23 November, 2021
This isn’t just any running buggy, it’s like a swiss army knife of running buggies. Run, push, pull, cycle even cross country skiing if you want to, the Cybex Zeno running buggy seems to do it all.
I remember seeing this buggy when it first came out and myself and my buggy running cohort of pals were pretty excited to see innovation in this side of the running world.
Buggy running has exploded in popularity over the last few years, perhaps the lockdown helped encourage that with more people taking up the healthy active lifestyle with their little ones, but buggies broadly speaking, have remained the same.
Of course, there’s change in shapes, some weight lost here and there, some faster hubs and wheels… but the Cybex Zeno looked to revolutionise buggy running completely.
I’ve been buggy running for about six years or so now and have had everything from buggies that shouldn’t be buggy run in, double buggies when two of mine were small enough, through to my buggy running workhorse the Out and About Nipper Sport v4 as well as buggies that doubled as bike trailers, but we haven’t yet towed the kids behind us when running…this was new!
It was going to be hard to shift my attention away from the buggy that has got us through so many miles of road and trail running.
I am very used to having my babygurl in front of me as I run, used to having one arm always firmly fixed to the buggies handle as we push along the seafront or over the South Downs, our regular trail running playground. I’m very used to her being in front of me as we chat away the miles.
To begin with, she wasn’t quite sure of being towed, so we went on a few runs in push mode.
I can confirm, she was more than happy to be snug on the inside of her new carriage, gently bobbing away and for me, it pushed like a dream. The big wheels and soft suspension meant it was smooth to push across the seafront and it felt we could really get some speed up on this soon.
My only real issue here was that when in her Nipper Sport v4 (for comparison), it’s fairly open to the elements so that we could chat away the hours when we would run or walk our routes where in the Cybex, I’d have to stop regularly to bend down and chat about “that seagull” that just flew past us.
It felt weird. Good, but a bit weird. Weird because I could swing both my arms again like a “normal” runner again!
Setting up for the first time (after reading the instructions again!) was actually very easy. A couple of quick release style triggers, the buggy position changed, and we affixed the harness and much like the horses that lead Alexander the Great, we were off. You can’t help but not gallop on the first try, it’s just fun to do, but once we were over the novelty factor we got into a rhythm and found it strangely satisfying.
I could run with my arms again!
A lot of buggy runners suffer with buggy shoulder which occurs when they don’t switch their arms enough pushing (and it can stretch beyond just shoulder issues!), and this seemed a step in the right direction to solving those issues.
You would have thought the weight above your hips would be too heavy to pull, but the ergonomics of the design put paid to that, with it feeling nice and light and super responsive on our run.
It takes a little getting used to for things like turning, but nothing like a few slow practice runs to remind yourself that you need to give yourself a slightly wider berth when turning. Once we had a nice slow jog around the parkrun path getting used to it, we set off with a little more speed.
Acknowledging a few weird looks, a number of funny smiles and lots of giggling from our co-pilots as we pulled them around the park, this was fantastic. The ride for babygurl was smooth, the run for me was easy. We could get used to this.
The difference between cycling and running in that cycling and pulling a trailer is fairly smooth, but wehn running you have a bounce to your step and I was concerned about this bounce and how much it would shake the buggy. I'm not sure I would put my six month old in to be pulled for the first time (nor would I recommedn that) but I thin once they're a little older and a bit stronger, it didn't seem to shake much at all with the suspension riding smooth throughout our runs.
The negatives of pulling… there’s not much here to report to be honest. The only concern I really have is running in crowded spaces for example a busy parkrun. With a push buggy, once you run by someone they can just drop in behind you if they so wish. With the Cybex, you have to be conscious that you need to give people a wider birth so they don’t drop in shoulder to shoulder with you and then you take them out with the back wheels. It just takes a little bit of getting used to and you need to ensure you give other users space.
The Zeno definitely suits a more lightweight and streamlined run and perhaps encourages us to take less with us when we run. I can easily carry all we need - water, snacks, a change of clothes for babygurl, even a toy or two. The difficulty comes with the changeable weather we’ve got here in the UK and if we need to remove layers of jackets and hats when the sun finally shines. Without the undercarriage from buggies like the Nipper Sport, the only place for extra layers to go is within the buggy itself which, if you add a winter coat or two, can get a little crowded for the co-pilot. It’s not the end of the world, especially if you’re doing shortish runs or when you have consistent weather but when you’re going a bit longer and need a few more accessories to keep them warm and entertained, you just need to plan a little better.
The shape automatically had a few of us thinking that it might act a little like a shipping container being pushed through a wind tunnel when the stormy coastal conditions pick up. But the light, responsive build of the buggy made up for that and in fact, it’s shape and cover meant she was more protected from the elements than before and she was actually pretty cozy inside, even when the temperatures dropped a bit too. We entered a 10-mile cross country race (60% trail, 40% road) race and the wind picked up over 25mph… though tough to run in (even without a buggy!) it kept her snug and the aerodynamics helped us through. The rain cover when in use, fits in seconds and kept her dry. Happy days.
One of the big considerations when purchasing your buggy is, what’s it like in storage. Will it fit into the boot of your micro car? Will it sit nicely in your flat?
I’ve got a van which can easily carry all of our toys to and from our adventures, but conscious that some of my friends are in cars much smaller, we whipped the wheels off, flattened the carriage, pushing arm turned in and got it as flat as can be. For comparison, it was marginally bigger in overall space than the Nipper Sport v4 folded, the only difference being as you can’t completely flatten the canopy of the carriage, it took up a little more room – but isn’t something I’d be overly worried about unless you live in a square foot house.
If you want a multitool of light weight running buggies that can be used running, on you rbike, or even on skis (I’d love to try that), this is a great buggy for you. I personally favour trail over road running so would love to see a more suitable version for the offroad runner in me, though the suspension on the Zeno gave her a smooth ride.
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