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Hands-on Gear Review
Bugaboo Bee3 Combo Review
Price: $719.00 List | $698.00 at Amazon
Pros: Easy Chicco attachment, lighter
Cons: Bulky fold, harder to use, expensive
Bottom line: Stylish stroller with easy car seat attachment
The Bugaboo Bee3 earned the third highest overall score in this review with a 73 out of 100. It is one of the easiest product to attach a car seat to, and it has a nice easy to use one hand fold and auto-locking mechanism. With all around shocks, single action brakes, and an under seat storage bin, the Bee is an interesting choice for car seat combination and won a Top Pick for Urban Use. There are some downsides to this stroller, however, including the higher price tag and the 8.8 lb storage capacity (which is low compared to the competition), but depending on your lifestyle and needs, you might be able to overlook these flaws for the sleek design and stylish good looks.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Stroller and Car Seat Combos for 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
This chart shows a comparison of the overall scores for the products we tested in this review. The Bugaboo Bee3 is shown in blue.
The sections below provide additional details on how the Bee performed during testing compared to the competition. The individual scores in each metric were used to calculate the overall score.
Ease of Attaching Car Seat
There is no easier car seat attachment than that found on the Bugaboo Bee. The Bee earned a 9 of 10 perfect score tying with its bigger brother, the Bugaboo Cameleon 3 Combo that offers the same kind of installation accessories. The Doona earned a perfect 10 because the car seat comes already attached to the stroller.
The Bee does not have native seats made by Bugaboo, but is compatible with the Britax B-Safe, B-Safe 35, and B-Safe 35 Elite; Chicco Keyfit and Chicco Keyfit 30; Cybex Aton 2 and the Aton Q; Maxi-Cosi Mico, Mico AP, Mico NXT, and the Maxi-Cosi Prezi. We tested this stroller with the Chicco Keyfit 30 car seat, an award-winning seat from our infant car seat review.
The car seat adapter for this stroller is an aluminum loop that requires a Phillips head screwdriver to assemble. The loop consists of 4 parts with 4 screws that are relatively easy to assemble, but even if you struggle you only have to do it once, so it doesn't impact your daily use of the adapter. You will need to remove the seat and canopy to use the adapter, but removal is easy, and they slide out with the push of a button. The adapter clicks-in using the seat connectors on either side of the frame. The carrier sits in the middle of the loop, and it virtually installs itself by clicking into place once you let go of the carrier handle. This seat and adapter did not require any additional pressure in our tests and fully connected by itself test after test. We did not have any trouble installing the seat correctly every time and not once did we think it was connected when it wasn't. Removing the carrier is also easy using the release handle on the back of the seat in much the same way you release it from the car seat base.
Weight and Folded Size
The Bee is about 15 lbs with the car seat adapter attached, which makes it one of the lighter standard stroller options in the group with only the UPPAbaby Cruz Combo weighing less at 14.3. All of the dedicated frame strollers weigh less than the Bee and the other standard stroller options. The Bee earned a 7 of 10 for weight and folded size. The high for the group is 9 shared by the Chicco Keyfit Caddy, the Baby Trend Snap-N-Go and the Graco SnugRider Elite.
For folded size, the Bee is sort of on the large side for a standard stroller measuring in at 10,886 cubic inches. There are seven non-frame stroller options in this review that fold smaller than the Bee. The largest folded stroller and the heaviest option is the BOB Revolution. However, given that it is a jogging stroller with additional features for jogging this isn't a surprise. The UPPAbaby Cruz is both smaller and lighter than the Bee even though it looks larger and has a larger storage bin weight capacity.
The Bee requires two hands to fold, has steps and auto-locks when folded. It does not self-stand, but it does have a carry strap that makes carrying easier. The fold is very easy to accomplish, does not require bending and the folded product rolls on its own similar to rolling luggage. The car seat adapter does not interfere with the fold, but the toddler seat does. You can unfold the Bee with one hand if you need to. Unfolding the Bee is different, and it might take a little practice, but it certainly isn't hard to do, and we think most parents will sort it out quickly.
The Bee earned a 7 of 10 for maneuverability tying with the UPPAbaby Vista, Doona, and the Baby Jogger City Mini Combo. This score is 2 points lower than the high for the group of 9 earned by the easy mover the BOB Revolution. The low for the metric is 3 for the Chicco Bravo LE Combo which scored lower than even the bare bones frame strollers that aren't known for their maneuverability.
The Bee is easy to push over most terrain, excelling the most on a hard flat surface and negotiating tighter turns and smaller space. You do lose some control over the carpet and with the handle fully extended thanks to flex in the frame that makes it harder to push. Overall, it is one of the easiest to maneuver if the ground is flat, but the smaller wheels had trouble in the grass and gravel or over small bumps where the wheels struggled to make it up and over. You might be able to manage it over a green belt on the way to a play park, but it isn't going to perform well on a gravel trail. The flex in the frame also makes it a poor choice for going over curbs or up and down stairs. While the manufacturer will caution against use on stairs and we do too, if you live in a walk up it may be a necessity, and this won't be your best choice.
To learn more about the Bee and maneuverability, please take a look at the in-depth review presented in our full-size stroller review.
