Britax: B-Dual - Long term reviews
Our long term reviewers submit reports while using their pushchair and we feature them as a supplementary source of reference to aid your understanding of how it fares 'in the line of fire'.
Long Term Reviewer: Jo, Social Media Editor, Pushchair Expert
Believe it or not, I still get excited when the courier arrives with ‘yet another pushchair for Pushchair Expert’ – but I get even more excited when I know that it’s pushchair for Long Term Test. That means that I get to use it day in day out with my little boy, Harry who is now 2 ½ years old. Still after all this time, I love unpacking it, putting it together and the excitement of using it for the first time. Some would say I was a little ‘sad’ – others would say I was a little ‘passionate’ about pushchairs – take your pick!
So – long term test – what exactly does this involve and is it more than just a perk of the job? In a nutshell it involves using the pushchair and getting to know it inside out. This allow me to feedback to all interested parties exactly what I think. You can hear all about my long term tests on the website and also on our Facebook page and Twitter. I run the Social Media arm of Pushchair Expert so having used a range of pushchairs I can feed back to you my thoughts as well as answering any questions you may have. As we are completely independent from all the manufacturers so in essence you get the truth...and not what the manufacturers want you to hear! Yes – I have to admit, it IS a perk to the job, I can not deny but hey – all jobs have to have their perks surely!
My latest long term test on this occasion is the Britax B-Dual which arrived last week. Arrived Wednesday at the Office and was in full use Wednesday evening in my kitchen. Amusingly my four year old and two year old also get excited when a new box arrives home containing a pushchair – although in truth it could be the anticipation that the box may make them a new rocket to fly to the moon in, or maybe a train to cross the desert? Pushchair was unpacked and assembled in ten minutes – Harry climb on board his new set of wheels – this time a racing car – don’t ask! He was happy to be strapped in – result! The B-Dual has a 5-point harness but what I liked most (having fought Harry to get into his pushchair on a number of occasions) is that you can do each side up separately freeing your other hand up to keep him in the pushchair! I love the fact that in the B-Dual he is high up and also that he can either parent-face (Harry’s preference) or world face. Given that it converts to a double, I was surprised at how small it felt when folding and unfolding – I was expecting an elephant fold to be quite honest! The following day was a trip to the Drs – nothing serious I might add – and a trip to the Supermarket. So, of course our new set of wheels had to come with us. I have a large boot in my car (Mondeo Estate) but the B-Dual fitted in along one side of the boot leaving the rest free for shopping – a major plus point as personally having such a large boot I am frustrated when I have to put the pushchair in sideways! This surprised me as being a double I didn’t expect it. On arrival, the unfold was easy and painless. Myself, pushchair carrying Harry and my four year old manouvered into the GPs small office with no trouble at all. Onwards to the Supermarket and in single mode I can happily report that you can fit a basket onto the pushchair basket – great news when you have no spare hands of course. Without going into details, I can also report that I managed to get in and out of the tiny supermarket toilets when my four year old inevitably announced he was ‘desperate’.
As you can see, initial impressions are all good for the Britax B-Dual – it is well made, pushes easily with a toddler onboard, and is manufactured to a high quality. So far so good! However, as you may be aware, the Britax B-Dual is designed to cover a number of parent-child eventualities. I have one child who is ‘pushchair-aged’ and can not magic up any more (not even for business purposes according to Mr PT!) so what’s coming up for the B-Dual....it is going to be put through it’s paces by three rather critical Mums, their little ones and their partners (one of which is a rather tall Fireman!). I am testing it with an older toddler (30 month old) on board in single mode. Heather, our newly appointed Pushchair Expert Guest-tester will be testing it in single mode with a young toddler and also in double mode with siblings, then at the beginning of July it will be sent to Katherine who will be testing it with a newborn (due 9th July) and her 23 month old.
