3 & 4 wheel stollers and prams review

CHOICE tested a mix of three-wheel and four-wheel strollers and prams for safety, durability and ease of use.
 
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01 .Introduction

Strollers-3-and-4-wheel

Test results for 12 strollers priced from $299 to $1600

Buying a stroller can be a complicated exercise. There are some things you can check for yourself in the shop — such as size, features and manoeuvrability — but how can you tell whether the model you're considering is safe, durable, and easy to use?

This is where CHOICE comes in. We've bought five three-wheel and seven four-wheel strollers and sent them back to our lab for a thorough test. We focused on durability and safety assessed against the Australian Standard AS/NZS 2088:2000, plus ease of use.

See our latest article on prams and strollers, as well as our tests of double strollers and four-wheel strollers.

Please note: this information was current as of August 2008 but is still a useful guide to today's market.


Our testers checked the stability of each stroller, the quality of the brakes, strength and adjustability of straps, and that there were no possible entrapments or sharp edges. For ease of use, they looked at adjusting the seat and straps, loading and unloading the basket, folding and unfolding the stroller, fitting it into a car boot, using the brakes, locking the front wheel, and coping with challenging terrain. To test durability, each stroller spent the standard 64 hours on our 'rolling road' rig (running at 5 km/h), and the three-wheel models spent a further 10 hours at 10 km/h to test them at jogging speed. We also checked them against the new mandatory safety standard for strollers.

And our findings? Five strollers passed our key safety and durability tests; all the rest failed at least one safety and/or durability test. Also, although the three-wheel configuration may be perceived as being a 'jogger' stroller, none of the manufacturers of the tested models actually recommend jogging with them.

Our objective: To help you buy a stroller that is safe, durable, easy to use, and has the features you want.

Brands tested

  • Bébé Care Caprice 015415-172 #
  • Bertini X2 Automatic 004863
  • Bugaboo Cameleon 74100 RD01
  • Childcare Hola 015410-140
  • Love N Care Uni Coupe BP9756N
  • Maclaren MX3 W0730014
  • Mountain Buggy Single Urban Elite
  • Peg Perego Uno
  • Phil & Teds Dash SPD
  • Red Castle Shop'n Jogg Disc II
  • Steelcraft Strider 30132T
  • Swallow Whisper

# Discontinued.

 
 

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What to buy

Brand and price

  • Childcare Hola 015410-140 (4 wheeler) - $400
  • Bebe Care Caprice 015415-172 (4 wheeler) - $500
  • Love N Care Uni Coupe BP9756N (4 wheeler) - $499
  • Mountain Buggy Single Urban Elite (3 wheeler) - $860
  • Steelcraft Strider 30132T (4 wheeler) - $449

Results tables

Brand / model (in order of ease of use score) Passed all our safety tests Passed all our durability tests Ease of use score (%) Price ($)
Recommended
Childcare Hola 015410-140 (A)
www.cnpbrands.com.au 
65 400
Bebe Care Caprice 015415-172 #
www.cnpbrands.com.au
60 500
Love N Care Uni Coupe BP9765N
www.lovencare.com.au
60 499
Mountain Buggy Single Urban Elite
www.mountainbuggy.com.au
60 860
Steelcraft Strider 30132T 
www.britax.com.au
55 449
Worth considering
Swallow Whisper (B)
www.babyco.com.au
65 299
Phil & Teds Dash SPD
www.philandteds.com
55 750
Not Recommended
Bugaboo Cameleon 74100 RD01 (C)
www.worldlykids.net
 
60 1600
Peg Perego Uno
www.pegperego.com
    65 849
Bertini X2 Automatic 004863
www.bertini.com.au
    60 1117
Maclaren MX3 (D)
www.cnpbrands.com.au
    60 650
Red Castle Shop'n Jogg Disc II
www.sahai.com.au
    55 799
 


