Anyone who’s owned a 3-wheeled stroller such as the Baby Jogger City Mini knows how well the thing rolls over potholes and cracks. And when it comes to agility, this three-wheeler turns on a dime. So, why would anyone want to buy a 4-wheel stroller such as the Baby Jogger City Select when it’s less maneuverable than its 3-wheeled sibling? This 3 wheel vs 4 wheel stroller comparison post strives to answer the question: what stroller type would align more with my lifestyle and budget?
Related: How to Buy a Stroller
This post’s aim isn’t to pit these two Baby Joggers against each other. Rather, it highlights the pros and cons of a 3-wheel stroller vs. a 4-wheel stroller so you can have an easier time deciding which option would be the better choice for you and your tot.
I organized the differences and similarities between 3-wheeled baby strollers and their 4-wheel counterparts to make this baby gear selection resource easier to access.
Head to the table of contents and click on any comparison aspect that might interest you to find the information you seek fast and effortlessly.
Note: I use the words pram, pushchair, stroller, buggy to describe the same thing. They’re not one and the same thing, but let’s keep things that way to avoid confusion.
7 Comparison Points between 3 Wheels vs. 4 Wheelers
- Maneuverability and wheel range of motion
- Wheel Motion
- Features and price
- Weight and compactness
- Availability and popularity
Let’s start at the start
What’s a 3-Wheel Baby Stroller?
You knew this, but I’ll still say it. A 3-wheel stroller features three wheels, one reasonably large one at the front balanced by two larger ones at the back. It looks like the image below. Many jogging strollers and all-terrain strollers usually have three wheels. But are three wheels better than 4? I’ll answer that in a short while.
What’s a 4-Wheeled Stroller?
A four-wheeled baby stroller is pretty much the traditional or conventional stroller. But considering how speedily parents’ tastes and preferences have been evolving, the three-wheeled option might soon dethrone its 4-wheeled rival as far as popularity. But why is an expanding community of loving parents moving away from the traditional 4-wheel design to the 3-wheel stroller design?
Pros and Cons of a 3 Wheeled vs a 4 Wheel Stroller
Below is a quick list of what makes each stroller type great and what’s not so great about each type.
7 Pros of 4 Wheel Baby Strollers
- A 4 wheeled stroller offers better stability than a 3 wheeled one.
- Strollers with 4 wheels tend to cost less compared to their less stable counterparts.
- Options having four wheels are more available in general, which means it might be easier to find a 4-wheeled used stroller.
- These strollers tend to look nicer, but that’s not to say three-wheelers are ugly.
- Lighter in weight in comparison with three-wheelers.
- Generally, four-wheel strollers offer babies and toddlers more extra features compared to 3 wheelers.
- They offer a vast variety of options, and it’s pretty to find a newborn-friendly 4-wheeled stroller.
3 Cons of Four Wheel Strollers
- Not good or safe for jogging with a baby.
- Harder to steer, which means they’re not great at navigating tight spaces.
- Have smaller wheels; not as good at gliding over big cracks and potholes as are 3 wheelers.
6 Advantages of 3 Wheel Strollers
- Three-wheelers are easier to maneuver vs. 4 wheelers.
- Bigger wheels that roll over obstacles easier.
- Easier to steer because the front wheel swivels.
- Front-wheel swivels in most options.
- The front wheel is quickly and easily detached from the stroller in most of these strollers.
- Great for jogging and off-road strolls.
6 Disadvantages of 3 Wheelers
- Less stable compared to 4 wheels. It’s considerably easier for a 3-wheeled stroller to tip over even with baby seating in.
- Generally pricier than four-wheelers.
- Fewer features in general
- Most are heavy and bulky, and storing them in the trunk can be a real challenge. Not ideal for parents who move around a lot.
- Not safe for newborns and babies aged below 6 months.
- Some don’t look too good, but they do the job, which is what matters more. Plus, aren’t looks a subjective idea?
Let’s now take a closer look and see how each stroller type stacks against its competitor.
Have you ever asked yourself why 4-legged chairs are more common than 2-legged, 3-legged, or even 5-legged chairs? The physics of the stability of objects explains it all.
John Rennie explained at Stackexchange/Physics clearly explained why 4-legged chairs are more common than 1-legged, 2-legged, 3-legged, and even 5-legged chairs. He used the digrams below to demonstrate why chairs that stand on 4 legs are more stable compared to other leg numbers.
Image Source: John Rennie, Physics Stackexchange.com.
Rennie showed that if with a 3-legged chair, you would only lean half as far as you would on a 4-legged chair. The assumption here is that the legs are spaced at the same distance on the two chairs.
Here’s a really profound statement Rennie further made. For a 3-legged chair to have the same amount of stability as a 4-legged one, you’d have to space the legs 3.5 times the leg-leg distance the 4-legged chair has. A 3-legged chair that stable would have to be too big, which is exactly why we see fewer of them around.
The exact same reasoning can be used to explain why 3-wheel strollers are less stable vs. 4 wheeled strollers. Is it surprising at all that 3 wheelers are typically bigger than 4 wheelers?
Do you now see why three-wheel strollers’ tip-over accidents are more likely than 4-wheel strollers’ tip-over mishaps?
Whether you’re pushing a more stable or a less stable stroller, be sure to secure your baby using a 5-harness safety harness. Tip-over accidents can be scary, and they’re not rare.