The Britax B-Dual will really be put through it’s paces and we are looking forward to sharing our thoughts with our readers as time goes on. Remember, if you have any questions, just give Pushchairtrader Jo a shout over on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Long term reviewer: Katherine Rawes from Selby
When searching for the perfect pushchair for our first child, my husband and I had a list of essential criteria. These included wanting a carrycot that would transport the baby up to 6 months; the choice of rear or forward facing seat (being a primary school teacher, I am ever aware of the need for eye contact in order to develop good communication skills, but I also wanted to take into account the fact that the baby may also require other visual stimuli as it got older); it needed to be lightweight; it had to fold up small enough to fit into the boot of my Ford Ka. This was a tall order, but we managed it.
Naturally, when we found out we were expecting baby number two when Charlie was only 11 months old, we wanted to fulfill the same criteria, however, as Charlie was still going to be of ‘pushchair age’ when the baby was born it soon became clear that we would require a double pushchair of some description and that in doing so, we would quite clearly have to make some compromises on design.
It was still important to us that the youngest child be transported in a carrycot for its first few months. Our dilemma was do we go for a ‘double’ or ‘tandem’? If I am perfectly honest, from the beginning, I actively disliked the tandems that I saw on the market – the child underneath seemed to be cooped up underneath, with no view; and any carrycots, or rather, cocoons, just seemed flimsy and too low to the ground. I was also concerned about little fingers getting too close to the working mechanisms of the wheels. Nevertheless, there were clear advantages to the size and weight of the pushchairs in comparison to doubles.
After voicing my concerns to Pushchair Expert, it was recommended that we take a look at the B-Dual. Having seen the 22 possible configurations which allow children of different ages or twins, I have to say I was really impressed and couldn’t wait to get my hands on one and try it out.
My first impressions when I saw it in the flesh were, ‘what a beast’! It was much bigger than my previous pushchair. Nevertheless, with its sleek black frame and funky purple covers, the B-Dual is eye-catching and smart.
With a week until the arrival of baby number two, we haven’t yet had an opportunity to test the B-Dual out as a tandem, but we decided to see how it functions as a single – and so far so good!
What I love about the B-Dual is the ease at which it can be put up and down. (The key is to remember to unlatch the locking device first; which took some getting used to). I am quite small (5’3”), but find I do not need to wrestle with the frame at all. I also love that I do not need to remove the seat unit each time I fold it away, hence saving time and space.
The seat unit is great. My little boy is just at the age where he protests whenever he is put into his car seat, pushchair, highchair or anyway else that he might be restrained! However, so far, we have had no complaints or fights on getting him into the B-Dual. In fact, he even climbs in of his own accord and tries to do up the harness. I think this is because the seat is so much larger than his other pushchair and has much more padding, making it comfortable and unrestricting. The removable bumper has also made it easier for Charlie to be independent and take ‘control’.
Although we have had to compromise on size and weight, the only time that this has potentially been a problem is getting it in and out of the car – but as I am 9 months pregnant, I would probably struggle with anything right now. The B-Dual is sturdy and comfortable to steer. I like the one touch brake on the back axle as it shows clearly whether the brake is on or off. However, I have had some trouble taking the brake off.
The basket is fab! You can fit so much into it and with front and side zips, access is really easy.
Last weekend, we took the pushchair to a wedding in Surrey where it received admiring glances. But the biggest compliment of all was when a 2 year old girl came right over and hopped in to the seat ready for a nap! Charlie was far from impressed and decided at that point that the pushchair was indeed more interesting than his game of football. The ‘recline’ option was a definite plus at the end of the day, allowing Charlie to have a comfortable sleep before we went on our way.
On first impressions, the B-Dual is a great pushchair for comfort and functionality. I am really looking forward to finding out how it fares as a tandem with another little person on board and will let you know how I get on.
MONTH 1 WITH THE BRITAX B-DUAL...
Long term reviewers: Katherine Rawes from Selby
Having used the B-Dual for a few weeks, we are still really pleased with it. We have had the opportunity to use it in a variety of combinations based on need according to where we have been.
Being only 5’3” I have encountered some difficulties lifting the pushchair in and out of the boot of our car – it is very large and heavy. Despite this, I am impressed with how quick and easy it is to assemble and disassemble in the various combinations once out.
