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Consumer Reports warns about Britax B-Nimble stroller

Consumer Reports News: April 25, 2011 05:08 PM

Consumer Reports has designated the Britax B-Nimble umbrella stroller a Don’t Buy: Safety Risk because we believe there’s a danger that someone using the stroller might think the brakes are engaged when they are not.

In our tests, we found that the $200-B-Nimble’s brakes sometimes fail to engage even after a user pushes down on the brake pedal, hears an audible click, and observes that the pedal remains depressed.

Although the User Guide explicitly says to step on the pedal on either side of the stroller “until the wheels lock,” and makes no reference to any click, we believe that some users might erroneously conclude that the brake is set, which could lead to mishap or injury if the stroller were parked on an inclined surface.

Britax Child Safety, Inc., manufacturer of the B-Nimble, disputes our findings. “We do not believe that the results of Consumer Union [sic] testing are indicative of a safety issue with our stroller,” Britax president Jon Chamberlain said in an email. “The audible click heard is not intended to indicate that the parking brake is engaged or locked. We encourage consumers to read user guides prior to use of any product.” The company adds that it has not received any complaints of injury related to the B-Nimble brakes and says the stroller complies with the voluntary industry standard set by ASTM-International.

ASTM-International’s testing method assumes the brake is applied and is engaged. Consumer Reports does not dispute Britax’s claim that the B-Nimble meets the ASTM-International standard since the stroller’s brakes do work when fully engaged. “Simply meeting the requirements of a voluntary standard is not always enough to ensure the necessary level of safety,” said Don Mays, senior director of product safety and technical policy. “Any stroller whose parking brake does not engage reliably could unexpectedly put a child in harm’s way.”

Mays added that although Consumer Reports urges buyers to read all product user manuals, it is also our policy to warn of safety issues that we judge could reasonably arise.

The B-Nimble stroller uses linked brakes that are fairly common in umbrella strollers, which are designed to be light, portable, and easy to fold. When a user presses down on either of the two brake pedals in the rear, locking tabs should immobilize both rear wheels. But in our tests of three B-Nimble samples, this did not always occur. We have not found a similar brake problem with any of the 28 other umbrella strollers we tested, 11 of which had linked brakes.

Once we discovered the problem, we took the further step conducting a user panel test. We told panelists we were checking for maneuverability. We did not tell them we were checking for braking. We wanted to see how often the brakes would engage on the first try when panelists tried to park a weight-bag laden B-Nimble stroller on an incline. For six of the ten panelists, the brakes did not engage the first time. Though all six of those panelists kept working with the stroller until its wheels locked, we think there remains a danger that harried parents under real-world conditions might not be so persistent. Hence we shared our findings with the manufacturer and Consumer Product Safety Commission.

For people who already own this stroller, we recommend that you stop using it. If you are in the market for a stroller, Consumer Reports recommends the UPPAbaby G-Lite which sells for $130. See our strollers buying advice and complete stroller Ratings (available to subscribers).

   

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