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Joovy Ergo Caboose Review by Best Buggy

My children are getting older, but my 2.9 year old is still too unreliable to stand on a buggy board, so I thought that a Joovy Caboose could be a really good half way house, with a seat for her to sit on, plus the option to stand. After reading and watching all the reviews I could find, and still being undecided as to which was better for our family, I decided to order a Joovy Ergo Caboose and a Joovy Caboose Ultralight and do a side by side comparison (to follow later) to try and help  decide in future.

I was most excited about the Joovy Ergo Caboose. It has great styling, with a curved frame which reminds me of the Bugaboo Bee. I love the canopy and especially the canopy for the toddler. It has air tyres at the rear and best of all for me, a huge shopping basket with good access, but even better access when the toddler seat is lifted up. It sounded great! My one reservation was the level of comfort for my baby in the front seat and what the mesh would be like (especially given I have been unable to order any of the luxury seat pads)?

So it was with great excitement that we opened the box and assembled the Joovy Ergo. It does look great!

Everything was assembled in minutes. However the air tyres are disappointingly small, and even worse are the tiny weeny wheels at the front. I have never seen such small wheels on a single pushchair, let alone a tandem pushchair! We have quite a large hall but it sometimes takes some juggling to move around with a double pushchair in the hall and I was struggling to move the Ergo Caboose even a few inches, but didn’t think anything of it at the time.

My main dilemma was: We had to go out and buy food for several days. But my 12 month old had just fallen asleep and was in his cot. But looking at the front seat, the recline was really fairly minimal (especially considering there is a large gap between the back of the seat when reclined and the rear child ie enough room for a flatter recline), and more importantly there was no side support for the baby, nor any chest pads for him to rest his chin / neck on (I had ordered a neck support but it hadn’t arrived). The seat is a see through mesh. I expected it to be a soft fabric cooling mesh like the Twinner Twist Duo, or even the Puky bike seat we have just bought. But no, it is a rough plastic mesh that is rough to the feel. With all these points in mind I decided that there was no way I could put my sleeping 12 month old in the front seat. Thankfully there is a parent facing car seat option.

Bearing in mind the Ergo Caboose is designed for the US market, I didn’t know if my Maxi Cosi Cabriofix would fit, but I thought it was the same as the Mico. So I thought I would try! A car seat adaptor is included in the package. It was easy enough to put the first two pins into place, and also the third. But the final pin needs a hard squeeze of several centimetres to slot it into place – its not easy bending metal and was hard on my hands! It was a move that I really would not like to do every time I set the pushchair up – but you are not able to fold the Ergo with the car seat adaptor in place.

The Maxi Cosi Cabriofix fitted perfectly on top of the Joovy Ergo Caboose. We loved the double lock on the securing strap which means that a child would struggle to undo the clasp. We were worried that without a child in the front seat, that the Caboose may feel ‘tippy’ with the car seat on, but it felt solid, which was great. My daughter jumped in the front, very excited to have a swing away snack tray, we altered her harnesses easily and off we went!

Immediately I hit my first problem – gravel. The Joovy Ergo Caboose has tiny wheels at the front which really aren’t designed for surfaces like gravel. We managed to get across it, but it wasn’t easy! Mr BB spotted our daughter dangling her legs off the front (I couldn’t see her at all from the back), and noted that she could easily stop the wheels with her feet. She was told to keep her feet on the footrest, but I know from past experiences, she prefers to dangle her feet than use a footrest. To be honest the Ergo is really a bit low for her feet at the front. But to be fair, she should soon be in the back seat.

The next thing that I really started to notice was how heavy the Joovy Ergo was. I push different tandems and doubles every day up the same stretch of road and the Ergo was by far the heaviest pushchair I have had to push to date. I don’t know of another tandem that comes close for being heavy to push. But I just got on with it and kept going. The Joovy Ergo Caboose is most definitely a two handed push to keep it driving in a straight line. In fact I would go so far as to say it is very hard to drive it at all with one hand. That frustrated me a little because I do like to push one handed when I can!

