Mountain Buggy Mini Review by Best Buggy
The first thing you notice about the Mountain Buggy Mini, is that it is far from Mini!! My first sighting of the Mini was the huge tall cardboard box in the hallway stood next to our boxed up Mountain Buggy +One! There is barely anything between the two boxes and I have to admit at this point I put my head in my hands and wondered what monster pushchair we had bought – because the +One is affectionately known as ‘The Beast’ because of its tall folded size! Our Baby Jogger Versa GT box was also sat in the hall, so I took a couple of photos of the Mountain Buggy Mini next to each box, just to try to get across to you that the Mountain Buggy Mini is NOT Mini when folded!! I stress – the Mountain Buggy Mini is NOT small!!!
However, the Mountain Buggy Mini is shockingly light! For a long fold pushchair, I can pick the Mountain Buggy Mini up one handed and fling it easily into my car boot. The weight of the Mountain Buggy Mini at just 8kgs is a HUGE positive – and yet the seat is certified to hold a child up to 20kgs! The Mini is also fairly narrow at 58cms wide.
Having had a few Mountain Buggies, my next surprise was to find an autolock! Cool!! This was a real bonus and it works beautifully well. No matter how much we have flung the Mountain Buggy Mini around eg in and out of the house, the car boot etc, the autolock, to date, has always stayed on! Fab! This may sound an obvious statement but in my experience few locks stay locked for long when moving pushchairs about!
Opening the Mountain Buggy Mini was relatively easy – simply undo the autolock and pull the Mini open until it is stood on its 3 wheels. The Mini is so light, and with the autolock being on the side, rather than the end, I seem to naturally hold the Mountain Buggy Mini in mid air with one hand, whilst undoing the clip with the other and letting the wheels drop down to the floor.
Folding the Mountain Buggy Mini is bliss compared to the heavier Mountain Buggies. There is a one handed fold hidden under the front edge of the seat. Press the button in, and lift the lever and the Mini folds nicely to the ground. Fabulous!
It is worth saying, that as with all Mountain Buggies you do really require a fair length of floor space to open and fold the Mini – although if you can get good at it, I bet it is possible to close the Mini partially in the air.
Our first impressions were good. The Mountain Buggy Mini looks neat and tidy. Its stylish in a simplistic way. But in this case simple, also means basic. Mountain Buggies are known for being functional work horse type pushchairs, rather than luxurious. However the Mountain Buggy Mini is the most basic of all the models that we have had. On the one hand, the price reflects this, but on the other, because the Mini is advertised as an urban type pushchair for city dwellers – I have to say, I did expect a little more luxury whether it is extra padding, better finish or even a bumper bar!
The seats are minimally padded. One comment from all our photos has been that the seat looks shallow and that the children seem perched on the edge. The measurements agree and show that the seat is just 18cms deep (24cms is more usual)! The children have seemed happy enough sat in the seat. In the photos out shopping above, our son does spend a fair amount of time sitting himself forwards, even though the seat looks fairly upright. I have wondered why this could be, and seat depth may be a reason? We have also observed that the back board does not come down far enough into the seat / back crease, and it does stick out forwards a fair bit at the bottom when no child is in the seat ie it is not fitted correctly.
The footrest has room for our 2 year 5 month old to grow into. However the shallow seat, combined with a relatively small knee to footrest length meant that there was not enough room for our 4 year old’s legs. However we suspect she could have rested her feet on the front wheel fork instead should she wish, but with such a shallow seat I have my doubts as to whether she would have been comfortable. She has plenty of room under the hood for her head.
The recline is the ‘standard’ Mountain Buggy one – there are two buckles one on either side of the seat and it is easy to recline a child by releasing the webbing, or to pull them back up to sitting. There was plenty of room for our 4 year old to lie flat. Her head was pressing against the fabric at the rear, but not badly so. She said she was comfortable. However, once again there is an old Mountain Buggy issue on this new pushchair. When the seat is pulled back up from the recline position, all the mesh bunches up around the child’s head. Its not pretty or nice for the child.
Mountain Buggy have been promoting their new ‘tail free’ harnesses, but to be honest they are a complete NIGHTMARE to do. Please, Mountain Buggy, bring back the old style!! The ‘tail free harness’ simply means that instead of having the tail and harness adjustors on the front on the shoulders of the child, they are behind the seat unit and dangle down the back!
Great amusement for our kitten much to my horror
But more than that, in order to put my children into the seat unit – bearing in mind they are different sizes, I had to sit down to get underneath and behind the seat. I spent ages trying to post the harness through the buckle – basically there are two layers going through the buckle but the inside layer was the one that needed to move. Every time I went to shorten the harness, it simply ended up being longer. I really really really got cross with it in the end, pulled one of the layers out of the buckle and the silly elasticated holder, and made the harnesses only go through the buckle once. It was easier but not great.
In real life, in the current climate we have coats of different thicknesses on every day. This means having to adjust the harness for each outing depending on the weather. Trying to hold my son in with one hand at the front, whilst ducking underneath and round the back to alter the harness is absolutely ridiculous and actually not practical to do, never mind being stood in the street or car park, or in the bitter wind or snow or rain. I dont know of any other pushchair which has the harness adjuster at the rear. Frankly, it’s not safe because a child could fall out whilst you try to adjust the harness; it’s not easy and it’s not comfortable for me. The old system of altering the harnesses was safer, easier and better. In fact, if I could change the harness I would absolutely do so.
On top of that the Mountain Buggy Mini also has the annoying 2 handed buckle release system. It’s the same as the Duet, +One etc. but I hate not being able to pop a buckle open one handed. The red buttons at the top need pressing in and then the side buttons are released.
The hood to be honest has been a little bit of a disappointment. My biggest gripe with it, is that the coloured hood fabric sits in front of the seat recline. This is illustrated in the photo that is fourth from last – the seat board protrudes to the left hand side, and yet the hood is fixed to the right hand side. It looks a little odd. I would expect a hood to cover the top of the seat. Underneath the edge of the hood is a black fabric flap (see the third photo from last) which can be pulled down to protect the mesh which is at the rear of the seat when it is reclined (as a Baby Jogger City Mini / Elite has). Except this fabric flap is thinner and not as large and generally feels less adequate than a Baby Jogger one – it will not stay fixed on when the seat recline is pulled up for example. The fabric flap can be folded up out of the way to allow ventilation in summer for a sleeping child.
The other disappointment, which I did expect, because my Swift had it too, was the large gap at the sides where the hood doesn’t meet the seat unit adequately.
The hood does have a peekaboo window, with mesh underneath, which is held together with a toggle which is bit fiddly – much as I prefer magnetic peekaboo windows, velcro for a quick peek would have been preferable to faffing around with a toggle whilst trying to walk along (never mind that you need to stop to do it back up again afterwards). There a flick out visor hidden in the front rim of the hood for extra sunny days.
The hoods can however be changed easily, should you have the desire for a fresh look for your Mini. The hoods come in Chilli, Black, Apple and Flint.
All round though I dont feel the Mini is a very snuggly place for a child to sleep in winter – there are too many gaps and too much easily exposed mesh. Great for summer though.
The Mountain Buggy Mini has a mesh basket. There was plenty of room for my handbag in there, but not much room for anything else. I was a little concerned because the basket becomes more shallow towards the front, with the front part being almost flat. The floppy nature of the mesh fabric, could easily allow items to fall out when walking along.
As stated, there is no bumper bar which comes with the Mini, nor is there a designated one to buy. However we have seen one shop selling the Swift one as a Mini bumper bar…but we don’t know if they fit. The stormcover and sun canopy is the same as the Swift one.
The Mountain Buggy Mini can be used as a travel system with the addition of the relevant car seat adaptor and a Maxi Cosi Cabriofix or Pebble, or a Mountain Buggy Peppy. The Mini Carrycot is the same as the Swift one.
In some ways I was a little sad to see that the brake had not had a face lift for the city user with high heels! The brake as always feels clumsy, but it is easy enough to flick down with good shoes on, and flick off again. We haven’t heard the red caps rattle as yet, but Mountain Buggy red caps are notoriously famous for rattling.
Mountain Buggy have placed a lot of emphasis on the “kerb pop” of the Mini. I have to say, I haven’t especially noticed the Mini being any easier to get up a kerb than another pushchair. However, the Mountain Buggy Mini for a 3 wheeler, feels very grounded. I have a tendancy to lean a little on the handle of a pushchair, especially when tired, and I haven’t yet (even by trying hard) managed to lift the front wheel off the ground simply by leaning on it. Thats excellent!
We have two BIG gripes about the Mountain Buggy Mini. The first of these involves the 10″ wheels. Mountain Buggy have used “Aerotech tyres” which are apparently a hybrid of EVA and rubber tyes. They supposedly give “the best of both worlds in ride, manoeuverability and durability” and feel slightly soft to the touch. They supposedly give a better ride comfort than EVA wheels and should give a “smooth ride” and add “‘air cushioning over city terrain”. I have to say, these wheels are without doubt some of the worst wheels we have had on a pushchair!!!!!!!!!!!!
