It’s more than 10 years since Bugaboo launched its first Bee – the compact, lightweight pushchair from the Dutch company that has become a household name and celeb favourite with its range of luxury buggies and accessories.
The Bee5 is the latest version of the cute but robust urban buggy (the last incarnation was the Bee3 but Bugaboo avoided the number 4 as the phrase has negative connotations in Chinese) that has had a number of tweaks to make it even better.
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At a starting price of £499, the Bee5 is definitely a luxury lightweight, priced above the iCandy Raspberry (£460).
So what’s the difference between the Bugaboo Bee5 and the Bee3?
There are around 100 new parts to the Bee5, including improved front wheels, that are more stable with a better swivel.
It’s 200g heavier and 5cm longer, the height remains the same, at 92cm, but the basket can now hold up to 22 litres (4kg).
Apart from that, so far as I can gather, the main changes to the Bee5 are on the style side. It’s now got way more customisable options than before – so you can really pimp your baby’s ride.
From the leatherette handlebar, to the new dark red wheel caps (or buggy alloys as I like to call them), and an incredible 6 luxurious and classy seat fabrics and 11 sun hood choices, the style has gone to the next level.
Of course you can still get the bright and sunny classic yellow Bee hood and the plain black seat fabric, but new options include a range of very chic mélange fabrics, as well as gorgeous patterns.
And sleep-deprived parents everywhere will jump for joy that Bugaboo has finally added nobbles (AKA “integrated attachment points”) to the frame for slotting on a cup holder – in 3 possible places! Yippee!
First impressions of the Bugaboo Bee 5?
If you can have love at first sight with a pushchair, then I am like Hugh Grant falling for Andie MacDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral.
I must admit I have always been a fan of the Bugaboo Bee – the Bee+ was the first pushchair I chose for my son, who’s now 5, and I used the same buggy three years later with my newborn daughter, before trying out the Bee3 with her.
So I do have Bee form – I love its cute but robust look, and the fact that while it’s designed for the city, I could take it pretty much anywhere I wanted to roam.
But the Bee5 is that extra bit special. It’s kind of grown up now, and the new chic styling is all good in my book.
How does the Bee 5 compare to the other lightweight buggies you’ve used?
What I really love about the Bee5 is that although it is compact and lightweight (though nowhere near as dainty as these top 10 light as a feather buggies under 6kg), it packs a real punch in terms of its features.
It feels way sturdier than cheaper alternatives like the Mothercare XSS stroller (£139) and the GB Qbit+ (£250)
And major competitor iCandy never really put a dent in the Bee’s popularity with its compact and lightweight Raspberry (£460).
I have to admit, I do love it way more than my regular Maclaren Techno XT umbrella-fold pushchair – it’s just so much more stylish – but it is not one for leaving in the chaos of the tiny nursery buggy storage shed!
Exactly how light is the Bugaboo Bee5?
The Bee5 is 8.9kg with the seat unit. Like I said, it’s not the lightest on the market, but I found it light enough to carry up and down stairs when needed (even with a little one on board), and I can easily carry it with one hand when it’s folded.
To me, it doesn’t feel like a ‘lightweight’ buggy in terms of its durability: the chassis is very strong and well put together, and the seat unit is very robust.
How compact is the Bee5 when folded and unfolded?
When unfolded, the Bee5 measures in at 53cm across the front from wheel to wheel (and 45cm across the back wheels), by 90cm in length (front of wheel to back of rear wheel), and from 98-105cm in height, depending whether the seat backrest is extended or not.
It’s basically pretty compact, but not in the same league as a pushchair like the GB Pockit or Babyzen Yoyo, although for me, it’s got a lot more substance to it than either of those buggies.
The Bee5 measures 90 x 46.5 x 32cm when folded.
What do you think of the fold system?
Like all Bugaboo pushchairs (well, all pushchairs full stop) there is a definite knack to folding the Bee5, but once you get it then it becomes second nature.
On each side of the handlebar frame is a white, rectangular shaped catch with a protruding lip at the bottom and a small black button in the middle.
