A few months ago I was lucky enough to be invited to Amsterdam for the Press launch of Bugaboo’s new Cameleon³. To top off that amazing trip I was sent the Bugaboo Cameleon³ to test and review. Bugaboo started in 1994 as a graduation project for Max Barenbrug. A pushchair design far removed from the status quo no manufacturer wanted to take it on. Teamed with Eduard Zanen they decided to go it alone and now retail in 50 countries across the World. Over the years Bugaboo have evolved but the DNA shines through in every pushchair. The Cameleon³ is the third generation of Cameleon and although it contains the same concepts as it’s predecessors it is the iconic stroller made perfect.
I have never owned a Bugaboo so was absolutely delighted to get my hands on one especially as it isn’t available until September. When the box arrived I was literally jumping for joy. The box was quite little which was a surprise and I started to wonder if maybe they had forgotten something. I quickly opened it up and found it was just a very compact system.
Two 12 inch foam filled rear wheels
Two 6 inch front swivel wheels
Straight away the quality shone through. It all just felt flawless and looked amazing. I never look at pushchair instructions and set to work putting it together. It took me about 5 minutes and was over so quickly that I was actually a bit disappointed that the whole process was over. Spike was away at Nana’s house so I had a good look over all of the features without him trying to get involved. As you can see from the photo there are some pretty nifty features that make the Bugaboo Cameleon outshine its rivals.
Starting on the top left photo the Cameleon has a 5 point harness with easy slide adjustment. No more fiddling with straps to fit them through slits for adjustment you simply slide the plastic piece up and down to the required height. This would have been an amazing feature for us this time last year when the Boys were still sharing a pushchair. It was a right pain trying to get the straps to fit a tall 2 year old and a 6 month old baby. It is still a handy feature as it allows us to strap Spike in easily and then adjust it but I do find that the can slip down on their own.
All 4 wheels pop off easily at the touch of a button. Everything on the Cameleon that does a job is white. As you can see from the second picture of the wheel release button and the locking mechanism.
The brake is far beyond flip flop friendly. So much so that it’s a hand brake that you simply push down and then release at the touch of a button. This Cameleon³ is still quite new so I do have to help the lever up after pressing the button to stop it from springing up and catching my hand but that may loosen up a little bit over time.
All Bugaboo’s come with a wrist strap for safety and the Cameleon³ has had it shortened to a much more user friendly length. On previous Cameleon’s it has been quite long and can get in the way especially if you have a toddler on the ride on board.
Bugaboo have introduced a 6 step adjustable handle. There are now grooves securing the handle in the desired position so that there is no chance of it slipping. I have owned a few pushchairs with telescopic handlebars before and found that after a while, especially when trying to tip the pushchair up a curb there would be some slippage but Bugaboo have ensured that this will never happen.
The basket on the Cameleon³ has been supersized. My biggest bugbear with prams is tiny baskets. Especially inaccessible ones. The new Cameleon³ basket is the best basket that I have ever owned. The sheer amount of stuff that I can fit in it is fantastic. I’m not a fan of hanging things like changing bags on the handle so I was thrilled to find that my whole changing bag fitted in the basket with the rain cover and Spud’s pre school bag! Last week we bought a big bale of sawdust for Princess Honey and we managed to squeeze that in there as well!
Next up is the seat stand that turns the pushchair seat into a very handy self supporting baby seat. We used this feature when we went out for a picnic as it kept Spike safe in his seat when I was concentrating dishing out the food without him being head and shoulders above everybody sitting on the floor. The bumper bar is a very nice size and Spike loves holding onto it but I would much prefer if it could be swing gate opening. It can be quite fiddly to get it off as you have to press both buttons at the same time. I’m so used to removing the bumper bar to take Spike out that it became a bit of a pain.
As mentioned in my first Cameleon³ post 90% of the parts have been changed for the Cameleon³ and as you can see it is finished in a nice matt black. The older Cameleon’s have a more shiny finish and don’t look quite as stylish or flawless as the newer parts on the Cameleon³.
Now I’ll talk about the amazing chassis. The Cameleon is a two piece fold so the seat has to be removed to fold the chassis. It is extremely easy to do by simply pressing the two buttons on either side of the handle and lowering it down. Bugaboo have introduced a new mechanism that means to unfold it you simply flick it out and it’s up and ready for you to pop the seat on.
