Babystyle Oyster Gem Review by Best Buggy
The Babystyle Oyster Gem is certainly well named…..it is an absolute gem of a pushchair!
The Oyster Gem is the pushchair which ticks all the boxes for parents who are wanting one small folding pushchair, from birth to three, which does it all in one package. The Oyster Gem does all this at an affordable price.
The Oyster Gem has the choice of a carrycot or car seat option from birth, and then a choice of two seats which are suitable from the age of six months. There is a smaller reversible, formed seat, and a larger hammock seat.
The small seat has been nicknamed by us as the ‘baby’ seat, because this seat is probably the one most likely to be chosen for a baby above 6 months old, simply because it is smaller, and parent or forward faces. This seat can be used from 6 months old until a child is 15kgs. Indeed our under 15kgs, 3 year old has been riding round very comfortably, both parent and forward facing, in the smaller seat unit. This smaller seat unit can simply be lifted off to turn, and to store.
The larger seat which may well be regarded as the ‘toddler’ seat, but there is no real logic for this because the larger seat is suitable from birth, and has an excellent flat recline for a sleeping baby. This seat is attached to the chassis in several different places by straps and clasps, and thus can only forward face.
We like that a customer has the choice of which seat to buy when making the initial purchase of the Oyster Gem, but also that for example the Hammock seat fabric is a very affordable £29, should you buy the smaller seat but wish later to buy the Hammock seat.
The Oyster Gem comes in five colours: Black, Grape, Tomato, Ocean, Lime
Travel System and Carrycot
There are also travel system options for the Oyster Gem. The Oyster car seat simply clicks onto the chassis, or the Maxi Cosi Citi, Cabriofix and Pebble all fit on using car seat adaptors. For newborn babies, there is also an Oyster Gem carrycot for which adaptors are required.
Therefore with the choice of using the Oyster Gem as a travel system, with a carrycot or with the two seat units, there is an Oyster Gem option for every phase of a young child’s life, and also to suit your lifestyle.
Child Comfort and Seat Recline
The small reversible seat comes with a thick padded liner which offers a child good comfort. This can easily be removed as the child grows to give more room. Our later photos show the liner removed from the seat.
The seat is very upright when sat up, which is great for an older child. There are 3 recline positions on the small reversible seat. This seat reclines using two button points on the inside of the seat unit. These are marked with white stitched circles (see the main photoset). These are clearly seen when there is no liner in the seat, but once the liner is in, then it is necessary to fumble under the seat to find the buttons to recline. We have found these buttons fairly difficult to access to be honest. The buttons are situated too far inside the pushchair seat for my fingers and thumbs to reach. When the liner is in situ, then trying to come in at an angle under the liner makes it harder. I also struggle to simply have enough pressure to release the buttons, and then to tilt the seat whilst having your thumbs / fingers on each button i.e. with your forearms. Its a lot of hard work even without the weight of a child in the seat! We feel sure there is an easier way to recline the seat! However this only a minor niggle in what is a good pushchair.
The hammock seat is large and roomy. It reclines using a toggle recline. At first we struggled to precisely work this out, but once we spotted where to pull, it was easy to pull the seat down to flat, or to push it back up. As with all toggle reclines, it was necessary to give the seat a helping hand upwards with a nudge of a shoulder or forearm. However one side could be pulled up using one string, and then the other side could be pulled up using the other string. We had to pull the toggles as tight as possible to get a good upright seating position. One criticism we heard from other Oyster Gem testers was that there is some movement of the seat forwards. So a child can pull themselves forwards by a few inches if they wanted to. To be honest, this was never really an issue for us. We asked our 4 year old to see if she could so it, and she was unable to move more than a cm or two. We suspect maybe how upright the seat is could affect this – ours is pulled very taught – so much so that you can see the fabric gaping at the back in some of our photos. Equally, we have seen this movement on other pushchairs with toggle reclines, and we quite like on those pushchairs, that our son has the choice to lean forwards slightly, should he wish to see something. The hammock seat recline itself is a good one. We are going to play it safe here and say that the hammock seat is suitable from 6 months (We do not absolutely know though,) however the recline looks very flat to us.
We were very pleased to see that our children sat comfortably in both seat units, even when the child is reclined. We were unsure at first how well a child’s legs would be supported when sleeping in the reclined small reversible seat, however, as our photos show, our boy looks really comfy when reclined in both seats. Both seats have a good leg to footrest length, although an older child may benefit from better calf support in the hammock seat when reclined.
As we stated at the start, both seats are certified up to 15kgs. Therefore there is the choice which seat you buy, but equally it is very easy to switch between the seat units. This could be useful with siblings or even for example when flying – so that the Oyster Gem can be taken on holiday as a one piece fold, whilst the reversible seat is left at home. We even experimented and discovered that the smaller seat can be fitted over the hammock seat which may well be a useful option when you have two children of different ages who share the use of one pushchair. It would make it easy to interchange from one seat to the other seat.
