Bugaboo Cameleon ReviewAll stroller reviews
- Seat design and function
- Child Safety Harness
- Hood or Canopy
- Handle design and function
- Wheels and Brakes
- Fold mechanism
- Conclusion and Rating
Review by: Annabel
The Bugaboo Cameleon is the new improved version of the very popular Bugaboo Frog. The Cameleon, like the Frog is lightweight and a dream to manoeuvre on smooth surfaces. In addition the Cameleon has a larger seat, larger storage basket and adjustable handlebar. It also costs more than the already expensive Frog.
There is not doubt that on the whole the Bugaboo Cameleon is a good quality and versatile pram. It does have some downsides, however, and it is worth considering how important these may be before investing in this pram.
Seat design and function
Large white circular button depresses to adjust seat position
The Cameleon comes complete with both a bassinet and a seat so that the pram can be used from birth. The same frame, however, is used for both the seat and the bassinet, so one can not easily be interchanged with the other.
The instruction manual advises that the seat unit be used from six months, however many people find that their baby is sick of laying completely flat well before this time. Parents then face the dilemma of using the seat unit before it is advised by the manufacturer, or dealing with an unhappy baby in the meantime.
The reason the seat unit is recommended for babies over 6 months is the bucket type seat that does not allow for the back or foot rest to move independently. Instead the whole seat tips back so that a child's legs are in a sitting position even when they are asleep. This seems a little strange at first although my 18 month old sleeps very well in the seat and looks to be quite comfortable.
The seat tilts easily by pressing the large white circular buttons on each side of the seat unit. One advantage of the bucket seat is how easy it is to recline the seat without disturbing a sleeping child.
The seat can be positioned so that a child can face either direction, although the child needs to be out of the pram to do this.
The seat has removable fleece cover which while soft is very hot in summer. The fleece comes in 6 different colours which is fun, but it does easily pick up hairs and fluff and seems to show dirt easily. It can however be quickly removed and machine washed.
The seat unit measures approximately 53cm tall, 30cm wide and 25cm deep.
The bassinet measures 75cm long, 31cm wide (inside) and 19cm deep.
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Child safety harness
The Cameleon has a standard harness and buckle that is easy to use.
The bottom of the seat has a strap that the crotch strap can pass under so that a younger child does not slump forward in the seat.
The Cameleon sold in the United States has a different harness design to that pictured here.
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Hood or Canopy
The Cameleon has a fantastic hood that folds right down over the seat when it is in the upright position. It also provides good coverage when the seat is fully reclined. It is light and springs easily and silently into place.
You can see in the bottom photo that when the hood is not in use the fabric bunches down. When the seat unit is being used this effectively drops the height of the hood by a couple of inches.
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Handle design and function
Handle at lowest position
Handle at highest position
Knob to lock/unlock handle position
The Cameleon handle can be extended from 98cm (38.2 inches) to 114cm (44.5 inches) high. It easily adjusts using the white screws on either side of the handle.
The foam grip is comfortable to use and a wrist strap is attached so that the pusher does not run away from you on steep ground (the instructions read "always use the wrist strap" although I wonder how many people would do this?).
The handle can be reversed so that the seat can change from facing towards to away from you without having to remove the child from the seat. Reversing the handle, however, puts the pram into four wheel drive mode, i.e. the large wheels are at the front and the small wheels at the rear. I personally found this arrangement very difficult to manage.
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Basket access with bassinet attached
Basket access with seat unit attached
The basket on the Cameleon is shaped like a large bag with a draw string to secure the contents. It provides plenty of room to store belongings.
The basket can be difficult to access when the bassinet unit is attached, and access is from the far side of the pram only when the seat is in the reverse position. Once the seat unit is facing forward however the basket is very easy to get to.
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Wheels and Brakes
Rear pneumatic tyres
Front wheels and suspension adjust system.
The Cameleon has air filled 30cm or 12 inch rear wheels.
The swivel front wheels are 15cm or 6 inches in diameter and are made of plastic. Although small, the excellent suspension on the front wheels provides for a smooth ride over most surfaces. They do sometimes stop dead however when pushed hard into an inch or so of cement, such as is often found where a driveway or pedestrian ramp meets the road.
The suspension on the front wheels can be adjusted to 5 different settings depending on the weight of the child using the pram.
The rear wheels easily click on and off. The front wheels can also be removed, although the process is a little more fiddly.
Hand brake off
Hand brake on
The Cameleon has a hand brake on the frame near the foam grip which is very convenient to get to. It is applied by pushing the white lever down. The brake is released by pushing the white button on the side of the frame.
Once the brake is fully applied the wheels are held firmly. Just one click too few however and one wheel slips.
