March 26, 2009

Fond Farewell: A Review of the Micralite Toro and the Phil & Teds Vibe Strollers

It’s scary getting ready for baby number two.  Strangely, a second child seems so much more committed than baby
number one—like we were just dabbling in parenthood until now.  Now, we’re going to be a full-on family of
four and as such, we need to trade up for a (GULP!) double stroller—a potentially
big hit to my mom fashion sensibilities.

When I was pregnant with our first in late 2007 and selected
the Micralite Toro, it looked like we were moving back to NYC for a job offer,
so I was obsessed with finding the latest, lightest, swankest, smoothest riding
and most compact collapsible full-amenity stroller possible.  I imagined myself rolling my bub to and from
the world’s leading museums and most fabulous play groups, riding down NYC’s
(virtually non-existent) subway escalators, up its (urine- and vomit-besotted)
elevators, hopping in and out of cabs (with drivers who DO NOT appreciate the
necessity of a third and fourth seat belt check), etc., and I needed just the
right stroller for said adventures.

Sure, the Bugaboo’s the “it” stroller, but the demonstration
of how to fold it blew my pregnant brain. 
The Quinny Buzz is hot, but two recline positions (?)—when we lived in
Manhattan before, we’d leave the apartment at 9 am and walk the city until well
after dinner—a little ambitious with a baby, perhaps, but still, the bub would
need to become a stroller napping fool, so that wouldn’t do.  I love everything Svan, but that stroller
just made me laugh and something about the Orbit system hinted at a lifetime of
overly scheduled back-to-back, skill set-enhancing activities and a fair-to-poor
immune response.  Enter the Micralite Toro.
. .

The Micralite Toro is everything I wanted for my then forthcoming
little bundle of joy.  Compact,
lightweight, full recline, infant system, turns on a dime, easy to steer with
one hand, fast folding, fits in a tiny NYC apartment corner, and has all kinds
of groovy accessories—like the sun & bug net (aka “The Burka,” also insanely good for nap time), the wind
and rain shield (a cozy space pod for inclement weather) and the all-weather
boot (to keep your kiddo cozy in style)–it was stroller love at first
sight. 

We ended up deciding against moving back to New York, but I purchased a Micralite Toro
newborn system (you can also purchase just the stroller) along with a Maxi Cosi Mico infant car seat from EliteCarseats.com anyway, and I enjoyed every minute of ownership.  As for EliteCarseats.com, the stroller arrived within days, their customer service is impeccable and their selection is beyond compare (you can check out sister sites EuropeanStrollers.com and JoggingStroller.com, too, both with the same great service).  

Check out the Micralite Toro's many color and recline options:

102635ORANGE000102635ORANGE000-11102635ORANGE000-6102635ORANGE000-10
102639000000000102635SAND00000102635EMERALD00102635BLACK0000

I also must tell you that the Micralite Toro’s resale value
is pretty decent.  Upon ultrasound
confirmation of babe number two, I sold mine, having used it for a solid 10
months (yes, I am insane–my children will be 19 months apart), on eBay for 60%
of its original MSRP.  Not bad, especially
considering I bought it with a 20% off coupon. 
I simply cannot say enough about the Micralite Toro stroller.  The only negative is that it does not have
room for poor little bean number two. 

Enter the Phil & Teds Vibe. . . as you may already have
guessed, I have a little stroller vanity issue going on here.  A double wide was not going to do it for me
and in-line options are few & far between. 
They also seem a little cruel, particularly to the back seat rider, but
everyone I have stopped on the street to ask has assured me that the smaller
child loves it, and hey, they’ll get their shot at the front seat in due-time,
right?  The beauty of these strollers is
that they fit through standard doorways and convert to and from single or double in a literal snap.

So, I unloaded my Micralite on eBay and found a killer deal
on Phil & Teds, 20% off at GeniusJones.com!  It arrived quickly and went together with
ease.  So far, I like it a lot. 
My only complaints are as follows: the front wheel was super stiff at first but
it's loosening up, the recline is a little annoying (it's a strap and zipper
system you have to mess with, unlike the Micralite, which was a really smooth
& easy-to-use mechanical recline) and the Vibe’s color options are super
limited.  These strollers flew off the shelves during the sale, so by the time
I had eBay bids on my Micralite Toro, the only Vibe left was the black & red
graffiti version, a color combo I'm not that big of a fan of in
general although the graffiti print is OK-edgy.  Also, the Vibe is quite a bit heavier than my old stroller, but in
fairness, my old stroller was manufactured by MicraLITE, so I guess I can't
really say a lot about that. . . 

Phil and Teds Vibe - Graffiti

Here's the good stuff: the Phil & Teds Vibe really glides–it's a smooth,
fast ride; the sun shade is phenomenal–you can walk straight into a setting
sun and still have your bub covered (though he won't be able to see anything);
the Vibe reclines totally flat, so you can use it with a newborn with or
without a car seat; the fold is awesome and totally brilliant—it’s super easy
to do and I like it a lot that, once folded, it can be pulled along using its
own wheels (not all strollers can do that, but—sigh—the Toro could, too). 
The Vibe is actually more compact than my Micralite in terms of fitting in a
trunk, but it doesn’t stand sturdily on its own as does the Micralite Toro. 

Besides a sleeker look, the real reason I bought the Vibe,
which costs about 35% more than the Sport is maybe a little stupid.  I bought the Vibe because it can be folded
with the double kit on (the Sport can't). But as I just wrote that, I imagined
myself on 4 hours of sleep, trying to get all that baby crap put together with
a hungry toddler and a crying newborn baking in the backseat of my hot car in a
mall parking lot (we have to go sometimes) and I think maybe it will be
worth the extra $$$ . . .  Surely my
sanity is worth a couple hundy? 

Bryant Park

Pictured here is my dearest boy, eating sweet potatoes in
his Micralite Toro stroller in Bryant Park, NYC, on the trip that convinced me
I am not anywhere near cool or rich enough to be a Manhattan Mama.  Hats off to you, ladies : )

M.

3 Comments
  • Palooza
    March 26, 2009

    How does the second child seat work? Is it good?

  • M.
    March 26, 2009

    The second seat snaps on the front when you are using it with a toddler and a newborn, with the older child in front. When the smaller child has good head control and can ride in a more upright position, the second seat snaps on the back. The older (and heavier) child is always in front.

  • Adriann
    May 29, 2009

    I am a stroller hound as well, started w/the baby jogger, graduated to the BOB single, moved up to the BOB double, loved your post. Going from one to two is a snap-if you’re wondering how the upstart can dare compare with perfect child #1-don’t. The second you hold it you’ll wonder how you even thought you couldn’t possibly love it as much as #1.
    We have five and have traveled the world with them-Best of luck to you

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