Is the Bugaboo Cameleon stroller really worth it (secondhand edition)?
July 23, 2014 5:13 AM   Subscribe

A new one is over $1000 -- no hella way. But is a secondhand one worth it at $350?

I have a four month old, and I'm looking for a stroller, esp. one with a reversible seat. I've heard great things about the Bugaboo Cameleon, but no way am I buying one new. I've found one on Craigslist that has all sorts of goodies with it (rain cover, travel bag, etc.) for $350. Do you think it's worth it?

More details -- we're moving to a big city, and we don't have a car, so strollers and baby carriers are super important to me. And I already have a stroller I was gifted but not sure if I'm crazy about (Britax Agile -- good, but for some reason I'm really stuck on the idea of the reversible seat, and it would be nice to have the bassinet option.) And of course, it's very pretty, but I'm trying not to let that cloud my judgment too much; I'm usually pretty frugal & try to avoid being swayed overly by aesthetics.

What do you think -- is it really as good as the internets seem to say it is? And what questions should I ask the seller? Any hesitations buying this secondhand?

posted by caoimhe to Shopping (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Will you have a place to put it in your new city home? We were always in walk-ups without stroller rooms in NYC and that definitely ruled out anything that large. I have no hesitations buying baby stuff secondhand, though.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:18 AM on July 23, 2014

Nope. Get a McLaren. Seriously, it's not worth it. Bugaboos are lovely to borrow, a pain in the arse to own. Ask me how I know!

Everybody ends up with more than one stroller. Except McLaren families. They're not chic and exciting but they're sturdy, compact, well designed and EASY.
posted by taff at 5:19 AM on July 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

For $350 I'd buy it because you can always resell it.
posted by k8t at 5:19 AM on July 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

We loved our Bugaboo but had an elevator and a lot of space (NYC).
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:20 AM on July 23, 2014

You're on the edge of the end of a bassinet and reversible seat being really useful. The bassinet, especially. I can't imagine my six-month old hanging out willingly in a bassinet-style stroller; she even tries to sit up out of the car seat when we use it with the stroller because she wants to be in on the action. Just something to consider.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:30 AM on July 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

If you can afford it, it is worth it. I spent a little extra on the stroller that I fell in love with 16 years ago and I still think about the thing. It was just an Eddie Bauer with removable infant seat, but it was navy blue with stars on it! It was so sturdy and perfect for my little pedestrian city. I walked more with my babies because of that stroller. You want a stroller that will make you smile when you think about it.

Ask to push the stroller before buying it. You want large wheels that can turn on a dime. It should be able to fit through doors. The handle bars should be high enough that you don't have to stoop, not even a little. And it should be pretty and make you smile.
posted by myselfasme at 5:31 AM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't buy that Bugaboo - irrespective of price - for a single reason: no shopping basket underneath. That means nowhere to store an extra packet of wipes, nowhere to keep the rain cover when not using it, nowhere to throw random bits of shopping...

That said, $350 for a $1000 stroller is good value.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:57 AM on July 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

One point to consider in a big city is whether or not you'll be taking public transit (eg. subway, bus, tram / streetcar). In many subway systems, for example, there aren't always elevators / escalators and you'll be having to handle a baby and a stroller, going up and down stairs. This was a big reason I went for a stroller (a Maclaren) which I could fold up with one hand and was light enough for me to carry in addition to a baby. I'm small though, so you may not have the same problem.
posted by apcmwh at 6:34 AM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you are moving to the city and don't have a car, I would go with a smaller/lighter stroller. I have two strollers - originally we got a Uppababy Vista, before the baby was born, and later we bought a Baby Jogger City Mini. The Vista is similar to the Bugaboo in that the seat is reversible, etc. However that stroller is only foldable in one piece if the seat is facing out. Also, we found that after a certain age, our daughter always preferred to be facing out. It was a pain to fold and carry when needed, even though it is pretty light overall.

So we eventually bought the City Mini. I LOVE this stroller so much. It is the easiest thing to fold - literally you just pull up on a handle on the kid's seat. I love the portability of it so much in the city - it is simple to fold and carry when going up and down subway stairs, etc. This stroller is now used 99% of the time, and I really regret that we got the Vista before she was born (at least that was a gift, so we didn't pay for it). I like that the City Mini still feels more substantial than a typical umbrella stroller, with bigger wheels and better maneuverability, but yet it is very light and portable.

So, I would recommend a smaller, easier to fold stroller. I guarantee you will NOT want to have to separate the stroller into two pieces to fold if you live in a city. It sounds simple but it's a huge pain in the ass.
posted by barnoley at 6:43 AM on July 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

You might want to make sure there are no recalls on the model you are considering. I myself would not buy a used stroller, crib or car seat.
posted by Poldo at 6:47 AM on July 23, 2014

Oh, also another thing I love about the City Mini: the back reclines all the way to flat (for babies that can't sit up), but this has the side effect of being a fantastic napping location for older babies. My 2.5-year-old will have a nice long nap while fully reclined, since there is this almost hammock feel to it with larger kids as you push them. We used this stroller on vacation at amusement parks last year and it was awesome at getting her to nap mid-day.
posted by barnoley at 6:48 AM on July 23, 2014

Ugh I fucking hated our Cameleon, The day I put it in storage I was almost crying tears of joy. But still too big even folded up, too much of a pain in the ass to fold up, too long of a wheelbase to make carrying it up and down subway stairs not the worlds biggest pain in the ass. I understood why the bassinet setup had to come apart in two pieces, but once he was in a regular seat? Are you kidding me. WTF

That said I suspect any bassinet sized stroller is going to suck in the City.

NB: we have ground floor storage for our strollers, but it still has to be carried up a stoop.

(there is a basket for the Cameleon but its an accessory)

Also if you buy one used - you can basically replace all of the parts the kids comes into contact with.

I don't think a carriage or a crib is in the same class as a car seat WRT to buying it used.
posted by JPD at 6:50 AM on July 23, 2014

I have a hand me down Frog, the predecessor to the Chameleon. It's probably not the right stroller for you--though it's great for us when we toodle around our little town. The Frog/Chameleon is really massive, heavy, and cumbersome. That's great when we can roll it out of our garage and walk to our town center, but it was a bear in the city. Getting it up and down stairs is a real hassle, getting to restaurants, onto the train, etc. We have a small SUV and the folded stroller takes up most of the room in the cargo area. The fact that you have to detach the chair/bassinet to fold it up makes it a real pain in the city.

You won't need the bassinet much longer (and possibly not now), and you'll find that a smaller, lighter, single piece is a better fit for you.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:54 AM on July 23, 2014

It really depends. If you have the space for it, an elevator, and you live in a child-friendly neighborhood where you won't have to take the subway anywhere, it's great. There's a marked difference in the handling/suspension quality of the Bugaboo vs. a McClaren if you are going to be in areas where you have to deal with cobblestones, curbs, and uneven sidewalks. Also, the McClaren is useless in the snow. I hated the City Mini's curved handle, and the fold meant the seat was always getting dirty, but it's definitely with checking out. Another alternative to that one is the Valco Snap.

Assuming it's in good shape, you should be able to sell it for $350 easily if it doesn't work out.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:08 AM on July 23, 2014

I love the thing. It's not an umbrella stroller, that's for sure. Stairs, lol. Cars, lol. City streets? YES. So nice for long walks. I like being able to see and talk to the kid so the reversible seat is still in use at 2.9 yo (!). You're really not outgrowing that anytime soon. I also have an umbrella stroller. I use it for different situations. MacLauren is my favorite umbrella brand.

Source: years and years as a nanny in NYC
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:04 AM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I also have a secondhand Bugaboo Frog, so no direct experience with the Cameleon. I live in a big city and don't have a car. If:
--you have space to store it unfolded
--you live on the first floor or have an elevator
--you generally don't have a need to fold it up
--you have a second pair of hands to carry it up and down subway stairs or have an alternate teensy umbrella stroller for subway trips

then it can be a great stroller for you. The heaviness of the stroller is not a problem and the maneuverability is great. You can also add a buggy board on the back if you have a second kid, thus removing the need for a double stroller.

If the bassinet is an extra cost, don't bother.
posted by Liesl at 9:10 AM on July 23, 2014

I, too, loved the idea of the reversible "seat," although the stroller we had was not a Bugaboo, but another brand that reversed. In the end our children faced out almost all the time. I've only used the City Mini at Disney World (as a rental for a week), but I can vouch for it's ease of folding up quickly. It's still not super small, like an umbrella stroller would be, but then you are a ways off from deciding if you want to buy a second/third stroller. (note: you will).
posted by dawg-proud at 9:53 AM on July 23, 2014

I lived in DC with a Baby Jogger City Mini, which is nearly identical to the B Agile. (B Agile does not have the bar across the back wheels, which is nice if you are tall.)

Several times, I had to deal with a non-working escalator, and it was a breeze to take the baby out, hold baby in one arm, fold and carry the stroller in the other hand and hike up the stairs. It was faster than waiting for the elevator.

Keep the B Agile and save the money.
posted by hmo at 11:57 AM on July 23, 2014

I wouldn't get it, based solely on the fact that it doesn't have a basket underneath. I got a Quinny Buzz 3 under the same circumstances as you, and I LOATHE it for this reason. You have to carry your diaper bag yourself, and you can't throw in, say, an extra blanket or a shopping bag, because you have to schlep it around versus the stroller basket carrying it for you.

I hear you on the ability to have baby face inward - this was actually the main reason I bought the secondhand Quinny. BUT! I agree with the above commenters that you're probably at the upper end of even needing the bassinet, and you'd probably do better with something like the City Select - it can rear-face, and some of the colors are the same price as the secondhand stroller you're looking at. And it has a basket.
posted by meggan at 12:25 PM on July 23, 2014

The basket usually comes with used models, it's an add-on. It's decent.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:32 PM on July 23, 2014

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