Mountain Buggy Duet Review from Harrogate Nursery Fair, 2011 by Jus
At the Harrogate Nursery Fair this weekend, several times people said to me “but there will never be a perfect pushchair” but I had hope…..
I travelled two hours to Harrogate, leaving my baby son for the first time ever, to see and review one side by side double pushchair – the Mountain Buggy Duet. For a self confessed Tandem lover this was a huge thing to do!
On paper, the Duet has been well received because of its narrow width – 63.5cms – which is the smallest double I know about to date – but at the bottom of every review to date has been the line “The 29.5 cm seat width isn’t the roomiest, but average for more compact double strollers, and should be adequate for most children up to 4 years of age”. But I think the phrase “seat width isn’t the roomiest” was putting people off…….until I had a lightbulb moment. At the time I had literally just taken delivery of a 2011 Baby Jogger City Mini and my first outing around our seaside town with the BJCM had been a disaster because of its width (75.6cms) . I had had to abandon it in one shop, and couldn’t get into another. So already I was on the search for a narrower side by side. At the time the chair my tall 2 year old daughter was sat in, was only approx 30cms wide and she easily had 5cms either side of her….so therefore the 29.5cms as quoted suddenly sounded very roomy to me! So I found a tape measure and went off to measure the BJCM seat widths. I discovered that the BJCM seats at the back seam were only 25cms wide and even at the front edge were only 28cms wide! Even the single BJCM seat at the back seam is only 28cms wide. So the Duet had on paper wider seats than both! This excited me….enormously!!
Fast forward to Harrogate and my first meeting with the Duet. It’s small and perfectly formed. I gave it a quick push and it was like pushing air! Sturdy but light! My next cheeky move was to drive it across the corridor and line it up with the City Select on display on the opposite stand. How on earth could a side by side, with wider seats than a BJCM, be narrower than my beloved City Select? Its been the thing thats been boggling the minds of Babycentre mums since we started seriously considering the Duet. But it is!!!! How??? To be honest, for starters the wheels are well tucked underneath. The City Select and BJCM’s wheels are a similar width apart at the back. But if you have a good look at the BJCM double, it’s easy to see how the Duet loses those critical cms to make it so narrow without compromising on seat space. The BJCM has a double bar down the centre. On the Duet its a thinnish single bar. The BJCM has hoods that stick out by several cms each side. The Duets clip onto the bars at either side. It’s easy to lose 10cms with extra metal and plastic! The seats on the Mountain Buggy are much more functional and practical rather than pretty. They are straight and unshaped. But that’s fine with me although I have to admit I would probably have never looked or bought a Mountain Buggy as a single – aesthetically it doesn’t thrill me like the City Select or iCandy Peach does. But a pushchair is an item that you use. That you live with. It is a work horse. If it looks great, then even better. I have a tandem for one purpose and I need a double for another ie walking to our local shops, park and to the beach, and the Mountain Buggy should be great for that. HOWEVER!! I couldn’t get my seat measurements near the 29.5cms that has been quoted for the seat measurement. In line with the BJCM (and the other pushchairs we looked at) we measured the seat at the back along the seam and the width was 27.5cms and along the front seam at the knee it was 27cms. The seat was 19cms deep. But even so thats approx 2cms wider at the back of the seat than the BJCM and only 0.5cm less at the front. It’s not worth arguing over really! What was even more amazing was that the bulky, heavier, taller Duo ALSO had the same seat measurements ie 27.5cms at the back of the seat and 27cms at the front!!
There is a large basket. It’s more accessible than the BJCM where I could only fit a small bag through the side gap and at best a can of coke at the back. I obviously haven’t tried, but I would hope to be able to get a couple of bags of shopping easily through the gap under the seats. However I am aware that once you get the weight of a couple of children in, the gap may well close and make it harder to get bags underneath. So I remain unconvinced over the basket access - its the one thing I really would like to see in real life with children in the seats - but you know what? It’s better than I have right now with the BJCM as the Duet will fit through ALL my local shop doors!
As I said the seats are functional really. I am not sure what the recommended age for the seats will be but they do lie pretty flat and we thought they may recommend them as suitable from 4 months. But as in the photo you can buy liners to fit the Mountain Buggies to add extra comfort. The sheepskin type one in the photo looked lovely. The seat recline was a toggle type strap system at the back which is a feature I love on the BJCM. My 8 month old son hates being laid down but once he’s asleep I slowly lower him down in the BJCM. So that was a plus for me.
For infants you can add one or even two carrycots. To be fair they were probably the smallest of the carrycots we measured (I will do a comparison table later) but not by much. And I would have no issues moving a 4-5 month old to the seat later because its not bucket shaped like say a City Select or Bugaboo seat. We went back at the end of the day to see how they fitted. The gentleman had never done it before, but he had the fabric poppered off in seconds and the carrycot very easily clipped onto the frame (once we had found the right place!). It looked great – parent facing! It was a good sturdy carrycot. My assumption is the carrycot would need to come off to fold. The carrycots were a few cms smaller than the Bugaboo and City Mini carrycots but not by much. The internal useable space measurements we got were 75cms long by 26.5cms wide in the middle and 27cms wide at the head end. The carrycots are apparently suitable for overnight sleeping.
