Phil and Teds Verve with Double Kit Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Verve is an inline double stroller with a variety of seating options (or as they call it adapt and survive) for passengers of various ages. It is good for children from newborns up to 40 pounds, depending on which options you choose. We tested the Verve with the 2014 Double Kit. The primary seat is taller than it has been in the past. The taller seat allows for cozier 4 position recline and lie-flat baby comfort. This stroller offers a one-touch push button handle brake and 6 height position comfort handle. It has 2 12 inch air filled rear wheels, and 7 inch EVA front wheels with suspension for a more comfortable ride. The second seat has 2 recline options and includes a sun mesh kit for shade and privacy. The canopy adjusts to infinite positions to protect baby from sun, wind, and dust, and a kick out sun visor offers additional shade. This stroller folds compact, self-stands with fabric off the floor. This stroller comes in 3 different color options and has many accessories.
Ease of Use
The Verve earned its lowest score for the ease of use metric with a 4 of 10. This is also one of the lowest scores for this metric out of all the products we reviewed with only the Jeep Wrangler Twin Sport All-Weather earning less with a 2.Storage
This product has a smaller under seat storage which isn't too bad without the second seat, but as soon as the second seat is in place the basket becomes leg and foot space for the second passenger. It will not fit a diaper bag, even a medium sized one, as most of the bag ends up in the back seat. Access is limited to the side and from above, but it doesn't matter much since you won't be able to put anything in there unless little ones can play with it. If you need to bring supplies for two kids on a journey while using this stroller, you will be carrying those supplies on your person, not in the stroller.
There is no other storage options on this stroller; not even a parent accessory tray or cup holder that doubles as a spot to put keys or a mobile phone. Many testers said this would be a deal breaker for them.Sun Shade
The front seat has a small canopy that is adjustable and has some ventilation for air circulation. The canopy doesn't cover much and we think it would work better if it were a little longer, as it may not cover smaller passenger or be able to protect them from lower sinking sunsets.
For the second seat there is no traditional sun shade canopy but a mesh screen that pulls up from under the seat and connects to the front seat to offer more sun shade and protection that the smaller traditional canopy. It is also something of a privacy screen for little ones and it can help protect them from debris and water that might kick up from the ground and fall on a seat that rides this low. While the mesh might seem cheesy at first, when combined with the front seat it really does offer more protection from the sun and other elements than the front canopy or most canopies in our review.
The photo above shows the seat back recline of the Verve.
The Verve doesn't offer much in the way of conveniences, which for the price seems a little short sighted. It doesn't have a cup holder, additional parent storage, adjustable leg rest, or passenger accessories. The only convenience it has are seat backs that recline. However the recline is sort of convoluted and somewhat useless depending on the combination of seats and which way they face. The back seat has an easy one handed recline via a lever at the top of the seat. The front seat has a buckle release, and then a zipper along each side to recline the seat flat. The front seat cannot lay flat if there is a child in the backseat. This means twins will have different comfort options that might leave one lacking or uncomfortable. For this reason, this might be a better system for children of different ages.
This stroller didn't do too badly in the maneuverability category, but it wasn't great either. In general we definitely enjoyed it more than much of the competition, but it wasn't the best of the bunch. It earned a 6 of 10, which put it better than 9 others and on par with the Britax B-Agile Double. The BoB Revolution SE Duallie had the top marks in this metric with a 9 of 10.
This inline stroller had a few things going in its favor, the narrower footprint meant it didn't need as much space to make a turn, but the longer length meant you had to anticipate turns in advance to really make the turn with ease. For pushing and turning on hard surfaces the Verve did pretty well and wasn't too difficult, but the larger back wheels caught on items we passed when pushing. This meant the stroller could go off course if the wheels hit wall baseboards.
For grass and gravel the Verve did better than a lot of the competition and while it isn't a breeze, it is doable and not a big hassle. Much of the competition was difficult if not impossible to push or turn on grass and gravel, so this one certainly stood apart from the others in this test.
For curbs and stairs this ride felt heavy and a little cumbersome, but it was also doable. The Phil and Ted's website makes claims of being engineered for easy pop ups on curbs, and we have to agree that compared to the competition it definitely is easier. So while not a walk in the park, it is certainly easier than others. For curbs you need to go up with the front first, not backwards, and we would say it's probably best to avoid stairs altogether given the weight of this product and how difficult it can be to manage alone. One tester remarked it was easy on curbs, which matches the company claim for this model.
