Bugaboo Donkey Twin Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Bugaboo Donkey Twin is a high end, side-by-side stroller good from birth to around 37 pounds per seat. It comes with various seating options and attachments for added comfort or variable use, including: 2 rain covers, a side luggage basket, 2 base bassinet fabrics, 2 base seat fabrics, 2 frames, 2 sun canopy wires, chassis with wheels, 2 bassinet aprons, 2 extendable sun canopies, an air pump, 2 carry handles, and an under seat basket. Seats can be adjusted to face the world, face the user, or face each other. It has a one piece fold with most seats, and is car seat compatible. It offers an adjustable height handle, and the seats can recline or reverse using only one hand, so one hand is free. The largest configuration is still only 5 inches wider than a mono Bugaboo stroller. It comes with 10 and 12 inch rubber air filled tires that are good for multiple types of terrains, has 4 wheels suspension for added ride comfort, and one hand turning for ease of use. Each Bugaboo can be specifically built and ordered from their website or purchased already designed in stores and online.
Ease of Use
The Bugaboo earned a 6 of 10 for ease of use, which was the average score in the metric for the products in our review. While it managed to offer more than the minimal Jeep Wrangler Twin Sport All-Weather, which scored a 2, it failed to match the features offered on the Best Value award winner, Joovy Scooter X2 which earned a 9.Storage
The Donkey has two different storage options with one bin only useable when one seat is missing. This "side basket" fits on the frame next to one seat where the second seat would normally go. This means it can only be used when one passenger is in the Donkey. In addition the bin is situated so that the passenger will be able to reach the contents of the bin, which might be a hassle if the passenger is a curious toddler with wandering hands.
The main storage bin is an under seat style bin that is not as large as it looks. We could just barely squeeze our large diaper bag in, and once in there was little room for much else. Even though it looks nice and open, it is tucked pretty far under the stroller which makes difficult to access and use. It is a medium size basket with access from the front, side, and rear of the stroller.Sun Shade
The Donkey has dual canopies that can move independently so each passenger can experience personalized comfort. The canopies are very large covering most of the seat if desired, stretch tightly and function well. They do not offer any kind of ventilation which might result in a small oven under the hood on really hot days, and there is no peek-a-boo window to spy on little ones, which feels like an oversight given that the canopies are so large you almost can't see children any other way. Whatever we loved about these sun shades, and there is a lot to love, was overshadowed by being unable to see the riders and by the inability to prevent heat buildup under the cover.
The Donkey does not offer any extra conveniences for parents or children. I has a belly bar for the main seating option, but there are no cup holders, parent trays, snack cups, or accessory pocket on this product. You will have to carry all of your easy access items on your person or in the under seat bin. Many of these items are available for purchase in the accessory store on the company website, but given that most of the competition offers something standard, it felt like mistake for a product that costs over $1500 to not include at least one cup holder.
The seat on the Donkey reclines with just one hand using a fancy release latch on the top. The recline is easy to do, but the frame gets in the way somewhat and makes it difficult to lay flat. It does have a fairly flat recline compared to the completion.
While the Bugaboo does offer a leg rest, it is not adjustable and the design feels inherently flawed to a point. It is the longest leg rest in the group, but there is a seam right about where the passenger's legs will rest that might be aggravating or chaffing over time. The foot ledge is pretty small and the foot rest is covered a slick canvas material.
The Donkey actually maneuvered well for a product its size. It earned pretty high marks for pushing and turning on hard surfaces and users felt it was almost as easy to move as the Chariot Cougar 2. It turned well for something its size and did better in the tight course than many of the side-by-side strollers we looked at. Pushing it off the pavement and on to other terrain was also easy, and it did better than most of the competition on the grass and gravel with only a few products pushing easier. The rubber air filled tires that the company claimed are good for various terrain, actually are good. It was easy to push over grass, and only slightly harder over gravel.
The first place this product started to have trouble was going down curbs, once the front went down the rest of the product followed and it toppled over, luckily with no real children on board. It was almost as difficult to get up stairs with its heavy size and flex in the handle and frame, it just isn't the kind of ride you want to take up or down stairs.
