Wednesday, May 16th, 2007
Review: Mia Moda’s Terra Stroller
Mia Moda is a new manufacturer of European-style strollers and travel systems. When the company offered to send a stroller for review, I was hesitant. A high-design stroller? I’m Mr. Meat and Potatoes. Sure, style matters to a degree, but I’m all about the features.
We have a Phil & Ted’s E3, a jogging stroller I was drawn to for its maneuverability and smoothness of ride. Now, despite my comments to the contrary 14 months ago, my wife and I are
actively considering having a second child. So I found myself sucked
into Mia Moda’s feature comparison chart and weighing it against our previous stroller experiences.
I selected the Mia Moda Terra to review, a four wheeler that three years ago, pre-baby, I would never have chosen due to a jogging stroller bias. As a more seasoned dad, I was sucked in by its features.
Assembling the Terra was a snap, taking less than 5 minutes. Snap on the wheels and attach the child and adult food trays. That’s it.
The manual is minimalist literature. When I went to look up how to remove the removable washable seat padâ€”a bullet point feature touted on the web siteâ€”I found instructions for wiping the seat with a sponge. I’ve since been assured the seat is removable by pulling some Velcro and removing a few screws. A fine piece of equipment should have fine documentation to go with it. The manual covers the basics.
- Stroller weight: 25 lbs.
- Passenger weight limit: 40lbs (no specified age range).
- Folded Size: 24" x 18" x 32"
- Open Size: 24" x 32" x 41"
Features (Mia Moda’s web list with my comments)
- Suitable from birth.
For new parents, taking your infant for a stroll to hear people "ooh" and "ahh" is a right of passage. You’ll need a seat that reclines nearly flat for new infants.
- 21st century frame design.
This point refers to two things. One, the stroller’s style. I agree, there is hotness in play (see the photo gallery at the bottom of this page). Two, the sturdy metal frame. Look at run-of-the-mill "shopping barge" four wheel strollers at your finer chain stores (I guess that means Target) and you’ll see plastic junk. There’s just no comparison. You’re not just buying Mia Moda’s style, but a boatload of sturdy craftsmanship. Nothing struck me as cheap about the stroller, except maybe the parent console cup holder (see point #14).
- Unique rear cable brake system allows for more kick space and compact fold.
Many stroller brakes are metal bars that run between the two rear wheels. Terra’s brake is a lever attached to the inside of the right wheel that you push with your foot. It requires slightly more aim, but is still simple.
- Extra-large storage basket with additional front access.
I’m told this is a misprint on the web site. The storage basket is confirmed to be only accessible from the rear (e.g., like all normal baskets), with a 5lb carrying capacity. The basket is somewhat hindered by the positioning of a horizontal frame bar that limits the size of objects you can insert. You could, for example, fit a cardboard milk carton, but a gallon jug might be a tight insertâ€¦ not that you carry a lot of heavy merchandise in stroller baskets. Not to mention, a gallon jug weighs about 8lbs.
- Parent console with cup holder
- Detachable childâ€™s tray
Both consoles have a cup holder that fits a standard plastic sippy cup. The parent console holds my Klean Kanteen, but the child’s cup holder is slightly smaller and doesn’t accommodate it. I’m not overly concerned because our daughter survived our first stroller without a tray of any sort; we preferred to keep her bottle in a parental cup holder to regulate access.
- 3-position seat recline.
If a child food tray is important to you, the seat positioning is a point to consider. Some stroller seats adjust to something approximating a full upright position, say 80 degrees, while others are a little more laid back. I would put the Terra in the latter category. This affects whether a child has to lean forward to efficiently use the food tray. My daughter at almost 3-years-old had to lean a little off the seat.
- 5-point harness.
This harness only takes two clicks. My wife gives it high marks.
- Lockable front swivels.
Push a tab on the front of each wheel base to lock or unlock the swivel. This design is infinitely easier than our jogging stroller which required me to reach around the wheel base and results in greasy and/or grimy hands.
