Britax B-Agile v’s Baby Jogger City Mini 4
For many years the Baby Jogger City Mini 3 has been unrivalled for its awesome one handed fold. But this year the Baby Jogger City Mini had an update with the arrival of the 4 wheeled version, and at a similar time, Britax released their one handed fold stroller, the B-Agile. So with two similar sized light weight, 4 wheeled, one handed fold pushchairs on the market, we decided to find out which was the best, and ultimately, which of the two pushchairs we would keep to use with our family. I should at this point say that we have had two Baby Jogger City Mini 3′s (a 2010 and a 2011) and we liked them a lot, so the B-Agile had a lot to live up to - but read on!
Styling and Fabrics: The Baby Jogger City Mini 4 (BJCM4) and the Britax B-Agile are both neat, smart looking, stylish pushchairs. Both have 4 wheels, huge hoods, large seats, black frames and just look neat and tidy.
To be fair, we think the BJCM4 looks better in red, but we received the B-Agile first. We had been told that the Chilli red was a lovely suede type fabric opposed to the standard black Britax fabric. So we were looking forward to seeing it. However we quickly realised that although the red fabric is lovely and soft to the feel, it also picks up every bit of dust, fluff and dirt possible, and within hours our B-Agile looked dirty without trying! We wished we had bought the black one and promptly requested a black BJCM4 instead! The Baby Jogger is a slightly waterproof fabric which is useful in light showers. But the fabric on both is good quality. The BJCM4 fabric and basket is totally removable which is great for washing (believe me I was glad of this when my baby was sick one day!). The B-Agile fabric does not totally remove.
Size: The two pushchairs are very similar in size but the B-Agile is slightly shorter in length (9.5cms shorter), narrower in width (3cms) and a little shorter (4.5cms). However it weighs just a little bit more (0.4kgs). When folded the B-Agile is a little more chunky in fold but the BJCM is slightly longer and wider. But there is not much difference in the folded size. Both pushchairs can have their wheels very easily removed if necessary.
Child Comfort: At first glance the B-Agile appears to have a much larger and wider seat than the BJCM4. However our measurements show that the seats are very comparable in size, being similar widths and heights. Both our children (aged 3 and 15 months) look extremely comfortable in the City Mini 4 seat. It was perfect for both children. The B-Agile seat is a little deeper than the BJCM4 seat and has a slightly deeper footrest which makes it great for older children, and its easy to see that our tall 3 year old looked extremely comfortable in the B-Agile seat with plenty of room for growth. But the seat was too deep for our 15 month old, and it meant that he slumped in the seat and just did not look comfy however much we tried to sit him upright. Our 15 month old is large for his age and I have to say, if he didn’t look comfortable, then I am not sure a smaller baby would either. Its a shame there wasn’t two crotch strap settings on the B-Agile because I think this would have resolved this issue. To be honest, this one detail possibly swung the decision re which pushchair to keep for us.
There are 5 harness height settings on the BJCM4 which are easily unclipped to alter. There are just three height settings on for the B-Agile harness and there is a huge jump between the smallest setting and the next one up. It is harder to alter the height settings on the B-Agile. Both pushchairs had harnesses that were a good size. The B-Agile harness can be made into a 3 point one if desired (not recommended) but the BJCM4 harness is a 5 point one.
Seat Recline: Both seats recline to flat. Both seat reclines are toggle reclines. I have always liked the City Mini recline because you can slowly and gently pull a child silently into a recline position. For my baby, who always preferred to be sat upright to sleep (but his meanie mummy preferred him a little flatter), this was important. So it came as a bit of a shock when I pressed the button on the B-Agile toggle and pulled gently, to find it dramatically dropped straight to flat!!!! We had to work hard on a more gradual recline!!!! I dont know if it was bad luck, but we had only used the B-Agile a couple of times when we found the recline got stuck. On closer inspection the straps on one side were twisted which meant the recline couldn’t happen. For a new pushchair, that wasn’t particularly good to see. We did untangle it but I would not have been happy if this had happened when out and about. I haven’t had any issue with any BJCM recline to date. Both pushchairs required a push up of the child with your knee / arm whilst pulling the toggle back to upright. Not an ideal recline but its more effective than some! Both of the pushchairs stores the recline fabric away neatly so that it does not get in the way of the child.
Both seats have mesh at the rear of the seats for ventilation, and also so you can see your child in summer. The B-Agile mesh is covered by a flap of fabric which doubles up usefully as a storage pocket. I think the B-Agile looks smarter with the fabric when the seat is reclined, but I have to say I did find the B-Agile fabric / pocket a little bit “flappy” when she seat was upright. The BJCM4 also has mesh is covered by fabric which can be rolled up or down and fastened with a toggle. The B-Agile has a neat little fabric ‘pocket’ on the rear of the seat, where the recline strap can be posted to be kept tidily out of the way without dangling.
