Diono Flexa Review by Best Buggy
The obvious first impression of the Diono Flexa was of the very bright Yellow Sulphur fabrics! Guaranteed to raise a smile even on the rainy dismal days that we were testing this buggy. The Flexa also comes in Black Midnight and Blue Turquoise colourways too.
The second thing that was notable was that although the Flexa may look like a typical umbrella fold buggy, it certainly doesn’t fold like one, and it can actually freestand when folded (a huge advantage over a typical buggy).
The final notable first impression is that the handlebars extend! This is not only useful for individual comfort when pushing, but also as our tester discovered, makes the Flexa quite a short package to fit into a small car boot.
We love that the Flexa is suitable from birth up to 15kg in the UK (what our safety tests demand) however elsewhere the same pushchair is certified to a huge 22kg. That is a huge age range for a buggy.
Our little tester was super happy being in the Flexa. She enjoyed the upright seating position to have a great view of the world. The lift up calf rest supported the backs of her legs, and would be great for a younger baby to be able to nap comfortably. The calf rest has a number of different positions which it can simply be pulled up into. There are clear, easy to use buttons to fold the calf rest back down again.
The pushchair has a pull cord recline which can be stopped at any point from upright down to a flat position. This is easy to use especially if a child falls asleep whilst out; but does need a shoulder or arm push to help push a child back upright again.
There is a lovely silky harness with a chunky buckle and thick removable harness pads. The harness splits into 5 pieces, but it also can clip together to be a 3 point harness (and won’t fall apart again). We applaud this as it makes it much simpler to buckle in a wriggly child. Buckles are always a sign of quality, and the Flexa buckle clips together with a very satisfying click.
There are 3 harness height positions to suit all ages although the first height position is quite high for a newborn baby. We would probably add a Diono Newborn Pod to the seat to make it a little more snug for a newborn. Altering the harness height was quite tricky. You need to get your hands up and behind a flap at the rear of the Flexa, which was quite difficult. However, you don’t need to change the harness height often.
We love the gate opening bumper bar which is really soft and well padded. This allows a child to clamber in and out of the seat easily, but gives the child something to hold onto. The bumper bar can remain on when the pushchair is folded, or can be completely removed if preferred.
There is a large hood. It is very easy to pull up, and it holds its shape nicely although the fabric is quite thin. There is a sun visor on the front section, underneath which is hidden a toy loop so that your child’s favourite toy can be hung. There is a mesh ventilation window on the top of the hood which has a fabric panel to cover it with a lovely silent magnetic fastener.
The Diono Flexa also comes with a raincover and also car seat adaptors. This makes the Flexa a really useful travel system which makes things much easier. The car seat adaptors clip easily onto the frame, above the bumper bar. The adaptors can take most Maxi Cosi, Cybex and Nuna infant carriers.
Handlebars, Handling, Wheels, Brake and Storage
The handles are unique on a buggy of this type. There are two single handles which are tucked right down behind the hood of the pushchair ready to extend out from 105cm to 112cm high. There are four positions. This makes the Flexa a really useful pushchair for parents of different heights.
The handlebars of the Flexa are also slightly curved and covered in dense foam to give a comfortable grip during pushing without them sliding.
The front wheels look deceptively thin but they have managed rough paths and there is some suspension on the front wheels. The Flexa did struggle on grass, but the front wheels can be locked to aide pushing. The rear wheels are double wheels and are more chunky. There is rear suspension too.
There is a large red step on button on each rear wheel to engage the brake. It does click on audiably, and it is easy to remove but it needs flicking up from underneath, so you need some decent shoes with enclosed toes on.
Everything about this pushchair feels really good quality, and really nicely finished. We really love the chassis – from the lovely rectangular tublar sections, to the plastic section at each side of the hood. It’s smooth and well finished. It’s what we would expect from a brand like Diono, and is great to see.
There is also a wrist strap to stop the Flexa from rolling away from you if you let go.
The one disappointment with the Flexa is the basket. It is barely accessible from any angle. There is a tiny amount of access at the rear to be able to stuff some coats in, but anything else risks being lost in the basket forever! Diono have really missed making the basket accessible by giving the basket stretchy fabrics at the side and front – although Diono’s demo video misleadingly seems to show the sides being flexible. The front section could even have been more open too. Hopefully Diono will consider improving this on future models, because this type of pushchair is one that will not take being loaded up on the handles with shopping. For us storage is essential: every child has a changing bag or spare clothes or toys, drinks and snacks!
The Diono Flexa at first glance looks like an umbrella fold pushchair, but it isn’t! The fold is really neat and compact but the stroller works more like a telescope and folds upwards and inwards, and the handles tuck in underneath the hood at the end. We love how compact and neat the Flexa is when folded. As mentioned above, our tester can’t usually fit a buggy type of stroller into her car boot, but the Flexa fitted perfectly. Unlike an umbrella fold pushchair, it is possible to get the Flexa to freestand, just on its front wheels and its mudguards. This is fantastic after years of tripping over umbrella fold buggies! The rear wheels are tucked away part way up the pushchair when folded which minimises mess from muddy wheels!
The fold may be neat but the fold / unfold took some practice. At first it seemed tricky, but as you practice you realise how easy the pushchair really is. First undo the fold lock on the side of the Flexa. Then at the rear underneath the hood, there is a circular handle, a flat plastic pad and a button. If you push down gently on the top of the circular handle – and it doesn’t take much – the Flexa glides smoothly open until it is fully open and then push down hard so that the pushchair engages at the rear with a clunk. If you push too hard at the start, then you end up not being able to open the wheels up. We recommend a few practice runs before going outside the first time.
Folding is also easier once you know how. Press in the button at the rear, and then pull the handle upwards. The higher you can pull the side struts up, the nearer you are to fully folding the Flexa. We have found that it does take a hug / squeeze to finish folding the Flexa and to engage the fold lock. It is great to have a fold lock to stop the pushchair sliding open again or when carrying. We think that across time, with more use, the fold / unfold will become easier. Diono say that it is a one handed fold, but it would need a bit of practice. We can only do it at present by pushing the stroller against a wall as we fold!
The handlebars tuck down and pull up easily by pressing a button on the end. There are 4 positions from low to high. We found it a little frustrating to have to rummage in the hood fabric to find the handlebars to pull out each time, but we guess you could leave the handlebars extended if you prefer. If fold size or handlebar size is an issue, then you won’t be put off by this.
The Flexa weighs just 8.3kg, so has been no issue putting in and out of the car. The Flexa can be towed along behind you because the rear wheels are tucked up out of the way. This is useful when you need to carry a child or bags.
The Diono Flexa has more to offer than just a standard umbrella fold buggy. The Flexa is excellent quality, easy on the eye, and is a pleasure to push and use. The lie flat seat, combined with the high weight capacity, as well as the travel system option, makes this pushchair great value for money across the timeframe that your child(ren) need a pushchair.
The Flexa’s key selling points are the freestanding neat fold, and the extending handlebars, both of which are pretty unique on a pushchair, especially one as small folding as this. The poor basket access is a big negative for us, but maybe that’s an opportunity to purchase a new bag to match! We like the Flexa a lot, and we have enjoyed using it. We think its a brilliant urban stroller and would really suit a family who don’t have the space to store a larger pushchair. We have awarded the Diono Flexa a Best Buggy 4 and a half Gold Star Rating.
Other Diono Flexa Reviews: