Friday, November 21, 2014

Review - Britax B-READY 2012 with second seat

The 2012 Britax B-READY is an improved second generation of the model. The main seat now has 4 recline positions and the wheels have all been upgraded to foam-filled rubber tyres instead.

New improved second generation



Foam-filled rubber tyres.


The stroller is basically made up of 3 components - the frame, the main seat and the second seat which is an accessory that has to be purchased separately.

As this is a modular stroller, all the seats can be removed from the frame if need be.

FRAME


The frame is equipped with a height adjustable handle (seven positions) that can accommodate parents of different heights. However, it being non telescopic might not be much of a difference to tall parents from unintentionally kicking the second seat. For someone who is 1.7m tall, I have no issues even with the second flat reclined flat which is when the top of the seat protrudes horizontally the most.

Just below the handle, on each side of the frame, is a lever that when pulled will fold the frame in half, length wise. I will touch on the fold with more details later on.

Along the right side of the frame is the removable cup holder which is quite deep so your drink stays in place.

It also comes with an integrated Click & GO system for the main seat where you can easily attached and remove a seat, a car seat or a bassinet. Makes me wonder why Britax did not design the second seat mount just the same and make attaching and removing the second seat much easier.

The huge basket can be accessed from all sides which makes it convenient when you have a child in the second seat. However, the basket being not rigid makes it hard to zip or unzip with one hand. I think a magnetic or velcro flap will be much better.

It is equipped with a one-step, linked parking brake with indicator that alternates between engaged and disengaged when stepped on. There's no need to lift the pedal so it will not hurt your toes if you are wearing slippers, sandals or open end shoes.

As mentioned at the beginning, the removable wheels are now equipped with foam filled rubber tyres. There will always be two sides of the camp, between those who prefers air-filled and not. I prefer non air-filled as it is hassle free and will spare you the anguish if you are caught with flat tyres with no pump around.


MAIN SEAT


The main seat can be made to face forward or rear and can be attached to the frame by dropping it into the appropriate slots on each side of the frame until it locks in. To remove it from the frame, simply lift the levers at each sides of the seat. It being light makes this an easy task.

The seat can be single-handedly reclined up to 4 steps by simply pulling a lever at the back of the seat. You can position the seat almost straight up or almost completely flat.

Although the seat can recline, the seat maintains its shape which means a child cannot lay completely flat without having their legs bent at the knees. Think of a infant car seat and you get the idea. This makes the seat not suitable for infants for long periods of time.

It comes with a 5 point harness which is easy to buckle and unbuckle. I find it a little too easy to unbuckle so toddlers might just be able to set themselves loose once they figured that out by simply pressing that big button in the middle of the buckle.

The harness for the main seat can be easily adjusted by moving slider up and down at the back of the seat main. While it is super convenient, it is practically useless, and it applies to any stroller simply because you don't adjust them all the time unless you swap kids of different height every now and then.

At each side of the harness adjuster are two pockets which can be used as storage space.

The canopy comes with see through rear window with magnetic flaps instead of a velcro, which is great. It is silent and requires no effort. On top of that, the weight of the magnets on the flaps ensures that it stay in place when opened and will not be affected by wind.

The armbar is padded and easily removable You can either remove it or let it dangle on one side by pressing a button at each/both side of the frame.

There are 6 available colours to choose from




SECOND SEAT


The second seat has similar traits as the main seat except

- it cannot be made to rear face
- the harness has to be re-threaded manually
- not Click And Go, which is a shame but not that hard to attach and detach from the frame.
- can be reclined totally flat therefore is suitable for infants. However, most parents would want to have their infants face them, which can only be done with the main seat.


BUILD QUALITY


There is nothing much to complain about really. The seat and canopy is made of high quality material except the buckle cover which can easily tear and too thin. Phil & Teds got it right for this one.

FOLD


As mentioned earlier, the stroller can be folded with or without both or either seats, which is a plus. However, it is negated by the fact that the stroller is heavy when folded with both seats attached.

Also, the design of the frame is such that there is no convenient way to carry the stroller unlike other strollers where you can carry them like a bag with one hand. This is main reason that prevents me from giving it a perfect score.

