Baby Jogger City Lite Review by Best Buggy
The Baby Jogger City Lite is a lightweight pushchair with a fast quick fold. It has a very stylish flat black chassis with a black metal rim to the hood. It has a deep lie flat recline, thus the City Lite is suitable from birth. We have taken the City Lite out and about to see how it performs.
Our first impression of the Baby Jogger City Lite was that it lives up to its name. The Lite is definitely light weight! We quickly noticed that the City Lite was quite unlike any Baby Jogger we have owned so far at Best Buggy HQ. The famous Baby Jogger Quick Fold Technology is there along with the new 2014 Baby Jogger logos, the toggle recline, mesh pocket at the rear of the seat and a big hood with two windows. However, beyond that, everything else is a big departure from the ‘classic’ Baby Jogger. There is a new foot brake, new rear axle shape, new fabrics, new chassis, foam instead of rubber handle, new harness, new wheel release, new basket, etc. I say ‘new’ in regards to Baby Jogger, because there are elements on the new City Lite which we have seen on pushchairs made by other brands. Even the quick fold now has a secondary lock which needs releasing before folding.
Overall though, we love the new look with the black chassis and cotton canvas type fabrics. It is definitely a smarter, more modern and stylish look; and one which to be honest, Baby Jogger needs to stand out in the UK market place.
The Baby Jogger City Lite has surprised us by having a HUGE seat with great headroom under the canopy. Our tall 5 and a half year old looks very comfortable in the seat with plenty of headroom and good leg room. There are photos of her in the seat in our City Lite photoset. Our 3 year 8 month old can just about reach the lower footrest. He is 96cms tall.
The seat only forward faces. The seat reclines down to flat, thus the City Lite seat is suitable from birth. The recline is a toggle recline, thus the seat can be placed at any angle between upright and lie flat. The toggle was easy to lower in a controlled manner. There was plenty of seat height for our little one to nap comfortably with his head supported. The seat is fairly basic with little padding, but our eldest has not complained at all about the seat – she would have said if she was not comfortable.
We can not at this point in time say how a younger child will look when sat in the seat.
The rear of the seat is covered with mesh to provide ventilation when the seat is reclined. There is a pull over flap on the rear of the seat, which covers the mesh of the reclined seat. This offers protection for the child from the elements. This flap can not be removed, or secured out of the way like it can on the City Mini. Thus you can not see your child through the mesh without lifting the back flap up.
When the seat is pulled up from being reclined, the mesh folds up too and sits on the inside of the top of the seat. Whilst this is really not a problem to the child, we felt that the mesh looked neater pushed out of the way behind the seat.
We like the wipe down footrest. Very useful. The fabrics will all remove for washing. There is zip around the footrest which is undone from the rear, for easy removal to wash the fabric.
Harness and Hood
The hood on the City Lite is very generous. It is tall and large. There are 3 large folds which cover a child well. There are two clear peekaboo windows on the hood. These have covers which are held down by velcro when closed, or can be rolled up and held by toggles when open. The hood is not lined, and feels fairly thin. Nor does the hood have the SPF labels which the other Baby Joggers have had added for 2014. We suspect that the cotton type fabric will not be waterproof in the way that the City Mini etc. pushchair hoods are.
We are sorry to say that the harness is the one detail which really lets the Baby Jogger City Lite down. We have seen a similar harness on several pushchairs before including the NJoy Up Bubble where a sharp point on the harness actually cut my finger. I think this photo from that Bubble stroller review probably shows my issue with these harnesses. There are sharp points at the rear of the buckle which dig into the child’s tummy. It is difficult to show with the Lite simply because our son has his dark raincoat on. However in summer, as the Bubble photo shows, there is no protection for the child. Just look at the indentations one of these corners left on my finger after just a few seconds.
However, these harnesses are even worse than the Bubble ones! The Bubble harnesses break into 3 pieces, but the Lite harnesses break away into 5 pieces when the release button is depressed – they literally ping apart. Great for a swift exit by a little one, however, I would prefer a little more control! More than that, trying to do up 5 pieces of a really annoying jigsaw piece harness is frustrating, and adding a wriggly child into the mix, just makes the harness nearly impossible! I won’t even mention adding in a freezing howling gale with rain lashing down, and the child arching their back to escape……you get the picture!
Harnesses need to be easy for the adult to do up, but difficult for the child to undo. 3 pieces is always preferable to 5 pieces.
Believe me, if I can find an alternative harness for my City Lite, it WILL be getting swapped!
There are some positives to the harness. It was easy to adjust. It was also a decent length for a napping child (unlike the other new 2014 Baby Jogger harnesses which are on the short side). We were pleased to see that Baby Jogger had included shoulder pads for the harness. However we were not too pleased to find that one shoulder pad fell off the first time the harness pinged open into 5 pieces when our son wanted to get out, and we had to retrace our steps to find where it had fallen!
The Baby Jogger City Lite is well endowed with storage. There is a very decent sized basket underneath the pushchair. However, access is restricted at the rear. Although I could push my handbag in through the rear, it stubbornly refused to come back out again! I pulled it out through the elasticated mesh at the side instead.
There is the trademark large mesh pocket on the rear of the seat which can hold a large amount of ‘stuff’. There is also a large pocket on the rear of the hood which is held together by velcro tabs. This pocket was very useful for my keys and camera, especially when the seat unit was reclined and the mesh pocket was fairly inaccessible. However with a taller child, be aware that the items in the pocket could well be pressing on your child’s head when the seat is reclined.
Whilst this hood pocket is very useful, we did feel that the hanging down fabric does look a little messy.
