The Mothercare Roam is brand new to the market and set to replace the Xpedior, which met with mixed reviews.
The Roam is launching against the Hauck Malibu, Obaby Monty and Graco Quattro. At 11kg, it’s 2kg lighter than the Obaby Monty (and £30 cheaper), 3.2kg lighter than the Graco Quattro (and far cheaper) but a little heavier than the Hauck Malibu (which weighs only 9.3kg) – although it still beats it on price, costing a full fifty pounds less than the Hauck.
Obviously there are far pricier travel systems out there. For example, the Silver Cross Pioneer retails at £695 and weighs a mere 8.5kg and can carry a passenger up to a maximum weight of 25kg, a full 10kg more than the Roam, but it doesn’t include a car seat.
Or the UPPAbaby Vista pram and Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus car seat can be yours for around £800. For that, you get a carrycot that can be slept in overnight (the Roam doesn’t allow this) and two sunshades, plus you can fold the chassis with the seat unit attached.
It’s competitive price and the fact that it’s from one of the UK’s most-trusted stores mean that it’s sure to attract a lot of interest. But I wanted to know whether it was the right choice for me.
You can buy the Roam travel system from Mothercare.
What’s the difference between the Roam and Xpedior?
The Xpeidor (which the Roam replaces) was criticised for being heavy when steering and difficult to mount the kerbs, but this improved massively with the Roam.
It’s actually a pleasure to push this pram in every mode and very easy to steer.
Mounting the kerbs wasn’t difficult at all – probably helped by the huge back wheels that allow you to rear up, as well as the bar at the base of the buggy, which you can use to lever the rest of the chassis up.
The Roam can turn nearly as sharply as the Bugaboo Bee and seems less cumbersome when going uphill.
In fact my husband preferred it to pushing our Bugaboo Bee. The frame is lightweight and the wheels respond well to even gentle nudges.
The two front wheel locks are easy to engage and helped with steering when going over rougher terrain but we mostly left them unlocked to help negotiate tight corners and narrow pavements.
Mothercare seem to have taken note and massively improved on the Roam’s predecessor.
Tell us about the brakes
The brakes are operated by a large red plastic switch on the right-hand side of the bottom bar. Fine if you’re dextrous with your right foot but if you’re left-handed and/or used to engaging a buggy brake with your left foot, it’ll be problematic.
I’m used to a brake that runs along the whole of the bottom bar of the buggy, which means you can engage the break without having to glance down to check your foot is in exactly the right spot.
Once the switch is flicked, the brakes engage but they don’t seem to lock instantly and instead the wheels have to make part of a revolution before they click into place.
Okay in theory but in practice this can be very unnerving. For example, when coming to a stop at the edge of a kerb before crossing the road, I engaged the brakes only to feel the buggy start sliding down towards the road.
It only takes a second for the brakes to engage but the first few times it happened, I was terrified.
What is the Mothercare Roam footprint like?
It’s wide! Aside from the brakes (see below), my biggest issue with the Roam is the triangular shape of the base unit, which render the rear wheels wider than the front set and makes navigating busy and narrow pavements and shop aisles difficult.
My usual buggy (a Bugaboo Bee) has a narrow footprint and the front and back wheels are in line with each other. On an early outing, with the infant car seat perched on the frame, I managed to take out a bottom panel of a bus stop.
Fortunately my baby was in a sling so wasn’t jolted and initially I thought the bus stop had come off worse but a persistent squeak revealed that I’d managed to dislodge the rubber tread from one of the wheels. Hardly an auspicious start.
A few weeks later and I was still struggling to get to grips with the width of the buggy’s back wheels. I converted it into a pushchair and took my older son for a ride along a crowded pavement. Steering to avoid a queue outside a cashpoint, I accidentally took out a small girl on a scooter. My neighbours were quite relieved that I stopped taking the buggy out at that point.
The Xpedior, although wide, could fit in the boot of a Mini, can the Roam fit in the boot of a very small car?
Hard to say as we don’t own a car with a boot (we have a flatbed truck) but the folded dimensions (W65xD31xH80cm) would suggest so.
My only concern would be the handle, which doesn’t lock into position at its lowest point.
So if you’re attempting to manoeuvre it into a small space, such as a boot or lift, it becomes taller simply by pulling the handle, which is annoying.
What do you think of the folding system?
It’s super simple but does require the seat unit to be detached from the base.
No problem if your child is in the car seat or carrycot as you’d remove the seat unit anyway, but a bit of a faff if you have the seat unit in place for an older child.
Also, it’s a two-handed job so you need both hands free.
How easy was it to store?
In terms of separating the constituent parts, very. You need two hands but one click on each side removes the seat from the chassis. And because the lie-flat carrycot turns into a seat suitable for older children, there is one fewer part to store.
That said, we live in a flat, which has a narrow L-shaped hallway. When it’s set up, the Roam takes up a sizeable amount of the hallway leading to the kids’ bedroom.
When it’s collapsed, the large back wheels and long rear wheel axel mean that it still takes up a fair amount of space. Plus you can’t collapse it with the infant car seat or carrycot attached, so these need to be stored separately.
Is the frame sturdy?
It’s exceptionally light (9kg) but this does mean it seems durable than other, heavier prams.
I was slightly nervous that such a flimsy-looking chassis would be up to the job but it supported both Rocco and Tyler in various modes well. The wheels and their attachments, however, are probably more likely to cause problems.