But it was at the supermarket that the small problems of handling and steering really became a problem. Because the Joovy Ergo is quite definitely a two handed push even on the straight, trying to juggle a shopping basket as well as getting things off the shelf whilst pushing the Ergo with both hands was like trying to balance a ball on your nose whilst doing a jig!!! Very very hard! But that was the least of my problems. Trying to push in a straight line down a narrow aisle filled with people was a nightmare. Cornering was nigh impossible without crashing into something, and the amount of times the pushchair ended up on a diagonal as I tried to push and shop at the same time was beyond a joke. I had to keep apologising for the pushchair having a mind of its own and by the end I was praying that no one was round each corner as I tried to push and carry an ever heavier shopping basket. I balanced some milk on the footboard at one point but it fell off as I attempted to corner because it was that hard to push! Quite frankly it was all very embarrassing….as well as hard work! Basically the steering and handling is very very poor, I suspect not assisted by having such small front wheels.

At the check out I had to post small bags of shopping through the side gaps between the two seats. The larger items took a bit of a push. But I appreciate if my daughter had been in the rear seat, that I would have probably asked her to stand up, then I would have flipped open the rear seat top and simply pushed the shopping down – but then again, one of our prime tantrum / running away moments is at the till so I am not sure I would have done this. The basket says that you can only put in 10lbs of weight. I probably put more than that in, and the basket was hanging fairly low, but the high sides kept everything inside the basket. I liked the smaller elasticated pockets on the side of the basket for bits and pieces.

So fully laden we started the walk home. Within minutes my wrist was hurting, my arms were being pulled, my back was hurting and my legs were getting a real work out. I have to say, I don’t think it was the shopping either because the Ergo didn’t feel much heavier than the outbound trip. The palms of my hands also hurt from the ‘ergonomically’ designed handle – its not the only one that has made my hands hurt though. I much prefer a straight bar. By the time I made it home I was hurting all over…..and collapsed in a heap where the lovely Mr BB took the shopping from me and handed me a cool drink!

For the first time in a long long time, my daughter was screaming to get out. She said she didn’t like the seat and it hurt!!!

The Joovy Ergo Caboose is honestly, truly is the WORST tandem for steering and pushability I have tried to date. I have heard people grumble about other pushchairs being heavy, but think yourselves lucky because every tandem or double I have tried to date, even the heavy ones, is like pushing a light fairy compared to this one!!

I have pondered whether the weight distribution was wrong, but at this current point in time I couldn’t have taken my baby out in the front seat, and he still uses his Maxi Cosi Cabriofix so therefore I must be a typical user. I will admit the Ergo did feel a little better when I did switch the two children around, but not much. But my children are only aged 2 and 12 months – what on earth is the Joovy Ergo Caboose like with two older children on board??? It was too heavy for me today!

So what did I like – I liked the seat at the rear and the fact it flipped up. I liked the swing away snack tray at the front (although it was difficult to make it swing and even harder to remove), or the option to put on two cup holders which leaves access free for the child to get in and out. I loved the styling and the cool canopy with its zip open options.  I liked the multiple positions & possibilities for the canopy and the way it moves to cover both children. I loved being so close to my son, although I wasn’t impressed by him kicking me most of the way! I like the good harnesses and the space for the children. I love the huge basket, because one thing pushchair manufacturers fail to understand is that mums do have to shop, or carry a large changing bag with them. I liked the protective covers on the chassis to prevent it getting scratched when you fold it (I never noticed them until I folded the Ergo!).

What didn’t I like – the pushability, handling and steering; the overall length; the uncomfortable mesh seat at the front (admittedly you can buy seat pads for it); the awkward to fix car seat adaptor (but at least it was included!); a lack of a deep recline – especially given there is plenty of space for one unlike the Ultralight which has the deeper recline!; the way the back canopy kept falling off the buttons and flopping down; the need to remove the back canopy to fold; the hard to open and remove snack tray; and the long fold.

To sum up, I would not recommend this pushchair. It looks cool and trendy and is a fabulous concept, but it is very very hard work. There are plenty of better tandems on the market or buggy board options that aren’t as hard to push! I really hope Joovy have a rethink, put some better wheels on and work out the handling because the main features are great and it would be great to review this again at a later date and hopefully be able to push it comfortably and easily with two children on board.

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