The release button quite on my Cameleon is quite stiff to use. I find it important to be able to confidently release a brake so as to be able to quickly get off trains, out of lifts etc. Hopefully it will loosen over time.
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Lower square white button to remove seat unit from frame
Fold buttons on frame
First part of fold
Frame fully folded
Seat unit with bumper removed
The Cameleon has a two part fold. It is quite quick to take apart and fold although there is a steep learning curve involved.
The seat unit comes off by pushing the large white square buttons on the arm that attach the seat to the frame.
The frame folds by using the small white buttons on either side of the frame, up near the handle bar. The handle bar swings down and by lifting up the bar that crosses above the basket the front and back wheels fold towards each other. Pushing gently on the wheels will lock the whole frame closed.
I had some trouble with both parts of this fold. I didn't have the right action on the big white buttons and found the small frame buttons very stiff, so that they would not work even though I was pushing them correctly. As I say it's easy enough once you have the knack, but it was very frustrating having the family waiting in the car while I spent 10 minutes pushing and prodding the pram trying to get it to collapse! I still struggle to elegantly unfold the frame.
To unlock the frame you press the same small white buttons, and the seat unit clicks on fairly easily.
One thing I like about the fold is the way it can be done without the seat or frame dragging on the ground.
You do however need a large boot to be able to put the seat unit down first, then put the frame next to it, so that you are not putting the wheels on top of the seat. Once you have the frame with wheels up, and the seat unit upside down on top of it, the fold is fairly compact although quite high. With the seat and frame in the wrong position however the fold can be quite large. It is also very large when the bassinet is being used.
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ManoeuvrabilityThis pram is a dream to manoeuvre on smooth surfaces. It glides along with very little effort, easily pushing with one hand. It is a very compact pram, short and quite narrow, and this combined with the highly manoeuvrable front wheels means it has a tiny turning circle.
Outside the large rear wheels and bouncy suspension on the front wheels provide a fairly smooth ride. This is not however an off-road pram, and would certainly not be my first choice for regular neighbourhood walks (or anything more energetic!). The stroller pulls downhill on the sidewalk and I found I developed sore wrists trying to keep it straight. The small wheels would also stick occasionally when going up any ledge around an inch tall, bringing the ride to an abrupt stop.
The manufacturer suggest that you reverse the handle for off-road use so that the large wheels are at the front, with the small wheels locked straight. I personally found the stroller very difficult to push like this. It did not push straight and was difficult to correct the direction without the swivel wheels. It was very difficult to push down onto the small back wheels to turn the corner, and I found it easier to tilt it forward onto the large wheels to turn, which meant lifting the weight of the stroller and child each time.
The stroller can also be used in two wheel mode, although it needs to be set up specifically for this purpose, so that it is not easy to change into or out of this mode when needed. I guess if you used the stroller regularly you would soon get quick at taking your child out, adjusting the frame, taking off the small wheels, repositioning the seat and then putting your child back in when you hit the beach. I certainly wouldn't push it in two wheel mode any further than I had to, as it is obviously unstable like this.
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SizeThe Cameleon is a very compact pram measuring 60cm (23.4 in) wide and 82cm (32 in) long (front wheel to handle bar).
The smallest fold I could get with the seat unit on top of the frame (wheels on, handle in and front bumper removed) was 94cm (37 in) long and 43cm (17in) high.
The frame with seat unit attached weighs 11.1 kg (24.4 lbs).
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Rain cover included
The Cameleon comes with a rain and insect net included. It also comes with a free maintenance kit. Other accessories available include a toddler wheeled board attachment, footmuff, parasol, diaper bag, and transport bag. Carseat adaptors can be purchased for use with the Graco Snugride or pre 2006 Peg Perego Primo Viaggio carseats. Extra fleece sets (hood and seat cover/bassinet apron) are also available separately.
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Summary and Rating
- Great hood
- Lovely to push on smooth surfaces
- Excellent suspension
- Lightweight for a pusher of this size
- Large comfortable seat
- Good handlebar extension
- Good basket
- Two part fold
- Complex to use for the first few weeks
- Handbrake very stiff to release
- Fleece is hot and shows dirt/fluff easily
- Small front wheels don't handle small (1 inch) steps well
- The pram steers downhill when walking on the sidewalk
ConclusionThe Bugaboo Cameleon is a quality pram that for the most part performs very well. For indoor use and the odd stroll outside it is both functional and pleasant to use. The front suspension and large rear tyres do however give a slightly false impression that the Cameleon will perform as well outside as it does in. This is not the case, and it is easily outperformed by other prams on the market, some of which cost a fraction of the price.
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