Gear Review: Thule Chariot CX1

WTF I hear you say? What is the Thule Chariot CX1?

Sounds like some mechanical part in the latest Star Wars movie doesn’t it? However unless you’re a parent, this review might not be for you, but it’s a nice little first for us, a running buggie review for those running mums and dads who need to take their little ones with them on their trots about town.

For this little gem of a review, we have to thank Caine and Tymeka Warburton who’ve spent the last nine months carrying their little one with them. And in case you’re wondering, Caine and Tymeka bought this themselves, no freebies here… Take it away guys…

Thule is a Swedish brand established back in 1942, and with a motto of “free to live your active life”. Chariot was originally developed by elite triathlete Dan Britton because of his passion for sport and family. These companies combined in 2013 to further build upon the success of the Chariot prams.

Thule now offers a range of chariot models in both single and tandem modes and we chose the CX1 to test. The CX1 is truly a versatile machine, one product capable of 5 separate activities: Run, Cycle, Stroll, Hike and Ski!

We have had the Thule Chariot CX1 for 9.5 months and in the process covered thousands of kilometres by bike and foot in a range of weather conditions across the country. Due to a lack of suitable terrain we did not test the ski or hike functions during this time so will only comment on the run, cycle and strolling modes.

The Thule Chariot CX1 in bike mode
The Thule Chariot CX1 in bike mode

 

CX1 Technical specifications

Weight capacity: 34 kg
Weight: 13.5 kg
Width: 70 cm
Folded dimensions (LxWxH): 107 x 61 x 28 cm

Out of the box

Right out of the box it was easy to see that the CX1 was made for performance. It looked fast, was light and had more functions than I could poke a stick at. Coming mostly assembled it only took a few moments and a click of a few push buttons before the CX1 was ready to go. No tools or engineering degree required to set it up.

Depending upon the age of your child, you may need to fit extra seating into the Chariot. Personally we had to fit the baby sling (fixed with buckle loops) which only took a few minutes to get a good fit and our baby was in the Chariot from 3 days old.

Features:

The CX1 is jam-packed full of features and ingenious design. Its specification list looks more like that of a sports car than a Pram.

  • Anodized aluminum roll cage – A lightweight system designed to protect your child in case of roll over.
  • 5-point child safety harness – Snug fitting and secure harness system not unlike those you might find in sports cars.
  • Reflective material – High visibility material located at key areas around the pram to keep you safe at night.
  • Glow in the dark panels.
  • Tinted windows – The side windows are fully tinted for the comfort of your child
  • Sunshade – An adjustable sunshade is fitted to accompany the tinted windows for bright days.
  • VersaWing™
  • ezClick™ – Soft open and closing for major adjustment points
  • ezFold™ – One handed operation to fold down the Chariot.
  • Click n’Store™ – Ingenious storage system for running wheel and bike trailer components allowing them to be carried on the pram in stroller function.
  • Rear storage – Large collapsible storage bucket at the rear of the pram.
  • Parking brake – Single hand-operated parking brake
  • Quick release axle on rear wheels – Single button push removable wheels.
  • Weather cover – 4 seasons fully sealed weather system.
  • Adjustable padded harness – Multi position harness with comfort pads.
  • Adjustable handlebar – Multi position handlebar with attachments.
  • Full window venting – Weather system rolls back completely for full ventilation.
  • Extra seat padding
  • Aerodynamic design – Reduced wind drag while running and riding.
  • Adjustable suspension – Easily adjustable leaf suspension.
  • Disc brakes – Dual cable disc brakes.

Attachments/Accessories:

  • Baby sling
  • Bottle Cage
  • Head Support – we have not used this as it is to be fitted without the baby sling.
  • Hi-vis Flag
  • Stroller
  • Running kit
  • Bike Kit
  • Other attachments are available see http://www.morrisstanley.com/

Use/Performance

The CX1 has been designed with the busy and active family in mind. Using features such as the “Easy click”, “Easy Fold” and “Click and Store” it offers the ability to switch easily between strolling, running, cycling and back into the car without the use of any tools, screws or bolts and minimal effort.

Stroller Mode

For the initial eight weeks we used the stroller mode only. For a new-born this mode is fantastic as the chariot is fully enclosed, a mesh inner plus clear rain proof outer is fitted to each of the three main panels allowing a great ventilation, while remaining completely enclosed. An additional benefit of this enclosed capsule is that it keeps strangers hands out of the pram and off of the baby. Anybody with a baby knows that this is an issue when going out with a newborn.

There is a decent amount of storage inside with CX1, with a large foot well and two mesh pockets on the inside. On the back of the CX1 is a large collapsible storage bucket as well as full length mesh pocket. With this amount of storage we could store all our “baby” needs in the CX1 and still have some room for shopping.

One of the only disadvantages of using the CX1 as an everyday pram is its wide foot print which, at times, made navigating a busy/small store and unloading repeatedly from a car slightly more challenging than a “run of the mill” strolling pram.