To fold it with two hands you have to;
- Put your thumbs on the black buttons on each side
- Curl your first finger under the lip
- You then push in both black buttons simultaneously
- Keeping the buttons pushed in, pull up with your first fingers, this releases the frame and it folds in on itself
I discovered while using the Bee5 that you can actually do this one-handed, by releasing one side first, then the other side. Bugaboo, this is a revelation, I love it!
Trust me, it does get really easy over time, but when I had my first child I remember thinking I would have to drive back from an outing with my 2011 Bee+ upright in the back of the car (it was the same fold system).
It also folds down in one piece with the seat attached – a big plus point for me.
How easy is it to store?
Super easy. Not only does it fold pretty compactly, but it is freestanding on its side, so can be slotted discreetly into narrow hallways, or even under beds!
How is the Bugaboo Bee5 when travelling on public transport?
I tested out the Bee5 on several train and bus journeys and found it really easy to use. Its manoeuvrability really comes into its own here, as I could easily get it up bus gangways. It turns on a sixpence, so getting it around the inevitable protruding bell poles and seat edges was a doddle.
It slotted into small spaces on the train so nicely that I didn’t feel like I was blocking other passengers.
The main thing I would say to watch out for is that when the wheels are set to swivel, it can be a bit tougher getting up onto a train if there’s a large gap from the platform, as they tend to move! But this is a minor downside of having such great manoeuvrability.
Would you be able to take the Bugaboo Bee5 away on holiday, and how do you think it would fare?
Yes – you could definitely take the Bee5 on holiday, although it is not compact enough to fit in an aircraft overhead locker so would need to be checked in, or taken to the aircraft door.
It’s really nippy, so ideal for a city break, and features like the UPF 50+ protection sun hood mean it’s great for a holiday in the sun. Because it’s got a very comfortable lie flat recline, it is also great for naps while you enjoy a relaxing lunch (well, that’s the dream anyway).
Is it affordable for what it is?
At £499 for the chassis, and seat unit with sun canopy, it is at the upper end of the lightweight urban pushchair market – and you are clearly paying something of a premium for this luxury brand.
But saying that, this is an incredibly high quality buggy that grows with your little one and could last you 3 years – and there’s such a strong resale market that you are likely to be able to recoup hundreds of pounds of the initial outlay.
I personally do think it’s worth the money, if your budget can stretch to it, as a buggy is probably the most critical bit of baby kit and it is likely to get a lot of use.
What do you think of the seat unit size?
One of my favourite parts of the Bugaboo Bee5 is the seat. I absolutely love the clever thinking behind the independently extendable seat backrest and seat base. It means the pushchair really can grow with your child – and also that it can be personalised to fit, especially if you have a tall toddler.
It’s a very good size anyway, and has a comfortable padded fabric, so the fact it extends is a bonus.
How many recline positions are there on the Bugaboo Bee5?
The Bugaboo Bee5 seat reclines into 3 positions: upright, snooze and lie flat. It’s a simple one-handed mechanism that involves using your thumb and fingers to squeeze two catches at the back of the seat together. This releases the recline, and you can move the seat into the position you want until it clicks into place.
What age child can use the Bugaboo Bee5?
The Bugaboo Bee5 can be used from newborn, with the bassinet, to 3 years. The seat unit can be used to 17kg when it’s used in world facing (outward facing) mode, and up to 15kg when used parent facing.
Is the Bugaboo Bee5 suitable for newborns?
Yes, it can be used from newborn up to 6 months (or 9kg) with the Bugaboo Bee5 carrycot/ bassinet.
It has to be bought in parts – the carrycot base is £100, and the carrycot fabric is £115, so £215 altogether.
It is a really good quality, hard bottomed carrycot, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the Bee5 does have a very good lie-flat recline, which can be combined with the soft and cosy cocoon (£79.95) to create a comfy spot also suitable for a newborn to 6 months.
The cocoon is like a micro version of a carrycot, and straps in with the harness, so your baby is really secure. I used the cocoon with both my babies from newborn, and found it really useful.
What do you think of the height of the buggy?
One of the noticeable features on the Bugaboo Bee5 is that the seat is set low on the chassis – at 50cm from the ground. I’ve never found it a problem (but I am 5ft 3ins), but if you are particularly tall or have back problems, then bending down to interact with your little one may not be ideal.
How high is the seat unit on the frame?
