Arguably the most versatile -- and the most expensive -- stroller around, the Bugaboo Donkey converts from a single to a double, but keeps its great maneuverability even with two passengers. As a single stroller it is known as the Mono, but it can be used for two children in Duo or Twin (*Est. $1,700) mode with a combination of seats or bassinets. Add adapters to transform the Donkey into a travel system for two. However, the Donkey is awkward to handle when folded.
All the best features are here. The Bugaboo Donkey sits on a stable four-wheel base. The front swivel wheels lock in the forward-facing position, and the rear wheels have a foot-operated linked brake pedal. The modular seat is equipped with a padded five-point harness that you can adjust in height from the front for a secure fit. There is a removable bumper bar for protection in the event of a tipover. Reviewers say the buckles are easy for parents and hard for children to undo. Finally, when you fold the Donkey a self-catching fold lock prevents it from opening accidentally.
In December 2012, Bugaboo announced that it is providing its customers with new and improved carry handles for the Bugaboo Cameleon and Bugaboo Donkey free of charge. In January 2013 this became an official recall, with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issuing a recall for 46,300 strollers in the U.S. and 4,440 in Canada. No injuries have been reported. The new Bugaboo Cameleon carry handle is available now; the new carry handle for the Bugaboo Donkey will be available at the beginning of February 2013. The white button on the current carry handle may pop out when the Bugaboo Cameleon or Bugaboo Donkey bassinet/pram body is on the ground or on an unstable surface, which may cause the handle to detach on one side. More information is available on the CPSC website.
Top scores on maneuverability. Parents and reviewers say that the Bugaboo Donkey steers well -- even one-handed -- on rough terrain. Product testers say this is a true all-terrain stroller that tackles obstacles such as curbs, stairs or rough or uneven ground with ease. The Donkey can even be placed in two-wheel mode, which allows you to pull it through snow, sand and other mushy surfaces. There is an easy-to-use, height-adjustable, telescoping handle that makes pushing comfortable for tall and short parents and that prevents parents from kicking the rear wheels.
Measuring 23 inches wide in single mode and 29 inches wide in dual mode, this is one of the narrowest side-by-side stroller options available -- great for getting through doorways and store aisles. However, it weighs in at 29 pounds in single mode and 35 pounds in dual mode, and many parents find it heavy on stairs and difficult on escalators. Users say that despite its overall maneuverability it is not a good stroller for public transportation. The Donkey can fold with the seats attached, but the fold is bulky at best. The seats and wheels can be removed to reduce the size, but many find this to be an added hassle because there are then multiple parts to carry and stow.
The Donkey converts from single to dual modes quickly and easily by releasing three locks on the frame and pulling it apart to accommodate side-by-side seating. The seats can easily be faced toward the front or rear. The seat's bumper bars can be used as handles, allowing you to change the seat position or carry the seat with the baby in it. Seat covers are machine washable, and the frame can be wiped clean. Because the wheels are air filled, they will require a little extra maintenance.
Built to grow with your family. With a chassis that expands to accommodate one or two seats, the Bugaboo Donkey offers more seating options than just about any other stroller. Designed for one, the \"Mono\" includes an infant/toddler seat that converts into a bassinet and an up-top, snap-in storage basket in place of a second seat. Designed for a baby and a toddler, the \"Duo\" includes the infant/toddler seat and a child seat that doesn't convert into a bassinet. Designed for twins, "Twin" (*Est. $1,700) includes two infant/toddler seats that convert into bassinets for two newborn babies.
In all configurations, the Donkey has a large under seat storage basket. All iterations of the stroller include full coverage canopies, rain shields with ventilation, and bumper bars that second as bassinet carry handles. The Donkey seats can be faced forwards or backwards independently-enabling one child to face front while the other faces the parent. Adapters are available to convert the Donkey into a travel system with one or two infant car seats with options for Graco, Maxi-Cosi, Chicco, and Britax infant car seats. If you already have the "Mono" Donkey, a Duo extension kit is available to accommodate a second child (*Est. $245).
The Donkey seat is rated for newborns up to children weighing 37.5 pounds. There is an adjustable footrest as well as a two-position recline in the forward facing position, and three-position recline that goes all the way flat in the rear facing position. The sun canopy provides full coverage all the way to the bumper bar, but there isn't a peekaboo window. Optional accessories include cup holders, a snack tray, a gear organizer, a foot board for older toddlers to ride on, foot muffs, seat liners, a parasol, and a breezy sun canopy.
Two-year worldwide warranty. The Bugaboo website is easy to navigate and information regarding care and maintenance is easy to find. The Bugaboo Donkey comes with a two-year worldwide warranty.
1. Which? magazine
Review Credibility: Excellent The U.K.'s Which? magazine -- similar to ConsumerReports.org -- is an excellent review publication, which at times is even more comprehensive than ConsumerReports.org. They provide in-depth coverage of the Bugaboo Donkey that includes product testing by parents and experts.