Hood and Harness
The Oyster Gem hood interchanges between the two seats. The hood is made of a good thickness fabric. There is a solid zip out panel in the centre of the hood, which gives the Oyster Gem a large hood with good coverage. There is also an additional fabric panel which is added when the large seat is used to give extra cover for when a child is reclined. The smaller seat tilts, thus does not need this extra panel.
The Oyster Gem harness is probably the only thing we would definitely alter on both seat units. Both seat options only have one height setting. Bearing in mind that the seat units, ARE both suitable for a six month old up to 15kg child (which is a wide variation of shoulder height), the harness shoulder height setting is slightly too low for an older child, but conversely, I suspect is too high for a 6 month old. Our son was constantly removing his arms from the harness straps because they simply slide off his shoulders, and we have now added on a Belt Upp strap across his chest, to ensure he is kept secure.
To be completely fair to Babystyle, with both seats, our children are reaching the limits of the harnesses – which probably means that the harnesses are about right for the maximum weight limits of this pushchair. However, we were testing the Oyster Gem through the summer with thin t-shirts on. I suspect even an average 12 month old with a thicker winter coat would struggle to get the harness done up. Equally, this Oyster Gem is only a test pushchair, and we and the other testers we know about, have all done feedback forms which included comments about the harness. So Babystyle may alter these on the finished Gem’s. Just be aware, and check any alterations on the fimal production model before buying!
Overall the harness and buckle feel robust and are easy to do up, undo and to adjust. There are no shoulder pads included.
The Oyster Gem handlebar is beautifully finished with stitched leatherette. It feels great in your hand. We like the chunky feel, and the warmth of the handlebar – it makes a good change to foam which can easily damage. However, we have gained a few indentations in the handlebar from where it has has been folded down onto the chassis.
The handlebar pivots upwards to a good height – we measure it at around 91.5cms which sounds short, but the angle makes it comfortable for me to use at 5ft 6ins tall – I do not like a low handlebar! There are a further two positions on the handlebar. We like the hexagonal ‘gem’ detail of the handlebar adjustor buttons. The only downside of having the handlebar on the highest position is that you have to walk fairly close to the pushchair. Its not caused us any issues apart from feeling a little odd, however it could be a niggle for someone with a long stride or who walks a lot. The ’V’ shaped opening at the rear of the pushchair may compensate for this though.
Chassis, Wheels, Handling and Brake
The Oyster Gem chassis is mirror finished which makes it very eye catching. The chassis is thick and chunky. There is a small but perfectly adequate footrest at the front of the Gem chassis. This has two small slots in the plastic, through which the hammock seat are threaded and attached.
The triangular footprint feels very sturdy, which is a BIG positive for a small compact folding three wheeled pushchair. The overall feel of the Gem is that its well balanced, and although it is probably not recommended, the Gem can quite happily stand having a bag or two on the handlebar without feeling remotely tippy. This stability is one of the things which will give the Oyster Gem the edge over its other small, 3 wheeled compatriots.
There is one double swivel / lockable front wheel, and two small single rear wheels which are quite widely spaced. Although overall these wheels are small, they seem to cope well with the situations which we have met in our everyday lives which included footpaths, mown grass, rough surfaces, shopping malls etc.
The Gem pushes really smoothly, and feels very grounded. The Oyster Gem has independent front and rear suspension which does give a good ride and makes the Gem comfortable to push. The wheels although small, are smooth along the ground. Its quite difficult to find a small pushchair which is not rattly to push, so this is a big positive. The wheels are fairly quiet – I say fairly, because my Gem did develop two issues – first an annoying click which turned out to be the front wheel lock catching (we filed this down) and secondly a rear wheel developed a squeak. Thankfully the very lovely people at Nurseryland in Wakefield, heard the squeak and said they knew how to fix it! A good few squirts of WD40 later, and we had finally a silent Oyster Gem!!
The Gem is easy to manoeuvre and to weave in, out and around obstacles, although the front wheel could be a little more responsive. However we have found it refreshing to have a parent facing pushchair which is so light and easy to use, and feels good to push.
There is a footbrake on the Gem. This is located by the rear right hand wheel. The pedal is small. It needs a good press to engage but once on it holds the pushchair firm.
Storage, Footmuff and Raincover
Our test Oyster Gem has a small but perfectly formed basket. However Babystyle tell us that the basket has been enlarged on the final production models, which is brilliant news. On our test model, we managed to get a surprisingly large amount of bags and ‘stuff’ into the basket. I easily got my medium sized handbag and a lunchbag into the basket stood up. Someone else managed to wedge several large carrier bags in! So although, yes the basket is small, it can be packed well, and to be honest fares better than some larger baskets we have have tested this year! This is really more than can be hoped for on a pushchair of this size.
