I love the description that phil&teds attribute to the ‘Dot'; a compact, slimline, inline, all-terrain. We have a sample in for review and as shops across the country receive their stock will the Dot hit the spot for fledgling parents?
Not being of huge stature, I emanate to all things small. Women don't want the undignified rigmarole of wrestling a pushchair to the ground before having to clean and jerk the monster into the boot of the car. Welcome the Dot.
phil&teds are well aware they are onto a winning formula, their three wheelers are a dominant force on the High Street for the occasional off-roading family and have been a style icon for others.
To satisfy the High Street love of the sturdy, go-anywhere pushchair, phil&teds have released the Dot to make nippy, urban travelling a comfortable adventure for all the family.
The Dot is being delivered around the country as I write. Retaining the adaptability of the explorer, including the ability to expand into an inline double, the Dot is petite and practical but also 15% smaller than the explorer.
What's in the box?
The RRP of the Dot is £409
The Dot is available with three different colour liners: Apple, Flint or Chilli
If you haven't tried a 3 wheeler with air tyres, I urge you to have a go. Good grip and suspension accompanied by the ability to turn on a sixpence allows you to power through town, weaving effortlessly past pedestrians. The only problem with these nimble machines is that they are occasionally too wide for narrow gaps such as turnstiles or some doorways. Phil&teds have overcome this by putting their explorer on a strict diet, resulting in the slimline, inline Dot.
From the minute you take hold of the Dot you can feel the narrow elegance of the frame. Even the foam covered handle is barely wider than the shoulder width of a toddler, giving you wonderful control. It is adjustable using the two grey buttons on the interior which allows it to swing across an arc of around 200 degrees. In practice, the practical maximum height is 107cms and the minimum around 82cms.
The decent sized canopy consists of two segments, the rear having a large viewing window covered by a Velcro fastening flap, the front having a small flip-out mesh pique that adds a little extra shade to the passenger.
When the seat is fully reclined, a clear plastic, button-in panel fills the void between the back of the canopy and the top of the seat, a seemingly good idea until you are facing the wrong direction and the sun streams in on your sleeping child. This can be overcome by the use of a parasol or a blanket but would probably have been better if it had been a blackout panel.
The seat shares the same dimensions as that of the explorer. Although it looks quite small, it is 23cms deep, 26cms wide and an incredibly deceptive 59cms long in the back. The seat pad is a must because it covers a hard seating platform on the bottom and the moulded ventilation pattern on the rear.
The easy-to-adjust 5-point-harness on the explorer has been incorporated and bettered on the Dot. Not only is it childsplay to unclip the shoulder straps, unthread and relocate to a different position, but now the excess strap has been designed away so it doesn't leave untidy and sometimes lengthy tails.
I know a 5-point-harness is nothing to get excited about in the grand scheme of things, but in terms of keeping your child safe, it is one of those necessities that we take for granted. By making sure that the harness is effortless to use and adjust, phil&teds have decreased the hassle factor when it comes to making sure your child is strapped in, so you're more likely to use it properly. Even the buckle is encased within the crotch padding to make it difficult for your toddler to even attempt escape.
The crotch and waist straps can also be relocated to make a smaller enclosure for an infant and once again, it's a dream to perform without the need for a biblical instruction manual. The liner can also be strapped up at the bottom to make a vertical end stop, enclosing a baby even further.
As with other phil&teds products with this seat style, when the pushchair is in 'seat mode', it cannot be parent facing.
I have to say I wasn't a fan of the recline on the explorer and I'm afraid I'm not converted by the improvements made on the Dot. In fact, I think it's been made even more complicated.
It has four possible angles of recline. Stage 1; is the upright, seated angle. Stage 2; is achieved by letting out some of the slack in the rear strap until you reach the D rings, resulting in a shallow tilt of the back of the seat. Stage 3; involves releasing the clip on the strap that crosses the back of the seat but re-attaching it to the longer buckles on the sides to give a three quarters recline. Stage 4; is fully flat, achieved by releasing all buckles.
Not only is this a fiddly procedure, I'm sure it's just as much of a torment for your passenger.
The bumper bar is a formed tube of metal that slots into the frame on either side. Sadly it doesn't have any form of hinge or gate-opening and has a rudimentary button release on either side. It sits quite high above the seat which gives your child a firm bar to hold onto but becomes a hazard if they try to climb in over the top.
Beneath the seat is a huge basket that stretches from the front of the seat to the rear axle. It is shallow at the back but spans 41cms across the width and 30cms forwards with a maximum of 25cms depth at the front. The largest of changing bags would have ample room.
Equally as attractive as the explorer; the Dot has slimline, 59cm, pneumatic, white walled tyres that really add to the aesthetic appeal. I'm sure they won't be quite so pretty when they are muddy but they're an immediate pull when first out of the box.