BabyGearLab feels safety is important, We consider each individual product for possible safety concerns by taking a keen look at the brakes, harness, and the overall tendency of the product to tip; including the side angle it will tip and the amount of weight hanging off the back before it falls backwards. The Donkey earned a 7 of 10 for safety which was average for the products we reviewed. The highest score earned was an 8, and a few came in under 7 with 6s.Brakes
The donkey is a single action brake pedal system that is relatively easy to set and release. The only trouble you might have is when the handle is fully extended it can be a bit of a reach to get to the pedals, but with some practice it isn't that big of a deal. The brakes have a little bit of play in them once set, more than we would have expected from a product with this price, but there were products that had more play.
The brakes required over 37 pounds of pressure pulling on the handle before the stroller slid back. It only needed about 25 pounds of pressure pushing the handle before it started to move forward despite the brakes being engaged. These results were better than 9 of the 14 products we looked at, giving it a pretty impressive score for the metric.
This product does not have cup holders, so there is no cup holder safety concerns.Harness
The harness on the Donkey is a 5-point harness that has an adjustable crotch strap and shoulder height options. The straps are easy to adjust at all points even with a kid in the seat, and we had no difficulty getting the harness small enough for the stunt baby. This harness is the easiest to adjust in the group we reviewed. The buckle is pretty easy to work, and only a little difficult to release if there is no passenger in the seat.Tipping
The Donkey tipped at the fairly low angle of 30 degrees, which isn't the biggest surprise given the high seats and narrow design. Some of the products we tested did tip and less of an angle, but 8 products could stay upright at a deeper angle. The Cougar did the best in the test by being able to sit at a 45 degree angle without falling over.
For back tipping as a result of weight on the handle bars the Donkey was less impressive. It only needed just over 25 pounds of weight hanging before the entire stroller fell over backwards. All but one product needed more weight before it tipped over. Again, given the top heavy design of this product, this isn't that much of a surprise, but it is a disappointment when many of the products withstood over 50 pounds.
This stroller scored a 7 of 10 for quality, which is just above average, but not on par with products of a similar price. The Chariot earned a 9 of 10 in this metric, which made it the top scorer in this category for the products in this review.
The fabric on the Donkey is a heavy duty canvas type material that seems sturdy, but not as coarse at the Britax B-Ready Double fabric. It is wrapped tightly around the frame and doesn't have any off stitching, loose threads or snags. It doesn't sag where it shouldn't or have a frumpy look like the Combi Twin Cosmo.The frame is plastic and aluminum that looks nice with only a little looseness in the central joint. Overall, it is fairly tight without a lot of flexing, which is surprising given how many connection points there are. The telescoping handle gets more wobbly the further it is extended, but overall it is workable. The frame itself is just really stylish and pretty to look at, you know, for a frame.
The front wheels are 10 inches and the rear are 12. It has pneumatic tires on plastic wheels with all around suspension for a smoother ride. The wheels allow for easier maneuverability on various terrains, and the smooth tread prevents a lot of vibration when in motion. The wheels are sturdy and worked well under pressure.
The handle on the Donkey is adjustable by telescoping in on itself both for height and for width. This allow various height and angle positions for various users. The bar is covered in foam, but the foam does not meet in the middle when the bar is extended to its fullest. This is to allow the handle to move in on itself for a smaller system with one seat and extra storage, but it feels weird when the product is open all the way for two seats, the way we assume most parents will be using it.
Despite having all wheel suspension this stroller seemed stiff and uncomfortable. The seats shake and vibrate over rougher terrain, but the seat padding is thick and fairly firm over a solid seat base. It is hard to say if this stroller is a comfortable ride or not. It has 4 wheels suspension, but users annotated that it did not, so whatever shock absorption it has, doesn't appear to be translating to the end user. The seats have a lot of padding on them compared to the competition, but the fabric is pulled so tightly the overall ride is still stiff. It might be fairest to say that the Donkey has all the right stuff to be a comfortable ride, but perhaps only little passengers and time can tell.
