seat where if I
want to take the shoulder pads off I need to remove the strap and basically
dismantle the entire seat, it is a breeze!
A couple of months in, I thought I'd summarise how the pushchair is coping with the day to day rigours of keeping up with Violet and I.
Overall, I think it is wearing well. Just this week a friend remarked on how shiny the frame looked and assumed it must be a new pushchair. One of my original concerns when receiving the pushchair was that the chrome finish would scratch and look shabby, but it still looks pristine. All of the fabric still looks great and there is no fraying anywhere, or any scuffs.
The rubber on the wheels is starting to crack a little but this doesn't seem to affect how it works at all, and considering how much I've used it, I don't this this is an issue.
However the one feature that does appear to be suffering a
bit is the basket. It is definitely sitting lower than I recall it being at the
start, and when we walk around with puddles everywhere in the wet weather, I'm
a bit nervous that my changing bag might be getting a soaking! However, I think
this also could be because as the basket is a bit snug, I tend to fill it to
the max so this may also be contributing to it sitting a bit low.
Since my last review we have had our first experience of a
breakage on the Urbo and how Mamas and Papas responded in this situation.
Over the New Year, unfortunately I came down with the norovirus, and while my husband, Tom, was valiantly running the house and taking care of Violet, he took her out for walk in the Urbo pushchair. On his return, he was unable to release the buckle and get Violet out. He then realised that the mechanism was jammed closed, and while trying to release it, one side snapped off. Luckily he was able to loosen off the straps to free our little one.
He called up Mamas and Papas customer service and received a very efficient service. They identified the part we needed, and were able to take an order for a new buckle and strap set over the phone. Tom wasn't actually planning to order it then and there, but for a very reasonable price of £10 plus postage he thought it was worth going for it!
The new buckle arrived within a couple of days in perfect
condition and was not difficult to fit.
Overall we found the customer service, price and efficiency of Mamas and Papas customer service to be great. However it is a shame that we have needed to replace a part after only 4 months of using it. I'm not sure if Mamas and Papas offer any kind of warranty but for fundamental elements like the buckle I would expect it to last longer before needing replacing.
With all of the freezing weather we have had, we have had ample chance to test the Urbo in the snow and ice and see how it performs. Impressively, The handling still stayed as smooth as ever and we didn't skid or have any issues navigating round the icy patches. The hood being so big is also an advantage in cold weather as I feel it provides a great wind shelter for the baby with the article blasts we have been experiencing.
As we went along the wheels did pick up a bit of snow, but it brushed off easily and I think that would probably happen with most pushchairs.
The one slightly unusual issue we had was that as the chassis is quite low to the ground, the basket gathered quite a bit of snow! This one was not quite to easy to sort out as the snow on the wheels, as I had to remove the bag in order to clear the basket. It wasn't a massive issue, but a bit inconvenient on snowy days where the weather is already doing its worst!
Also, since my last review when the buckle broke, I would like to mention that Mamas and Papas have been in touch and refunded the amount for the broken buckle as it is covered by the manufacturers warranty. They were efficient and friendly in issuing the refund, and also were genuinely interested in the issues I had. Overall excellent customer service in my opinion.
Final Review 2013
Having lived with the Urbo for 5 months, it certainly hasn't disappointed. I think mamas and papas have spent a lot of time really thinking about ways to make parents lives easier through simple design features, and it shows.
It is a really versatile travel system that can work whether you live in the town or the countryside, and its ease of use really makes it stand out from the rest of the field. I don't think I have ever found any pushchair as comfortable and easy to push and manoeuvre.
Although there are a few small aspects that I think could still be improved, such as the basket size and number of recline options, overall these are small compromises. For the yummy mummy about town, I couldn't think of a better pushchair.
Very easy to manoeuvre and use
Wears well and stays shiny and stylish no matter what you put it through!
Many well thought through design features e.g. Extra large hood, viewing panel magnets, etc
Basket design could be bigger and sit a bit higher
I would prefer for it to have a more compact footprint when folded so it fits in the car better
It would be great to have a variety of sitting heights and positions rather than just 3
Star rating out of 5: 4.5
Overall a great value, smart looking pushchair that wears and drives very well.