We are delighted to have a guest review from Brighton mum Charlee. She asks, how many buggies is too many for one household?
Q. How many buggies does one goddamned household need?!
A. Two. No, wait. One. Or possibly three, just to make sure all bases are covered…
My husband looked at me goggle-eyed from the hallway this morning, while I signed the delivery driver’s clipboard and brought in yet another pushchair. Now, in fairness, there are a lot of things that my husband finds amusing/confusing/pointless about the world of motherhood, but I have to give him some credit this time: not only was this my third buggy purchase in less than a year, but it was the second time I’d bought the same pushchair.
How this came to be is a long and extremely dull story, but suffice to say: you eventually have to admit when you’ve made a great big boo-boo, swallow your pride and spend a lot of money putting it right.
My husband, half jokingly, suggested that with so many buggy purchases under my belt, I should write some pushchair reviews. He’s right. So here is the first of my three buggy reviews (covering three popular pushchair, buggy and stroller choices), presented in the hopes that you won’t make the same bloody expensive mistakes I did! Enjoy.
The Buggy Review: Maclaren Techno XLR
There’s no doubt about it: this buggy is really, really good. It’s an umbrella-fold (for the uninitiated, that’s the forwards-and-down, trap-fingers-swear-loudly kind) and so it folds up pretty quickly and easily for storage. Don’t be fooled, however: it’s big, even when folded, and the clip for holding it together is in the wrong place, so that it never folds up quite snugly. It’ll fit in your shed, in the boot of most decent family cars and in a fairly spacious hall cupboard, but if you live in a studio flat where your cat brains himself every time he turns around, this isn’t the buggy for you.
In town, this pushchair is, quite simply, the don. It corners like an F1 car and has the tightest turning circle I’ve ever seen, owing to the wiggly front wheels. With the front being the same width as the back, you aren’t going to run over anyone’s feet (unless you’re just clumsy, or downright malicious), and even with the world’s greatest buggy invention – Hamster Buggy Bags – attached to either side, I found it slim enough to take into most shops (even my local Londis, which appears to have been designed by an anorexic stilt-walker). I watched smugly as other parents manoeuvred their unwieldy Bugaboos between café tables, unwittingly hooking handbags, chairs and passing children on their enormous back wheels. (I got my comeuppance, as you’ll discover in my next buggy review.)
Sadly, this buggy’s downfall comes when you take it off-road. The Maclaren Techno XLR is built for speed, not comfort. The suspension, while genuinely excellent at smoothing out cobble stones and Brighton & Hove City Council’s shoddy workmanship around town, is no match for grass, pebbles, sand, snow, ice or gravel. The wheels are small, hard and plastic and, frankly, seem a bit cheap compared to the rest of the buggy. Good thing it has a sturdy five-point-harness*, otherwise you’d be retrieving your child from the nearest bush/tree/pond/gutter/puddle every fifteen seconds.
* which, by the way, is like something out of the Krypton Factor and is totally grandma proof.
The Techno XLR has handles that are adjustable to the tallest height I’ve seen, and if you’re over 5’9″ or so, you’ll already have noticed that the majority of pushchairs are made with The Borrowers in mind, so this is a major plus for tall people. It doesn’t have a drinks holder; you may think this won’t annoy you, but after five months and Very Little Sleep, oh yes it will. The storage space underneath is small and – most annoyingly of all – can’t be accessed when the seat is fully reclined. This is easily remedied by getting some of those buggy bags I mentioned, but it’s definitely a minus. And for god’s sake don’t hang anything on the back unless you want to catapult your bundle of joy to Timbuktu every time you let go of the handles.
If you live in town and you do more shopping than camping, you cannot go wrong with the Maclaren Techno XLR. Most city-dwellers in the online community will tell you it’s the buggy they wish they’d bought first. At around £225 to £300 (depending on the extras you want), it’s a damn sight cheaper than 70% of prams out there and represents astonishing value for money. But it’s space-hungry for storage, tall and really doesn’t off-road, so give it a miss if you’re a short-arse cave-dweller.
4 out of 5 stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Stay tuned for two more pushchair reviews (assuming I haven’t gone and bought another one by then). The Mothercare stroller and the Bugaboo Cameleon are up next.
Charlee is a freelance writer and guest contributor for BrightonMums.com. She lives in organised chaos with her husband, her baby daughter and an angry cat in Hanover, Brighton. You’ll find first-time parenting adventures, tips, advice and reviews on her mummy blog, Bump Diaries. You can also read her other blogs and employ her writing services over at Charlee Says. Give her a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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