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Jogging Strollers Performance

The third issue that spawns lots of commentary in reviews of jogging strollers concerns performance and/or ease of use. If you can't comfortably run, jog, or walk with your stroller, it's a bad investment even at a bargain price.

The range of movement of the front wheel has a big impact on assessments of a jogging stroller's user-friendliness.

Users can choose either a fixed wheel jogging stroller or a swivel jogging stroller. The decision should turn on your plans for the stroller.

Experts at Running Times and a self-described "running mom" blogger explain that serious joggers should opt for a fixed wheel jogging stroller that tracks forward at all times because of the stability (even at running speeds) and straight trajectory. Fixed wheel jogging strollers can handle different types of terrain, from grass to rough roadways to curbs to rustic trails, without undue stress on jogger or passenger. Although you must lift the front wheel slightly by pushing down on the handlebar to round a bend, experts note that runners quickly adapt.

The two fixed wheel jogging strollers we researched are the Jeep Overland Limited and Schwinn Arrow. Some users complain that fixed wheel jogging strollers are difficult to steer, but reviews of the Jeep Overland Limited posted at Buzzillions counter that they're designed for jogging on gently-curving paths and trails and not for walking on city grids. Runners and off-road hikers really like the Jeep Overland fixed wheel jogging stroller. Reviews commend the stability and minimal shaking and bouncing; we did, however, read a few reports that the stroller drifts slightly to the left or right. About the Schwinn Arrow, one user post asserts that it rides rough and requires two hands to control although another says it served her well during a race with curves along the course. Elsewhere, one user writes that some adjustments were necessary to keep the Schwinn Arrow fixed wheel jogging stroller tracking straight and a second notes that equal air pressure in the rear tires helps it stay on track.

A swivel jogging stroller -- the front wheel swivels -- is the best option for walkers; that is, users who need to navigate tight spaces, dodge obstacles, and turn sharp corners. These conditions better describe urban and suburban byways than the typical jogging route, and specs for the InStep Safari Swivel Double, one of our top picks, state that this model has a zero-degree turn radius. Running and even active walking with a swivelling front wheel is not advised; experts note that a swivelling wheel is less stable than a fixed wheel and more likely to cause vibrations, especially at a jogging pace. A swiveling wheel doesn't track straight and can cause the stroller to veer out of control when rolling quickly over rough surfaces or coming upon unexpected obstructions, like a small stone.

However, the best swivel jogging strollers feature a lock that secures the front wheel in place -- the recommended position for jogging. The Schwinn Turismo, InStep Safari Double, and Baby Trend Expedition Double are all swivel jogging strollers with a lockable front wheel. If you want a jogging stroller to serve double duty -- for a run through the local park and a family trip to the theme park, say -- choose a swivel jogging stroller with a front wheel that locks.

Review continues below

Swivel jogging strollers with locking front wheels are not intended for hard-core runners or off-road enthusiasts, but the average consumer appreciates their versatility. One mother writes that she bought the Schwinn Turismo Swivel to help with post-pregnancy weight loss and uses it both for jogging and walking about. Indeed, many of the reviews we found focus on the utility of the Schwinn Turismo as a walking stroller. One parent who uses it to exercise-by-walking writes on Diapers.com that it's easy to push and turns smoothly with the wheel unlocked. This swivel jogging stroller also meets the needs and expectations of runners, according to reviews at Dick's Sporting Goods.

Reviews indicate that the InStep Safari Double likewise fits the bill for walking, shopping, and easy-to-moderate runs. At Amazon, one user reports it steers so smoothly that she easily manages two youngsters and a 40-pound dog on daily walks; another says it rolls gently over grass and dirt; and a third stresses that locking the front wheel minimizes vibrations while jogging. This swivel jogging stroller also wins points for maneuverability, even when loaded with two kids. (Tip: For better performance, lock the front wheel if only one child is riding.)

The Baby Trend Double Expedition sails over trails and sidewalks and steers easily, according to a number of users comments at Target. But several posts at Amazon indicate rougher going with this swivel jogging stroller; two users, for example, assert that the jogger pulls sideways when the wheel is locked and another says the front wheel is uncontrollable.

An alternative to a swivel jogging stroller is Kolcraft's Contours Options 3 Wheeler (starting at $133), whose front wheel swivels but doesn't lock in place; ergo, it shouldn't be used for jogging but seems fine for walking. Postings at Overstock say it's easy to maneuver and push.

Jogging Strollers Wheels.

Most new budget jogging strollers sport 12- or 16-inch front wheels, which are perfectly adequate for walking and recreational trail running. Wheels this size easily traverse sidewalk cracks and uneven pavement as well as curbs and somewhat rocky ground. Two of our top picks, the Schwinn Turismo Swivel Wheel and InStep Safari Swivel Double, as well as the Baby Trend Expedition Double, feature 12-inch front swivel wheels. The Jeep Overland Limited (a best pick) and the Schwinn Arrow are fixed wheel jogging strollers with 16-inch front wheels. The 8-inch front wheel on the Contours Options 3 Wheeler, the one non-jogger we researched, can handle the tamer challenges of urban and suburban surroundings but may be thwarted by anything off the beaten path.

The two rear tires on the jogging strollers discussed here measure 16 inches across. (Some high-performance jogging strollers boast 20-inch front and rear wheels, but experts say the trend is converging on 16 inches.) Wheels this large ensure smoother gliding action and less swishing around for the passenger(s), and make for easier pushing, which is why jogging strollers increasingly appeal to non-joggers. Traditional strollers generally have 5- or 6-inch wheels all the way around; the Contours Options comes with 12-inch rear wheels.

Budget jogging strollers feature air-filled tires. Like bicycle tires, they rely on a cushion of air to absorb shock and increase stability. Make sure to keep the tires inflated to the recommended PSI both for performance and safety. We read a number of reviews that grumble about the relative frequency of needing to inflate the tires. But given the lack of detail concerning frequency of use and the surface conditions (e.g., smooth or rocky), it's impossible to determine whether this is a problem endemic to the category or a reflection of a model's build quality.

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