You can also amazingly put on two maxi cosi car seats! We saw a photo of how they fit and although they are staggered on the frame, they are actually close together near the handle bar. I assume if the adaptors clip onto the frame like the carrycot that they will overlap nicely. Having said that, the external width of a Maxi Cosi car seat is 44cms so there has to be some overlap in the centre to keep the pushchair slim? We will await more photos of those. We hope to get some asap.
The Duet harness strap adjustor is so nifty! It has a height adjustor which slides up and down and seemed easy to alter. The harness buckle was easy for me to do but apparently harder for a child. But I loved being able to see the red release buttons because at home I am forever scrabbling around in the dark to find where the black ones on my Baby Joggers are! The hoods were a good size. Not as large as the amazing hood of the City Mini but still good with a peekaboo window which rolls up with velcro if you want it open.
I loved the ridged rubber handle – it felt good in my hand. I have back issues after two children so I do tend to lean on the handle when walking, and it allowed me to put my weight on even with no children sat inside without any tipping problems. I also loved the fold down handle to adjust the height. Pushing the Duet wasn’t the arm stretching task of the BJCM or any other double. It was effortless and my hands were close together! The brake was easy to identify but I have to confess I have been spoilt with my City Select side hand brake. The double bumper bar was functional. The raincovers are extras. We queried why and its because Mountain Buggies are sold in hot dry countries as well as wet ones! There’s also a wrist strap for the parent for your regular mountain climb!
I like to compare pushchairs so I cheekily lined up the Duet next to the Duo – wow! The Duo looked like such a monster next to the neat little Duet! I honestly didn’t want to go near the Duo!! I think the differences are obvious from the photos. The weight difference was considerable; the fold was larger on the Duo. Which reminds me! I haven’t talked about the nifty fold on the Duet!! We attempted to fold the Duo and it took two of us to work out the catch at the front and how to fold it. The Duet has an amazing little button on the back of one of the hoods. If I remember correctly you lift it up, give a little pull (or push?) and the Duet folds flat instantly! I was told no one knew how to do it but whilst they were searching for someone who did, I simply pulled the handle and the whole thing just smoothly dropped to the ground. I think you should be able to do it one handed!! The wheels are much smaller on the Duet (its a Swift chassis if you want to look them up) but that wouldn’t bother the average user around the shops and on the school run. The wheels detach – and forgive me if I have got this bit wrong – I will check – but I think it was the Duet wheels where the pin slides back out of the way so that nothing catches on it when being stored. I’m not the one to ask if the tyres are airfilled or not – but I am sure again we will find that out. I will be interested to see if the Duet’s fold is small enough to fit into the 20cms clearance in my car boot! I wish now we had measured the folded width, but again it may be something we can find out about. But with the bumper bar off its a fairly narrow pushchair. I have to say I won’t miss having to do battle with my cosy toes falling off each time I fold the Duet like I do with the BJCM.
I promised Mountain Buggy that I would point out that the footplate of the Duet will be metal like the Duo. The Duet in the photo was still a prototype. Please also note that in the side by side photos of the Duet and Duo, that the handlebar of the Duo is fully extended but the Duet handlebar has been lowered. It is my belief that the handlebar heights will probably be the same.
I have to say that by the end, Leah and I were in love. Both would have happily ordered one on the spot if we could have done so. Our only recommendation – we ARE fussy customers (!) - was to ask for storage nets on the back of each seat for drinks etc. but the people at Mountain Buggy WERE listening and we really hope they can make this small addition that REALLY IS useful happen for us
But apart from the storage nets and a few question marks remaining, I really think it could be the perfect pushchair. (And thats from a side-by-side-a-phobe!)
RRP is £580 for the Duet, £140 per Carrycot, £25 per set of Car Seat Adaptors and £41 for the Raincover (I am assuming its a double one but it may well not be – I will check!). Don’t forget that the new Freerider will also fit on the back for those mums and dad’s of three children! It was a very sturdy little board which came apart nicely when needed. Its wider than the average scooter and seemed to be plenty of room for little feet on the non slip base.
Stores are now taking pre-orders. Even though there is speculation re the date they are due in, and some stores are saying May, Mountain Buggy themselves really had no idea on Sunday. All they knew was that the Phil and Ted’s Verve would be the next Pushchair they launch and we assume the Duet will be next. The Plus One was a prototype on display and my feeling was that the Duet was almost ready to go whereas the Plus One wasn’t. But we will keep you informed!
Thanks to all the Mountain Buggy team for their patience, cooperation and enthusiasm to help us research this fully.
*EDIT* We believe the Duet will now arrive in late July. The RRP is not set, and will only be set when the Duet arrives in the UK depending on the current exchange rate.
Other Mountain Buggy Duet Reviews: