Orbit Baby Double Helix
One of my absolutely favourite moments at Harrogate this year, was having the opportunity to push my two children around the International Centre in an Orbit Baby Double Helix! Wow! What fun!!
I had watched the Orbit Baby G1, and then G2, from afar. I had even bought a G2, but it never arrived. I had a demo of the G2 last year, and since then I have been having tentatively pushing the Orbit on its stand in our local shop. But there was always something a little daunting about the Orbit pushchair – I think simply because the Orbit Baby is SUCH a different looking pushchair to anything else I have ever used. However the ‘Man from Orbit’ was a star, and did the best thing for us, by encouraging us put the children straight into the seats of the amazing Double Helix and told us to go for a push!
WOW! What fun!
We loved pushing the Orbit Baby Double Helix!
The first thing I noticed was how amazingly easy the Double Helix was to steer. The show stand had various obstacles (tables, chairs etc) which most tandem pushchairs would have required reversing and a shunt to get around. The Double Helix simply wove easily in and out and around them all! That was my first surprise – the handling was great. Mr BB was very impressed and talked all the way home about how it was genius to have swivel wheels at both the front and rear, with the fixed wheels acting as a pivot point in the middle!
The second surprise is that there is absolutely no way I could kick the rear of the pushchair. I thought somehow that the handle would not extend far enough for me, because on photos, it does look like you would be hunched over the rear child. But absolutely not…..there is plenty of space for even a long stride not to kick the back; or for shorter legs, not to knock shins on the rear seat. I felt very comfortable pushing the Double Helix.
The third surprise was that despite having around 32 kgs of child weight on board, the ‘Man from Orbit’ was actually encouraging me to take the Double Helix up and down kerbs. So with apologies to the lovely lady on the ‘Pink Lining’ stand, we borrowed the step on her stand and tried to get the Double Helix up it.
At first it was tricky – I could get the front just enough off the ground to get the pushchair up the step. However the ‘Man from Orbit’ pointed at a grey ‘pedal’ at the back of the rear seat, and told me to press down on that, and the front end of the Double Helix leapt easily in the air!! Thus the step became absolutely no issue at all!! Best of all, despite me having poor balance, I could easily reach the grey pedal without falling over. Easy peasy!
The next surprise was my favourite – having got up the step, I stood and wondered how I would get the Double Helix back down it. Tandem pushchairs can feel a little unstable sometimes when dropping off a kerb, or you can find yourself holding on very tight and gingerly dropping them off a kerb so that the weight doesnt put too much stress on your arms, or on the chassis (especially with two bigger toddlers on board). What I absolutely did not expect, is that the Orbit Baby Double Helix simply caterpillars off a step with its 6 wheels - it slithers off a step one wheel at a time whilst keeping perfectly stable and steady and balanced. Most extraordinary to be honest!! I have had a LOT of tandem pushchairs through my hands, but absolutely nothing like the Double Helix for coming off a step! It was SOOOOOO much fun! I could have spent all day just driving it off the display stand! I know that the display stand was probably slightly lower than a kerb, however I have absolutely no reason to believe that the Double Helix would not be just as good in real life.
I loved driving the Double Helix – the manoeuverability was so good that it felt like the handlebars were steering the front wheels, and in fact I actually stopped to check out that there was no link between the handlebars and wheels; but there is not! Just a small movement meant that the Double Helix responded really well. This is surprising because there is no doubt that the Double Helix feels long – but yet the length doesnt appear to be an issue. However I would be interested to know how easy it is in real life to take the Double Helix into shops, restaurants, even baby changing rooms etc. I have been unable to find out exactly how long the Double Helix is when open, and I know from past experience that length can be perceptional - this double stroller may well be shorter than it feels.
Beyond the ease of handling, the other big consideration for me with any pushchair, is always child comfort. Our tall (107cms) 4 and a half year old looked VERY comfortable in the huge front seat of the Orbit Double Helix. The seat back we measured as being 54cms tall which is a large seat. Her large size 12 feet had excellent support on the footrest. The length of the footrest was good, and even when she chose to dangle her feet, there was plenty of height off the floor. She could climb in and out easily too, thanks to the swing away bumper bar. She was a little put out though because her younger brother got the rear seat with the snack tray on!!! He was absolutely fascinated by the snack tray on the seat bumper bar! Again, he looked very comfortable in the rear. I loved that his seat could be rotated round sideways for easy access to put him in and out of the seat. Genius! All adjustments to the seat units are done using the handles inset into each side of the seat – so these both rotate the seat, and also recline the seat. There are 3 recline positions.