- All-wheel suspension.
If you’re going to be strolling in stores and on sidewalks, hard wheels and a suspension system are perfectly fine, if not overkill. And frankly, on uneven terrain, even the best jogging stroller gives a bumpy ride. The Terra responds to light touch and is as maneuverable as my jogging stroller. Incidentally, in terms of specs, the front wheels have a 7.5" diameter and the rear wheels are 11". Bigger wheels help provide a smoother ride.
- Adjustable handle bar.
The parent’s gripping bar easily flips up or down, a handy feature when Mom and Dad are different heights. We could also flip it down so that my almost-3-year-old daughter could steer the stroller, taking her plush Winnie the Pooh for a ride.
- Ergonomic handle grip.
I suppose. It’s a bar. It’s angled. It’s covered in squishy foam. It adjusts to your height.
- Removable washable seat pad.
You’ll need a screwdriver.
- Freestanding when folded.
The process of folding the stroller is simple. Pull the canopy back, press a red button, simultaneously pull levers on both sides of the frame and the whole thing just sort of collapses for you. A latch on the frame usually self-catches to keep the wad together. The only issue I encountered was with the parent console, which would often have one end pop off when collapsing the stroller. While the parent console was stable in normal use, I could not definitively "lock" it in place to prevent the pop-off. I don’t know if that was user error.
- Adjustable calf support.
The child footrest can be positioned down or up. I suppose this is useful if your kid doesn’t like his legs dangling down.
- Car seat compatible.
Becomes a travel system with the Viva car seat. I can’t comment as I don’t have the travel system.
The Terra retails in the ballpark of $319 at the online stores [also Amazon] I checked. In the realm of high-design strollers, it’s affordable. It’s really the spot-on price I would expect to pay for a durable stroller.
Greg at DaddyTypes poked some fun at Mia Moda’s marketing that touts its strollers as "Euro-design," wondering aloud if they were really Brady-style because the company is based in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. (I originally assumed he was referring to The Brady Bunch, but Greg clarified in an update it was a reference to NFL quarterback Tom Brady who impregnated two girlfriends in the same year.)
Mia Moda’s PR rep assured me that the company has designers based in London and Munich. One of Greg’s readers posted a link to a photo of a similar-looking Chinese stroller. Mia Moda’s PR rep told me it is actually "a known Chinese bootlegging company of sorts" and that Mia Moda is "currently taking legal action against them for this."
In truth, I don’t care one way or the other about the sales imagery. Marketing is about creating a perception. My first reaction upon seeing a Bugaboo was to laughâ€”people pay top dollar to strut a stroller I could only describe as "peculiar" and "freakish," but its marketing, and in turn its public perception, is quite the opposite.
So I go with my gut reaction, which is that Mia Moda’s Terra and Energi are attractive. The Cielo is a bit skeletal, but I’d love to see how much space it doesn’t consume in my car trunk. (Update: Babygadget has a Cielo review with trunk photos.) The Libero’s style is so-so. I’d choose a Spirito as a suped up alternative to a $10 K-Mart umbrella stroller.
But all this is highly individual. What I personally think of style is about as useful as telling you my favorite musicians. Look at the photos. Judge for yourself.
And lastly, I wondered about Mia Moda’s name, which was translated into the company’s slogan: my life, my way, my style. Google Translate told me Mia Moda means "my fashion" and mia modo means "my way."
My sage Auntie M, who is part-Italian and has spent a fair amount of time traveling in Italy, informed me: "It could mean fashion in the broader sense (not costume or clothing). In Italy, one’s style is very important. Not just appearance, but EVERYTHING about one’s person. Except for the poor, Italians seem to really care about their and other people’s opinions, clothing, food, music. Everything must be done WELL. As cousin Roberto says, ‘We take food very seriously.’ Everything is an art form. I don’t know about the youngest generations in Italy. Maybe they have been corrupted by American culture by now. What a shame that would be."
And now, photo goodness from my backyard.