Babyzen Zen Review by Best Buggy
We were absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to be invited to have a closer look at the updated version of an old favourite of ours – the Babyzen Zen. This pushchair was always Mr BB’s favourite. He got a bit of a reputation for ‘flashing’ the shop keepers in our old town – but before you read anything into that – he was flashing the LED light which is on the front of the Babyzen Zen, to say ‘Hello’ to them!
So, in a nutshell, the Babyzen Zen is a 3 wheel, all terrain pushchair which has an incredibly flat fold and a front headlight. It really is all about the fold though! The fold is absolutely awesome – you have to see it to believe it. However, something so incredible does have some drawbacks which we will explore below. How well you like or love the Babyzen Zen probably depends on how much you value the benefits of such a compact folding pushchair.
First of all, it was absolutely fabulous to see an old friend again. We love this pushchair! Having had the older Recaro Babyzen (as it was back then), we knew exactly what to expect from the Babyzen Zen. However, we were keen to discover how it handled with an older child on board, and also to see what the changes have been made to the Zen.
The changes have been fairly minor. The hood fabric appears to have changed, and this now seems to sit better on the Zen than the old hood did.
On each side of the Zen used to be a red elastic which you had to pop over a round piece at the side each time you unfolded the pushchair. This has now gone which is positive, because we were always scared of breaking this.
The old Recaro Babyzen marked important parts with red, and although visually having everything all black is good on the new Zen, I did miss the large red reminder of where to push the release catch to open the chassis.
But overall, this was the same pushchair that we knew and loved.
We had to add the fabrics onto the seat before use but this was easy to do. The sides of the seat have hidden plastic rods which easily slide into grooves in the chassis, and the rest velcro’s and zips easily into position. The luxury super soft feel, reversible, seat pad needs fixing into position too. This is simple. The hood needs attaching to the chassis. There are sliders which pop into position easily. The seat only forward faces.
The Babyzen Zen comes in a choice of 2 chassis colours – black and white. The white is lightweight aluminum, whereas the black is a form of hard plastic composite.
Child Comfort and Harness
We will be honest and say that no matter how much we wanted another look at the Babyzen Zen, we had our doubts that Master BB would still fit in the seat. However, at a month shy of 5 years old, he fits beautifully into the seat, and his crossed legs tell us that he is very comfortable. This is fantastic to see.
The seat is a very generous size with ample depth for a bigger child. The footrest was a good size for larger feet and is wipe clean.
Given that we last reviewed the Recaro Babyzen when Master BB was a baby, it is good to see that this seat will have longevity across all ages.
So the question is, why did we sell our Recaro Babyzen when it was one of our all time favourite pushchairs? There was one reason – the harness. Every time we strapped Baby BB in, the silky straps slowly slackened off as we walked, and we had to stop and tighten them once again. Much as we loved everything else about the Recaro Babyzen, we eventually decided it was unsafe to continue using it. HOWEVER, we are delighted to say that there is NO such problem with the new Babyzen Zen. The new Zen harness is perfect and we love the integrated harness pads. There is no slide to the textured straps and it has held Master BB perfectly! It is easy to adjust. We love the round buckle although the jigsaw piece harness clips do take a little longer to piece together than other harnesses. But it is easy to do. The two pieces need inserting together into the buckle as one piece. They release as one piece too.
There are three harness height positions which as we know suited a baby, and still suit a nearly 5 year old too. There are clips on the waist harness which undo. The harness can then be pushed through the seat pad and adjusted.
So all round we are very happy! We have the pushchair we love, with a perfect harness!
Reclining the Babyzen Zen seat is a series of zips. These are situated at either side of the seat. From the upright position, one set of zips releases a small recline, and undoing another set of zips (4 in total) releases a much deeper recline which would be good for a sleeping child. To sit the child up again means pushing the child upright enough from behind to be able to do the zips up one by one. Not the easiest system!
There is no bumper bar but this is actually an advantage with an older child, as they can hop in and out easily.
Hood, Raincover and Storage
The Babyzen Zen hood comes in a choice of 3 colours: red, grey and black (currently), which is a change to the mandatory black hood of the old version. We have the red hood, and we must say that in our eyes, it is a deep orange rather than a true red. It would be easy to swap the hood and seat pad for a new baby or just for a change.
The hood is made of a strong canvas with a small peekaboo window. The hood seems much better than the old one. It seems stronger and more secure. My son used to push the old hood to one side. This seems to sit better. The hood is a good size, but not huge.
We absolutely love the pocket on the rear of the hood. Storage is poor on the Zen, so having a huge pocket to put bits and pieces, and even bigger bits and pieces in, has been a real advantage to the new Zen.
