The information in this article applies mainly to the Bugaboo Cameleon, though many of the design and repair principles are relevant across the Bugaboo product range and can be applied to the Frog, Gecko, Bee and even the Buffalo and Donkey. If you have any problems with your Bugaboo wheels that are not covered here, feel free to email us via the website.
The design of the Cameleon’s front wheels has changed with the Cameleon three. With the first two models, the shafts connecting the front wheels to the chassis were made of plastic and the tags holding these shafts in place would occasionally break. If you have a Cameleon one or two and want to fix this problem without buying parts, one relatively easy solution is to drill a hole just to the side of the metal bar that is hidden within the plastic shaft and then use a relatively long wood screw and a large washer to hold the wheel tightly in place. Fixing the problem in this manner means that should you need to remove the wheel at some point in the future, you can simply remove the screw. It is also possible to simply replace the damaged shaft by unscrewing the large bolt, holding the shaft from underneath, just above the wheel itself.
A more common problem that can occur with the front wheels of your Bugaboo is that the wheels may become tight and not rotate smoothly. This can be both the result of rusted ball bearings and/or hair that has wound itself around the axle on either side of the wheel. If the latter has occurred, try to cut and burn out the hair before attempting to oil the ball bearings. After oiling the ball bearings, the axle of the front wheel can be removed by carefully prying off the chrome cap on one side of the wheel using a screwdriver and then hammering the axle through the wheel (the cap will be the chrome circle that is larger and more bulbous, the other side being the head of the axle). The axle fits very tightly through the ball bearings and it is unfortunately quite common that the axle may have rusted fast within them. If this is the case, there are rust-freezing aerosol products that may help, though personally I’ve had mixed results with such products.
The opposite can also be true, that the wheel feels loose on the axle and rattles around uncontrollably when you push the stroller. If this is the case for you, it means that the inner ring of the ball bearings has rusted tightly to the axle and the rest of the ball bearing has broken apart; effectively separating the wheel from the axle. This generally occurs when the wheels are already old and the foam is quite worn, and I recommend trying to purchase new wheels. If you want to try and fix wheels with this problem, it is a matter of switching out the ball bearings.
The Cameleon has seen three different models of back wheel: inner tube and tire, foam-filled tire, and hard foam. The first is only found on the Cameleon 1 and as with many other strollers, if you have a flat tire, this can be fixed by patching or switching out the inner tube (see our video here). With the Cameleon 2, Bugaboo switched over to a foam-filled tire design. This is a great concept in my opinion and really seems to last. On occasion the foam can get crushed or damaged inside. If this happens remove the tire, empty the foam and fill the hollow space with an inner tube – problem solved. We have come across hard foam wheels a couple of times in relation to special edition models (though thankfully it looks as though they’ve gone back to the foam filled tire for the Cameleon 3). The problem with hard foam is that it gets ugly quickly; rough roads wear down the tread pattern and pebbles embed themselves in the foam. If you have hard foam wheels and are dissatisfied, you can cut away the foam and replace it with a tire and inner tube, though you may need to drill a hole for the valve.
Steering problems often develop as a result of damaged back wheels. If your stroller seems to steer to one side or produces a rapid clicking sound (in particular while turning sharply), one of your back wheels most likely has either a bent axle or loose ball bearings. The clicking sound is the result of the affected wheel coming into contact with the brakes. The axle can be easily removed by carefully prying off the chrome cap and knocking the axle through the wheel. If either the axle or ball bearings are damaged it will be necessary to replace them.
There is really only one key tip to maintaining your Bugaboo Wheels and that is to clean and oil the ball bearings and axles regularly. A quick spray from a can of WD-40 every couple of months will generally do just fine