Handlebar, Handling, Wheels and Brake
The City Lite has a completely different handlebar to the rest of the Baby Jogger family. First of all it is sponge covered. Unfortunately it is not the dense sponge which good quality pushchairs tend to have – it is quite squashy. We have our concerns as to how well this sponge will stand up to the rigours of every day life, especially as the City Lite is slightly on the heavy side to handle. Most of the time we pushed the City Lite one handed, but we did find at times we needed two hands to nudge it back in the right direction.
The handlebar, and indeed the whole chassis is flattish rather than rounded. Thus the handlebar under the sponge is flat too. We were a little wary of how comfortable this would be to hold, however it has been absolutely fine. The handlebar is fixed but it is the perfect height for me at 5ft 6ins. This handlebar sits somewhere nicely between the low Britax B-Agile handlebar, and the higher Baby Jogger City Mini one.
Unlike the other Baby Joggers, the City Lite has all round suspension. The wheels are EVA, so there is a slight give in them to help achieve a smooth ride. The rear wheels are larger than the City Mini wheels at 10″. The front double wheel is an inch smaller than the City Mini wheel at 7″. I believe this smaller wheel does make a difference in the handling of the City Lite. However, it is worth bearing in mind that we do have older children on board, and handling differences are less noticeable with smaller children. The front wheel is a lockable swivel wheel. The wheels also are quick release. However the release mechanism for the front wheel is a tiny round grey button right in the centre between the front two wheels. Thus I got my hand dirty trying to release the wheel, to wash it down after our muddy walk. The rear wheels have red release buttons on the inside of the rims.
We took our City Lite along paths, various hard surfaces, on mown grass, through several inches of mud, and through sand, and it fared really well. It definitely coped with mud better than we did! We were coated! The City Lite managed fine on hard sand, and on slightly loose sand. It needed a bigger push across loose sand, but it managed it!
The brake is a curiosity! It is nothing like the other Baby Jogger centrally placed, flick on /off brakes. Instead, the brake is situated on the rear right hand wheel which makes it easier to find when the seat is reclined, and under the hood fabric. There is a good step on / step off red brake pedal. The strange thing about this brake, and the rear axle is just how similar these are to the Britax B-Agile. In fact all round the City Lite seems to echo the B-Agile more closely than it does to its fellow Baby Jogger’s.
The City Lite has the classic Baby Jogger Quick Fold Technology. However, the City Lite is the first Baby Jogger with a hammock seat to have a secondary lock fitted. This is a tiny round red button which is situated down the left hand side (from the rear) of the pushchair underneath the seat. We have to confess, when we first saw it there, we thought that we would be fumbling around to find it. However, in use, it has been quite easy to locate. The button holds itself in when depressed which allows you then to move round to pull the handle in the centre of the seat firmly. The pushchair will then quickly fold neatly into your hand and will autolock! I have added an exclamation mark there on purpose because this is the first of this type of Baby Jogger which actually will autolock without the fabric getting in the way, or without an additional push. The autolock is a new departure from the previous Baby Jogger locks. It is much more decisive and firm.
One word of warning though, the small red secondary lock button, once depressed, can not be released unless the pushchair is folded. Keep your eye out for curious little fingers. One reason for this caution is because unlike the pre 2013 Baby Jogger pushchairs, the new 2014 pushchairs all have harnesses which easily break into 5 pieces. The City Lite harness being the easiest to break. At one point during our outing I spotted that Mr BB had done Master BB up wrong (!). I thought that I could unpopper one side to rejig the harness, but no…the entire harness pinged into 5 pieces. Master BB saw opportunity to make a break for it. I held him in position, but he had moved enough so that the harness had fallen behind him. So with one hand on Master BB, I scrabbled around underneath him for the side harnesses, and I accidentally pulled the fold handle instead. This would never have happened with the old 3 attachment point harnesses. It is good that there is the secondary lock on the City Lite or else I may well have folded the pushchair by mistake.
The fold is very neat and slim. Best of all the City Lite will freestand when folded!! No more propping a Baby Jogger up against a wall! It will just stand on its own three wheels! It stands easily too – without needing to lock the front wheel or anything! You can literally plonk the City Lite down folded and it stands!! Fabulous!
Officially here in the UK there is the option to only buy a raincover (the same as the City Elite one) or a universal Baby Jogger footmuff. However down each side of the seat are sockets which are covered with a black cover and which have a red release button. We believe in the US there are car seat adaptors available for the City Lite. We do not know if the UK will get car seat adaptors, as we have stricter safety tests.
The Baby Jogger City Lite is a good little pushchair. It is light and easy to fling into a car boot, and can be set up or folded in seconds. It has performed well in our tests especially unexpectedly through mud and sand. The lie flat seat makes the City Lite a reasonably priced from birth pushchair which will last your child until the end of their pushchair using days. The classic huge hood of the Baby Joggers gives good protection from the sun and the peekaboo windows mean you can keep an eye on your child. The large seat has proved excellent for older toddlers. There is plenty of storage. However we do not like the harness at all.
The Baby Jogger City Lite has bemused us because although at first it appears to be a modern twist on the City Mini, the detail reveals that the City Lite is a radical departure for Baby Jogger. The RRP of the City Lite is lower than the City Mini, and it is clear why. The City Lite does not exude the same quality as the City Mini, despite the smart new looks.
We do struggle to sit the City Lite alongside the other pushchairs in the Baby Jogger City series because so much is not classic Baby Jogger. The new styling is great, but Baby Jogger is fabulous for a reason….thus it feels a shame that Baby Jogger have departed from their classic style, and put their name to a pushchair which feels like it belongs to another brand.
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