There is a small but perfectly formed fabric basket at the rear of the pushchair. Yes it is small, but it is amazing how much you can actually get into it, if you pack it well! We did a day at the beach on one outing. There is a small hole in the basket to allow any rainwater to seep away.
The Babyzen Zen comes with its own raincover in a little pouch. The raincover is easy to attach using hooks.
Handlebar, Handling, Wheels, Brake and Headlight
The handling of the Babyzen Zen is good. It is easy to push and manoeuvre, even for a three wheeler. However at times e.g. on slopes and on uneven surfaces we had to be mindful to be careful when pushing as it was tippy. The 10″ wheels are solid rubber and are puncture proof and sturdy. However, this is not really an all terrain pushchair. It struggled with sand, although Babyzen do suggest the pushchair can be pulled along on sand by the front handle. The Zen has been great on rough and smooth surfaces, on gravel and bark, and the all round suspension cushions the ride. However, we would not really want to take this anywhere too uneven lest the pushchair tipped. The front wheel does not lock but there is a unique ‘soft drive’ system which adapts to the surface that you are on.
The handlebar is an ergonomic shape, and is covered in dense foam. There are only three handlebar settings which is limiting. However, it has been enough for us. The handlebar is adjusted by pushing in the two buttons situated on the top and bottom of the centre of the handlebar. These need a firm press! The handlebar is a little too close to the hood and we have often had to adjust the hood and the handlebar to ensure they both move past each other smoothly. The proximity of the hood to the handle may become annoying if you have large hands, as there isn’t much room for them in between.
Mr BB has found that his longer stride means that he sometimes kicks the rear wheels. I have had no such issue and I can walk behind the pushchair with no problems. I am 5ft 6 ins tall.
The brake is very decisive. The brake needs to be pushed on, and flicked off to release. This can be done by using a circular pedal on either side of the rear wheels. Only one pedal needs to be depressed for the brake to be applied or released. It is clear to see when the brake is on or off.
The Babyzen Zen has an amazing integral LED headlight encased inside a mini clear dome. I used to be afraid that this dome would crack, but neither of ours have done despite a lot of use and being stood on! The light is charged via a mini solar panel above the headlight, so there is no need to worry about running out of power. The LED lights are operated by buttons on the handlebar. There is a permanently “on” mode, and a quick one off ‘flash’ mode – operated by the ‘warning triangle’ light. There is a tiny red indicator light which shows that the light is on, but this is easy to miss in daylight. It is also easy to accidentally knock the light on and not realise it is on. There is a main power on / off switch situated under the pushchair if you wish to disable the light. We love the light for night time adventures or winter walks.
Yoga Carrycot and Travel System
The Babyzen Zen can be used as a pram with the Yoga carrycot, or as a travel system if the seat fabric is removed. The only downside to this, is that once your baby reaches 9kg, and moves into the pushchair seat, a car seat can no longer be attached.
The Babyzen Zen can be used as a travel system with a variety of car seats including the Recaro Young Profi Plus; Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus and Cabriofix; Cybex Aton and Aton Q, BeSafe iZi Go and iZi Go Modular and we have also had on our Kiddy Evo-lunafix (but this is not officially safety tested but we didn’t realise when our testers tried it, hence no photos!).
The Yoga carrycot is quite unlike any other carrycot we have ever seen! The Yoga carrycot is aptly named as it is folded in two like a clamshell and is very neatly packed in a small box. One side nests inside the other when folded. It also has a lie flat position and a sat upright position, so that a young baby can see out. The carrycot can also be used as a seat on the floor which is incredibly neat and a great dual purpose product.
I can not pretend that I enjoy opening the carrycot, but as with everything else on the Zen, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. The carrycot opens by undoing a red clip on one side, and then pressing in the round button on the opposite side. This enables the carrycot to open up. There are two round buttons on each side which allow the legs to move backwards towards the head of the carrycot so that they are out of the way for the pushchair, or for them to open to place the chair on the floor.
There is a mattress which folds inside the clamshell fold of the carrycot. This has super soft fabric on. Unusually there is a 5 point harness in the carrycot. We LOVE this security for a little one. The shoulder and crotch pads will ensure that the harness is comfortable for even the smallest of babies.
The carrycot apron is lined with soft fleece (grey on ours) and it attaches with a loop on each side of the carrycot.
The carrycot requires adaptors to fit to the chassis, in the position where the hood usually fits. The carrycot can then be fitted on top of the chassis. There is a carrying handle built into the front of the Yoga hood to enable easy lifting. The carrycot releases by pressing in a button on each side of the carrycot and lifting it clear of the frame.