Weight and Folded Size
Weight and Folded Size
This Bugaboo is 41 pounds with the standard seats, and more with two infant carriers. It is the second heaviest product in our review with only the Orbit Baby G3 with Helix Plus Double Upgrade Kit which tipped the scales at over 54 pounds. Even though double strollers tend to be heavier than singles, it still seems almost too heavy. The average weight for the products in our review is closer to 30 pounds with the heaviest award winner being the BoB Revolution Duallie coming in at 33 pounds
When folded the Donkey measures out at 29.5 x 24 x 38, and around 26,900 cubic inches. While not the biggest package in the bunch, it is still kind of unwieldy and not one you will want to lift. If you decide to remove the seats prior to folding or stowing, the new problem will become the multiple parts you now have to move. This is not the best ride for putting in the trunk, or carrying any kind if distance.Ease of Folding
This product has a cumbersome one piece fold that might benefit from removing the seat before folding. Visually it appears to be the largest product, it seems bigger than the Chariot or even the Orbit, even though it's not. It takes more than one hand to fold this product. It takes 5-6 steps depending on how you do it, and it can be awkward to wrestle it into position. It does have an auto-lock feature and a self-standing mechanism, but there is no carry strap which seems to imply they don't want you to carry or lift it. You have to reach around the stroller to close it, which is hard given its girth. The front wheels don't have to be locked like some of the competition, but it folds and stands better if they are, if you locking the wheels that is where the extra step comes in.Commuting
Commuting is not likely going to be something you want to do in the Bugaboo. Sure it looks so good you are going to want to show it off, but if your plan includes any kind of public transportation or car driving adventures, this is not the best product for you. Loading this stroller into a trunk is a pain. It will load with the seats on, but it is easier and lighter without them. But this is going to mean multiple pieces and a few more steps to complete. Something you can't or don't want to do on public transportation.
The only advantage of the Donkey for commuting is the height of the seats. This makes pulling up and eating at a table easier than most of the competition and allows little riders to view more than just whatever is stuck under the table. It is big and it will take up a lot of the space in a café, but at least the passengers should
Ease of Setup
The Donkey arrives much like a box of Legos, with a lot of parts and pretty good directions for putting it all together. The assembly process is quite involved and long, it took us over 42 minutes to put it together and that was just one seat, bassinet, and adapter, not both. The car seat adapter for the Donkey is about the same size as the box it comes in, which made us wonder why it wasn't just put together at the factory before being sent. The documentation comes in 18 different languages presented in the 331 page manual. The whole thing is off putting and daunting until you realize how few of them actually apply. Each language has its own welcome, warning, packing list and table of contents, all about 15 pages a piece, then all the assembly is illustrated in the back of the book. The documents are terrible once you find your starting point, but it feels like it would be better if each language had its own section instead of being lumped together.
There may not be a best application for the Bugaboo Donkey, unless you are just a big Bugaboo fan. It isn't that it doesn't have some high points or that it isn't put together well, it just that whether you plan to use it as a primary stroller or for occasional use, it just won't be able to meet the need well. With a lack of storage and convenience features it will be frustrating to use for longer trips or regular use. With a heavy weight and hard to close body, and a difficult to lift and stow size, it will be difficult to use this as a commuter or travel stroller. So given its inability to work well for either, there may not be a best for this product no matter how well it might have done in some metrics. One older tester (4 years old) said she didn't like the Donkey and that it made her feel "like a baby", and her mother also had doubts about how well this product would work for children over 2 years.
With a price tag around $1700 without a sale, the Donkey is not a good value. If it had scored higher it might be worth the price given the versatility of using it from newborn to 37 pounds. However, many of the products work for children up to 50 pounds, so cheaper better scoring strollers might be viable for longer. Either way, the most expensive award winner, the BoB is almost a third of the price of the Donkey and it scored significantly higher overall and in every metric. Even the award winner for Top Pick for Outdoor, the Chariot earned a better score and costs half as much. There is just no reason to spend this much on a stroller.
It's hard not to be drawn in by the stylish looks of the Donkey, and despite being named after a smelly beast of burden, it really does sort of shine and make you wonder if it would be more fun to use than the competition. However, this product came in 8th place out of 14, and after we pushed all 14 strollers we find it's somewhat forgettable. It is heavy, cumbersome, and lacks all convenience features most parents are looking for. It has poor storage, no cup holders, and no storage trays. Even though it comes with bassinets and seats for toddlers, it still can't justify the price. While it might be a nice looking product, and clearly is of good quality, it just can't beat the competition in tests or in our hearts. The Donkey is not a product we recommend.