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Monday, February 6, 2012

Ice & Easy with the Maxi Cosi Mura 3

Some of you will know from reading my previous blog entry about the Maxi Cosi Mura that I have taken it out and about in snow before and have been enthusiastic at the way it copes with the weather that brings the rest of the UK to a standstill. With this recent snowfall, I decided to write again about how it handled, not because I want to tell you all the same things again, but because I believe a pushchair can handle very differently depending on the age and weight of the child using it, and as The Boy was very young and in the carrycot addition for our previous snowy adventure, this time it would be different.

Obviously The Boy is heavier now than he was previously – the maximum weight for the carrycot addition is 9kg, but you must also stop using it when the child is able to sit up unassisted, or when they become too big for the carrycot, whichever comes first. While I was disappointed that our Moses basket wasn’t big enough to accommodate him by the time he reached four months old, the Mura carrycot remained a useful addition to the travel system and I was able to continue using that until he was almost six months old. Now at eighteen months old, The Boy weighs in at 12.5kg (26.6 lbs) Due to his height (now approx 88cm) he grew too long to comfortably use the Mura footmuff last month (he was 17 months old) which was disappointing as it is such a useful, cosy footmuff, however we have cobbled together some pram blankets to use on the Mura seat unit instead to keep him cosy while we’re out.

I still have The Boy parent facing on the whole. It does mean that the seat unit doesn’t sit in the absolute upright position it would if I transferred him to world facing, but I’m in no hurry to do that and he is still quite content to ride along as he is. I like parent facing as I can see if he’s falling asleep and recline the seat to make him more comfortable: I can see if the sun is in his eyes and adjust the sun canopy accordingly, and most importantly (to me) we can make eye contact and have a chat while we’re walking along. I hate it when I see people out with babies – often younger than The Boy – in forward facing buggies, they’ve got the sun in their eyes or they’ve fallen asleep sitting upright and don’t look comfortable, and the parent is marching along behind them oblivious to their comfort, ignoring them completely (usually chatting on a mobile phone but that’s another story!) As we walk, I identify things to The Boy that he can see, in an effort to help him with his vocabulary.

Yesterday afternoon we needed to make a trip to the local shop for a few bits – nothing major, though a proper shop is needed as we weren’t taking the car we decided to get only the necessities as we would be carrying them home. It isn’t a long walk from the shop back home, but not one I wanted to make loaded down with a weeks worth of shopping, with the pushchair to control and the snow to consider. We wrapped ourselves up warmly, The Boy included, and set off with the Mura.

The front path from our garden gate to the front step was virgin snow as we hadn’t ventured out since the snowfall, and it was a good four to five inches deep. As such, the Mura did struggle slightly to get going – the wheels are large size (12”) and air filled, so once it got going it was fine, though heavy to push due to the resistance. We made it down the path, and once we reached the road it was easier going as people had driven on it, so while it was still snowy it was more compacted and not as deep. The Boy gazed around in wonder as we bounced down the road over the mounds of snow and he kept pointing at everything and saying “Ooo”. For a child of his age, the fact that everything was covered in this sparkly white substance must be weird, and the bouncing motion of the pushchair gave the impression it was him bouncing in the seat rather than the pushchair itself bouncing, so we started singing as we walked and this made him laugh and enjoy it all the more.

Once we reached the main pathways heading into the town centre we found some issues with the grimy snow that had been pushed to the curbside by drivers on their way through, as it had become that hard, compact, icy substance which provided an additional step to negotiate with the pushchair, which wasn’t easy. Though I usually adore the three chunky wheels of the Mura 3, this was one occasion where I did think that the Mura 4 would have coped better, for the laws of physics are more on your side. I had to be very careful maneuvering the Mura around the roadsides as it would have toppled very easily due to the way you had to keep pushing against resistance. Usually with the Mura I don’t need to rock it onto the back wheels to get it up curbs unless they are particularly high – the front wheel bounces up without hassle and the back wheels follow merrily – but as I was needing to try and rock it onto the back wheels to lift the front over the compacted snow roadside it did make it slower going than normal and I did feel quite vulnerable as I tried to get it up the curb after crossing the road, so you’re standing in the road battling with it. Luckily though there weren’t many drivers out so we weren’t holding up any traffic, and those that were out seemed to be the nice sort of people who didn’t mind waiting a moment for a lady with a pushchair to get out of the road!