  Features Specifications
Brand / model (in order of ease of use score) Type of stroller (number of wheels) Reversible handle / seat direction Backrest / Seat tilt positions Front bar or tray Front brakes Rear brakes Maximum recommended weight of child (kg) Bottom basket capacity (kg) Stroller weight (kg)* Dimensions (cm, H x W x D)**
Recommended
Childcare Hola 015410-140 (A)
www.cnpbrands.com.au
4 Seat (E) / 3 bar Linked 17 3 14.2 100 x 61 x 108
Bebe Care Caprice 015415-172 #
www.cnpbrands.com.au
4 Seat (E) / 3 bar Linked 17 5 15.7 115 x 64 x 100
Love N Care Uni Coupe BP9765N
www.lovencare.com.au
4 Handle (E) / - bar Individual Linked 25 ns 13.5 102 x 64 x 103
Mountain Buggy Single Urban Elite
www.mountainbuggy.com.au
3 (E) / - Linked 35 5 11.4 108 x 69 x 110
Steelcraft Strider 30132T 
www.britax.com.au
4 Seat 1 / 3 bar Linked 17 4 12.8 109 x 70 x 102
Worth considering
Swallow Whisper (B)
www.babyco.com.au
3 3 / - bar Linked 18 5 11.3 108 x 60 x 111
Phil & Teds Dash SPD
www.philandteds.com
3 (E) / - bar Linked 40 3 12.8 108 x 62 x 102
Not Recommended
Bugaboo Cameleon 74100 RD01 (C)
www.worldlykids.net
4 Both 1 / 3 bar Linked 17 4 12.9 115 x 80 x 89
Peg Perego Uno
www.pegperego.com
4 Handle 3 / - bar, tray Linked 15 5 10.5 107 x 69 x 94
Bertini X2 Automatic 004863
www.bertini.com.au
4 Seat 4 / - bar Linked 20 4 15.0 101 x 62 x 105
Maclaren MX3 (D)
www.cnpbrands.com.au
3 (E) / - bar Linked 25 2 12.7 119 x 63 x 129
Red Castle Shop'n Jogg Disc II
www.sahai.com.au
3 3 / - bar Individual Linked 20 5 13.7 105 x 61 x 108
 

Table notes

Price The recommended retail price, advised by manufacturers in August 2008, or the price we paid.

# Discontinued.

* Including supplied accessories. Rounded to the nearest 100g.
** Maximum dimensions when in use. Rounded up to the next cm.

(A) Exclusive to Toys R Us.
(B) To be replaced by new model in October 2008.
(C) Replaced by upgraded model.
(D) Available until stocks run out.
(E) Variable (no fixed positions).

Profiles - What to buy

Prices are recommended retail advised by manufacturers in August 2008.

These strollers passed all our safety and durability tests. They’re ranked here according to ease of use scores.

Childcare Hola 0151410-140

Price: $400
Type: Four-wheeler

Good points

  • Easy to operate the locking mechanism for the swivel wheels.
  • Easy to convert the seat to a bassinet (or vice versa) as there are no extra parts required.
  • Reversible seat.
  • Adjustable handle height.
  • Rain, insect and boot (leg) covers.
  • Padded shoulder straps.
  • Tyre pump.

Bad points

  • Nothing in particular.

Note: this model is exclusive to Toys R Us.

Bébé Care Caprice 015415-172

Price: $500
Type: Four-wheeler

Good points

  • Easy to convert the seat to a bassinet (or vice versa) as there are no extra parts required.
  • Reversible seat.
  • Adjustable handle height.
  • Rain, insect and boot (leg) covers.
  • Padded shoulder straps.
  • Parent's bag with change mat, pouch and wallet.

Bad points

  • Nothing in particular.

Love N Care Uni Coupe BP9756N

Price: $499
Type: Four-wheeler

Good points

  • Reversible handle.
  • Insect cover.
  • Padded shoulder straps.

Bad points

  • Handle height/length not adjustable.
  • No rain or boot (leg) cover.

Mountain Buggy Single Urban Elite

Price: $860
Type: Three-wheeler

Good points

  • Adjustable handle height.
  • Padded shoulder straps.
  • Tyre pump.
  • Extra padded seat cover.
  • Parent's bag with change mat.

Bad points

  • No rain, insect or boot (leg) covers.

Steelcraft Strider 30132T

Price: $449
Type: Four-wheeler

Good points

  • Reversible seat.
  • Adjustable handle length.
  • Rain cover.
  • Padded shoulder straps.

Bad points

  • No insect or boot (leg) cover.

Profiles: the rest

These models each failed at least one durability and/or safety test. Prices are recommended retail, advised by manufacturers in August 2008, or the price we paid.

Worth considering: these two models' durability failures might have been one-off incidents, so they're still worth considering. If you decide to buy one, check them carefully in store first; if possible, give them a test run with a load in the stroller seat.

Swallow Whisper

Price: $299

Type: Three-wheeler

Good points

  • Easy to operate the swivel wheel locking mechanism.
  • Adjustable handle height.
  • Leg cover.