Pictured above you can see the Cameleon in 2 wheel mode which is designed for sand and snow. I don’t know many people that would need this function very often but I do know how lost people are when it snows and pushchairs become useless. I have tried this on sand and it was brilliant. You just pull it along behind you and it glides along taking it all in its stride. To go alongside this the handle bar also flips. It can be over the two large wheels for usual terrain or flipped over to the two smaller wheels for slightly rougher terrain making it much easier to manoeuvre.
I played with the handle flip quite a lot over the past few weeks and at first thought it was just a gimmick as every time I tried it I crashed into the wall. By locking the swivel wheels and going over grass or rougher terrain it becomes a dream to push. With the larger wheels at the front it glides over rough terrain as easily as it glides over the smooth floors of a shopping centre in it’s normal position. The manoeuvrability of the Bugaboo Cameleon is amazing. It is so easy to control even when holding the hand of a toddler or trying to get through tight spaces. I have never been a fan of small wheels at the front of a pushchair but you don’t even notice them on the Cameleon³. The only issue that we did have was when my Dad took the Boys out to walk the dogs he managed to lose the front wheel down a drain in the road but it was a feat that I couldn’t replicate.
The handlebar flip also came in handy when we took the Cameleon on the train. I was able to flip it down out of the way and have Spike right up against the table. Getting a 16 month old to sit still for 3 hours on the train is a huge challenge but the Cameleon³ meant that he was strapped in safely and able to do all the things his big brother was doing.
After the first few uses I couldn’t help but think that the seat wasn’t that deep. Spike looked quite far forward with his legs dangling down. I thought that I might have an issue with the foot rest not being adjustable but all of my thoughts on the seat were quashed by Spike who appears to be very comfortable and will quite happily sit or lie in the Cameleon³ with no fussing.
As you can see in some of the pictures Spike’s head is on the hood fabic. He actually has a lot of seat behind his head but the fabric all folds down over the seat making it appear smaller. The hood does come off easily and quite often we have used it without the hood and it’s probably the first pushchair that I have owned that doesn’t look odd without the hood on!
Included with the Cameleon³ is the carrycot fabric. It uses the same frame as the seat fabric and secures with Velcro quickly and easily. It took me about 5 minutes to change the fabrics over as it uses the same hood and bumper bar. In carrycot mode the bumper bar acts as a carry handle which can hold weights of up to 9kg. With the memory buttons to release the carrycot it is so easy to take on and off and has stands on the bottom to pop it on the floor. It also collapses down flat to make it easier to put in the car or store at home. You simply pull the two poles out that are attached to the inside and secured with Velcro at the bottom. The Bugaboo Cameleon³ is also compatible with car seats using adapters that are available seperately.
The rain cover isn’t a basket filler, to be fair it would need to be huge to fill the Cameleon basket but it does have very cool rods in which moves the rain cover away from Spike’s feet. He is just getting to the stage where he protests when you pop the rain cover on especially if they press on his feet but with the Cameleon rain cover being away from them he sits quite happily. The little window that opens does confuse me slightly as it’s knee level. It is handy to have to pass him things or to check on him without removing the rain cover entirely but it’s not like he can have it open when it’s just spitting so that he can see.
I do have some niggles with the Bugaboo Cameleon³ but none of them are severe enough to put me off the pushchair. The quality, styling and ease of use make this the best pushchair that I have ever used and I really regret not buying one 3 years ago. I didn’t buy one because in all honesty the price put me off. What I didn’t know was that it is designed to be a birth to walking pushchair so it would last me the whole 3 years and most Bugaboo’s see 2 or 3 children in the same family from birth to not needing a pushchair. Even Spud at 3.5 years old fits comfortably and is easy to push. With this and the resale value in mind it really does make it worth its £799 price tag. If by some miracle the Hubby decides that we will have another baby the Bugaboo Cameleon³ will be the top of my list.
PLEASE NOTE. I received a pre production model of the Bugaboo Cameleon³. The actual Bugaboo Cameleon³ that is available to buy from September 2012 will have a swing gate opening bumper bar (rotating carry handle)