We love that Babystyle have thoughtfully provided a footmuff for the small reversible seat, which is great because any other footmuff probably have just dangled on the small seat. We were surprised how well the footmuff fitted, and how much room the child had inside of the it.
Babystyle have also provided a raincover. This worked fairly well with both seats forward facing, however the raincover really needs some way to secure it on the front edge when parent facing.
Fold / Unfold
The Oyster Gem fold really is where the Gem shines. The Oyster Gem folds very, very neatly! As the Gem folds, the chassis slides closer together and the wheels tuck in closer together. The handlebar can be tucked in, either fully or partially when the seat units are used. Whichever fold is used, the Gem is a very neat, compact folding pushchair!! The chassis can freestand with the hammock seat on too.
The Oyster Gem has a very steady fold and unfold. That is not to say it can’t be done quickly, but it doesn’t simply fling open. We admit to using different techniques depending on which seat (or not) is used. With the small seat forward facing, we rest the front on the floor as an anchor point and pull the handle up towards us. With the hammock seat on, it is easier to open the Gem from the side and pull both halves slowly into line. The only thing to watch is that you do not catch your clothes, or even your fingers, in the hinge at the point it locks into place. This is where the slow controlled unfold is useful to ensure this does not happen! When just the chassis needs opening, we literally get one side in each hand and pull it apart, but higher up in the air than when the hammock seat fabric is on.
Folding the chassis is easy. There is a button on the right hand side to press in hard, then slide the two black pieces on the side of the handlebar, which allows the chassis to ‘break’ in the middle. The chassis then needs folding to the ground at a slow and controlled pace. The footplate of our Gem is however showing signs of wear from folding onto the ground.
The small seat can be left in situ when forward facing. However the chassis does touch the underneath of the seat with a bit of a clunk. It did not bother us, however it did some of the other Oyster Gem testers. The Oyster Gem will not fold with the small seat parent facing. It needs removing. The chassis can then be folded, and the handlebar can then be folded in on top, and then the small seat unit nests in the folded chassis. The small reversible seat is very simple to pop on and off. It literally drops into position on the top of the chassis. To remove the seat, there are two tabs – one at each side which when squeezed inwards, release the seat so that it can be lifted off.
The large hammock seat fabric is attached very simply to the chassis. We were sent no instructions, but it was easy enough to do. There are two large plastic clips which go around the chassis. The plastic is shaped to go around two rivets so that positioning is self explanatory. There are poppers and velcro tabs which go through the footrest and popper underneath the chassis. The same hood is used from the smaller seat with the addition of the extra piece of hood fabric which zips on at the rear. Once on, the hammock fabric can be left in situ when folding the Gem.
Our test Oyster Gem has no chassis lock, however Babystyle have listened to feedback, and they have added a chassis lock onto the final production models. This is brilliant news as it will help carrying the Gem around, especially if the one hand is needed to hold a baby or child. However, we would love to see a carrying strap on the Gem which would assist considerably with being able to carry the Gem easily from the house to the car, or even upstairs in a block of flats.
We also loved that we could fold the handlebar down and simply pick the whole pushchair up and place it into the boot of the car still open!! Very cool!
Please note that our photos to accompany this review illustrate both seat units, beginning with the reversible seat, and ending with the hammock seat.
The Babystyle Oyster Gem is a thoroughly useful, stylish, little pushchair at a very reasonable price. The Gem’s strength is that onto the small, neat folding chassis, there are lots of options – 2 seats units (including a parent facing one), a carrycot or a choice of 4 car seats. The small neat fold will be a massive advantage when space is at a premium whether in a house or in the car, but yet a comfortable parent facing pushchair or travel system is required. Above all the sturdy, well balanced feel of the Gem, along with the good height handle, gives it the edge above its competitors. The small seat has a very upright position as well as two further recline positions, which will give any small toddler a comfortable ride. We think that the Oyster Gem would be ideal for a family who live upstairs in a flat, as it could be easily carried upstairs one handed. The only negative we have is with the harness shoulder straps, but this is easily addressed should it be seen as an issue with an add on clip as we have done.
Would Best Buggy recommend the Oyster Gem – absolutely! We think the Oyster Gem is going to fit really nicely into a a current gap in the market for a great looking, small parent facing from birth travel system, at a very affordable price. We love the Oyster Gem!
With many thanks to Nick, and to Babystyle for allowing us to test the preproduction Oyster Gem. We commend them for listening to feedback and making the final production Oyster Gem even better than the one we have here.
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