Carrycots & Car Seats: Both the BJCM4 and B-Agile have lie flat seats, so are suitable from birth. But both also take car seats or carrycots. The BJCM4 has a choice of two carrycots – the hard bodied one, or the Compact carrycot (and soon there will be a Compact Plus carrycot too). These carrycots can be fitted with, or without the fabric in situ, which makes it more pram like, whereas the B-Agile carrycot is fitted with the fabric in situ which may look a little odd to some (it swung the decision for a friend of mine).
The B-Agile takes a Britax B-Safe SHR car seat, or in theory (but we do not recommend this, nor have we tried it) we believe a Maxi Cosi seat could be fitted using Oyster adaptors. The BJCM4 can take a choice of a Maxi-Cosi Cabriofix or Pebble or a Baby Jogger City Auto MB car seats.
Basket & Storage Pockets: There is a mesh storage pocket on the rear of the BJCM4 seat and a larger storage basket underneath the seat. Access to the basket is not the best, but is better on the BJCM4 than on some previous versions, and the 2012 version is meant to be even better for access. The B-Agile has a huge zippered pocket on the rear of the hood. We found this really useful for putting bits and pieces in. It was great to not have to bend down to find my keys or purse.. We could get quite a lot into the pocket on swimming day!
The basket under the B-Agile was slightly better to access than the City Mini. It was easy to tuck items in at the sides of the B-Agile basket and to easily find them again. The bar at the rear did restrict what could be pushed in from the back of the basket though. In reality if you look at the photos, the rear axle of the BJCM4 goes down in a similar place where the B-Agile bar goes up, so neither access to the basket from the rear is the best! I coudn’t post my medium sized handbag into either basket, but both pushchairs were sturdy enough to carry the weight of it over the handlebar.
Hoods: Both pushchairs have large 3 fold hoods. The BJCM4 has a solid hood which affords good shelter from sun, wind and rain. In contrast the B-Agile has a hidden zip out section as the middle panel of the hood. However this section is made of mesh which to be honest does not work for me – I need a solid hood for wind and rain protection in winter, and in summer the sun simply shines through the mesh into the child’s eyes. However it is lovely as a large viewing window to see your child from above, especially if pulled back to being a 2 fold hood.
Both pushchairs do have peekaboo windows in the hood. Both are secured by velcro which is a little noisy to undo when you have a sleeping baby to peek in on. The B-Agile window once again is mesh, which again for me makes it impractical to leave open in winter. The B-Agile window flap can not be secured either. The BJCM4 has two plastic windows and the flaps can be secured using velcro tabs.
Handle: The handles on both pushchairs are curved, thus allowing a user to find a spot that is comfy to hold, and making it easy to push both one handed (maybe whilst holding the hand of a toddler). The B-Agile handle is a lovely squashy foam one. The BJCM4 handle is a ridged rubber one which will not be to everyone’s taste. However it means that it is less likely to get damaged. On the photos there are already indentations on the B-Agile handle from where it had been stored and stood. The B-Agile one also got dusty very easily.
However a more important issue became apparent on the first outing of the B-Agile: I knew fairly quickly that the B-Agile handle was too low for me (I am 5ft 6ins but I do like a relatively high handle). Even though the handle is curved, I couldn’t get a comfy position on it. The handle height was something I came back and revisited again and again, because on balance, I probably actually preferred the B-Agile because the features, quality etc were excellent. In reality the BJCM4 handle is just a touch too high for me, but that is easier for me to live with than a low handle.
When the two pushchairs were stood next to each other (see photos) the difference in handle height looks negligible, but in reality these few cms made the world of difference to which pushchair turned out to be right for our family. The B-Agile handle is approx 98cms from the underneath to 101.5cms at the top of the handle. The BJCM4 is approx 101.5cms from the underneath to 104.5cms at the top of the handle.
Handling: Both these pushchairs were easy to push, highly manoeuvrable, easy to turn, very stable and sturdy. Both fill you with confidence to use. The 4 wheels of the BJCM4 resolve the tippy-ness of the BJCM3 wheel version (which happens sometimes if you push one handed, or have the car seat on, or do a sharp turn). The handling of both pushchairs was superb. Both of these pushchairs are excellent lightweight strollers, but yet sturdy enough to be used every day for long distances. Perfect for the car boot, travelling or school run.