*Once we began running with our baby we purchased a cheap and lightweight stroller for shopping purposes as a convenience*

Running Mode

Our baby was very strong with great head control early on. We added a stock standard horseshoe head support onto the baby sling to ensure no major head movement.

The ride of the CX1 was exceptional to say the least. The baby sling moved with the motion of the pram and coupled with the full suspension (adjusted to your child’s weight) resulted in the CX1 absorbing all the bumps in the road and providing our baby with an uninterrupted and stable ride.

The unique design and high quality components used in the CX1 provides a lightweight, free rolling, low to ground, manoeuvrable running buggy. The CX1 was light to push and provided very little drag, rolling autonomously for a number of seconds, allowing us to maintain good running posture throughout the run. Once correctly set up, the CX1 had excellent front wheel tracking and required minimal steering input to keep it in a straight line. The multi-position handle bars also allow a range of hand positions for various heights both myself (6ft) and my wife (5ft 3in) found comfortable hand positions whilst running without any need for adjustment. The CX1 isn’t just all about the babies, with an optional drink bottle cage attached the CX1 looks after the parents needs as well.

Like anything with a removable front wheel, some time does need to be spent setting up the running kit to obtain the optimal tracking for the front wheel. However a few minutes spent doing this correctly will make the CX1 running experience unbeatable. During our time with the CX1 we have occasionally found the need to adjust the disc braking system to maintain the consistent application of the brakes on both sides. Thankfully there were plenty of YouTube videos covering the process, or alternatively any good bike shop would be able to assist.

The CX1 has allowed us to continue with our running training and racing and to date we have used it in a half marathon, 45km ultra marathon, numerous “Parkruns” and our daily training on flat and rolling hills.

Very easy to switch between running and cycle mode
Very easy to switch between running and cycle mode

Cycling Mode

Yep believe it or not it is a cycle pod as well.

We use this mode almost daily to go to shops, family outings and have even done a small cycle tour around some wineries. In short we love this mode!

Just like the run mode our baby has a comfortable, supported ride and sealed weather system really comes into its own with the faster speeds. The CX1 is easy to tow behind the bike, it features a ball and socket pivot connection which allows a large turning circle and its lightweight and free rolling nature means it’s almost unnoticeable to the rider, expect for on the hills. This CX1 easily attaches to your bike with a specific skewer (supplied) and safety is paramount with two back-up safety straps for extra security and peace of mind.

The best bit of all….interchangeability

All of the kits (bike, stroller and running) are carried on the CX1 when not in use and a quick change between modes is simple and quick. For example you could cycle to a running race, snap off the cycle kit and snap on the running kit in about 40 seconds. Likewise you can run to a destination and change from running mode to stroller in a matter of seconds, all the equipment is at hand intelligently stored on the frame of the CX1.

This snap on/off and stow function allows for even greater flexibility and range of use and even with the kit in stow the CX1 remains light and manoeuvrable.

Durability

We have put the CX1 through it’s paces, on road/off-road, wet, dry, bumpy, road trips and thousands of kilometres run, cycled and strolled. Aside from the above mentioned user servicing the CX1 remains in as new condition. The cover, mesh shades, zippers and Velcro appear to be very durable and robust enough to withstand an active lifestyle. We have had no issues so far with the hardware of the CX1 and don’t anticipate any issues in the near future. Replacement tubes and tyres are of a common size can be sought from your local bike store without the need for special ordering.

Conclusion

The CX1 including cycle kit retails at $1649 + Run Kit $179 and head support $99 so purchasing this is an investment. However it really is a case of “you get what you pay for” as the CX1 operates as three separate child carriers without compromise on design or quality. Individually each of the three modes performs at the top of their respective class’s but it is the interchangeability of the CX1 that has won us over and puts it well above anything on the market today.

Having had the CX1 for 9 months I can honestly say it is worth every cent, it has undoubtedly allowed both myself and my wife to return to competitive running sooner than anticipated, whilst also continuing to support and share our active lifestyles with our new baby.

Keep in mind the CX1 is the top of the range offering from Thule Chariot, there are more affordable options such as the Cougar and Cheetah. Thule Chariot are also about to release a dedicated lightweight running pram, The Glide, which features some of the great technology of the CX1 but at a more affordable price point.

Happy running

Caine Warburton

Ultra-runner/Gear nut/ Dad

Australian Distributer: http://www.morrisstanley.com/

 

Dan

One thought on “Gear Review: Thule Chariot CX1

  1. Thanks for the great review of the Thule Chariot CX1. I totally agree with the review summary.
    We had ours since December 2014 and love it. It did 2 ski seasons and we use it for running and towing behind the bike. It’s allowed us to continue doing the outdoor activities we love with child:)
    We are now selling it to upsize to the CX2 double version, expecting child number 2.
    If anybody in Australia is interested in buying a second hand (purchase December 2014) Thule Chariot CX1 in excellent condition and with the jogging stroller conversion kit and rain cover accessories please contact nicolawunderlich@gmail.com

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