The seat unit is 50cm from the ground and while it does seem low compared to buggies like the iCandy Peach 3 or Stokke Xplory, in reality it is only a few centimetres different from the Bugaboo Cameleon. I found it really easy to interact with my baby in the Bee 3, so the height didn’t affect that.
Is the Bugaboo Bee5 frame strong?
Absolutely. Although the Bee5 is designed as an urban buggy, I also tried it out on some more challenging terrain and the frame can take pretty much anything that’s thrown at it (within reason). The curved chassis means there aren’t many parts that need to bend and fold, which gives it great strength and durability.
I know from experience that my Bee+ lasted for a full three years with no damage to the chassis itself, and I would expect the Bee5 to fare just as well.
If you register the Bee5 online, Bugaboo offers a 3 year warranty.
What do you think of handle? Look at the height, flexibility, manoeuvrability?
I love the fact there are 10 possible handlebar positions, ranging from 90cm to 108cm, so there really is a height to suit most parents.
The new leatherette options are great, and a big improvement on the foam, which I must admit I did find difficult to clean on previous Bugaboo Bee models, and liable to splitting.
The best part is the shape and design of the single handlebar makes it super easy to steer with one hand.
How comfortable does the Bugaboo Bee5 feel for your little one?
My daughter is two and knows exactly what she likes and dislikes, so the proof was really in the pudding when she immediately wanted to jump in and have a ride.
When we are at home I keep the Bee5 unfolded in our spare room, and my daughter can often be found having climbed into it for a little lie down with her cuddly bunny and comfort blanket. Suffice to say, I think it’s pretty comfy for her!
How is interacting with your little one when in the buggy?
Great. The buggy has a very open feel to it, which makes it easy to see and speak to my daughter when she’s in it. The slight negative is that there’s no peekaboo window in the hood, so you do have to pop your head around if the seat is in the world-facing position.
What do you think of the hood? Can it be used as sun protection?
The hood is large with two panels, plus it has a zipped third panel that extends the hood so that it virtually covers your child completely. It has UPF 50+ sun protection, so it does the job of keeping off the glare when the sun comes out. I like that it’s made with a soft fabric and wire frame as it means no noisy opening and closing when your little one is snoozing. Plus it’s machine washable at 30C, so you can keep it looking smart.
What are the basket and storage pockets like on the Bugaboo Bee5?
Considering this is a compact buggy, the basket is a decent size. It is wide, deep and has an elasticated mesh inner pocket for any small bits. It has a 22l capacity, with a maximum weight of 4kg. In real money, this translates to a couple of bags of shopping if you pack it right! I really like that it is easy to access whether you have the seat in parent-facing or world-facing mode.
How easy is it to push, do the wheels lock and swivel positions make a difference?
It is lovely and smooth to push – especially on paved surfaces, and can zigzag, pivot and reverse with ease. There’s really no resistance and the suspension on the wheels makes it feel light even when you push over small bumps or raised kerbs.
I found the lock on the wheels useful when I wanted to use it on rougher ground, as it means that you don’t get the wheels turning when you hit a stone, and it helps to go through gravel and across grass.
The only slight issue I had was going up higher kerbs when I had my 2 and a half year old seated world-facing. I think the distribution of weight in that position makes it more tricky to lift the front end of the buggy up over the kerb – it needs a bit more oomph in pushing down on the handlebar to lift the front.
The Bee5 is so manoeuvrable though, that getting through doorways, and holding open playground gates while you get inside, is so stress-free.
How does the Bugaboo Bee5 ride on different surfaces?
I tested out the Bee5 on everything from streets and gravel paths to grass and stony ground, and found its nemesis is cobbled streets.
Unfortunately, the super manoeuvrable wheels work against it when faced with cobbles but, other than that, I was impressed with how it handled.
Naturally, the Bee5 is most at home on city streets, and you can really get up some pace as it feels so light and responsive to push – even with one hand.
I also found it smooth to push along grass when taking a short cut across the park, and my long walks along the river path were no problem for the Bee5.
What do you think of the tyres – does their small size affect how it pushes?
The tyres are 6 inch foam-filled rubber tyres, and the front wheels can be either locked in place, or swivel for manoeuvring about.