Brake: The B-Agile brake is great – very decisive and firm. It is situated at the side which makes it easy to use. We liked it better than the flip on and off one of the City Mini which sometimes needs a couple of goes to lock and which I find I have to do hopping on one foot!
Wheels: Both pushchairs come with hard puncture resistant wheels. The BJCM4 has four 8 inch wheels. The B-Agile has from 6 inch wheels and rear 10 inch wheels. The front wheels on both pushchairs can be swivel or locked. All the wheels on both pushchairs can be very easily removed and popped back on again.
Fold: The one handed fold on the BJCM is simple – simply grasp the handle where it says “Pull to close” and pull. However the BJCM4 does have poppered safety straps which should be fastened before each use (and thus would need unfastening to fold), and also which would obstruct the basket opening. The BJCM4 is simple to flick open one handed but again, you need to then attach the safety straps.
The handle to fold the B-Agile is off centre down one side of the seat, unlike the City Mini where the pull handle is right on the top of the seat. So you need to first get the pushchair the side where the handle is. The B-Agile has an automatic lock which is brilliant when closing the pushchair but not so good when opening it. When you pick the B-Agile up by the handle to unfold, illogically the catch wants to open the wrong way. I got several people to try the catch out and every one felt the same. The pushchair tries to open towards you. Also the catch has two settings on it. So for example, if you have a toddler in one hand, and you manage to flick the opening catch open with the other hand (not easy!), it then immediately gets stuck on the secondary setting which got very annoying!!! But having said all this, strangely when we got the B-Agile out of the car, the opening catch was facing the correct way and opened perfectly!! Most odd! I have to say that long term I suspect we would have removed the catch because although it was lovely that the B-Agile closed up neatly, it wasn’t the easiest to open with one hand, and to be honest that is what we are looking for in these two pushchairs. We need to be able to hold a baby under one arm, or toddlers hand whilst opening the pushchair with the other – a one handed fold needs a one handed opening!!
The fold on the B-Agile is two step, but still one handed. There is a small grey button just above the autolock catch. This needs pressing firmly in and down. This will then lock into place allowing you to then grasp the black handle in the centre of the seat and to pull the B-Agile shut. But because of this two step fold, there is no need for any extra safety straps like the BJCM4 has, because it has the secondary locking mechanism and couldn’t just fold up if a child pulled the handle. The new 2012 BJCM3 will also have a autolock, but this too can be unscrewed if not desired. The fold on the B-Agile is more decisive than the BJCM4 which often needs the wheels aligning to fold flat. The B-Agile wheels automatically end up the correct way to close.
Raincover: The B-Agile comes with a raincover. The BJCM4 does not.
Accessories: Both pushchairs have the option of carrycots, car seat adaptors and bumper bars. Baby Jogger also have various other accessories eg a snack tray and consoles.
Price: The B-Agile is approximately £230 and the BJCM4 is approximately £260. So there is a £30 difference in price. The B-Agile includes the raincover as well whereas it would be an extra cost with the BJCM4.
Which would Best Buggy choose?: The B-Agile all round seems to have a slightly better specification and finish, and be better value for money especially with the raincover included. Importantly, the secondary locking mechanism means there is no need to run around doing up safety straps. The brake is more decisive too. We preferred the look of the B-Agile, the basket access and the feel of the handlebar and fabrics. Our 3 year old toddler looked most comfortable in the B-Agile, with plenty of room for growth. But she was absolutely fine in the BJCM4 too. Our son was definitely better in the BJCM4. The BJCM4 huge, solid hood was a big plus for us. The four wheels definitely makes a difference to the stability of the BJCM4 compared to the 3 wheel version. The removable fabric of the BJCM4 is useful – both to clean but also to make the pushchair feel like a pram. It is hard to fault the BJCM4 in any way though. It is a fabulous little pushchair.
Ultimately, two things really decided for us which pushchair to keep. First of all the handle height. Those extra 3cms really did make a difference to us and the BJCM4 was definitely better for me (I am 5ft 6ins). Secondly although the B-Agile probably had more room for growth, our youngest is far more likely to go in a pushchair than the eldest, and so the pushchair needed to be right for him now, not in 18 months time. Therefore, the Baby Jogger City Mini 4 is staying with our family.
However we must stress that both of these pushchairs are excellent pushchairs. If you had an older toddler and are shorter than I am, then the B-Agile spec wise is probably marginally better, and would be the one I would suggest. I think a decision between which of the two to buy is best made on your height and the age of your child. All the other differences and details are minimal and we highly recommend both.
Many Thanks to Katie for helping us out with this review!
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