I remember the first time I met the Orbit Baby team, in Orlando in 2005, and they showed me a sketch of how their brand new, totally innovative travel system could someday be extended to a double stroller. It was inspiring to imagine a system that was so modular and so flexible. And finally, in the year 2012, that sketch is about to become a reality, as Orbit Baby gears up to release their long-awaited Double Helix.
Over the past several years, Orbit Baby has demonstrated a solid knack for thinking outside the box. It’s in their DNA (see what I did there?). They have the most innovative infant car seat, bar none. They bring a unique combination of parent-fueled practicality and geeky-chic design to every product they make. Orbit Baby is also committed to eco-friendliness to a much greater extent than any other gear company. All their fabrics are Oeko-Tex 100 certified to be free of over 200 potentially harmful chemicals. What’s more, the fabrics on the car seats all meet the most stringent flame retardancy standards without the use of any toxic chemicals. For all of these reasons, Orbit Baby has a loyal fan base, waiting eagerly to see how Orbit would approach a double stroller.
From the beginning, finding a modular solution was really important to the Orbit Baby team: they especially wanted to build something that could be used by people who already had the G2 Stroller. They accomplished that by redesigning the handlebar of the existing stroller frame, and creating attachment points for a second SmartHub on the back of the stroller. The Helix SmartHub Attachment has two swivel wheels, and looks a little like a jumbo-size Kiddy Board. But when you put it together with the Orbit G2 Stroller Frame, you get a stroller with two SmartHub rings (and six wheels!), and a whole lot of options.
Either SmartHub attachment can accept any combination of the following four products: the Orbit Baby Infant Car Seat, the Bassinet Cradle, the Stroller Seat G2, and the Toddler Car Seat (Ed. note: Actually, the Toddler Car Seat can only go into the front SmartHub, not the rear one – so you can’t use two of those at once). And because of that clever, circular SmartHub, all of these can be rotated in any direction, depending on how well the siblings are getting along on any given day. So you can really outfit your stroller for a very wide range of ages and stages.
The Orbit Baby Stroller Frame G2 has a long wheelbase even without the Double Helix attachment, so it’s very long once you add the second seat. But in spite of that, the stroller handles surprisingly well. It pushes smoothly, turns easily, and has a nice smooth ride, thanks to the QuadShock suspension system on all six wheels. It even goes right up on curbs, although getting up and down stairs could be an issue. The 3-position telescoping handlebar is one key to the success of this design, since you can adjust the height and angle to make sure you are a comfortable distance behind all your passengers. The fold requires a couple of steps (the seats and the second-seat attachment both need to be removed prior to folding), but it’s quick and the resulting fold is more compact than most other double strollers.
It wouldn’t be an Orbit Baby stroller if there weren’t some fun parent-perks built in to the design. The ShadePad does double duty, blocking the sun from the passenger directly beneath the handlebar, and providing a handy slot for your tablet computer. There’s a nice console with two cupholders and a smartphone slot. Orbit Baby has also eschewed their CargoPod in this iteration, opting instead for a larger, more traditional under-stroller basket with a convenient front access panel.
If you already own an Orbit Baby Stroller Frame G2, you will want to purchase the Helix Plus Double Stroller Upgrade Kit ($350), which includes the SmartHub attachment, a new stroller basket, the Helix handlebar with two cupholders and a smartphone slot, and the ShadePad tablet pocket, plus all the connectors and tools you’ll need to complete the transformation. But if you are new to the Orbit Baby system, you should get the Orbit Baby Double Helix Stroller Frame ($750), which includes everything listed above, plus a very sleek, black version of the Stroller Frame G2. Both options come with a 2-year Limited Warranty, and neither includes anything for the kids to actually sit on (you’ll need to purchase those separately).