Just when I think I've heard every $900 stroller angle there is, a DT reader who asked to remain anonymous emailed--maybe "e-gloated" is the better word--about how much money he saved buying a Bugaboo a la carte. Is this for real? Is it possible? Can you really "build your own Bugaboo Cameleon" by ordering only the parts you want? The answer appears to be yes. Is there a catch or a downside? The answer appears to be, "I can't say. Can you?"
How It Works:
At least one online retailer, CSN Baby, offers to help you "Build your own Bugaboo" out of it's complete selection of replacement parts. [Complete for the Cameleon and the Gecko, that is. For some reason, there Frog parts list is much shorter.]
It's really not magic; you could just buy only the parts and accessories you want and skip those you don't. Less stroller for less money, no problem.
But there's also an arbitrage opportunity here: it looks like the parts for a Bugaboo Cameleon cost less than the stroller itself. [updated again: no there isn't.]
How Much It Costs
If you ordered every part and accessory separately that comes with a new $899 Cameleon--from all four wheels to the seat fabric to the air pump--it'd run you about
$950. Silly. just $817, Amazing. $950. Silly. [I redid the math when I saw the wheels are included with the chassis, and then I redid the math again when Mike corrected me; the wheels are separate after all. The original tipster actually lists the price paid for "wheels and chassis" as $431.]
If you live in the desert, and know you won't need the rain cover, or if you hate the underseat storage bag and know you'll never use it, ordering parts a la carte can shave from $10-35 for each accessory left behind.
The real opportunity seems to be for folks who know they won't need the bassinet assembly. The Cameleon bassinet fabric, mattress, supports, and other pieces part out at $125 [The Gecko bassinet is available as a set for $90.] Skip a fleece seat cover here, a mosquito net there, and soon you're talking real money. Replicating our Cameleon as we actually use it, with no bag, covers, or seat fleece, would take about $725, $175 less than the original price.
The Gecko Gap is small, but real. A complete set of Gecko parts prices out at $664.75, a measly $14 less than the stroller. At $310, the Gecko chassis looks like it costs $10 more than the Cameleon's. [What, a regular Joe can't get a break against those Fat Cats, even in the high end stroller market?] But that price actually includes all four tires. Also, CSN uses a picture of the Cameleon chassis on the Gecko chassis page. Confused yet? Unfortunately, the easiest way to remember it is to forget it: no one buys the Gecko. [Which is too bad; I'm really liking its minimalist, functional aesthetic more and more these days.]
Is It Worth It?
The quick answer seemed to be, "Duhyeah," until I got the numbers fixed. I don't know--and so far, neither does the reader who just got it-- if it's a hassle not having something you turn out to need later.
The big question, though, is about warranty and service. How does Bugaboo treat a bunch of parts that just happens to have been assembled into a complete stroller? Are there other retailers, online or off, who do this? If anyone has some experience or perspective on this move, I'd be interested to hear it.
"Want to build your own Bugaboo Cameleon?" [csnbaby.com via anon]