To make it easier, especially for the ladies, it is advisable to remove the main seat before folding. This reduces the overall weight and removing and attaching the main seat is so easy.

OVERALL


This is by far the best tandem stroller there is, hands down. I would definitely recommend it to any parents looking for one. However, please take note of the negative parts of the stroller, especially the weight and width, as that can be a deal breaker.

SCORE - 9/10


Pros

Both seats can be easily reclined.
Second seat can be reclined almost horizontal to the ground
Frame is easy to fold and can be folded with or without one or both of the seats attached.
Main seat harness is easy to adjust.
Basket is accessible even when the second seat is occupied by a child
Maintenance free foam filled rubber tyres
Magnetic flap on the canopy suits light sleeper babies.
Good quality handle grip foam.
Solid build

Cons

Wide at 70cm
Heavy at 15.7kg (with both seats attached)
Auto lock not so efficient.
Material for the buckle cover is of poor quality fabric and design

Friday, May 23, 2014

Our stroller history - continued

I blogged before about our stroller history here where we kept changing our stroller in the quest to find that perfect stroller. Back then, I thought we did.

Well, long story short, we never learn our lesson that there is no perfect stroller. Still, we are adamant and so we changed our stroller yet again.

Before anything else, let me go through the reasons (excuses) on why we decided to change our Phil & Teds Explorer.

https://philandteds.app.box.com/shared/cc6r81t837

To be honest, I love the Explorer. It is stable, reliable, solidly built and the list goes on. However, some niggling quirks it comes with has reached the point where it gets frustrating.

For one, the sun hood keeps dislodging each time we move in and out of the car. Sometimes just making full use of the 'follow the sun' feature of it will cause it to dislodge if it is slightly improperly attached in the first place. This is because the hood is simply attached to the frame without a solid form of locking mechanism. I like the idea of 'follow the sun' but I would have liked it more if it can stay in place while doing that.

The next thing that frustrates me is the main seat recline. I like that it freely adjustable but the seat back support strap mount is badly designed. A lot of times, the strap will dislodge from it's place. I should have taken a photo of it before I sold it off so that it is easier to explain what I am trying to describe. What P&T could have done is to just design the strap mount differently to make the strap stay in place.

The thing that made me decide to change to another double is because when both my kids need to sleep, the Explorer is not able to accommodate as the rear seat cannot be reclined. So I kept changing the second seat from the rear to the top to allow at least one child to sleep comfortably.

So I began researching on other strollers that can do what the Explorer can plus my new requirement. I narrowed it down to the Britax B-Ready.

Couple of reasons why I decided upon the B-Ready.

- Both seats can be reclined almost flat and the recline mechanism is so much easier.
- Stroller can be folded with the second seat at the back. Similar to Phil & Ted Vibe but the fold on the B-Ready is way easier.

The B-Ready is not without flaws. You can read my full review of it here

Monday, May 5, 2014

Britax B-READY vs B-DUAL vs Strider Plus 4

Britax B-READY, B-DUAL and Steelcraft Strider Plus 4 are part of a range of tandem strollers that is basically the same but with some differences.

The B-READY is the US version while the B-DUAL is the UK version and the Strider Plus 4 the AU version. The main difference is centered around the main seat.

Note: There is another Steelcraft Strider Plus 3, which is also essentially the same as the Strider Plus 4 but with 3 wheels instead of 4.

Now, let's go through the differences in detail.

Seat recline.

On the B-READY and Strider, the whole seat reclines, which means the seat retains its posture and the hood/canopy will follow suit. On the B-DUAL, the backrest reclines therefore you can achieve a true flat lying position when the calf rest is adjusted accordingly. The hood/canopy on the other hand stays in place. This means the B-DUAL is suitable from infants onwards while the B-READY is suitable when the child is able to sit.

The mechanism to recline both seats are the same, by pulling the lever at the back of the seat.

The second seat is exactly the same for both models.

B-READY and Strider main seat recline



B-DUAL main seat backrest recline


Harness adjust

Unlike on the B-DUAL, the harness height for the main seat on the B-READY and Strider can be easily adjusted without the need to re-thread by simply sliding adjuster up and down.

B-READY harness adjust


Foot rest / Calf support

On the B-READY and Strider, it is a foot rest as there is an area that allows the feet to rest on the frame. On the B-DUAL, it is purely a calf support therefore the child's feet will not be able to rest on anything.