We had been warned by two retailers that the wheels were an issue – one after we queried what was wrong with the Stokke Scoot wheels – and the retailer said that they knew exactly of the problem because the Mountain Buggy Mini had the same problem. However, believe us when we say, if we thought there was an issue with the Scoot wheels, that is NOTHING compared to the horror of these Mountain Buggy Mini wheels!!
The issue is that the wheels vibrate horribly when pushing. In the words of Mr BB who is usually very lovely and rarely swears “that is like having a @#<*%#$ electric toothbrush under your hands”. He calls the Mountain Buggy Mini “the princess and the pea pushchair” – “guaranteed to find the pea in any mattress”. The Best Buggy Focus Group were teasing us within hours about the dangers of ‘white knuckle’ found usually on those who use pneumatic drills. The vibrations from the wheel can even be felt when pushing the Mini on thick carpet!! This combined with our other issue and one of our long term irritants – the ribbed handlebar - is driving us to distraction. If anything the Mountain Buggy Mini excelled across grass and in the snow where the ride was smooth, rather than on pavements, and even worse, on gravel or small stones where it was simply horrible to push.
We have been told that the vibration is caused by the “X” shaped pattern on the wheels. Patterns seem to be added to give wheels an ‘off road /chunky’ look which is fair enough – BUT they do not work!! These are absolutely horrible to use!! At the end of our first outing, my question back to my retailer was: “Do Swift tyres fit?” because believe me I was ready to throw these horrible wheels in the bin and swap them all.
The other issue is the handlebar – for some reason, the Mountain Buggy Mini handlebar has not been made as part of a one piece chassis. The actual handlebar has been fitted on and is held in place by a press in button on both sides (see fifth photo from last). As the previous photos show, this button allows the handle to be removed, but it also leaves enough give in the handle for your hands to do a slight in and out movement as you walk. This actually became more annoying than the vibrating. Combine these two issues with the horribly ridged rubber handlebar, means that all round, pushing the Mountain Buggy Mini is a truly awful experience. Mr BB had sore hands within minutes and I have to say I tried to avoid pushing the handlebar more than I had to. Thankfully there is a wrist strap to keep hold of the pushchair.
Otherwise the handling seems good. We especially liked that the front wheel has a proper 360 degree swivel on the spot, unlike a lot of bigger wheeled pushchairs where you need to wiggle the front wheel free at times eg if stopped at an angle and you need to start again. This was noticable when we were easily able to turn the Mountain Buggy Mini round 360 degrees on the spot in a narrow aisle.
One worry we did have before getting the Mountain Buggy Mini, was the handle height. The Mini handle bar is fixed in height at 97cms high. However we had found the Swift and Duet handlebars were just a little too low for us (78-106cms). So we were a little amazed to find that we are having no real issues with the height of the Mini handlebar. Why? The more we push pushchairs we realise that handle height and comfort is a combination of the height and the angle the user is standing. So with the Swift and Duet, in order to gain maximum height, the handlebar has to be straight up in the air, thus requiring the user to stand closer to the pushchair. This affects how you walk. The Mountain Buggy Mini handle seems be angled in such a way to allow space for the user to walk more naturally, thus neither Mr BB (at nearly 6ft) or I (5ft 6ins) really have an issue with the ‘low’ handle height of the Mountain Buggy Mini. For us, the handlebar height did make the Mini a one handed push – two hands on would have been uncomfortable – but the Mini manoeuvres fine one handed. Another centimetre would be lovely, but the Mini handle height is fine for us. Whereas both the Swift and Duet were sold because of the low handle height, this is not a reason for the Mini to leave.
However the diabolically horrible push IS a good enough reason as to why, our Mountain Buggy Mini will not be staying longer than it has to at Best Buggy HQ. Saying so, is a real shame, because we absolutely LOVE how light this pushchair is to fling into the car. It freestands neatly when folded too, and although it is long in our car, it is also flat and neat. The Mountain Buggy Mini has the potential to be a great pushchair – the elements are there. However details like the hood, shallow seat and the handlebar joint need addressing. The supposedly innovative ‘aerotech tyres’ need throwing in the nearest rubbish bin, and some cute proper air tyres would finish the Mountain Buggy Mini off well.
Honestly, should you buy a Mountain Buggy Mini? NO ABSOLUTELY NOT – if you must have a Mountain Buggy then go and buy yourself a Swift for the air tyres, better basket and deeper seat – it is worth the extra 1.5kgs. Or buy a Baby Jogger City Mini or City Mini GT and give yourself and your child a little more luxury, seat space, a higher handle, better storage, better recline and that famous HUGE Baby Jogger hood! Or worst case, buy an umbrella fold pushchair because the ride will at least be smooth!
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