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Britax B-Dual 2011 Review by Best Buggy

There’s so much to write about the Britax B-Dual that I don’t really know where to begin…so I will start by saying I am loving using it! This has come as a shock to some people who know me and my love of the Baby Jogger City Select, but its true. I am really really enjoying using the B-Dual. For me it works practically which may sound obvious, but its not so with many tandem pushchairs. My children are happy in it, its easy to push, it drives beautifully and it suits me well. Best and most important of all I can get the B-Dual into my local shops, which have narrow split doors – and even better, I can transport my shopping home again with the pushchair taking the strain rather than me!

But, I have to say it wasn’t love at first sight. My first meeting with the B-Dual was in 2010 when we came face to face in Mothercare. The tall hood on the main seat put me off and I hardly gave the B-Dual a second glance. But I wish now that I had because its a cracking good pushchair. The Harrogate show gave me my first good look and I have to say I was impressed. I was especially impressed by its capabilities as a pushchair for newborn twins, with the option of two car seats, two soft cots (or one hard carrycot and one soft cot) and two seats. I have to say having used the B-Dual whilst its fantastic for siblings I actually think its probably an even better option for twins – simply because twins grow at the same rate so they would both need the recline at the same time, or soft cot at the same time. The Britax B-Dual also has the advantage that it isn’t just a tandem, the B-Dual will also work well as a single pushchair in its own right, but I will review this option separately.

My children are currently 9 months and 2 and a half years old. My 2 and a half year old is very tall for her age and is wearing age 3-4 clothes. This is quite important when you look at things like hood height. My daughter has masses of room in the upper seat for her head….and if there wasn’t room enough, Britax supply you with extension adaptors to extend the hood even higher! I have included photos of the hood with and without these adaptors so that you can see the difference.

My son is extremely comfortable in both seats. I especially like that the lower seat can be reclined by 3 positions using the seat adjustment handle, but then cleverly there are also buckles underneath the seat which release more fabric to make a carrycot effect – even without a soft cot. I think the Britax B-Dual literature doesn’t do itself justice, because it shows the lower seat as being slightly tilted with the soft cot in it, but believe me once the buckles are undone, the lower seat is very flat. To be honest its a feature I wouldn’t have known about if I hadn’t used the Britax B-Dual myself. The upper seat reclines equally well. With siblings, you can’t really recline the upper seat completely flat if the eldest child is underneath, but you can still partially recline the seat and leave enough room for the child below. With my daughter on the top, I could have both seats fully reclined.

However, my daughter has caused me problems, at least in my eyes, but not in hers! She is only just 2 and a half, and although tall, my daughter just doesn’t sit upright in both the seats. I have tried everything to get her sat upright and she just slouches in both seats. She has tons of head room and seat width, but the lack of a footrest on the upper seat doesn’t help. When she is in the upper seat, my daughter looks like she is hanging from the straps. You can see on the photos that she really doesn’t know what to do with her feet. If she leaves them hanging down then she is literally hanging off the seat. After the first outing, she actually requested that I lifted the leg rest up and she put her feet flat on the footrest with her knees in the air. Later she adapted this further and now lies her legs out in front of her, which does look more comfortable. She’s never asked me to change a foot rest on a previous pushchair ever. I have included the last photo because I think in it she looks more comfortable in the main seat.

However, for my daughter, the lower seat has been a real hit and she absolutely loves it. I think she sees it as a den or house. The seat isn’t really upright enough for her, but she loves putting her legs right out in front of her and “hiding” or playing “sleep”. She keeps asking me to recline the seat for her, and I can only imagine its like being laid on a moving sunlounger. I have to say, it must be pretty comfortable because previous pushchairs have been sold simply because my daughter couldn’t sit upright, and yet in the B-Dual she stands every morning demanding in her pigeon 2 year old language to “go outside; in pushchair; at bottom; not top”. So whilst I don’t think she looks comfortable, believe me my daughter loves the B-Dual above all our pushchairs, and on a morning she will actually tug at the B-Dual for me to use!!!

The good bits for me, are how beautifully the B-Dual handles. Even on cambered pavements, the B-Dual drives in a straight line. There’s hardly any need to pull it back into line. It turns very very easily – I don’t have to pull it around a corner, and rarely have I had to ’line it up’. It feels sturdy to push and also when my daughter clambers into either seat, I have no fears about it tipping. When I initially unpacked the B-Dual I thought the handlebar was too spongey for me – but once the children have been loaded in, the handlebar is simply perfect. It must have been the suspension that gave it that feeling when empty. I love the fact there are so many handle positions – there really is one to suit anyone of any size. One of my biggest fears having recently tried out a Phil & Teds Dash, was that I would be constantly kicking the lower seat – but amazingly I don’t. Whether the car seat or second seat is on, I have plenty of room for my stride. An issue with the Baby Jogger City Select is getting up kerbs, so imagine my (and the children’s) shock when as I went to go up a step, I pushed down hard on the handlebar and the front of the pushchair simply flew up in the air!!!! I have to say I was very surprised how easily the B-Dual got up the step. However the baby was sat in the front seat and it is not as easy to lift up when my eldest is sat in there.