The bright red brake sits to the right on the back axle. It brings the Dot to a firm halt that is aided by the brilliant grip on the tyres. Although it's not impossible to release in flip-flops it is a little stiff, something that would be slacken over time I think.
Tucked under the front of the seat is the folding control. A two action release is required under our safety regulations to collapse a pushchair, on the Dot you need to slide one of the top red buttons while squeezing the long button underneath. The top half of the seat will then drop towards the rear wheels. This can be quite a sudden action and can take you by surprise if you don't keep it under control.
The frame can then be picked up by the bumper bar at which point the front wheel swings in towards the rear axle to complete the fold. An auto-lock takes care of things coming adrift.
To open, release the auto-lock and hold onto the bumper bar and the handle (to stop it getting dirty). As you pull up the handle, the front wheel will roll away from the rear wheels to form a sturdy, 3-point base. When the handle reaches the top, wait for the click and you're ready to go.
All of the accessories for the dot come as extras, none are included in the original purchase price. In the UK, I think a rain cover is a necessity, let's face it, recently there seems to be as much need for it in the Summer months as in the Winter!
The storm and insect covers are tailored to fit. I particularly like the insect cover because it zips into the canopy and stretches down to a point to velcro around the foot rest. A plastic arch ensures there is enough room left underneath for feet to be able to move. A rear button-in, mesh panel is included to cover the void in between the canopy and the head of the reclined seat.
The SNUG carrycot
The Snug is the new carrycot that fits on a wide range of the phil&teds pushchairs, including the dot. At £139, it's not cheap, but you can definitely tell where your money has been spent; it is gorgeous. It is well finished all round and I particularly like the canopy which envelopes the top of the bed making sure your baby is ultra protected from the elements. Surprisingly the rain cover is included with the Snug and puts a tight seal around the whole carrycot with vents in the side to allow air to circulate. It has a zip that lines up with the rim of the canopy, this can be used to access your child or to open up in between showers.
Car seat adaptors are easy to fit once you have removed the fabric of the seat from the frame (see the instruction video above to see how to remove the seat fabric.). It isn't something I would like to have to do every day, but if you are a car user, it is handy not to wake a sleeping child and place them straight onto the chassis from the car. If you were going to be spending long periods of time walking around, it might be a better idea to transfer them from car seat to carrycot.
The Double kit
The second seat is called the double kit and is priced at £109, but be warned, the rain cover and the insect cover are an extra (£25-£31). The double kit simply slides into the sockets located at the base of the basket. It's really easy to fit and within seconds you have the ability to transport two children.
To mount it in above the main seat you need to remove the bumper bar and use its sockets to slot in the double kit seat. This combination is ideal if you have a toddler and a baby because the baby can be secured in the lie-flat main seat with the harness adjusted to fit while your toddler rides up front. As I mentioned earlier, the seat pad on the main seat can be folded upwards to attach to the bottom of the double kit seat to make a very cosy enclosed space for your littlest.
To mount it below the main seat you need to slide the double kit onto the pegs at the sides of the basket. In connection terms, the double kit mounts onto the top in a male to female combination using mounting adaptors, these must be removed from the double kit to reverse it to female to male when attaching the seat in the lower position.
In the same mould as the explorer, the Dot offers all the same benefits but on a smaller scale without compromising the size of the seat. It can be converted into a pram using the SNUG carrycot, a travel system using either a phil&teds or a Maxi-Cosi car seat or an inline double by using the double kit. Its versatility is not in question here; the Dot will accommodate a growing family with ease.
Style wise, the Dot is good looking, especially perched on the white walled tyres. It has ample space to carry your child as well as all their necessary gubbins.
I get a little lost with phil&teds when their 5 point harness is the best and most adaptable I've seen on any pushchair but the recline and the bumper bar seem to be back in the dark ages. It's confusing when they've spent so much time and effort in making sure the harness is so user friendly that elements such as the recline and bumper bar have been given such little consideration. Apart from the wheels, these are the elements that are going to be used the most on a daily basis, whereas the harness will need to be adjusted once or twice a year.
I also think that although it's very adaptable, it's also very expensive; £409 is hard to justify when none of the accessories are included – not even a basic rain cover. This price definitely pushes the outer limits of parent's pockets.
Without doubt, the Dot is a nippy, petite and manoeuvrable pushchair with ‘ROBUST' tattooed on its knuckles but it's shortcomings are niggles that would get on my nerves when using every day.
We give the phil&teds Dot 4 out of 5 stars
Age range: Newborn to 5 years (44lbs - 20kg for main seat and 33lbs - 15kg for second seat)
Open size: W59 x L105 x H107-82cms
Folded size: W50.8 x L76.2 x H22.8cms (without wheels)
Folded size: W59 x L76 x H26 (with wheels)
Seat dimensions: D23 xW26 x H59
Wheel size: 59cms/10in
SNUG dimensions: L79 x W29 x D21cms