The other main difficulty has been planning what kit I need. It takes up too much room to keep all the equipment in the boot and requires lots of shuffling and reshuffling. My personal choice for our newborn, and the place he is happiest is in the hard carrycot at the top. However, this is only really possible if my eldest child does not use the second seat as there is not enough headroom for him even with the extenders.
The combination of soft carrycot below for the baby, and toddler in the main seat also worked well and I love how I am able to still see the baby through the mesh in the hood. This was particularly useful on a family trip to the coast. More recently however, Jamie has developed colic and on a recent walk down our local canal, I found I had to carry him as laying flat caused him great discomfort. Fortunately, the pushchair handles well so I was able to push Charlie comfortably whilst holding Jamie.
For short trips, we have used the car seat underneath the main seat using the metal adapter. This is a really convenient way of lifting the baby in and out of the car without waking him for such occasions. The one hand release is fantastic, making the transition swift and easy.
MONTH 3 WITH THE BRITAX B-DUAL
Long term reviewers: Katherine Rawes from Selby
Having now had the Britax B-DUAL for 3 months, I feel more able to speak with authority on the pros and cons of the pushchair. My initial thoughts were that it was a great tandem, and my opinion on this remains unchanged. Nevertheless, having spent longer getting to know it, a few niggles have surfaced that I missed when looking through my rose-tinted glasses! These same niggles however, pale into insignificance when compared with other tandem pushchairs that I had the fortune to trial for Pushchair Expert – and when I knew what things I personally required from a tandem.
In the main, I have found the B-DUAL to be easy to use, comfortable for the rider and to push, spacious and versatile. While not exactly a style icon (there are much more attractive and stylish tandems for the fashion conscious out there) I have received nothing but compliments when pushing the pushchair from mums of children the same age as mine, to strangers and even my GP! I have had particular compliments regarding the purple colour, and was surprised to find that this was to be discontinued.
The numerous combinations that the chair can be used in (22 in total) were a huge selling point for me. However, in reality, I have found that only a few really worked for us and our family. At present, the best combination for our situation is the soft carrycot below for our baby, with our toddler seated in the main seat. This combination initially drove me mad trying to attach the soft carrycot as the clips never seemed long enough and I always struggled to attach them to the D-rings of the second seat. With practice though, I have found I am now a dab hand and can attach and remove the carrycot in a matter of a minute or two (there is a definite knack and you need to angle the carrycot alternately before trying to secure it). I also love to use the hard carrycot as a single with our baby, while Charlie rides his trike with his dad or walks. Finally, the car seat combo either in single or double mode is really quick and easy to use and great for when you are making quick transfers in and out of the car.
On a recent visit to York, I was reassured by the security provided by the Velcro body strap in the carrycot as without it the cobbled roads would mean my poor baby would have been shaken around. Nonetheless, I feel that there are times when the strap gets in the way; it is awkward to lift baby in and out and perhaps on future models it would be useful to have some sort of mechanism which would allow one to fix the straps out of the way. On this same day we had decided to take the train. I can only be grateful that I’m in the privileged situation whereby I do not have to take public transport as it was a complete nightmare. Our train departed from a platform over the track and the station did not have a lift. I had to cross the bridge with both boys while my husband had to carry the rather weighty and cumbersome pushchair. I would not have managed this alone.
The B-DUAL is fab for using in an urban setting and we even had a smooth and easy ride at the coast. It doesn’t fare quite so well on country walks in the North Yorks Moors and Dales. Another small niggle was that the pushchair doesn’t come with a wrist strap. This would be most welcome when crossing roads on a slight slope and using subways (the pushchair literally ran away with me and I was worried I would let go).
My rating for the B-DUAL is 4.5 out of 5. It would achieve top marks if it was lighter and more stylish.
Pros: Spaciousness of seats. Size of basket.Ease of assembly.
Cons: Weight. Not a style icon. Length and width of wheel base.