Sunday, 17 January 2016

Bugaboo Cameleon3
- review

Bugaboo have become very popular in the last 10 years or so and the Cameleon was my dream pushchair for 2 odd years. I finally managed to get my hands on one with baby number 2. This was one of the most exciting baby purchases ever! I know it's sad :)
Why are Bugaboo so popular? They're stylish, functional and you can change the look of them quickly and fuss free. But they come at a price. 

The Cameleon3 I chose was on silver frame with brown base and limited edition Andy Warhol pink/butterflies tailored set. I loved it! It's still the most beautiful pushchair I have ever owned!
First impressions were good but not great. The frame and wheels were easy to put together but the fabrics were tricky. I was disappointed with the amount of velcro everywhere. It took me a good half an hour to put the carrycot and canopy together. When it was finally done I couldn't wait to get it out and about.

First walk was such a breeze after using the incredibly heavy Easywalker MINI. The Cameleon didn't really need pushing, I could steer it one handed with ease. Getting up and down kerbs was no problem either. To this day the Cameleon3 is the lightest parent facing pushchair I've ever used. It didn't veer on slopes which is important where we live. Baby seemed to love the carrycot and was very content just staring at the butterflies on the inside of the sun canopy. 

For the first few months when we used the carrycot all was good. The fold was a bit annoying as there's no lock to keep the chassis closed but the whole pushchair is so lightweight it didn't bother me that much. I did worry about the foam covered handlebar and it quickly became clear it would get damaged due to folding. I found if I lowered the handlebar on my foot it protected the handlebar but I honestly don't think this should be necessary on a pushchair to protect the foam. It would be so much better if Bugaboo invested in good quality faux or real leather covers on all their pushchairs and not just special edition ones! 

When we switched to the seat unit it became clear that the Cameleon wasn't so great. The seat is rather shallow, there's no adjustable leg rest and even though the seat back is a good height the canopy is set low making it look like the baby has outgrown the seat already. My 3.5 year old wouldn't fit at all! The front wheels have adjustable suspension on them that you can change according to the baby's weight. Even on the heaviest setting the front wheels looked bent under my son's weight (he was 1 kg under the weight limit). The other thing that bothered me about the seat was the 2 hand recline. It was nearly impossible to recline the seat without jolting the baby and waking her up. I did like the gate opening bumper bar and the easy to adjust, supportive harness. As much as I loved the size of the rear wheels I couldn't get on with the tiny front wheels. They were perfectly fine on smooth pavements and in shops but horrible on uneven ground. They would get stuck everywhere, in tiny cracks in pavements, on cobbles etc. The Cameleon is supposed to be an all terrain pushchair as it has a reversible handlebar and 2-wheel mode. I tested both modes and believe me it is as far from an all terrain pushchair as possible! When handlebar is reversed (large wheels up front) the pushchair is unsteerable. The suspension on the front wheels makes it impossible to turn the pushchair so you can only walk in a straight line. The 2-wheel mode is a bit of a joke as you need to take the seat and front wheels off the frame to use it like that. Unless you're going to pull it behind you all the way from home or car park it's impossible to use. I tried it once and gave up as it was so hard to do on my own! 

If you're new to pushchairs you may be surprised by the hand brake on the Cameleon. It's the white lever on the right side of the handlebar. It's very easy to apply but you need to be careful when taking it off as it can hurt your hand. Now I have to mention the shopping basket. With the carrycot on don't expect to be able to fit anything in there other than a raincover folded flat! It's impossible to get into without removing the carrycot. With the seat on it's a lot better and you can finally see how big the basket is! It's deceptive really and what I loved most is that you can pull the toggles and close it up so nothing falls out even when you fold the frame. This is absolutely great and I just wish the carrycot would sit higher up the frame so you could use the basket in both configurations. 

The handlebar is height adjustable and I believe it should suit parents of all heights. One thing that bothered me beyond anything is the movement in the handlebar. It was so loose my husband thought it was broken! I understand there needs to be some movement due to how the frame folds and to allow the handlebar to be reversed but the movement is simply too much! It was especially bad when walking up a hill as it would move in my hands making it harder to push. 

Overall as much as I loved the look of the Cameleon and the push on smooth terrains it had to go. I've never been this disappointed in any other pushchair. I guess my expectations were set very high before I bought it and that didn't help but the tiny front wheels, unusable all terrain modes, 2 hand recline, shallow seat combined with low set canopy and movement in the handlebar were simply too much for me considering the price. Personally I don't feel the price matches the quality in these pushchairs. There's a real market for second hand Bugaboos and one thing I really like is that even if you want to save money and buy one of the older models you can still buy brand new parts and keep the pushchair in good and safe condition.   

We used the Bugaboo cocoon in the carrycot to make it more snug for the baby.

Folded in a hatchback

2-wheel mode


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