Is it strong, durable? (Look particularly at the hood and foot rest)
Having managed to knock off a tyre within a few weeks of using this buggy (my rubbish steering but still) I wouldn’t say that all the components are durable.
The hood and footrest look strong but I wouldn’t feel confident that they would take significant wear and tear over more than two years.
Would you recommend it for use from birth?
Yes, absolutely. In fact, buying it for a child much past the age of six months wouldn’t be worthwhile as both the infant car seat and carrycot are suitable from birth.
How does it work as a travel system?
Very well, especially as the Roam, unlike its predecessor, is ISOFIX compatible. For those who don’t have an ISOFIX base, you can still strap the car seat into your car.
This is a little fiddly at first but gets easier with practice. Although basic, the car seat functions well, and is very easy to attach to the chassis so there’s no need to disturb baby when your car journey ends.
Having never owned a travel system, this was probably my favourite feature as it meant that we could calm Rocco in his car seat by rocking it gently before placing him in the car.
When we first put him the car seat he hated it, particularly when it was attached to the buggy for the first few weeks. Saying that he quite enjoyed being gently swung in it on the way to the car and even settled down reasonably quickly inside it once the car was going.
The construction means it’s possible to bounce the car seat by pushing the handle gently, the motion didn’t soothe Rocco so I ended up having to take a sling out with me every time we left the house as I’d invariably have to transfer him.
After a few weeks, we tried again and this time he was a lot calmer, so long as we kept moving.
What about the convertible carrycot?
The carrycot looks really cosy but on closer inspection it’s apparent that the harness, which enables it to function as a seat suitable for older babies and children, can be felt through the liner, which makes me think it wouldn’t be as comfortable as a dedicated carrycot for bigger babies.
And the seat unit?
In seat mode, it can be used both parent and world-facing. My older son, who is three-years-old, preferred to be pushed in world-facing mode and reported it was comfortable, though I noticed that the pram looked too small for him.
With his feet on the metal rim, which is the end of the carrycot/seat, his knees were up near his chest.
He could dangle his feet down but that wouldn’t be comfortable for too long. And the apron ended at the bar, so was also a snug fit.
Given the buggy is supposed to fit children up to a maximum weight of 15kg and my son isn’t particularly tall, I suspect this buggy wouldn’t last most children past their third birthdays and would probably cease to be comfortable sooner.
How was interacting with your children when in the buggy?
Good in all modes as the seats attach fairly high so it’s easy to maintain eye contact with your child.
Depending on the size of your child and your height, you can also see them when they are lying prone with the seat in carrycot mode (the flip-up wind protector might stop you seeing their faces).
What do you think of the hood?
This is one of my favourite features as the built-in viewing window means you can keep an eye on your child even when they’re facing out.
What are the basket and storage pockets like?
The basket looks roomy but in practice isn’t very practical. I found that the low edge of the front of the basket meant that our bags were liable to slide out when the buggy was in front-facing position or we had the car seat on top every time we tipped down a kerb. It takes careful packing, which isn’t always possible when you’re on the fly with a screaming baby and feisty toddler.
Is the Mothercare Roam value for money?
The major selling-point of this buggy is that everything, from the chasiss to the cosytoe, is included for £249.
The only things not included are an ISOFIX base (sold separately) and a changing bag – but Mothercare of a good range of compatible bags.
And it’s good value for money, if you consider that a buggy alone can cost around and well over £250. For that amount, the Roam offers a complete travel system, including a perfectly acceptable infant car seat that your baby may be using from birth for up to fifteen months, as well as a carry cot that converts into a seat, plus all the extras (apron, cosytoe, raincover) that you’d otherwise have to buy separately.
With regular use, especially on rough terrain, I wouldn’t expect it to last much past a child’s second birthday (it’s covered by Mothercare’s two-year guarantee when purchased in the UK) and it probably wouldn’t be a comfortable fit for most children past the age of two and a half. But even factoring that in, the Roam still represents good value.
Would you take it on holiday?
Probably not, for two reasons; one, its footprint is too large and it would take up too much space and two, I don’t think the base unit would withstand being tossed into a plane’s hold.
Who would the travel system be most useful for?
Parents on a budget who tend to stick to decent-sized, uncrowded pavements and walkways, frequently switch between driving and walking and are looking for a no-frills travel system that minimises components and will enable them to get their little one from A to B for two years from birth.
Is it easy to assemble the buggy?
Constructing the chassis is easy enough – you simply attach the wheels. And clipping the infant car seat into the relevant holes is intuitive, which is just as well because the instructions are awful.
They’re made up of hard-to-decipher pictures that baffled me. I gave up after ten minutes and handed over to my husband, who managed to put together a good impression of the buggy in another ten minutes – but we weren’t convinced we had all the straps in the right place.
For example, we couldn’t work out how to pull the hood over the back edge of the seat in carrycot mode without disturbing the quilted cotton liner as the Velcro kept getting in the way.
Placing the pram in the seat mode for older children was slightly easier although it does involve fiddling with straps to ensure the harness is in the right place.
What’s in the box?
Roam base pack (contains the four-wheeled chassis and seat unit)
Roam colour pack (contains extendable hood, cosytoe/seat liner, Mothercare Weathershield)
Infant car seat
It’s a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none. If you and your baby aren’t bothered by things such as the harness poking up through the base in carrycot mode and you don’t need a car seat for long journeys, this travel system is good value.
Over all it’s actually a pleasure to push this pram in every mode and very easy to steer and mounting the kerbs are easy.
But that’s assuming it last until your child is around three and I’m not certain that it would.
Find out more about travel systems…