The mechanism to adjust them are similar, by pressing both buttons at the side of the seat.

B-READY calf support

B-DUAL calf support


Canopy / Hood

The B-READY comes with a mesh panel window at the back with magnetic flap covers.

The B-DUAL on the other hand comes with a hood that can be expanded by a zipper which will also expose a mesh panel right in the middle

The Strider has both.


B-READY Hood rear mesh panel with magnetic flap cover.

B-DUAL Hood with mesh panel

Strider Hood. A combination of both.



You can refer to the official video and user guides below

Official Video

B-DUAL




B-READY




Strider




User Guides




Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lessons for parents: Hold the lift door!

I brought my two kids out one day with Armand on his trike and Arissa in my arms.

We were getting out of the lift at our floor and I went out first with Arissa and then pushed the button outside to keep the door open. Armand was trying to turn his trike around when the door just closed and there was nothing I could do.

I could have waited for the lift to come back down again to our floor but I panicked so I ran up the stairs trying to catch the lift which by that time has gone down again.

I decided to just head down to the first level where luckily an upstairs family neighbour of ours was also there (they got in the lift with him when it went up) and told me where Armand was (he had cycled away, looking and calling for me). I quickly called up to him as I ran to to him and pick him up to hug him tight. He was of course crying.

I cannot be more thankful that this incident end up with him safely back with us. It was a horrifying experience for me to see my son trapped in the lift but it affected my son even more. He may be physically fine but he was emotionally traumatised, even till today. He sometimes has nightmares and will recall the incident out of nowhere, especially when we are taking the lift. All I can say to him when that happens is that I am there with him and will not leave his side so he need not be afraid. I hope this traumatising experience of his will go away soon.

So parents, remember to hold the lift door instead of pushing the door open button. Lifts nowadays have a timer that ignores if the button to keep the door open is pushed or not.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Child development: Speak a story

We made a very bad mistake of allowing Armand to play Fruit Ninja on our smartphones/iPad even though it was only for short periods of time once in while because he got addicted.

For a child, that is really bad. I know there will be those who disagree with our decision to allow him play the game in the first place but when you are the only person driving with a child that cries non stop to be let out of the car seat, you do anything. Anyway, excuses or reasons or not, we need to rectify it immediately.

We tried to make him forget the game by getting him plastic toy fruits that can be separated and rejoined again by velcro, so he can 'cut' them again and again. This way, he is still the 'fruit ninja' while learning about fruits, colours and so on. It helps and he did forget about the game after that. However he became obsessed with the toys instead and will play with them all the time which is not exactly healthy either.

To reduce the amount of time he spends on the fruit toys, I decided to make up a story about a 'fruit ninja'. He likes it (actually anything with fruits will interest him) and I managed to get him to play less with the fruit toys to do and learn other things instead, like seeing and holding the actual fruit itself.

I started with easy words, Singlish in fact, just so that he understands the story itself. I would tell him each time he acts up and even use it as a bedtime story. As he understands English better, I started to use proper sentences and proper words (I try to, even though I still have a lot to correct myself) which made him question what those words mean and so on. Relentless questions are tiring to answer of course but the fastest way for kids to learn. I did that for a few months.

Recently, I started making him tell the story himself, partly because I wanted to find ways of escaping from having to tell the same story again and again (my bad). At the same time, it is a good opportunity to let him learn how to speak properly so that people can understand him better.

This is the result so far.



Sunday, March 9, 2014

Child development: Effects of raised confidence

All kids are different and that includes their development phase. So when Arissa took longer compared to Armand when it comes to walking, I was not too concern.

However what concerns us was her lack of confidence hence the reluctance and hesitation to try walking by herself. She needs to hold on to someone who she treats as a moving handrail.

Tried what we can like helping her walk more often (which took a toll on my back) but did not help much. Wife believes the environment is not encouraging enough so she planned a day to Fidgets.

It did wonders as she probably saw the incentives of walking by herself and she continued her walking streak, with a little coaxing, when we got home. The next day she just stood up and started walking all by herself without any help or holding on to something.

Call it coincidence but we believe confidence can make a lot of difference.