Ease of Use
If there is a metric where the Bee struggles to keep up with the competition it is ease of use. It earned a 4 of 10 for this metric tying with three other strollers but coming in lower than the high of 7 earned by the Chicco Bravo LE.
But, given the lower score the Bravo earned in other metrics, the high here is still not enough to move it into real contention for awards. The low for the metric is 3 for the Chicco Liteway Plus, an umbrella stroller that is harder to manage than most and frankly heavier than a lightweight stroller arguably should be.
The Bee does not offer any other conveniences for storage for baby or parents. It does not have an adjustable footrest, but it does have adjustable recline on the toddler seat that is easy to use with a push button. The Bee does come standard with a rain cover when you purchase it with the toddler seat, but it doesn't look like the rain cover is intended for use with a car seat. It is also probably good to note that you can purchase just the Bee frame by itself for use with your car seat, and buy the toddler seat/canopy combo at a later date to save on the initial cost.
The Bee has single action brakes that lock both sides at the same time with one pedal. They are very easy to set and are sandal foot friendly. Releasing the brakes can be achieved by either lifting the pedal from underneath with your toe or by pressing it a second time if you want to spare your shoe or foot from scuffing. We consider this a big deal, depending on how much you love your shoes or sandal feet.
The canopy on the Bee is nice looking and on the larger side. Unfortunately, with this stroller, the canopy will need to be removed to use the car seat. So while some of the competition allows for the canopy to be used in conjunction with the car seat carrier canopy, this is not one of those, and you will need to rely on the car seat canopy for protection from the elements.
The Bee scored a 7 of 10 for quality, tying with the Bugaboo Cameleon, UPPAbaby Cruz, Doona, and Mountain Buggy Swift Combo. The high for the metric is 8 shared by the UPPAbaby Vista Combo and the BOB Revolution.
The Bee has a complicated frame with several parts and connectors. Surprisingly it manages to still look sleek and function without a lot of flex or rattle. The tires are foam filled rubber that provides all the benefits of rubber tires without the fear or worry of getting a flat tire. The wheels turn easily with little resistance, but their smaller size inhibits maneuverability and prevents this stroller from being great over rougher terrain. The Bee has four wheel shocks that are not adjustable. The fabric on the seat and canopy fit tightly to the frame with no wrinkles or bunching giving the product an overall nice fit and finish that stands out in a crowd.
The Bee has an adjustable handlebar that telescopes in and out as opposed to rotating on a pivot point. We like the telescoping handles because it allows for taller people to find a good height without bringing them too close to the rear axle that results in kicking the back of the stroller while strolling. The handlebar adjusts from 34.5 to 42 inches from the ground and is smaller in circumference than some of the competition. So, while it is comfortable in hand, it isn't as comfortable as the thicker bars for pushing long distances.
The Bee has machine washable fabric and a 2-year warranty on the frame with a 1 year for components.
Ease of Setup
The Bee is one of the most difficult strollers to put together because it comes with almost nothing pre-assembled. This product took us over 23 minutes to put together from taking it out of the box to ready to use. This is over twice the amount of time it took to assemble the next longest product. The documentation for assembly is weak compared to the competition, relying solely on illustrations with no words to relay information. We put several portions of the product together incorrectly the first time with about ¾ of the time spent on the canopy and seat. The chassis is easier than the rest of the product to assemble. Thankfully, you will only need to assemble the stroller once, so the experience is short lived.
One of the best applications for this product is use with a car seat carrier. The Bee managed a higher score in its ability to create a nice car seat and stroller combination that it did in our standard stroller review. For parents looking for a stylish stroller that is simple and easy to use with a car seat, it is hard not to be drawn to the Bee, and its one of a kind look and fold. While it didn't score highly in the standard stroller review, we think that most parents in an urban environment will enjoy what it has to offer, and are unlikely to miss what it doesn't offer or do well.
The Bee is the third most expensive stroller in this review. With a price tag of $720 for the frame and toddler seat combination, it might be a hard price to justify for many parents. It is, however, cheaper than the Bugaboo Cameleon that has a list price of $1150. So if finding a fancy high-end stroller is a must, some parents might feel it is a good value for what it offers in the way of easy car seat attachment. Alternatively, the UPPAbaby Cruz had a list price of $500 and earned Editors' Choice award in this category and for standard strollers. UPPAbaby makes a good looking quality product that is almost as easy to use with a car seat and is lighter and smaller when folded.
The Bee is a kind of a cool looking product that looks sleek and is sure to turn a few heads. It offers all-wheel suspension, foam filled rubber tires, and one of the easiest folds in the group. The Bee is compatible with several car seats, and the metal loop attachment is easy to connect to the frame and even easier to connect a carrier too. Combining this frame with the Chicco Keyfit 30 creates the easiest to use product combination in our review, making the Bee a top pick for car seat attachment on a stroller that will likely appeal to the style conscious urban family.
Other Versions and Accessories
Bugaboo also makes the Bugaboo Cameleon that we looked at in this review. It might be a good choice for some parents depending on what they are looking for in a stroller, but it did not win an award in this review thanks to a higher price tag than options that earned higher scores.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team
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