When Bugaboo built the Donkey, they latched onto one major feature of having children – children come with “stuff” – whether it is changing bags, footballs, toys, muslins, bottles, spare clothes, potties or even junk models to take home from nursery. You can’t escape it! I also live in that real world, and although we do 90% of our shopping online, we do still go to the local shops each week for fresh fruit, vegetables and more. Somehow I have to get all this home. I was very skeptical when I saw the B-Dual because although it has a huge shopping basket, I didn’t know if there would be any space left once there was a child’s feet in there. Also I thought the zipped compartments on the basket were too small to be practical. But I was wrong on both counts. On our first outing to a garden centre, the side zips were perfect to post long items cross ways through the pushchair. For later shopping trips, I could easily post large bags of shopping through the front zipped flap and into the shopping basket right at the front, away from even my daughter’s long legs. You may have looked at the photos at the top and wondered why my shopping is included in the gallery. Well six of those bags of shopping (2 supermarket baskets full) both fitted in the B-Dual’s basket with my son’s feet comfortably laid on top of some of it, and I only needed to hang one small light bag on the handlebar for the return journey home – and before you ask, that one bag didn’t swing anywhere near my child’s head. I have to say I was gobsmacked. But the lower seat doesn’t sit flush to the floor of the basket so there is enough room to layer shopping bags up to the height of the seat base, and even to tuck shopping slightly underneath the seat and for the child to still have plenty of leg room. If I had wanted to, I probably could have got the 7th bag underneath but there was no need. There are very few tandems that I can name that you can get lots of shopping underneath. Trying to put a football, and buckets and spades underneath was more problematic because they were awkward shaped items, but we still managed well. I will be honest and say that for supermarket shopping I now prise my daughter out of her prime position underneath and I put her in the top to maximise on footspace. The negative to this, was that the first time I did this, my toddler was in perfect position to kick my head as I pushed the shopping through the front hole! Ow! But with the footrest up in line with the seat, this is no longer an issue. But as you can see in one of the photos, when I put my daughter in the lower seat, my large handbag fitted easily into the basket leaving her plenty of footspace still. Even with all the shopping in, when my son fell asleep on the way home, the B Dual’s lower seat still reclined with no problem. For me, the Britax B-Dual really scores highly simply because of the storage space which makes this pushchair very practical.

So to the little bits and pieces. The good bits and the niggles. I love the foam covered handlebar. It’s very nice to feel under your hand. I like the way there are adaptors to push the front seat a few inches further forwards. I love the way the second seat or lower car seat adaptor simply drop into place. They have a knack for removal though but its not hard -press one button and then the other. I adore the fling over raincover that is included in the package. It came as a refreshing change after trying to fit tight fitting individual raincovers to all my previous pushchairs. Perfect for that sudden shower.

I don’t like the fact you can’t really turn the top seat around to parent face because a toddler in the upper seat can literally kick the child in the lower seat in the head. But it would work fine for baby twins. When the car seat is on top, you use the adaptors which push the seat further away. It’s a shame there aren’t adaptors to push the main seat further away when parent facing.

I have to say I find the seat recline levers a bit flimsy although they work great and are easy to find. I have hit my knee on the lower seat recline lever when reversing in through a door. I have had issues with my foot brake too. It has worked perfectly on the flat and on a steep slope. But the brake has released itself a couple of times on a slight slope. I have found it hard to release the brake. My husband says sometimes he has to rock the pushchair slightly to release it. But the brake is in a sensible position, and on occasions I have been sat down, and had to move the pushchair, and I could easily release and reapply the brake with my hand.

I love the huge hoods – they really are great. The second seat comes with a hood included. At first I was skeptical of the mesh hiding behind the zippered middle of the hoods, but I absolutely love being able to see the children clearly and they love playing Peekaboo with me, and being able to see out of the top and sides. However clearly the mesh is impractical for winter and I have to say, even with the current spring sunshine, I have found the sun in my children’s eyes, so the mesh isn’t a sun shield which is a bit of a shame because its a great idea. But even with the mesh compartment closed, the hoods are still good sizes.

I love the bumper bar and the way it swings easily out of the way. The straps are extremely easy to adjust – in fact its my only pushchair where the children aren’t designated a seat because the straps on other pushchairs are too hard to keep adjusting. I have been asked several times if the harness straps are longer than the old B-Dual, but I don’t know enough about the old version to answer this. All I know is that my daughter has enough room in her harness with a fleece coat on her at present. There’s not huge amounts of strap left over, but I haven’t yet reached the full extension in either seat. I really wish Britax had put some good quality shoulder pads onto the B-Dual. It’s a small detail but within seconds of putting the pushchair up, the velcroed pad fell off. They are also thin and flimsy.  The harness buckles are easy to do up – one side at a time – but yet release at the same time. There are only two strap settings though – low – recommended for babies under 6 months old, and high for children any time over 6 months. This doesn’t however seem to be a problem.

