Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Real World Test

So far so good!

UPS brought my stroller 2 days later than Kmart said they would (thanks a lot Kmart!). It arrived in a humungous box, which we dragged into the living room to start assembly. My 2 yr old proceeded to try to climb into the stroller and ask for a ride the whole time I was trying to put it together, and when he wasn't doing that, he was “helping” by handing me wheels and parts (so cute!). He was even more excited about the new stroller than I was.

It took about 30, maybe 40 minutes for me to put together by myself. The most difficult part was screwing the screws into the handle with a screwdriver. Instructions were fine, but wish they'd put the Spanish in a separate section for legibility (that's the graphic designer in me coming out).

Once assembled, I realized the “iPod” dock is a little plastic case with a speaker attached to it that you plug your iPod into and slip the whole thing into the pouch on one of the canopies. That means, you can't mess with the tunes without stopping and taking it out of the pouch. This doesn't bother me, since I don't even own an iPod, but something to consider if you thought the iPod dock was a selling point.

The first thing you notice is that, yes, it is definitely long and heavy. Longer and heavier than a single stroller without a doubt (no surprise there). It really is two strollers in one. My husband likened it to pushing a boat, but just like the huge cars from the 70s, the ride is very nice. I pushed it over the grass, bumps and funky-shaped curbs--no problem. Even manages a wheelie to go up a step. The back of the owner's manual recommends a little lubrication on the wheels from time to time to maintain the smooth ride (well, duh). I feel like I am pushing around some fancy piece of equipment rather than a high chair with casters.

The canopies are height adjustable by way of just sort of sliding them up and down. I'm glad I paid extra for the Tandem II model for this feature. In spite of his height, my 2 yr old wanted to have it lowered; I suppose he felt like he was in a tent. He is not too tall for the back rest either (woohoo!). If he scooches his bottom down on the seat a bit, he could nap if he wanted. Reclining the seat requires just one hand (I changed my son's pull-up with him reclined in the seat). The foot rests have several positions you can angle them at; you will need two hands for this.

The basket is pretty long: you could stash quite a bit in there—more if you have the seats reclined. You might need to access the basket from both ends to get everything in and out. Unfortunately I don't see a way to completely remove the basket. It is pinned onto the front axle. They parent tray is easily removable for washing (top rack safe). Cup holders and parent tray are about twice as deep as the ones on my old Graco stroller. The child cup holders do sort of get in the way if you have to stash these seats in a tight spot, but they snap off, if needed.

I put this stroller in the back of my Honda Fit (a subcompact hatchback) by removing both seats, standing the seats on either side of the trunk, and putting the base between them. The handle did extend a bit over the back seat of my Honda Fit. This would be a problem if you have someone sitting in the center (which I assume you won't if you bought this stroller, since you'd have two little kids in car seats!) I stashed my groceries in and around the stroller pieces, and that worked okay. The other configuration I've used is to remove the belly bars, and put the base in the trunk with the rear seat still attached to the stroller. Then I stand the second seat on top of the whole mess. This allows for more space in my trunk, but poorer driver visibility.

The fabric is decidedly gray, even on the picture on the box. It is unclear to me why the online photos and even the model name are “tan”. The fabric is not super-soft, so if that is something you're looking for, you might want to reconsider or look for a seat liner. You might find a seat liner on Etsy! Look →


or http://www.etsy.com/shop/littlewrappers?ref=seller_info

In summary this will be a great double stroller for walks in the park, trips to the mall, fair etc. It is not the greatest for doing a lot of quick errands due to the weight and extra time it takes to load in/out of the car. It would not be ideal if you have to store it inside a second-story apartment. Compared to other double strollers, this stroller fits through doorways, works well across multiple terrains and is good for either twins or children of different ages. Attractive, versatile, and easy to use (with some practice). A great value compared to similar strollers on the market.

As a side note, I did discover another stroller that allows for the same seating options as the Contours Options. Its called the “Duette” made by Peg Perego. There are several problems with this stroller. While it is more cushion-y, it is just as heavy and bulky as the Contours Options. It only accepts Peg Perego brand car seats. The basket is almost impossible to access. It has a steering wheel which allows for awesome maneuverability, unless it breaks (which happened to 2 of the 4 people who reviewed this stroller in “moka” on Amazoncom) making the stroller inoperable. Price Tag: around $700!

1 comment:

M L Hyde said...

I have two things to add to this post. This first is that I realized you can, in fact, remove the basket from the stroller by just undoing the velcro tape all the way around. The second thing is that I've noticed I need to turn the front wheels at an angle in order to properly fold the stroller. Or, you can easily remove the front wheels and they pop right back on!