• Quick and easy setup
• Very smooth ride
• Sophisticated design
• Easy to clean
• Isn’t geared for bumpy/uneven terrain
• Limited seat recline positions
• No window in the canopy
Bottom Line This extremely stylish, compact and lightweight stroller is ideal for navigating tight turns and smooth surfaces. Its wide range of adjustable features and optional accessories adapt with your child from birth to toddlerhood.
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When the stroller you want comes with a price tag that’s as much as a mortgage payment, you have to ask yourself: Will baby’s experience, and your own, be dramatically better for having spent the extra cash?
Whether you’re considering the Bugaboo Bee3, or any one of its competitors, the answer to whether it’s “worth it” probably depends on your lifestyle. A gorgeous stroller that’s the pride of the playground may or may not have the right list of features to fit your specific needs.
Regardless of price, most parents will want to seek out a stroller that offers a lightweight chassis, an excellent suspension system, wheels that turn and pivot easily, adjustable seat positioning, a large cargo area and a smooth, comfortable ride. Sound like a checklist for buying a new car? Well, it turns out buying a stroller isn’t all that different, and some parents spend almost as much time navigating this set of wheels.
The Bugaboo Bee3, which launched in fall 2014 as a much-anticipated upgrade to the original Bee, appealed to me as an urban mom because of its compact size and manageable weight (19.2 pounds compared with some standard strollers that can weigh anywhere between 26 and 36 pounds). The features list matched my needs—and yes, I was definitely lured by its stylish, art-themed design.
For the first year of baby’s life, I’d been using a bulkier “all terrain” stroller with a wide base and only three wheels, so the Bee’s four-wheel independent suspension and promise of superior handling were also major draws for me.
Getting the Bee3 assembled was very easy. Inside the box were just five components: the base, four wheels, the seat, the seat fabric and the sun canopy. Even though the instruction book contained primarily images (rather than step-by-step setup instructions) setup was intuitive and it took me about 15 minutes to put the stroller together. Very satisfying clicks and snaps let me know that I’d done the job correctly. The toughest part was properly securing the fabric on the canopy over the plastic tabs on the back of the stroller seat, but once I managed it, I knew I’d likely never have to do that task again.
One of the universally appealing features of the Bee3 is its range of seat adjustments. In seconds, you can easily reverse the seat orientation to make it face toward you, or face out toward the direction you’re going in. Rather than threading and rethreading straps through slots in the seat fabric as baby grows, the entire back of the seat can be moved up or down to accommodate the need for more shoulder room.
My one issue with the seat’s three recline positions is that none of them felt ideal for everyday strolling. The most upright position is ramrod straight (think: airline seat ready for takeoff), while the next one reclines much too far to be considered a “sitting” position. The final position is almost fully reclined to allow your child to sleep while on the go—a nice feature to have for a specific situation. I’d love to see future versions of this stroller offer an “unlimited” range of recline between the upright and sleeping position.
This Bee3 provides more cargo space than its earlier incarnation, but I found accessing the under-seat basket (where I keep the diaper bag) to be a moderate inconvenience. When the seat is facing away from you, it’s tough to store or remove larger items. Doing so required slightly lifting the seat (and my child’s legs). However, when the seat faces you, the cargo space is very easy to access. The netting surrounding the cargo area isn’t elastic, so you can’t easily pull it down to grab items inside.
My husband and I loved that the Bee3 was designed with fully adjustable handlebars that stretch way up—even the tallest or shortest parent can find a comfortable fit for their grip. We both appreciated that the release feature on the five-point harness was very easy to open, as it’s something parents often have to do with just one hand.
Thanks to additional accessories you can purchase, like a bassinet attachment (new for this model), the Bee3’ can grow with your child from birth through the first few years. It does have an upper weight limit of 37.5 pounds, which may be an issue to keep in mind if you have a larger child.
Along the hardwood floors and low-pile carpets of our apartment building, the stroller glided along as smoothly as if it weren’t touching the ground at all—and it had such a tight turning radius, I could practically swivel it in place with one hand. This compact stroller (it’s 21 inches across at the widest point) easily maneuvered into tight spaces, essential when shopping narrow aisles or trying to make a little more room in an elevator.
Once outside of our building, however, the Bee3 had some limitations. The streamlined stroller that maneuvered like a high-performance race car indoors just didn’t seem engineered for the unexpected bumps, uneven surfaces and general obstacles in an urban environment.
One example: dealing with curbs. In the past, my husband and I had positioned our stroller to go up steep inclines and down drop-offs by putting our foot on the bar/axel between the two wheels closest to us. On the Bee3, that’s right where the brake is located. While this hands-free brake position is incredibly convenient most of the time (you can lock/unlock the stroller with just a step or upward flick of your foot), it makes negotiating uneven ground and getting up curbs more challenging.
The other trade-off I experienced was with the Bee3’s fold to a collapsed position. Once you get the hang of it, it’s incredibly easy and quick—but it does require two hands to do (something you don’t often have when you’re managing a baby). And while you can’t stand the stroller up once folded (a minus for storage), you can easily wheel it behind you like rolling luggage.
There’s no question that when it comes to design, the Bugaboo line of strollers leads the pack. The Dutch design duo who founded the company in 1999 prized form as much as function; their strollers became an almost immediate hit among parents in search of a more style-driven option for their precious cargo.
The design of the Bee3 is highly customizable with different color options for the stroller base, sun canopy, seat fabric and bassinet—64 different combinations in all.
In 2015, Bugaboo collaborated with the Van Gogh Museum to launch a special-edition stroller that features Van Gogh’s Almond Blossom, which fittingly represents new life and new beginnings, and was painted in celebration of the birth of Van Gogh’s nephew. The fabric on the sun canopy features the Almond Blossom print on a super-silky (yet water-repellent and machine-washable) fabric. The seat fabric is petrol blue to match the sky in the painting, while the green, leather-looking handlebar and tint of the stroller’s chassis coordinates with the colors of the branches. Almond Blossom has always been among my favorite Van Gogh paintings, and I was thrilled to be able to surround my daughter with such a work of art. When was the last time a stroller was inspired by a masterpiece?
Bugaboo has done other designer collaborations—with Marc Jacobs and Andy Warhol—but all have been limited editions so when you see one you like you’ll need to get it while it lasts. Their latest special edition is with Diesel Rock.
Urban parents with an eye for style will love the sleek design, customizable colors and limited-edition fabric options available with the Bugaboo Bee3. Ultra-smooth handling make it a smart choice if you plan to use your stroller primarily along flat, even terrain—but it can’t “off road” quite as well as other models on the market.
Amanda Pressner Kreuser is co-founder of Masthead Media Company. Previously she served as an editor at Shape, Self and Men's Fitness and co-authored the book The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Journey Around the World.