The Orbit Baby Double Helix has many options for the children – there are the seat units, a carrycot, and I believe several car seat options. I love that you can buy a G2 for your first child, use the carrycot, seat unit and car seat, and then when baby No 2 comes along, you simply need to add the Helix + extension kit to be able to use it in double mode – without necessarily buying a second seat unit. The extension kit consists of the extension bracket with wheels, the handle extension and the double pushchair basket. I believe the seat unit is then purchased separately when required. These components all fit onto a central hub which rotates, which means the children could face each other, as well as facing forwards. I like that the pushchair seat units are solid moulded seats. Orbit Baby seem to have put a lot of thought into these seats with details like air vents for cooling the child when hot.
At this point I will hold my hands up and say that I am no expert on the Orbit Baby Double Helix, and for a proper demonstration you will need to head for an Orbit Baby retailer, like our friends at Lullaby’s Baby Den or Paul Stride. The only way to become an expert is to be hands on and use a pushchair. I think this is true of the Double Helix more than most. Even now, I admit I am a little boggled by how it all works, how it folds, how the seats fit etc. because I did not get much opportunity to be hands on at changing the seats / folding. However, whilst I admitted at the start to being daunted by the Orbit, after a good demonstration at Harrogate, I do feel now, like I would very much like to have a go with the Orbit because it does all seem fairly intuiative.
There are many features which stood out for us including the cup and phone holder, the iPad holder, huge hood etc. However some other features are worth noting:
First of all the fold – one of the things which most boggled me was how on earth the Double Helix folded. As the photos show, the back seat and axle remove very easily. The front seat then pops off and the chassis appears to simply fold flat in one hand! I do not know whether it is so simple in real life, but the neatly nested package of parts for a double pushchair, was tiny! Apparently the Double Helix can fit into the boot of a Mini or even a Fiat 500 which is awesome for a double pushchair! I like that the seat units sit upright even when placed on the floor – so no scratched seat backs.
The second features that we loved are the storage options. The basket under the G2 (single) is removable and can be carried like a handbag, thus holding all the contents safely inside. The basket on the Double Helix is slightly different and is included with the extension pack. However there is still good access to the basket from both the front and the rear of the Double Helix. We LOVE the side panniers. These are an additional option, but these can be folded out of the way when not required, and also can be lifted off with tiny handles for carrying into the house. We love the in-built raincovers for the panniers! What a fab idea!
The third feature is the iPad holder. I have to admit I do see this as a little odd to have on a pushchair however the clue might be in the name: “Shadepad”. I suspect the cover is to give the rear child some additional shade especially when reclined, and the fact there is an iPad holder built in is really just a bonus. When the front seat is parent facing, the front child can easily see the iPad. I can see the pocket as being useful to stash paintings and letters from the school run! Surprisingly we did not really notice the “Shadepad” when pushing which means that it was not obtrusive in my field of vision when pushing, but also it did not seem to impeed the lower child in any way.
The only downside of trying a pushchair out briefly on a display stand; one which can be both a single pushchair, and also a double pushchair and as well has multiple options; is that you really can not get a complete understanding of what the pushchair does; how it handles in both single and double modes; how the modules fit on and work; how easy it is to fold, unfold, lift and carry etc.. I came away from Harrogate feeling like I do not feel yet like I have a good grasp of the Orbit and Double Helix. However the handling, seating options, accessories and small fold, all have left me curious and excited. I no longer feel daunted – I really want to try the Double Helix in real life to understand it, to know how it works and how it really handles in every day situations. The Helix + conversion kit which turns the G2 into a double Helix is available from July this year. The whole Double Helix kit ie double pushchair is due in the UK at the end of this year / the beginning of next year, but we really hope that we can get a hands on opportunity to play with the fabulous Orbit Baby Double Helix at some point.
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