In town, as expected, the roads and pathways were fairly clear, and we headed straight to the shop. We had some trouble negotiating the curbsides again immediately outside the shop, but we managed it after a couple of attempts and learned that there was a way of handling the snow drifts with the Mura and if you remembered to do it carefully and take your time it would be fine. We went round the shop and gathered what we needed, and were complimented by the lady at the checkout that we’d made it out with the pushchair in the snow! On the route home we took a detour over the bridge so we could feed the ducks on the river as we passed through. The bridge hadn’t been cleared but had obviously been used as the snow wasn’t particularly deep and had again compacted to that brown icy substance. It was fine getting the Mura up and over the bridge, and once at the centre section I applied the brake so we could stop and feed the ducks, and was pleasantly surprised that even in these conditions the brake held the Mura solidly. Coming down the bridge on the other side was a bit slippery but the combined weight of the chunky Mura with The Boy in it was enough to stop it running away from me, and we were soon on the return journey home.

Coming back up the garden path was awkward, as the only places the snow was disturbed was where we’d walked out, and I did end up pulling the Mura up the path backwards. I know that’s not recommended (it’s a pushchair, not a pull-chair!) but as the Mura back wheels are joined by an axle the wheels didn’t splay out and as I don’t make a habit of dragging it along backwards I didn’t feel that it would have any long term impact on the chassis. (You know those times in shops when you find yourself squeezed into a small space and you have to pull the buggy backwards to get out of it? I’m one of those smug people that doesn’t have that problem, because despite the size of the Mura it has an excellent turning circle and it isn’t a problem to spin it round and push it out of the smallest of spaces).

We got back into the warm house, locked the door and let The Boy out of the Mura and he was quite happy. He thoroughly enjoyed his adventure and I must say that the Mura impressed me with how well it coped, as I’d been thinking due to the additional weight in it in comparison to last time I went out in snow, we’d get bogged down and stuck, but we didn’t. I believe it would have been even easier with a Mura 4 as one downfall of the double front wheel unit on the Mura 3 was that snow filled in between the wheels and every now and then we had to stop and get rid of that snow. In addition to that, as I said previously, the Mura 4 may not have had the same tipping issues when getting it off the pavement onto the road, but that isn’t something I normally find an issue with on an everyday basis, I’m thinking it is do to with the way it was sliding on the snow as we were attempting to get off pavements.

The bringing home of the shopping would have been made easier if the Mura basket was larger and capable of holding a half decent load, but we had the raincover folded up in it as well as the leftover stale bread for the ducks and The Boy’s beaker, and this took up most of the space. In addition to that I didn’t feel comfortable putting shopping in the basket as it was likely to get covered in snow and ice from the journey home again. I did buy a set of bag clips recently which hook onto the chassis and allow you to put shopping on them but they’re not recommended by Maxi Cosi due to the additional stress they put on the chassis, and the fact that you can easily overload the pushchair and the additional weight on the handlebar can make it easier to tip. As The Hubby was with us for our snowy adventure he carried the shopping home!

I wish the Mura footmuff was that bit bigger and I could still use it for The Boy, as he isn’t walking very often yet when we’re out and I’m conscious of him becoming too cold, especially in weather like this, when we’re out for any length of time and he’s sitting in the pushchair. The Quinny footmuff, which I use on my Zapp and Zapp Xtra, is much bigger and still comfortable for him (it’s also less hassle to get him in and out due to a much simpler, more straightforward design) however I can’t use that footmuff on the Mura without removing the T-bar as there is no way the Quinny footmuff can accommodate the T-bar, and The Boy loves to hold the T-bar (he pretends its motorbike handles and makes ‘vroom’ noises as we go) and he has one of those toys that wraps around the T-bar to keep him entertained. After viewing the new Quinny Moodd recently with the footmuff on there which is designed to be used with the T-bar I am sorely tempted to get one! Though the T-bar doesn’t come all the way through the Moodd footmuff, it stays inside the footmuff, so I’m not sure if that would irritate The Boy or not. Maybe it would encourage him to keep his hands inside the footmuff – and therefore warmer! – because maybe he’d want to hold the T-bar while we travel, as he does at the moment with the Mura T-bar.