As mentioned, the carrycot has an upright sitting position. This is achieved by first unzipping the carrycot underneath in the middle. Then release the red clip. Press in the round white button on the opposite side and lift the seat upright. Lock the red clip back into closed position. Then zip up the foot area of the carrycot. It is easy to lie the seat back down again if the baby falls asleep en route.
The carrycot comes with its own raincover in its own pouch which is handy. We love how small the raincovers fold down.
The carrycot absolutely has to be the most compact carrycot we have ever used. It weighs just 3.6kg and folds into a tiny 54 x 49 x 15 package. The Yoga fabrics are all machine washable at 30 degrees.
As you can see in our photos, our baby tester loved the Yoga carrycot! He liked sitting up and watching his brother play when at home, or when out and about.
The Babyzen Zen is ALL about the fold. The fold is absolutely amazing. It is incredibly neat. It is amazingly flat. It is so robust.
The Babyzen Zen will quite literally slide into a gap – I have been storing it in a small gap by my desk. There are photos in the photoset above of the Zen in the car – literally slid in between bags and other pushchairs. The Zen will freestand which is a huge bonus. This is absolutely a great pushchair if space is at a premium. The finished fold is one solid chunk which feels like it won’t get broken easily. At just 10.8kg the Zen is lightweight. The wheels amazingly fold inwards so that they are flat against the chassis. The Zen is easy to carry one handed once folded, but it can also be wheeled along sideways very easily, using the handle to lead it (as long as the brake is off).
Folding the Babyzen Zen is a knack that you never forget, but there are many steps. The new Zen has the addition of a smiley face to ensure that you have the pushchair in the perfect position to fold.
To fold, first undo the two zips on either side of the top of the seat, and push the seat fabric over to the front, flat against the seat back. Use the hook situated under the front of the seat to catch the loop on the top of the seat so that it stays folded. Then the hood must be folded forwards, down over the seat. Move the handlebar as far forwards as possible, so that it is folded down. Then literally tilt the pushchair backwards to that the front wheel is in the air, and the pushchair is resting on the two circular joints below the handlebar in a “^” shape. Next, lean the chassis back against your legs until the smiley face lines up in the window. Ensure that the wheel is pointing down or else the chassis will not close. Then near the light is a release clip which has red arrows on. Push this forwards until the chassis releases. Using the handle smoothly slide the chassis downwards into a flat position. As you do this, the wheels fold in. It is important to ‘catch’ the two pins in the holders on each side, as you fold otherwise the chassis flaps.
Unfolding is pretty much the above in reverse. Tilt the pushchair back against you. Push the locking button with the red arrows forwards to release the chassis. Turn the handle round and allow the rear wheels to swivel round and the chassis to open until the pushchair is in the “^” position again and the chassis and wheel are locked open. This I am finding tricky on the Zen – it seemed easier 0n our older model. Then stand the Zen up onto its 3 wheels, lift the handlebar up, lift the hood up, and reposition. Undo the clip holding the seat fabric together and zip the seat fabric up at each side, and finally velcro the hood into position.
A decent amount of floor space is required to do this manoeuvre. It sounds really complicated, and yes it does take some practice to perfect, but it is perfectly possible to do all the manoeuvres one handed with a baby tucked under your arm!
The Babyzen Zen is loved by us at Best Buggy HQ, however, it won’t be liked by everyone because some parts take a little patience. The Zen is a status symbol, stylist, super cool pushchair which is also very practical especially if storage space is tight. Once the fold is practiced, the pushchair is easy to use and fold. The seat is very comfy with a gorgeous thick soft liner and harness pads. The hood is good, but not huge. The zipped recline is a bit fiddly especially when sitting a child up after being reclined. We LOVE the headlight, and the ability to push the folded pushchair along beside you. The Yoga carrycot is excellent with its neat fold and and luxurious fabrics. The sit up position is great for an older baby or to use as a seat on the floor, although we did keep forgetting how to do the various configurations! We like that there is a good adjustable harness on both the pushchair and the carrycot. Storage is limited, but we managed on several day trips.
It really is important not to underestimate the look, functions, mechanics and luxury of this pushchair, which really warrant the high price tag. If you want a pushchair to stand out from the crowd with, then the Babyzen Zen is the one to have. It isn’t perfect, but it is simply amazing. We are giving the Babyzen Zen a 4 star rating, because we can’t ignore the downsides, but if you love the Zen like we do, then you will be happy to compromise for the benefits this pushchair gives. We absolutely love it! We are so delighted that we had a second chance to see it again!
Thank you to Whitestep for helping us with this review.
Other Babyzen Zen / Recaro Babyzen Reviews: