Phil & Ted’s Sub-4 High Performance Running Stroller: Initial Impressions

This recap was submitted by guest community blogger Eric Barten. Feel free to Submit a Guest Post in the “Contact Us” tab if you want to get involved.

When my wife informed me of the awesome news that we were going to be testing a new running stroller, I was pretty stoked. Then she gave me the choices: we could select the Mountain Buggy Terrain or the Phil & Ted’s Sub 4.

For me, there was absolutely no question which one we should select. We already have a Mountain Buggy and it’s a great stroller. It’s like an SUV, you throw the kid in the seat, grab 3 books, a tablet, 2 stuffed animals, some snacks for the little one (or yourself), and a water bottle to put in the cup holder and you are ready to go. The Sub 4 is more like a sports car. It’s sleek, light weight, has absolutely no trunk space, and for most people is totally impractical – and an investment, at $899. I was frothing at the mouth just looking at it online.

I may earn the award for worst father of the year by admitting that I haven’t enjoyed running with my daughter so far. It’s nothing against her. I just don’t enjoy running 2 minutes/mile slower than my usual training pace and pushing a bulky stroller which is loaded up like a pack mule. So, the idea of getting a stroller that will allow me to actually run at a decent pace, without putting all my effort into pushing, exactly what I wanted. Even if it meant losing some of the perks like storage and the maneuverability of a turning front wheel.

So, the box with our stroller arrived via US Mail and it was HUGE. I opened the box and there was the stroller, all black and shiny. It even had that new stroller smell. Immediately, I took everything out of the box and started putting it together. The assembly was easier than expected. Snap the tires into place, clip the seat on, boom, it’s ready to run. Oh, maybe you should add some air to the tires too.

I loaded up the daughter and set out for our first test run. I’d already gotten my run in for the day so this was just going to be a 1 mile jaunt to see how the stroller behaves when out on the open road. Eliza got loaded up – she’s two and a half and a light 27 lbs, but it was easy for her to climb in after my wife (the safety nerd) checked that the brake was on. I strapped her into the 3 point harness and warned her of the high speeds she was about to endure. I gave her a small book and a few stickers and we’re off.

The first thing I noticed was that this thing really was easy to push. With absolutely no mathematical calculations (and a little bit of BS), I guarantee that it takes 50% less force to push this stroller than our other one. The second thing that I noticed is that the rear wheel was squeaking. It seemed that there was one spot where I hadn’t gotten the alignment right, and the wheel was rubbing on the disk brake, giving off a nice annoying squeak.

I also noticed that the fixed wheel takes some getting used to. In order to go around a corner, you need to push slightly down on the handle so the front wheel comes off the ground so it will turn. Finally, I noticed that it pulled slightly to the right, and with the fixed front wheel, this is really something that I needed to adjust before our next run. Otherwise, I would spend the entire run lifting the front tire off the ground and turning it slightly only to correct it again a few seconds later.

Despite these two correctable (I hope I can fix them easily, anyway) mechanical issues, this was a really enjoyable run with the stroller. The suspension is amazing and it absorbed every bump I came across. Also, the disk brakes mentioned earlier are awesome. I’m not sure that the two-year-old enjoyed this run any more than her other stroller but she did spend a nice portion of the run taunting me by yelling “Faster, Daddy!” Overall, I think this will be my official go-to stroller when I go out for a run with the little one, but I may need to rig up a way to carry a few toys to keep the little one entertained.

Eric Barten has the “good fortune” to be married to Run Oregon founder Kelly Barten. He has run a number of sub-3 marathons with a PR of 2:49, hence the excitement over a racing stroller.

About Author

We started the Run Oregon blog in February 2007, because felt like running in Oregon and SW Washington deserved more positive coverage. We also wanted to level the playing field so that small, non-profit races could compete with big events; and to support local race organizers.

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