I have to say that at 69cms wide, the Britax B-Dual JUST fits through my local small supermarket shop door. The wheel guards however do keep catching on things as I push the B-Dual through shops, but thankfully the guards are semi flexible so are standing up to being bumped well although I am not sure how well they will last without getting damaged. Hubby wants to remove them, but they are an important safety feature to stop little fingers from getting caught.

I like the solid tyres and lockable swivel wheels. I love the black frame – its very stylish, and Britax have some gorgeous jewel like colours to choose from.

I have the Britax Baby-Safe Plus SHR II infant carrier. I have to say after my Maxi Cosi Cabriofix car seat, the Britax Baby-Safe Plus SHR II feels very plush and padded. I put my son into the Baby-Safe whilst I unpacked the B-Dual and he was asleep in under 30 seconds! The reclining supportive headrest system, where a newborn is laid flatter than an older baby, is fab. I really wish we had known that this seat existed when my son was smaller because he needed to be flatter in a car seat than the Maxi Cosi Cabriofix afforded him. But he’s enjoying the benefits now. I like the padded head supports, the shoulder straps, hood and especially the easy recline button and easy remove button for when the seat is on the B-Dual. One thing I especially like is the 5 point harness. It feels much more secure than the 3 point one on the Maxi Cosi Cabriofix. The seat isn’t too heavy to carry even with a 9 month old in, although swinging the seat into the lower position on the B-Dual is harder on my back, than putting it up high! But the adaptor sockets are simply fabulous. There is no more faffing around trying to line both sides up as you do with a Maxi Cosi Cabriofix seat on most compatible pushchairs! Once one side is lined up, the other is automatically lined up and the seat simply drops into place. The infant seat removes again with one hand, which again after juggling the two release buttons of the Maxi Cosi seat whilst balancing the car seat weight on your knee whilst you grab the handle, has been bliss!

The B-Dual comes with upper car seat adaptors included in the package. They are the same ones you use to push the upper seat forwards. You also get a piece of fabric with two zips which you need to fix onto the pushchair chassis to protect the lower child. It’s simple enough once you can get the zips lined up and I can’t say I am enjoying doing it when time is pressing and we need to be somewhere, and my daughter wants to be off! But most of all I really like the fact my son is so close to me when he is in the upper position. It feels like I am pushing a single pushchair once again. It’s a shame the lower car seat adaptor frame is such an awkward shape though, because its easier to store two adaptor sticks like with a Bugaboo or Baby Jogger, than a frame. But you only really need to buy the lower car seat adaptor if you have twins.

One thing I wish Britax had included was an easy set up guide – I have to say the guides included are comprehensive, but it took me ages to work out that the set up instructions were in the middle of the huge booklets, and also it took careful examination of the pictures to make sure the wheel guards were on the correct way round. A simple set up guide would have saved me a lot of time and head scratching!

Just to add quickly here, the B-Dual will take two infant carriers at the same time, but also will take two soft cots, or one hard carrycot and one soft cot for twins. You can put a hard carrycot on the top with a toddler underneath. ‘Onionlady’ has kindly said I could use the photo of the hard carrycot with her 2 year old in the lower seat. She said that the lower seat has to be reclined or else the toddler is too near the carrycot. To be honest, the lower seat in particular would be fine for a newborn with a blanket tucked around them – I think in fact having a space for a newborn without needing a soft cot is a huge bonus of this pushchair. But having a soft cot or carrycot option enables easy transfer from pushchair into the house.

Apart from the seating for my daughter, I think my only other niggle is the fold. The pushchair folds very easily – you have to flip the lower seat so that the head end is practically on the floor, and then its a simple two handed sliding action. It should stand upright and freestanding at the end, but if you get it wrong, the fold joint in the frame clunks down heavily onto the floor. However I love the fact you can fold the pushchair with both seats on the chassis. It is bliss to pull the pushchair out of the car boot and have it set up within seconds with both seats attached. I have to be fair though and say I could do this with my City Select if I so desired. But the B-Dual fold is large and the B-Dual does fill my car boot (excuse the mess in the photo!). I have to say, even with the seats off, and the wheels popped off the fold isn’t that much different. The B-Dual is long and bulky when folded. It’s also very hard to handle to move from one place to another folded. There is nowhere obvious to hold onto the chassis and that makes it awkward - I wish there was a carrying handle on the top. At present we have to hold the bumper bar & handle at the same time but I am scared that the bumper bar shouldn’t be taking that sort of weight. If you take the B-Dual apart, then it stacks quite neartly and takes up less space in a car boot, but with both seats attached, the B-Dual fills my car boot.

However for every day use and for walking about town the B-Dual is better than all the other pushchairs currently residing in our house. For that reason its a winner with me – and I am loving the ease of pushing the B-Dual combined with happy children and the storage space for my shopping needs.

I always say that you never truly know what a pushchair is like until you use one, and the B-Dual is one such example of how seeing something in a shop doesn’t give you a true picture of how well a pushchair works in real life. I really think the Britax B-Dual is a very very good, solid, practical pushchair and I, and my children are loving it.

Many Thanks to Britax for enabling me to do this review, and to Onionlady for kindly allowing me to use the photo of the hard carrycot with the lower seat.

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