The YOYO is the eagerly awaited micro fold stroller from Babyzen, can it ride out the ups and downs to gain a successful review from our critical eye...
Here we take a look at a brand new offering taking the micro fold travel pushchair market by storm – the Babyzen YOYO. A long time in the pipeline this hot little pushchair is ultra high-tech and features exceptional engineering which enables it to fold down to the size of your average changing bag...and it probably doesn't weigh much more than that either!
What's in the Box?
The RRP of the Babyzen YOYO is £309.00
Chassis is available in Black or White, seat liner and hood colour packs available in Black, Blue or Red fabrics. Colour packs can be purchased separately if required.
The BabyZen YOYO is more than a little unusual. Before you even get it out of the box you know it's no ordinary stroller. The box is so small it is hard to believe there is even a pushchair in there. In fact, when folded the YOYO is so small that it passes the IATA Standard for cabin hand luggage - so you can be sure you can wheel it right up to the cabin and then carry it on board the aeroplane and stash it in the overhead locker. You can purchase the liner and hood separately (so you can choose your own colour – and change the look of it if you wish by buying a new colour pack).
Once out of the box a little bit of construction is required in terms of threading the hood onto the hood rods and inserting the liner by threading the harness straps through – that done you are ready to roll!
The frame of our test subject is a matt black finish, but a chic white version is also available. It feels smooth and good quality, and is formed from a combination of super strong high density plastic with metal accents in all the vital places. This makes it super sturdy yet exceptionally light for the size of pushchair it is when unfolded.
The foam covered bar handle is non adjustable, but Babyzen have created a high rounded arch shape which gives plenty of room for you to choose your own height at which to hold it and the bar handle makes this little pushchair very easy to push one handed. The rear wheels are set underneath the frame, with the front ones splayed out slightly – with a child in this gives a good feeling of balance and security – you do not feel like it's going to tip as the seat base is centred between all four wheels, Babyzen have come up trumps with this aspect.
The wheels themselves are made from a solid foam, and should last well, although the front suspension isn't up to much more than the usual bumps of the urban environment, and the inability to lock the swivel wheels (despite the inclusion of a ‘soft drive' system which will allow the wheels to pass over any stones or gravel with ease) means this is really a beast for the urban jungle, not one for you to venture to far from the tarmac. The wheels look modern and unusual being solid, although I personally cringe over their whiteness. If you are anything like me you will be taking a cloth along with you everywhere you go lest they get covered in mud.
The basket is big enough to get your essentials in – and access is good through from either rear behind the seat, or if you can persuade your child to co-operate you should be able to post a few things under their calves from the front too (careful not to do any emergency stops though – as the access for getting things into the basket at the front is good – it's also easy for things to come flying out this way too!). In addition to the basket there is a small mesh pocket on the rear of the seat which you can stash your essentials in to keep them close to hand.
The linked rear brakes are operated by a single foot lever located on the far right of the rear axle, push down and the lock is engaged and then either use your toe to flip it off or push forwards on the front half of the lever to ease it off. The brake is fairly stiff to operate, not located ideally if you have large feet, and not one for the flip-flop lovers but, it is reassuring and effective and at least you won't catch your feet on it mid-stride or if you are pulling the pushchair backwards up stairs.
The only other thing to add is once the pushchair is fully unfolded it still retains a very slight flex to it, which feels almost as if it isn't correctly locked into position, especially when you tip it back to get it up a kerb. Although initially a bit disconcerting once you get used to the feeling it becomes apparent that although the pushchair lacks serious suspension in the wheels – this flex helps give a much smoother ride and a more comfortable push to the pushchair when the going does get a little more rough.
The seat unit on the Babyzen YOYO is a forward facing only seat with a recline feature suitable for children over 6 months of age. It has a padded base and backrest (using a detachable padded liner). The seat in an unusual shape in itself, with the seat base being wedge shaped giving quite a narrow size at the rear, but with gently sloping wings on either side this should allow for a larger bottom to sit quite comfortably too. These wings will also provide a little extra support for younger children during naps.
The five point harness is adjustable – with one slider altering the length of the shoulder and waist straps simultaneously. This makes for rapid adjustments – although you don't get the huge range of adjustments you find with separate sliders. The height of the shoulder straps can be adjusted to one of three well spaced settings which is handy, and the adjustment is made easily enough by re-threading the shoulder straps through different slots in the liner. There are also large plastic clips on either side to enable you to get the liner on and off, and while useful they might prove a little uncomfortable resting upon little hips with thin summer clothes on. The padded crotch strap is not adjustable in terms of length or position. The harness buckle itself requires you to join the two shoulder clips together before inserting them into the buckle, a little fiddly, and to release the straps a firm thumb press is required, the clips do not spring free so a little tweaking is needed to release them.
The fabrics of the seat itself are a wipe clean lightweight rip stop nylon material, and look as though they would last well. The padded liner should help keep little ones nice and snug, being easily removable should help with keeping things looking clean too. The liner is secured to the seat using Velcro, and hooks on underneath the front for added security, the Velcro is fairly heavy duty and I doubt it would ever slip down.
There is no dedicated calf rest but the front of the padded liner wraps around the front edge of the seat and hooks on underneath, giving a nice soft front edge over what is essentially a solid bar underneath. The footplate between the two front wheels is a good size and in a nice location - not too tucked underneath the seat, so feet should be able to easily rest once legs are long enough for them to reach it. It's a nice wipe clean plastic and even has a weep hole for mud or melted snow to drip through.
The recline of the seat is operated by a simple slider buckle on the rear, although even simpler perhaps than a toggle type, it actually works better than most as the slider can be operated one handed if need be; so you can easily use one hand to push your child forward and the other to pull the ‘tail' of the strap to tighten it (rather than needing an additional hand to also slide a toggle). It is as easy to drop it down – especially if you have a child in there with their weight on it, you just lift the slider and the back drops right down. This type of mechanism also means you can achieve an infinite amount of recline angles between the fully upright and maximum reclined position. The full recline is adequate for an older baby taking a nap, as long as their head is still below the top of the backrest. It's not our favourite way of adjusting the seat angle, but its not a bad effort!
The hood is slightly unusual on this pushchair. It is very high above the seat giving lots of headroom (as long as your child no longer needs to rest their head on the seat back). The hood folds neatly back out of the way when not in use – although if you happen to have exceptionally chunky fingers you might find it interferes with your hold on the handle bar in this position. The hood canopy extends up and over your child's head, giving nice coverage from the sun to an older toddler; it also has an uncovered peephole window so you can keep a close eye on the occupant. The hood locks in either a fully extended or fully retracted position. The mechanism itself is just stiff enough to give you a range of potential options in between these two positions.
I fully expected that the Babyzen YOYO would be easy to put up and down – like a well...YOYO. It is one of these pushchair that involves so much magic in obtaining the elusive micro fold size that it is a little bit of a mystery at first how best to fold it down (getting it up is easy peasy though!). Once you get the hang of it though – you'll be throwing it up AND down in no time (literally – it takes seconds at the most!).
To fold it down – depress two red buttons on the inside of the frame where the hood rods join and swivel the handlebar and the hood all the way down and under the lower portion of the chassis. Under there, centrally located you will find a metal bar and behind that a sliding latch with a button, give the latch a quick tug and press the button until you hear a click. Then, grab hold of that metal bar and lift the pushchair up sharply, it snaps in half, and, if you've been snappy enough, it will auto lock in the folded position. You are left with a tiny changing bag sized pushchair all neatly folded, and if you've attached its carry strap you can now pick it up, sling it over your shoulder like a bag and wander off with it whilst carrying your child in your arms. A couple of things to note – to achieve the smallest neatest fold the swivel wheels must be round the wrong way when you start to fold (this should happen all by itself as you lift the pushchair upwards during the final stage of folding), and if you want the pushchair to free stand – be aware that the part in contact with the floor is the front edge of the seat – right where the seat liner wraps around – so if you're somewhere muddy or wet you need to be aware or your child might get a bit damp when they next hop in.
Getting the YOYO back up is a joy. Easiest accomplished in its free-standing mode, you can use your toe to unhook the auto lock and then (don't be shy here), smartly lift the pushchair directly upwards by its handle bar (make sure little ones are standing well clear as it ‘pops' open with a ‘snap'!), thats all there is to it, it automatically locks into place. So ... approximately 2 seconds after getting out of the car boot you are ready to roll!
The Babyzen comes with a raincover, travel bag and strap. The raincover is worth a mention as it is a very simple beautifully executed affair made from wrinkle free TPU. These little extras have been well thought out and nicely add to the overall value of the product.
The Babyzen YOYO is a lifestyle choice, it's tailor made for mums on the run, who like things practical yet stylish. It's a hot competitor against the entire traditional umbrella fold market – as it features pretty much everything they do – only it looks more stylish, is lighter, and more importantly – folds exceptionally small in comparison. You get a lot of great features, although some compromises have been made over ‘big' pushchairs you can find in this price range– like the non-adjustable handle bar and the lack of a calf rest or bumper bar.
It's super tiny and easy to manipulate once it is folded, it's got a nice comfy seat for older babies and toddlers – with plenty of headroom under the hood (although a higher backrest wouldn't go amiss).
The only real disconcerting thing with the YOYO is the price. At £309, its by no means cheap and some would argue not even affordable, but, what you are buying is something of the highest quality, aimed at the jet setters. The YOYO has the extra benefit of a usable basket, seat recline, great fold mechanism and nice little rain cover. This gives it an edge over its contemporary pier the Quinny Yezz.
The YOYO doesn't just look good and tick boxes, it pushes really well too. The front swivel wheels are nippy and easily manoeuvrable over smooth surfaces, and the weight distribution is such that it is easy to pop up and down kerbs and to manoeuvre through tight shopping aisles. All in all, a top notch, easy to use urban stroller perfect for nipping through life.
We give the Babyzen 4.5 out of 5 stars.
The Babyzen YOYO will be available in the UK from May and can be pre-ordered now from Whitestep.
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