Saturday, 6 August 2011

Review of Graco Symbio

When our Graco Symbio RRP £357- arrived I couldn’t wait to get it out. We got it out and first impressions were “wow”. It looked so stylish, yet practical, and I immediately fell in love with the colour scheme of black and red.
In the box you get the chassis, the seat unit (6 months +), rain cover, and the car seat adapter.
Separately you can buy the Graco Logico S car seat, and also the Symbio carrycot, which all together make a fantastic travel system, which can be used from birth.
Other accessories include a bag and foot muff, also available to buy separately.

The Symbio has a handle that can flip over changing the pushchair from parent facing to forward facing in a couple of seconds, but what makes this so clever is that this is done whilst the child is in the pushchair. You can also put the seat unit on parent facing or forward facing, making the pushchair really versatile.

The seat unit is padded, making it really comfy, with a completely removable bumper bar at the front. It also has a hood, which has a lift up part at the back, with a breathable mesh fabric underneath, perfect for really hot days.
It has 3 postions, upright, slightly laid back, or completely laid back. To do this there is a handle at the back of the seat at the top, which you pull up, then lie the pushchair back or sit it up.
I am so impressed with the seat, it is very well built, and a good size, my 3 year old can sit comfortably in it. Even better that is comes with a removable seat liner, great for if it gets a bit dirty or mucky, as you can just whip it off and wash it. The 5 point harness comes with shoulder pads and a crotch pad, all of which are really padded. Another huge plus is the straps are adjustable, and are a really decent length, as myself and others have had problems with other pushchairs before with the top straps not being long enough as the child gets older.

The “front” of the pushchair has swivel wheels, that can be fixed, and the “back” has larger pneumatic tyres, which are fixed. Graco says “Swivel wheels in front are better for great maneuverability, whilst pneumatic tyres in front provide more comfort for outdoor use in the park or the forest for example”

Graco states “When using the handle in reversed position you should lock the swivel wheels for a better manoeuvrability” which I found fine when walking over grass, but on the pavement this was not an option at all for us. When locking the swivel wheels(which is very simple to do, just a case of clicking the locking bit up on each wheel) when using the pneumatic tyres at the front, the swivel wheels seemed like they couldn’t take the weight, and seemed to push inwards and drag as opposed to roll. So when I have used the pushchair with the pneumatic wheels at the front I have left the back wheels on swivel. The back of the pushchair does glide side to side a bit, and it’s quite hard to turn the front, but for the majority of the time we have the swivel wheels at the front anyway. The brake is a clever little lever on the handle, that you pull up to put the brakes on, and push the button and push it back down to take the brake off. I was dubious about this at first, but after using it I can say is a fantastic feature.
We have not yet used the rain cover, but I did try it on the pushchair and it is simple to put on. Although I would like to see it come with a little carry bag that you could hang on the handle/chassis, as there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to keep it whilst it’s not in use, and this way you could always have it with you in case it did start to rain, especially with how unpredictable British weather can be.

Overall we are so impressed with our Symbio, and definitely would recommend it.
Jack seems so comfortable when in it, and he loves the fact he can face me. Eva loves helping to push, and that she can talk to and play games with Jack whilst we are walking. It is so lightweight and easy to push, and very nifty going round corners. Also with it having one handle I find it really easy to push one handed, which is really handy (excuse the pun) when holding Eva’s (age 3) hand whilst we’re out.
It’s simple to fold and unfold, but does take up quite a bit of boot space in our Citroën Picasso, so can imagine it would completely fill a smaller boot. To fold there are 3 steps. First you have to take the seat unit off, which is a lot easier then I thought it would be. All you do is squeeze the release handles either side of the seat unit and it lifts straight off. Then squeeze the handle and flip it all the way over to the floor. Next there is a part labelled with 1 and 2 near to the basket on the chassis. Press button 1 down and pull up on lever 2 while pulling frame up. You then lay the frame flat, with the handle on top and clip it together, again the clip is near to the basket under the chassis.

The basket isn’t very big, so you would struggle trying to carry more then a few items in it, but if this was a problem you could always get clips for the handle to hang some bags off (although this is not recommended by most manufacturers).
At the back of the seat unit are 3 “hooks” that you can attach a Graco Symbio bag to, to either use as a changing bag, or for extra storage, although you have to buy this separately.
When choosing a changing bag for the Graco Symbio the best type would be either the Graco Symbio bag or one of the bags that has the smaller straps that fasten around the handle (usually in conjunction with a longer carry handle), as I think if you were to hang a long handled bag on it would keep slipping down the handle and drag on the floor.

The Symbio is a gorgeous looking pushchair, and wherever we go people are always looking and asking about it. Overall I would give the pushchair 9 out of 10, 9 as opposed to 10 purely for the fact of the problem with the wheels I mentioned earlier on. As I said before I would recommend this pushchair to anyone considering buying a pushchair, and would be fab for someone expecting a baby to buy the package deal and get the full use of the pushchair from birth to approx 3 years.

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