A four-wheel stroller represents even weight distribution and a super stable center of gravity. Not suggesting that three-wheelers are unsafe, though.
So, Are 3-Wheel Strollers Unsafe?
No, most three-wheel strollers these days are super stable. Because stroller manufacturers are doing whatever it takes to improve their overall stability. For example, the manufacturer might lower the stroller’s seat a bit to shift the center of gravity down, increasing stroller stability.
When buying a jogging stroller, choose an option that has your baby seating pretty close to the ground.
Stroller Features and Price
The number of extra features a stroller offers generally depends on its price. Most pricey strollers that don’t offer as many features as the price point otherwise suggests tend to be three-wheelers.
While 4-wheeled options are cheaper in general, they tend to offer more features. With a 4-wheeler, you’re more likely to get a storage basket, canopy extensions, cup holders, and more.
That’s another reason many moms and dads love them. Because who doesn’t like getting more for less?
Stroller Maneuverability and Wheel Range of Motion
Even though 3 wheelers tend to be heavier and bulkier than their lighter 4-wheel counterparts, they’re noticeably easier to maneuver. When strolling across town with your baby, you’ll love how comparably easier they’re to maneuver through tighter spaces and corners.
But why do they turn easier than 4 wheelers? Three-wheelers have their swivel-enabled front wheel to thank for their better handling. In most cases, you can lock the front wheel so that it faces straight ahead when you’re jogging at speed especially over bumpy trails.
Once you get out of the woods, literally, you can switch back to the swivel position for easier maneuverability when gliding over smoother surfaces.
360-degree Wheel Movement
With three-wheelers, the front wheel moves in all directions, offering you a 360-degree range of motion. When shopping around the mall, you won’t struggle to negotiate corners. Nor do you need tons of core strength to instantly steer your stroller away from some tike who jumps into your way out of nowhere.
So 4 Wheel Strollers Are Hard to Maneuver?
Not necessarily. Some 4-wheeled strollers these days come with 2 front wheels spaced close to each other. If these two front wheels swivel (most do), steering this kind of stroller because much less of a hassle compared to fixed-front-wheel options.
If you’re an active parent who likes running or hiking up hills and going down steep slopes, it’s best to go with a stroller that handles with ease. Small wonder the vast majority of joggers have three wheels instead of four.
Stroller Weight and Compactness
Most joggers and all-terrain strollers are heavier compared to most traditional 4-wheeled options. That’s mostly because the wheels are larger and the contraption itself is bigger and bulkier.
If your lifestyle has you getting in and out of cars, getting on the subway, using cabs, and climbing staircases the entire week, choose a lightweight stroller. Pick a lightweight 4-wheeled choice whose design folds small, one that easily fits in the car trunk. That lightweight stroller is less often a 3 wheeler.
To fit many joggers and all-terrain strollers in your car’s trunk, you need to detach the front wheel if it’s detachable. You want to choose a 3-wheel with a front wheel that’s easy to take off and put back on for easy storage in the car trunk.
Stroller Availability and Popularity
As stated and explained above, 4 wheel strollers are more common everywhere compared to three-wheel options. They’re easier to find when shopping for a new stroller, a used stroller, or a replacement.
But with more and more people joining the fitness world and three-wheelers being easier to handle than 4-wheelers, will the dominance of the wheeler endure? Time will tell.
As things stand, though, strollers with four wheels are available in a wide variety of designs that represent an ocean of value at price points that exclude no one.
From big stroller brands such as UPPAbaby, Chicco, Thule, Bugaboo, and Graco to the multitudes of small little-known brands seen everywhere on the web, everyone carries strollers with four wheels.
Everyone can find a 4-wheel stroller they’ll like without jumping through too many hoops.
The Looks Department
OK, this is just my opinion, and I don’t expect you or anyone else to agree with me. But it seems to me that strollers with 4 wheels tend to be easier on the eye. If aesthetics is supremely important to you when buying essential things such as baby strollers, you’re more likely t0 prefer a 4-wheel choice.
When you couple good the good looks of a 4 wheeler with greater variety, attractive pricing, compact design, and stability/safety, they start looking like the overall winner for everywhere here.
However, every parent’s situation is different, and there’s a reason many people today favor three-wheeled options over 4-wheeled prams.
Strollers With 3 Wheels vs. Strollers With 4: Final Thoughts
Neither stroller type wins in all comparison aspects. Each wins in some departments and limps a little in others. If you’re a new mom or dad and can’t decide what kind of pram or pushchair to buy at the moment, go with a low-priced 4-wheeled option.
Pick a product that offers your baby a slew of useful features for the money versus competing comparable choices that offer fewer features wise at the same price point.
You can always get a jogging stroller later once you’re 100% sure that’s something you really need.
I'm Esther Moni, a proud stay-at-home mom and a psychology graduate of the United States International University (USIU) . I hate it when anyone calls me a housewife, because what does housewife even mean? Being a mother of two babies and a pup, Bailey, as well as being Ricky's wife tires me to no end, but I still manage a smile at the end of it all. And when my boys aren't done doing mischief, I juggle writing a post on parenting or baby gear performance for this blog and running my little counselling office based out in Nairobi. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/esther.moni/">Visit my Facebook profile here</a>, and this is my <a href="https://ke.linkedin.com/in/esther-moni-3841b573/">LinkedIn profile</a>, and here's my <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKcVb3NNDrURDH8C0KiAE1g/">nascent youtube channel.