Review: Bugaboo Previews New Pushchair, Editors of Which? , Oct. 26, 2011
Review Credibility: Excellent Editors of iVillage.com give the Bugaboo Donkey Duo 4 out of 5 stars, while parent reviewers give it 3 stars. Experts like that the stroller expands from a single to a double with a few simple clicks, and think the twin model is great when you're bringing home two babies (it has two bassinets). They feel it's a versatile pick for a growing family, but do acknowledge its hefty price. Parent testers praise the comfort, adjustable handle and reversible seats/bassinets. But they say folding the stroller is difficult, and that it is too wide for maneuvering through doors and store aisles.
Review: We Love, You Need: The Best Double Strollers of 2012, Kate Bayless, June 14, 2012
3. Baby Bargains
Review Credibility: Excellent These online stroller reviews are additional materials to supplement Chapter 9 of the 2011 edition of the book "Baby Bargains," written by consumer advocates Denise and Alan Fields. The authors provide ratings for overall brands and for individual models. Available to subscribers only, the bonus materials include a section on the Bugaboo brand as well as a discussion of several Bugaboo strollers, including the Donkey.
Review: Bonus Material: Extra and Archived Stroller Reviews, Denise and Alan Fields, Not Dated
Review Credibility: Very Good In a highly favorable review, Hollie Schultz says that the Bugaboo Donkey delivers on luxury features, ease of use, flexibility and comfort for children of mixed ages. With her only complaint being the stroller's bulky fold, Schultz describes the Donkey as an excellent all-terrain stroller with great storage, safety and comfort features.
Review: Baby Gizmo Bugaboo Donkey Stroller Video Review, Hollie Schultz, April 14, 2011
Review Credibility: Very Good Heather Corley's review of the Bugaboo Donkey is largely favorable. She says that this highly anticipated and sought-after stroller meets expectations in most regards. She also says that the Donkey is unique in its versatility. She does have minor complaints about the stroller's heavier weight, bulky fold and brake system.
Review: Bugaboo Donkey Stroller Review, Heather Corley, Not Dated
Review Credibility: Very Good The Bugaboo Donkey receives an average rating of 3 out of 5 stars, based on more than 15 reviews. Most positive reviews say that this is an excellent side-by-side stroller that fits through doorways well. Parents comment on its bulk and weight, though the majority finds this acceptable given the stroller's overall capabilities. Parents also say that it is a good resale value. However, there are isolated complaints about poor customer service, a report of a dangerous tipover and an air loss or puncture issue with the wheels.
Review: Bugaboo Donkey, Contributors to MumsNet.com, As of January 2013
Review Credibility: Very Good Farhad Manjoo pits five high-end strollers, including the Bugaboo Donkey, against each other. Strollers are compared on the basis of ride, flexibility, storage space, amenities, lifespan and style, with points allotted in each category. Coming in third, the Donkey gets high marks for ride, storage space and lifespan, with points detracted for its bulk and heft.
Review: Which Bank-Breaking Stroller Is Best?, Farhad Manjoo, June 17, 2011
Review Credibility: Good The Bugaboo Donkey receives a rating of 8 out of 10 points from reviewer Mathew Honan (or "Excellent, with room to kvetch"). Describing the Donkey as "a real-life Transformer," Honan says the stroller will elicit more comments and excitement at the park than the children themselves. He describes the Donkey as "amazingly svelte" even in dual mode, and easy to convert. However, he notes the stroller's bulk as a downside.
Review: Bugaboo Donkey Is the Optimus Prime of Children's Strollers, Mathew Honan, April 21, 2011
9. People.com Moms & Babies Celebrity Baby Blog
Review Credibility: Good This rave review has few complaints beyond the high price tag for the Bugaboo Donkey. Phoenix says the stroller delivers on flexibility with all its varied seating options. She also likes the extra storage space. She describes the famed Bugaboo smooth ride as well exhibited in this double stroller.
Review: Review: Bugaboo Donkey Stroller, Stephanie Phoenix, June 1, 2011
Review Credibility: Good The Bugaboo Donkey makes this roundabout list of the nine best double strollers from About.com pregnancy and childbirth guide Robin Elise Weiss. She describes the Donkey's flexible features as "amazing," and praises the other top Bugaboo advantages of great fabrics, great turning and ease of use. The review is brief and highlights only a few features.
Review: Top 9 Double Strollers for Two Children, Babies or Twins, Robin Elise Weiss, Not Dated
Review Credibility: Good The Bugaboo Donkey is included in this roundup of 15 notable strollers. The brief review states that the most amazing thing about the Donkey is its ability to transform from single to double in an instant. There is no mention of testing, and the review is not comparative.
Review: 15 Strollers, Jessica Hartshorn, Not Dated