How do you compliment a donkey? "Hey, nice a**!" When Bugaboo announced its first foray into the world of double strollers , the news was met with cheers and a collective sigh of relief from mamas who are already fans of the Dutch company’s popular pushchairs. But when they saw the side-by-side style, when so many other companies are shifting to a rumble seat style , many worried about the unwieldiness of such a large-looking pram.
Well, after spending an afternoon pushing the stroller in its many forms, Bugaboo flew me there to test out the Donkey , I’m here to say that the innovative stroller (it easily converts from a single to a double with three quick clicks) is narrower than it looks, moves just as smoothly as its older siblings, and maintains the company’s signature design features throughout.
Keep reading to see the features of the new Donkey, what I liked best, and how much it will cost you when it makes its debut in April!
Built for growing families, or those with twins, the Donkey is designed to convert from a one-seater (the mono) to a two-seater (the duo) with a frame that has three conversion points that expand it to accommodate two seat combinations.
While Bugaboo’s designers could have chosen the popular rumble seat design, they believe that side-by-side prevents parents from having to choose which child is on top, making both kids equal when out for a stroll. They also could have opted for the front-and-back style, but worried that it would have compromised the stroller’s maneuverability because a larger child in the front makes it harder to steer, and the seats wouldn’t have the full recline option.
In its Mono form, it may look wider than the Cameleon, but the Donkey is actually the same width as the popular stroller (23 inches). Thanks to a tapered handlebar, the pushchairs are the same size at the wheelbase, meaning they will fit through the same doorways and aisles. The frame can fit a car seat, a bassinet (which is slightly narrower than the current one on the Cameleon) or a full seat, in addition to a side luggage basket that is ideal for toting groceries, toys, or snacks.
With three quick clicks, and the removal of the side luggage basket, the Donkey frame expands (to 29-inches, smaller than the standard 32-inch doorway) into the Duo, making room for a second car seat, bassinet, or seat to be added to the stroller. Seats can all fully recline and face forward or back – just like Bugaboo's Frog and Cameleon strollers.
The company has returned air-filled tires for the Donkey, a departure from the foam-filled version on the Cameleon. The 10-inch front wheels and 12-inch rear wheels (both incorporating an anti-puncture layer) use the air to create the stroller's suspension, which was found to be more comfortable for tots.
Though Bugaboo has steered away from the foot brake on previous strollers (they feared flip-flop wearing mamas would have trouble using it), they've incorporated it into the Donkey to maintain the pushchair's sleek look. It is placed on the back, left wheel because men tend to walk off to that side.
As Bugaboo-pushing parents know, the two-handed, button pushing reclining process on the Frog and the Cameleon can be cumbersome. The Donkey features one-handed, seat-back recline, meaning sleeping kids will remain so, and mama doesn't have to struggle with the seat. It will also include a more easily adjustable harness for growing kids.
Made for use on hard surfaces (streets, floors, etc.) as well as soft (snow, sand, etc.), the stroller easily converts to a two-wheeled position for better control.
So how'd it ride? Really, really smoothly. I took it out on the busy, bumpy streets of Amsterdam and maneuvered the Donkey (including a 30-pound sandbag to simulate a child's weight and groceries) around town. In both the Mono and Duo configurations, it was easily steered with one hand, and never felt unstable. It smoothly handed steps and uneven pavement, and though in the Mono position it did pull a bit to the left (the side carrying the mock child), it did not require much effort to correct its course.
The conversion from the Mono to the Duo positions is very intuitive and can be completed in under 30 seconds (though a seasoned Bugaboo employee did the expansion for me). As a Frog owner, I was also impressed with the stroller's one-piece-fold capability. The ability to close it, without removing the seats saves mamas a ton of hassle, as well as space.
What I'd Fix
In true Bugaboo form, the Donkey is sleek and sturdy. Though easy to maneuver, it is cumbersome on steps, though most double strollers tend to be so.
More importantly, it's costly. When Bugaboo first entered the stroller market, it set the standard for luxury stroller prices. The Donkey will be no different. For the Mono configuration (the base and one seat set) it will run $1200, the Duo (the base, one seat set and one extension set) $1500, and the Twin (the base, two seat sets and one extension set) $1660. And for families that start with the Mono and then have another child, an extension kit can be purchased for $300.
Is it worth the price? It really is one of the most innovative strollers I have ever seen. The fact that Bugaboo hasn't lost any of its signature characteristics will make it a must have on many mama-to-be's registries. My best advice – ask your friends (a lot of them!) to get together and buy it for you. You'll certainly use it more than many other items on your list!