BabyGearLab thinks that safety is a big deal. We look at several safety aspects when reviewing most of the products. We reviewed features with a critical eye for safety features. These features included: brakes, harnesses, and back and side tipping possibilities. The products that scored the lowest earned d 6s, while the highest mark of 8 of 10 was earned by the award winners, BoB Revolution Duallie and Joovy Scooter X2. The Verve earned an 8 of 10, putting it solidly in the top 3rd of the competition.Brakes
The Verve has the only single button hand brake in the group. It consists of a small red button placed in the center of the handle bar. This single button is easy to depress and in a convenient spot for quick access and quicker brake engagement. It means no feet are necessary and there is no potential for thinking you have depressed a pedal when perhaps you have missed it or only pushed it part way. This button also means it is sandal or even barefoot friendly, since feet re not involved in setting or releasing. The only potential drawback is that you might not be able to reach it, or if the ride is moving quickly it might be hard to push. However, this holds true of the more traditional brakes as well and isn't a deal breaker.
The brakes have a little play when set, with a wiggle of about 1 inch it wasn't the worst of the bunch, but not the best either. The brakes also did well for sliding resistance requiring more than 49 pounds of pressure pushing forward before the ride began to slide, and 36 pounds of pressure pulling back to make the stroller slide backwards. These amounts were better than most of the competition and definitely set this product apart and helped it earn high marks for safety.Harness
The Verve sports a 5-point harness with adjustable shoulder height straps, but no adjustable crotch strap. The harness is fairly easy to adjust to size without any convoluted threading of the straps or awkward buckles and fabric covers to contend with. It is easy to get on and only a little stiff to get off. The release buckle itself requires two hands because of the 2 buttons that need to be depressed at the same time. This design is most likely a result of attempting to prevent older children from releasing it themselves, but it could be difficult to manage if you are holding other things in your hands. This buckle is similar to the Orbit Baby Helix G3 with Helix Plus Double Upgrade Kit, which is not one of our favorites.
There is no cup holder concern for safety on this stroller because it has no cup holder.Tipping
This product continued to do well when it came to tipping potential. For side tipping it had to be placed at an angle greater than 32 degrees before it fell to the side. This is probably a result of the wide set rear wheels that we previously disliked for catching on baseboards and such. However, when it comes to preventing a tip to the side the wide wheels were an asset, not a detriment. The angle was deeper than much of the competition and definitely more than the average angle; only 6 other products had a deeper side tip angle than the Phil and Ted's.
For backwards tipping, the Verve needs at least 27 pounds of weight hung off the handle bars before it wanted to topple. This was below the average for this test, but still a respectable amount considering you really shouldn't be hanging items off the handle bars. Several products required lower weights, including 13.75, the lowest of earned by the Chariot Cougar 2. The product with the highest weight was the Orbit, which needed in excess of 96 pounds before it went head over heels.
The Verve continued to impress for quality tying for a second place finish with the Britax B-Ready Double, both of which earned an 8 of 10. Two strollers tied for top honors earning 9s, the BOB and the Chariot 2.
This product has a soft stretchy fabric seat that has ample foam feel cushion for a cozy ride. The seat pads are removable for cleaning. The rest of the product is made of a tougher heavier canvas type fabric that appears to be very durable. The fabric is nicely fitted around the seats with a sporty look that is nicer than most of the competition. The material is made out of lycra and feels like it will wear well over time.
The Verve frame is a simple design that is very clean looking and has a nice finish. It feels sturdy and has very little flex or play when pushed or turned. Most of the connection points are welded or put together with nicer looking connectors. This gives the overall stroller a nicer finished look than some of the products with lots of rivets or excessive connections.
The handles on this product are adjustable in height and seem to be ergonomically designed, feeling good in hand no matter which height option you choose. It is a one handle bar design that extends the full width of the stroller and is covered in dense foam for a hand friendly feel and extra grip. Some users felt this was the nicest handle in the bunch. The bar is easy to adjust with a button on the end of the connection point with the frame, and despite being adjustable still feels sturdy and does not have a lot of wiggle or rattle like some of the other adjustable height bars.
This is one of the only a few strollers in our review that had tires and wheels that were not solely made of plastic and foam. This product offers pneumatic rubber tires on plastic wheels in the back and smooth foam filled plastic tires on plastic wheels in the front. There are some of the sturdiest in the bunch offering more in the way of ride comfort, durability, and puncture resistant design than much of the competition. The tires are also smooth as opposed to treaded, and overall we feel the smooth wheels offered better maneuverability and increase ride comfort.
This product also offers a pretty comfortable ride overall for passengers in both the front and rear seats. Both seats offer nice padding and fabric in the seats, as well as the harnesses. It has front shocks and pneumatic rear tires so the bumps and grooves of the road are buffered somewhat from the passengers for a smoother more comfortable ride.