Bad points

  • Failed a durability test — the front wheel wobbled excessively and pulled to one side while on our rolling road rig. The front wheel appeared to be misaligned. The manufacturer said they had not had any problems like this.
  • No pads on shoulder straps.
  • No rain or insect cover.

Phil & Teds Dash SPD

Price: $750
Type: Three-wheeler

Good points

  • Adjustable handle height.
  • Rain cover.
  • Padded shoulder straps.
  • A toddler seat was supplied with the model we purchased (note that we didn't test the toddler seat).

Bad points

  • Failed a durability test — the handle was damaged in our kerb mounting test. This would be particularly problematic for this model as the brakes are controlled by moving the handle.
  • No insect or boot (leg) cover.

Not recommended

The remaining models all failed at least one safety test, and many also failed a durability test.

Bugaboo Cameleon 7400 RD01

Price: $1600
Type: Four-wheeler

Good points

  • Seat and bassinet included.
  • Reversible seat.
  • Adjustable handle length.
  • Rain and insect covers.
  • Padded shoulder straps.
  • Extra fabric seat liner.
  • Tyre pump.

Bad points

  • Failed a safety test — there's a risk of the child's fingers getting caught between the handle shaft and the seat side while the handle is being reversed.
  • Seat must be detached before folding the stroller.
  • No leg cover.

Peg Perego Uno

Price: $849
Type: Four-wheeler

Good points

  • Adjustable handle height.
  • Leg cover.

Bad points

  • Failed safety tests — there's a risk of the child's fingers getting caught between the handle shaft and the seat side while the handle is being reversed.
  • It also has no effective head barrier to prevent a child slipping out of the head end of the stroller when the seat is fully reclined
  • Failed a durability test: its rear wheels came off while on our rolling road rig.
  • No rain or insect cover.
  • No pads on shoulder straps.

Bertini X2 Automatic 004863

Price: $1117 (includes frame, gliding seat and bassinet)
Type: Four-wheeler

Good points

  • Reversible seat.
  • Adjustable handle height.
  • Rain cover and leg cover.
  • Padded shoulder straps.
  • Extra padded seat liner.
  • Tyre pump.

Bad points

  • Failed a safety test — the foot opening isn't big enough; when the leg support is in its highest two positions, there's a risk that that an unsecured child could slide down and get their head trapped. The manufacturer advised that some samples have footrests with broken stops, which may account for this problem, and they are investigating further.
  • Failed a durability test — the frame collapsed during our dynamic durability test. The manufacturer voluntarily recalled the X2 in May 2008 due to breakages of the bolts securing the basket frame.
  • No insect cover.

Maclaren MX3

Price: $650
Type: Three-wheeler

Good points

  • Adjustable handle height.
  • Rain and leg covers.
  • Padded shoulder straps.
  • Plastic carry bag.

Bad points

  • Failed safety tests — the seat can be pulled away from the frame by tugging on the harness waist straps (which could increase the chance of a child wriggling out of the stroller). Its foot opening is too small when the leg support is in its highest position, creating a risk that that an unsecured child could slide down and get their head trapped.
  • Failed a durability test — its front wheel came off in our high speed (non-standard) dynamic durability test. The manufacturer disagreed with our results (for the safety and durability failures), saying they've had this model certified to the Australian standard and have had no reports of the front wheel detaching.
  • No insect cover.

Red Castle Shop'n Jogg Disc II

Price: $799
Type: Three-wheeler

Good points

  • Adjustable handle height.
  • Rain and insect covers.
  • Padded shoulder straps.
  • Tyre pump.
  • Comes with components for attaching a bassinet, plus lubricant, wheel covers, spare press studs and inner tube, and allen key.

Bad points

  • Failed a safety test — the seat can be pulled away from the frame by tugging on the harness waist straps (which could increase the chance of a child wriggling out of the stroller).
  • Failed a durability test — its front wheel wobbled excessively in our high speed (non-standard) dynamic durability test. The manufacturer disagreed with our results (for the safety and durability failures), .
  • No leg cover.

Before you buy a stroller, there are practical things to consider, including:

  • Size: Measure it to make sure the stroller fits into your car boot without needing the wheels removed.
  • Folding and unfolding: Try folding and erecting it in the shop and see if you can carry it comfortably.

