The Mothercare Orb pram is designed to be a complete stroller for newborns up to the age of around three (or weight 15kg). Its peers include the Silver Cross Surf 2 and the Bugaboo Buffalo. Visually, it borrows from the iCandy range, with a similar frame, chrome handle and curvature. The cyber liquorice colour version of the Orb was shortlisted last year for The World’s Finest Parenting Magazine Junior Design Awards.
What’s in the box?
- Combined pram/pushchair seat unit
- Removable bumper bar
- Quilted pram liner
- Pram apron
- Faux sheepskin Cosy toes
- Chest pads
- Mothercare Weathershield
Any additional extras?
- Mothercare Orb Maxi-Cosi/Cybex Aton Car Seat Travel System Adaptor £29.99
How is assembling the Orb?
I found the instructions completely inadequate. They simply showed pictures of buggy parts without saying what they were, and featured so many languages that there was clearly no room left for any actual information.
This is particularly important when it comes to reclining the top part of the seat because in order to do it, you have to pull a handle under the Velcro flap at the top of the chair, but this is not mentioned in the instructions or on the Mothercare website. In the end my partner found out how to do it on a user’s YouTube channel.
All-in-all the assembly took ten minutes, but should have been much quicker as it’s essentially a simple product to put together once you know how.
Is the Orb comfortable for your little one?
Very, I particularly liked its super-cosy quilted interior of the carrycot, which sent my 7-week-old son Arthur to sleep in record time.
Irritatingly though, the seatbelt harness for the pushchair mode is not removable when using the carrycot, so there are lumps under the quilt when the cot is on the seat.
You can push them to one side, but it means your baby may be lying on them if he is a big size and fills out most of the pram cot.
How does it steer when out and about?
It handles well initially, thanks to two front wheel modes: one where each pair of wheels is locked, allowing you to push one-handed along straight paths while drinking a coffee or checking your emails (hey, any time you can buy yourself). The other gives each wheel independent movement and makes tight corners much easier. The handle extends smoothly and allows Arthur’s dad (6’4) and myself (5’7) to push comfortably.
It’s comfortable to jog along with on smooth paths, as I have found making numerous mad dashes and its slimline shape makes bus journeys comfortable, as it sits nicely alongside other buggies.
The Orb is OK for city-dwelling parents who’d use it mainly on pavements and surfaced paths, as its off-road capabilities (eg, a woodland path in a park and across lawn) can’t compete with the suspension and control offered by other brands.
I immediately found the brake lock function began to stick a little after a few bumpy trips across the park. This is quite a common pushchair issue, but I would expect it to happen after a couple of years use, not a couple of weeks.
And now (Dec 2014), after having it for only three months the wheels have twice gotten completely stuck, and we’ve had to take the wheel off and reset it. It’s not very useful when you have to get off a bus quickly and suddenly the back wheels become stuck fast!
What do you think of the reversible seat unit?
The Orb has a unique ‘one hand rotation’ that allows you to deftly swivel the handle over the cot/chair to face the other way. This is most useful when in pushchair mode as you can easily spin your child round when, for example, the wind is in his face, or you’re going up a steep hill. It worked smoothly and looks pretty cool for the first few months.
However in recent weeks the swivel handle (that spins it round to face the other way) has started to deteriorate – it often now gets stuck and you have to really jiggle it to get it to swivel. I’m not sure how much longer it will last.
How is the basket?
The base of the chair sits awkwardly inside the luggage space, making it difficult to pack your shopping into the basket. If you take your weathersheild out with you, it takes up the whole front half, leaving you with only the back half to cram your goods into.
How is interacting with your son when he is in the buggy?
Communicating with Arthur is easy – I can actually stroke his cheek to comfort him while walking along. The only thing that I found a bit obstructive is the safety bar, but it clips in and out easily, so mostly I left it off.
Does the hood offer much protection from the elements?
Yes, the hood makes for good sun protection in combination with the pram apron, which has a lip at the top end that sticks up, adding more shade. There is a small gap at the side, but the minimal sun that does get through this gap can be easily deflected with a sarong or muslin cloth – I used a large muslin swaddle – although a sun shade would be useful in windy weather.
How does the Orb fold?
The Orb folds up easily to become compact and fits neatly into the boot of a car or a storage cupboard. It’s a two-handed job, but only takes a couple of minutes.
Will it last the recommended three years?
No it won’t. When I wrote this review back in September 2014 I thought as long as the brake lock holds out, there’s no reason to think this product won’t last the three years it promises.
At the time the outer materials felt durable, the interiors cleaned easily in the washing machine and most importantly, the frame felt sturdy, yet lightweight.
Since then (with two months) the breaks have become faulty, the swivel handle (that spins it round to face the other way) has also started to deteriorate and the tilt function has also broken, so it’s now stuck in a flat pram mode! There are two wires that control this, and you can see under the handle where one of them has snapped.
These three things lead me to conclude that there are two many moving parts to this pram; the emphasis being on how many functions they can cram in to make it look snazzy and unique, but at the expense of true durability and sturdy design, we’ve had to get another buggy to replace it.
Is it value for money?
It works as a competitively priced version of its peer products, including the Silver Cross Surf 2 (£550) and Bugaboo Buffalo (£839.50), and where it perhaps lacks the slick functionality of these established brands it makes up for in its one-handed rotation tool. Its price of £275 is great value for what you get.
Made For Mums verdict:
The Orb is a cheap all-in-one solution for busy city dwellers, fitting neatly onto buses and easy to store.
Its rotation feature is a swish bit of engineering that sets it apart from other brands, but only when brand new. The quality of this buggy quickly deteriorates and for me, proves the old adage of “you buy cheap, you buy twice.”
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