There is suspension on all the wheels and I think it does make a difference to the smoothness of the ride. Because the wheels are small, you do feel more lumps and bumps in the road than you would with a pneumatic all-terrain tyre. But the suspension helps with this, and I found I could drive them up bumps and kerbs of around 3-4cm with no problem. The small size actually helps with manoeuvrability when whizzing about town – very helpful in crowded high streets, shops and supermarkets.
Tell us about the brakes.
The brake is a foot brake in the centre of the frame, which I found really easy to flick on or off – even when wearing pumps or flip flops!
Does it fit in the boot of your car?
We have a VW Golf and the Bee5 fits neatly inside the boot, with plenty of space for our other paraphernalia. We had a couple of longer trips away, and could easily fit the Bee5, a suitcase and other bags for a weekend away for four of us. I can even fit two of the buggies in the boot if I go out for the day with a friend.
There’s a special Track version available for the Bee5 – what’s it like and how is it different?
The limited edition Bee5 Track is available from March 2019 as part of the Track collection to mark Bugaboo’s 20 anniversary.
The collection, which is also available for the Bugaboo Fox model from birth in the UK, features an attractive petrol blue hue to the fabrics. It also has some great detailing such as the stitching on the soft jersey hood lining.
But best of all, it comes with a peekaboo window in the hood, so that you can interact or check on your little one when they are world-facing with the hood down.
We love this feature, as it is something we often miss with the Bugaboos. We did check with the brand whether this might become a permanent fixture, but for now there are no plans to offer this on the standard edition.
The Bee5 Track edition costs from £629, and the collection is available from 1st March. Check Bugaboo for more details.
Is the Bugaboo Bee5 travel system compatible?
Yes it is. The Bee5 can be used with adapters (£30) to fit a range of popular car seats from Maxi-Cosi, Cybex, and Britax.
Is it easy to clean the Bugaboo Bee5?
Extremely! One of the updated details of the Bee5 is that the seat fabric is detachable and machine washable at 30C, as well as the sun canopy. The chassis can be cleaned with a soft towel and lukewarm water, while the handlebar can be spruced up with liquid soap and warm water. The harness is cleaned with a damp cloth.
What’s in the box?
- Seat unit
- Seat fabric (sold separately – £59.95)
- Chassis with wheels and underseat basket
- Wheel caps (sold separately – £16.95)
- Handlebar grips
- Sun canopy
You can get every accessory imaginable if you want:
- cup holder (£16.95)
- spare leather-look handle covers (£24.95)
- changeable wheel caps (£16.95)
- smartphone holder (£17)
- footmuff (£94.95)
- parasol (£34.95)
- transport bag (£69.95)
- buggy board (£90)
Is it easy/hard to build the Bugaboo Bee5?
It’s pretty easy to build the Bee5 as it comes virtually readymade, with just the sun canopy to add the wire frame to, and the wheels to out on. Bugaboo has lots of helpful videos online showing how the various parts work. The instruction manual is written in loads of different languages, but the picture diagrams are fairly useful.
It’s quite intuitive and, like with all Bugaboos, most of the parts that can be moved/changed are helpfully coloured white.
Who would the product be most useful for?
The Bee5 would be most useful for city-dwelling families short on space who want a stylish, versatile pushchair that can be used for nipping about town, getting about on public transport, and is travel system compatible.
What is included in the price of the Bugaboo Bee 5?
The basic price for the buggy with seat unit is £499, but if you want to use it from newborn then you do have to buy either the cocoon (£79.95) or the bassinet (£215 to include base and fabric), so it’s a minimum £578.95 to use it from day one.
You don’t need to buy any other accessories, unless you want to create a travel system, in which case there are car seat adapters for £34.95 (plus the cost of a compatible Group 0+ car seat).
It is expensive, there’s no denying it – but the Bee5 is such high quality that you do get what you pay for and there is a very buoyant resale market.
The Bee5 takes all the good bits of the previous versions – compact, lightweight, robust, super manoeuvrable – and packages them up with the buggy equivalent of a luxurious big bow.
The new customisable options give it a fresh look, without detracting from the features that make me unreservedly recommend this pushchair to new parents or seasoned mums and dads living a hectic urban lifestyle.
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