You also need to consider safety — which encompasses brakes, the harness, wheels, protruding parts, sharp edges, gaps, locks, and stability. See Safety issues for advice on safety features, information on the new mandatory standard, plus tips for using your stroller safely.

Other features you may want to consider:

  • Backrest: An adjustable backrest that can move to at least one semi-reclined position; some can be fully reclined (best for sleeping or babies under six months).
  • Front bar: A detachable bar that the child can hold onto when seated upright. It can also serve as a barrier. As it's usually not secure it shouldn't be used to lift the stroller.
  • Footrest: Reduces the likelihood of injury from the child's feet touching the ground or getting caught in the front wheel.
  • Handle: A handle that can be adjusted to a comfortable height to suit different users.
  • Canopy: A canopy that can be extended to provide shade or shelter. Some have a viewing window so when it's extended you can still see your child.
  • Storage: A basket or tray under the stroller for carrying things like nappies, baby food, clothes and your handbag. It shouldn’t be loaded beyond its weight limit, usually around 5 kg, or the stroller may become unbalanced and therefore, unsafe. Some models have a pouch behind the seat or other small pockets where you can keep small lightweight items.

The following features are not always provided as standard, but may be available as optional extras:

  • Tyre pump: A hand-operated pump for inflating pneumatic tyres.
  • Leg cover: A bag-like attachment you can pull over the child's legs for protection against the weather.
  • Rain cover: A clear plastic sheet you can drape over the stroller in wet weather.
  • Insect cover: A mesh cloth to protect the child from insects and other bugs.
  • Removable liner: This provides additional comfort, and can also help support smaller babies (and then be removed when the child is bigger).

Three or four wheels?

Strollers come in all sorts of styles these days: layback, umbrella-fold, small and basic versus large and feature-packed. The most significant of your decisions is likely to be the number of wheels: three or four. And that depends on what‘s most important to you.

Three-wheelers

These tend to be wider and longer than four-wheelers and are often heavier. They are usually easier to push around, thanks to larger wheels (which are often on bearings so they pivot easily) and inflatable tyres that help absorb the bumps.

However, that easier manoeuvrability can also make them more likely to roll away if left unattended. They can also be more prone to tipping, particularly when turning corners or mounting a kerb.

Four-wheelers

These strollers — especially umbrella types — are not just more compact when in use, but also generally fold into a smaller package, so they can be a better option for public transport.

Saftety issues

Mandatory standard

 From July 2008, a mandatory standard has applied to strollers. Among other requirements, strollers require wrist tether straps (with a label warning the adult carer to use it), to help reduce the chance of a stroller rolling away. The brake pedals/levers have to be red, and contrast with the stroller frame, so they’re easily seen and more likely to be used.

In this test, only the Steelcraft and Swallow fully complied with the mandatory standard. However, all the models were purchased in March/April 2008, before the mandatory standard applied. Manufacturers advised us that all the tested models are now compliant, unless they've already been discontinued.

Safety features

Look for the following safety features (found on all the models tested, unless specified):

Brakes

The effectiveness of the brakes and their engagement is vital. Look for rear brakes on both wheels that are linked, so the left and right brakes can be activated by a single lever rather than applied individually. Get an idea of how well they work by applying the brakes and then trying to push the handle. Check that they actively lock into position. Brakes that are foot-operated or operated by a lever on the handle mean you don’t have to bend down, but make sure you can access them easily.

Harness:

A five-point harness consisting of two shoulder straps (attached to the backrest at shoulder level), a waist strap and a crotch strap. The waist straps in particular should be securely linked to the stroller’s frame, so that the child can’t lean out and tilt the stroller. Give the harness a tug to check that the seat doesn't pull away from the frame (which happened on the Maclaren and Red Castle in this test). The straps should be adjustable (allowing for growth) and the buckles easy to use (for you, but not your child).

Wheels

Front wheels that swivel to make manoeuvring easier, and that can be locked in the forward direction when travelling at higher speeds or over rough terrain. Large ones tend to be better on kerbs and stairs; pneumatic (inflatable) ones can puncture but generally give a comfier ride.

Also, check the following:

  • Are there protruding parts that can hit your child’s head or small parts that can detach easily and pose a choking risk?
  • Are there gaps that could trap your or your child's fingers? (Look especially around the release and folding mechanism areas.)
  • Are there sharp edges or points on any surfaces?
  • Is there a child-resistant mechanism for locks?
  • And is the stroller stable enough not to tip easily?  

