Combi Fold N Go strollerStroller brand review: Combi

Stroller brand review: Combi. Japanese-owned Combi had its heyday in the ‘90’s with a string of best-selling lightweight strollers, but the company has struggled in recent years. Combi has gone through several management changes and shifts in strategy, which has hurt its brand.

The models. Combi’s lightweight stroller, the Fold N Go($129.99, pictured), features an extended canopy, auto locking mechanism, cup holds and (a first for Combi) accessory adapters for other brand infant car seats. The Fold & Go abandons Combi’s tri-fold and instead adopts a Baby Jogger like quick fold, and is self standing.

Combi’s newest lightweight stroller is the F2, a travel stroller weighing a mere 8.6 lbs ($200). It has a one hand self-standing fold, partially reclining mesh seat and extended canopy. There are two other versions of the F2 called the F2AF ($220) and the F2 Plus AF ($299.00). Aside from different colors and a seat back with more recline (up to 165° on the Plus AF), there isn’t much difference between the versions.

Combi has also added a new, more full featured stroller to its line: The Mechacal Handy Stroller EG. Weighing in at under 14 lbs., this stroller features a reversible handle, an egg-shock foam seat, extendible canopy, ventilated seat back and carry handle. The Mechacal is a whopping $440.00.

A pricier version called the Mechacal Handy Stroller 4AC EG adds improved steering no matter which way the handle is configured for $530.00.

Our view. Combi’s woes in the stroller market can be traced to one major problem: its infant car seat. Unlike competitors Perego and Chicco, Combi has yet to figure out this market (its weak Shuttle car seat has suffered from slow sales amid recalls and other issues). As a result, Combi isn’t much of a player in the travel system (car seat + stroller) market.

Yes, the Fold & Go works with other brand infant seats, but most Combi strollers work only with Combi’s shuttle infant car seat. This lack of cross compatibility hurts Combi.

Design snafus have also dogged the brand. Parents have complained for years about Combi’s handles (too short) and storage baskets (too small, hard to access). You’d think Combi’s designers would have better adapted these models to America after being here for 30 years. But, no.

And while parents universally like Combi for their lightweight and easy folds, there always seems to be some fatal flaw that pops up . . . front wheels that are easily damaged when the stroller is folded up, an overall lack of durability, etc.

When you spend $50 on a bare-bones umbrella stroller, you might put up with some of these issues. But at the $200+ price level, that’s a tough sell, especially when competitors like Chicco and UPPAbaby offer similar strollers with taller handles and better storage . . .  and without the quality problems.  Baby Bargains Resale Rank: Poor. Rating B-