The Britax B-Dual is a stylish and versatile travel system compatible buggy that transforms into a tandem with the addition of a second seat. The 2011 version boasts some impressive changes, though one of the original niggles seems to still exist.
Britax’s range of buggies, launched in 2010, has been ‘mum modified’ for 2011. After listening to feedback from parents and testers, Britax set about making improvements. These including making the products lighter, the baskets bigger and the hood sizes adjustable.
The Britax B-Dual is designed to work for one baby, for twins and for children of different ages. Its main seat can be forward or rear facing and reclines flat for a newborn. A second buggy seat can be added behind the main one, or a second infant carrier frame can be used so that a car seat or carrycot can be fixed to either seat – this is an improvement on the old 2010 version, in which only the main seat could take a car seat and there were no carrycots. This means there are now a total of 22 configurations for the travel system – up from 10 – and allows you to now use the B-Dual as a travel system for two.
I tested the original Britax B-Dual in 2010, so was keen to see exactly how the new version performed.
What we love
The B-Dual is incredibly straightforward to assemble from the box, with clear instructions, should you even need them.
Trend-conscious parents will like its black frame and choice of colour options for the seats.
It’s simple and quick to fold and unfold and if the second seat is in use, you don’t have to remove it (leaving the second seat on changes the folded dimensions from 30cm x 69cm x 84cm to 53cm x 69cm x 100cm).
Pushing and steering is easy on flat surfaces, although I couldn’t manage it one-handed with both my 15-month-old twins on board – a heavy load!
I’m pleased to note the easy-to-use, click-on/click-off brake now works on both back wheels – the 2010 model only seemed to lock the right wheel, which was a pain.
The main seat is roomy and comfortable and I’m still impressed by the huge hoods, which zip open to reveal a mesh panel and extend even further. The main hood comes with two extenders so its height can be increased for toddlers, which came in handy in my case. If only they were provided for the second seat, too.
You can’t fail to be impressed by the main innovation for 2011 – the introduction of the second infant carrier frame, allowing a car seat to be attached in either positions, or a carrycot. Actually, there are two carrycots to choose from – the soft one is more portable, the hard one designed to make more of a pram style set-up.
The ability to take two car seats or carrycots at once makes the new version of the B-Dual far more suited to newborn twins than it was before. It also makes it a travel system that will grow with your family, as there are so many ways to configure it. You could use it with a carrycot, car seat or buggy seat as a single buggy. Then when your second baby comes along, you could add the carrycot or car seat to the second seat. As they grow, your toddler could hop in and out of the second seat while your baby takes the main seat. Finally, you could take it back to a single buggy when your first child no longer needs a ride. Years of use!
The shopping basket is still large, with easy access from behind if the buggy’s in single mode. There’s handy zip access from the front and sides for when the second seat is in use.
Also I’m pleased to note the raincover is now included in the price, which wasn’t the case before.
What to watch out for
My main bugbear when testing the 2010 B-Dual was the fact it soon developed squeaks that I couldn’t locate or fix. I had high hopes for the new model and decided to give it a few weeks before declaring it squeak-free. Sadly, it didn’t get there. By week two, the front wheels were maddeningly squeaky. It’s such a shame Britax hasn’t addressed this as it’s so annoying and puts me off recommending the product.
Admittedly my twins are somewhat heavier since I tested the 2010 B-Dual, however I found it really heavy and awkward to get up kerbs and on and off public transport – more so than any other buggy I’ve tested with them at their current weights.
Although the main seat has good suspension, the lower one doesn’t and the buggy is very sensitive to bumps in the road. On a number of occasions a bump or kerb woke a sleeping child, which wasn’t ideal.
As before, the rear wheel mudguards look cheap, increase the width of the buggy and are forever getting caught on things as you try to manoeuvre around tight spaces. They’re obviously necessary to reduce splashing as well as stop the child in the lower seat reaching the wheels. However, I’m surprised Britax hasn’t rethought the design a little to make them less of an issue.
The 5-point harness could still use some more padding, especially between the legs, and the click mechanism is plasticky and stiff. While the mesh panel on the hood seems like a good idea, it isn’t actually UV protective, which seems daft.
As with my previous review, I find it misleading that the product is called the ‘B-Dual’ but comes as a single. If you want to use it for more than one child, you have to buy a second seat and/or frame that enables you to fit a second car seat or carrycot. Cosytoes aren’t included either. These hidden costs can quickly mount up, bringing the total cost up to rival the most luxury options on the market – and I wouldn’t quite put the Britax in that high-end bracket. If you had twins, for example, and bought the second seat, second frame, two carrycots and two cosytoes, you’d have spent just short of a grand – not including any car seats. That said, Britax is currently running a good offer where you get a free second seat, car seat or carrycot with every purchase of the main B-Dual buggy, for £449.99.
As is common with many tandems of this “inline” style, there’s a definite difference in comfort, view and access between the top and bottom seats. It was awkward getting my toddlers in and out of the lower seat without bumping their heads. It always involved me kneeling on the floor, which wasn’t comfortable. And forget it altogether if they’re doing that stiff-legged, arched-back tantrum thing – not a chance! Although Britax has made the B-Dual more twin-friendly as a travel system, once your twins have outgrown carrycots (from about 4 months) and car seats (from about 9 months), you only have the option of the main and second seats, forward facing, and these aren’t great for twins. So, despite the impressive number of configurations, I’d still say this is better for siblings of different ages than twins.
A couple of smaller points: the capacity of the shopping basket is significantly reduced when the second seat in use, especially if by a toddler. I could just about squeeze my changing bag in but whoever was in the second seat then had to prop their legs up around it. You also can’t hang anything from handlebars when the second seat is in use.
Who is the Britax D-Dual best for?
Parents with children of different ages after a travel system compatible buggy with choices.
The Britax B-Dual is a stylish (but squeaky!) travel system ready option. It can offer up to 22 different set-ups to meet your changing needs, but just watch out for the mounting costs.