Safety tips

Stroller safety is about more than just buying a model which meets all provisions of the relevant standard, and has good safety features. There are a number of safety precautions you should take while using it.

  • Never leave your child unattended in a stroller, and if it has a safety strap, put it on your wrist.
  • Always engage the brake when the stroller is standing to prevent it from rolling.
  • Use a lift where possible, but if you have to use the stairs, take the baby out of the stroller.
  • When at a train station, park the stroller parallel to the tracks with the brakes on and keep the stroller in view at all times. Travel in the carriage near the guard so they can make sure you’ve safely boarded or alighted.
  • When jogging, always lock the front wheel of a three-wheel stroller into place to prevent the wheel swivelling.
  • Be extra careful when talking on a mobile phone as you can easily not notice the stroller roll away – it only takes a second for a disaster to happen.
  • Don't attach a dog lead to the stroller.
  • Don't overload the stroller with shopping or other items, especially around the handles. It can affect stability.
  • If parking on a slope, park at right angles and lock the front wheel(s) in line if that’s possible. Apply the brakes carefully. Be especially careful on train stations, close to roads or water.
  • Take care when folding or unfolding the stroller that you don't get your fingers caught in the folding mechanism.

Mind your fingers

Recent incidents involving both adults and children injuring their fingers while folding or unfolding a stroller highlight the need to be careful while doing this. Most strollers have plenty of places where a carelessly placed finger could get a painful pinch (or worse).

We checked this current batch of strollers for any pinching, shearing or scissoring hazards that might pose a risk to either the child or an adult operating the stroller.

Our tester found that the sunshade support on the Bebe Care, Bertini, Bugaboo, Childcare, and Peg Perego could pose a pinching hazard to the child in the stroller if they were able to reach it. However, if the folding mechanism was released while a child was still in the stroller — which might happen if an older child played with the stroller — most of the strollers would have severe pinching, shearing or scissoring hazards to the occupant.

Also, an adult could be at risk of trapping their fingers if they were careless when folding most of these strollers. Our tester found the Bertini and Bugaboo less susceptible to this sort of hazard than the other models.

These risks are avoidable if you take care when folding or unfolding the stroller and don’t let children play with it.

Steelcraft Strider 3 30136

Price: $449

Type: Three-wheeler

Good points

  • Reversible seat.
  • The mechanism to lock the front swivel wheel is conveniently located at the handle bar.
  • Rain cover.
  • Padded shoulder straps.

Bad points

  • No tether strap.
  • No leg cover or insect cover.

ZuZu Ink 476

Price: $298

Type: Three-wheeler

Good points

  • Rain cover and insect cover.
  • Padded shoulder straps.

Bad points

  • No tether strap.
  • No leg cover.
  • Heavy.

Childcare Blaze 013520

Price: $207

Type: Three-wheeler

Good points

  • Tether strap.
  • Rain cover and leg cover.

Bad points

  • No padding on shoulder straps.
  • No insect cover.

Maclaren Quest W0708013

Price: $252

Type: Four-wheeler

Good points

  • Lightweight.
  • Rain cover.

Bad points

  • No tether strap.
  • No padding on shoulder straps.
  • No leg cover or insect cover.

Swallow Bravo

Price: $199

Type: Three-wheeler

Good points

  • Tether strap.
  • Leg cover.

Bad points

  • No padding on shoulder straps.
  • No rain cover or insect cover.

Mother's Choice Ensor Sport JG772

Price: $199

Type: Three-wheeler

Good points

  • Tether strap.
  • Leg cover.
  • Padded shoulder straps.

Bad points

  • No rain cover or insect cover.

Valco Prism N3486

Price: $270

Type: Four-wheeler

Good points

  • Padded shoulder straps.

Bad points

  • No tether strap.
  • No rain cover, leg cover or insect cover.

What about the rest of the strollers in the 2007 test?
The remaining three models each failed a safety or durability test. They're all four-wheelers, but that wasn’t a factor in their failure. Three-wheel models in previous tests have had similar problems.

  • A bolt joining a front wheel to the frame of the Bébé Care Orion 011016 broke during our durability test. We replaced it and the stroller completed the remainder of testing without incident.
  • The Roger Armstrong Elyse H603 also failed the durability test. A wheel housing broke and lost its ball bearings. The stroller completed the rest of the tests without any other failures.
  • The Chicco Ct 0.5 Evolution failed one safety test —there’s no head barrier at the rear to prevent a child accidentally slipping through when the seat back is reclined.
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