I do love the Maxi Cosi Mura and I’m very pleased that we chose it as our main travel system for The Boy, but as time goes on I do find things that could do with improvement! I don’t find them major issues, but it depends on what you want from your pushchair, so here’s my list of what could be changed to make the Mura even better!
1 – The seat unit should be able to sit completely upright when in parent facing position. The same ‘parent’ company (Dorel) have just achieved this in the new Quinny Moodd, so I think the existing products from their brands should be re-examined and the same seating position offered whether parent facing or world facing. I know a few mums and dads who say that they want to talk to their child but the child doesn’t like having to be slightly reclined when parent facing.
2 – The shopping basket should be made into a more basic cube design. At the moment it has a sloping bottom and a low section at the back which does make it easier to slide things in the basket, but also makes it easier for things to slide out! A deeper basket (like the one on the Maxi Cosi Mila) would offer a much more practical solution.
3 – The Maxi Cosi Elea comes with a baby nest for newborns and you can get a footmuff for children from about 6 months old. I think the Mura package should be the same – a snugly baby nest for newborns as an additional item to the footmuff would allow them to make the footmuff larger to accommodate an older child and yet you’d still be able to use the Mura from birth because you’d use the baby nest and your newborn wouldn’t be getting lost in a great big footmuff.
4 – The sun canopy is too low – at 18 months old I appreciate The Boy is above average height, however the sun canopy is literally about a centimetre above the top of his head which makes it awkward to adjust, as if you pull it forward when he’s in the seat you’re pushing his hair or hat over his eyes, and if you push it backwards you’re pulling his hair or hat off the back of his head. I understand that as mine is a 2010 model Mura it has a different sun canopy style to the 2011 and the 2012, however since I’ve not seen either of those in real life I’m unable to comment on whether the sun canopy is any further away from the seat unit. If there was a way of being able to attach the sun canopy further up the chassis it would eliminate the problem by providing the additional space required. It’s a disappointing let down, as the seat unit itself is large enough to accommodate a child way beyond the recommended 3.5yrs old (15kg max weight) and the chassis is sturdy enough to cope with a lot of abuse, but due to that sun canopy positioning I think The Boy will be too tall to use the Mura with the sun canopy beyond his second birthday. Obviously I can remove the sun canopy if I choose to, however without it in place there is no protection from the sun and also there is nothing there for the raincover to go on so that seems quite pointless to me!
5 – I understand that the Mura 4 was discontinued in the UK as it wasn’t a popular enough model and simply didn’t sell well. I think the company should alter the style of the chassis so it is more similar to the Quinny Buzz and Quinny Moodd in the way that you can remove the front wheel unit and replace it, giving Mura owners the option of 3 or 4 wheels. I would definitely have a four wheel front wheel unit for the sake of making life easier in snow, even though it isn’t required particularly often, I think the difference it would make for the times you do need it would make it worthwhile. In addition to this I don’t feel that the Maxi Cosi Mura is promoted enough and not enough people are aware of this amazing pushchair/travel system option. It isn’t sold in most shops, it seems to be an online purchase only, and my argument would be that you wouldn’t spend that much money on a travel system without ever being able to see it or play with it prior to making your purchase. Even if there is only a display model available in some stores and if you decide you want one you have to buy online I think that would improve the sales of the Mura as it really is a brilliant pushchair and once you’ve seen it and played with it many people are surprised at how much it offers and how well it handles, despite the chunky size and heavy weight.

After our excursion yesterday I flopped into the sofa exhausted – it’s a good workout pushing a Mura (containing an 18 month old) through the snow let me tell you! It handled it well, and while there were aspects that were difficult I know for a fact my Zapp/Zapp Xtra wouldn’t have even made it down the garden path and while we were out we saw many people with many other makes and models of pushchair who were really struggling, which says to me that my problems were minor compared to some.

My rating for the Maxi Cosi Mura remains a solid four and a half out of five, because the issues with it even in snow are so minor, they don’t really taint the Mura love that much for me.

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