Weight and Folded Size
Weight and Folded Size
The Verve weighs in at around 34 pounds, which is average for the products we reviewed. There are several strollers that are lighter than this one, but enough were heavier that this one doesn't stand out. The heaviest stroller we tested is the Orbit Baby Helix G3, coming in at 53 pounds, definitely a rig you won't want to lift or carry.
The Verve has a unique fold in half design that seems fairly compact and measures to be 26 x 13 x 36 and takes up a little over 12,000 cubic feet. It is one of the smaller folded products and the shorter length means it will fit in most trunks easier.Ease of Folding
This product requires two hands to fold and has several steps and moving parts depending on what kind of seats you have installed. It is not hard to put together, but the 7 step process is a little convoluted and time consuming compared to some other products with fewer steps. It has an auto-lock feature and self-stands on the handle bar which means fabric won't get dirty, but it did make us wonder how well the foam on the handle bar will wear over time. This product has no carry handle or strap.
The unfold process of this product is rated as average. It requires both hands and takes 5 steps. You need to be careful and unfold slowly and deliberately to avoid the product tipping forward and falling on the floor. It might take some practice before the unfold process is intuitive and doesn't tip.Commuting
Overall the Verve had trouble with the weight and folded size metric and the commuting portion was no exception in our tests. It just had trouble due to the heavier size, wider footprint and low riding rear seat. It is fairly easy to load in a trunk if you use the belly bumper to help you lift it, but taking it onto public transport while folded will be a little more of a chore since there is no carry handle. It will have to be folded to climb aboard the bus, because it does not conform to the 2'X4' rule for staying open.
For eating out or visiting friends in a café this stroller will disappoint. The back passenger will be sitting in the dark of the front rider as well as the shadow of the table. Also this ride is longer than it seems and it will be sticking out and into foot traffic where it will likely be in the way. The belly bar may hit some thicker or lower tables when you try to pull it forward, so even though the front child might be at table level and in a position to eat or just see the world, the poor second passenger will feel like an ugly step child hidden under the table and out of sight. This might be okay for a napping baby, but children of the same age with probably notice the obvious discrepancy.
The second seat of this product gave at least one user pause wondering about the chance for debris and water to soil the back passenger. While this might not concern you, it is something to consider if you are a city dweller that plans to use this product on busy city streets with car and foot traffic that is relatively high. The low riding passenger will be seeing the world from a very different perspective than the parent or front passenger, and we can't help but wonder if that perspective will be any fun.
Ease of Setup
The Verve took over 11 minutes to setup from box to ready to go out the door. Its documentation rated as good and the instructions are in several languages. Illustrations are only provided for assembly and not for function, which seems little short sighted and presumptive that the function and use is obvious. The illustrations are pretty clear for the most part, but we did have trouble deciding which way the canopy is supposed to be installed and there were no instructions provided for the lower seat so we hope you find the one of a kind mess screen intuitive to use.
Phil and Teds product might best be used for children of different ages who are looking for a different kind of ride or perspective on their surroundings. With the very different seating arrangements, height options, recline, and leg room, the rear seat will just not be as comfortable for older children as the front seat. In addition, the front seat can't recline all the way if the back seat is in place, making it not a good options for smaller passengers or babies looking for a place to snooze. This is probably not the best option for twins given the inability for both children to use the product in a similar way, even though they likely have similar needs.
With a price tag around $550 depending on sales, this is not a very budget friendly stroller. Sure everything that is double is more expensive, but given that several award winners cost less, sometimes half as much as in the case of the Joovy Scooter X2 which costs about $230, it is hard to consider this product as a viable option. Even if budget isn't your top concern, there are several products that just scored better. Unless you must have an inline stroller and the price is not a deterrent, we would say this is not the best value in the world of double strollers. There were cheaper inline product options, but most of them scored to low to consider as competition, and the similarly scoring Britax B-Ready Double also has a similar price after you purchase the second seat, which doesn't save much if anything depending on sales and shipping and it scored 2 points lower.
Phil and Teds Verve really did a respectable job in our tests and ranking 5th out of 14 is nothing to sneeze at to be sure. It is the highest scoring inline model in our review, and it offers one of the nicest seat padding and fabric of the lot. It folds nice and compact and it has a somewhat versatile seat design. However, it costs a significant amount more than most of our award winners without offering enough in return for the elevated price. It has almost no storage and lacks basic convenience of cup holders, parent tray, or adjustable leg rests. It isn't a bad stroller, and we are certain some people will be very happy with this product, but it isn't a product we recommend. If it offered more features or came in at a lower price point, it might have been more of a contender in our hearts. However, if inline is the only style you are looking for, it did score the best and had a similar price point to the B-Ready.