Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Bugaboo Donkey Review

Following on from my post Do I need a double pushchair for a toddler and a newborn? I'm going to share my thoughts and feelings on the Bugaboo Donkey, which was our choice of pushchair for a newborn and a toddler. 

What were we looking for in a double pushchair?

First up, here's a quick reminder of what we identified as our top priorities for a double buggy. 
  1. It has to have a proper carry cot for a newborn. A reclined toddler seat with straps is not an option. Neither is a soft, cocoon type carry cot. We want something that a baby could sleep in comfortably during the day for long periods of time, and even be used as a carry cot for an overnight sleep, just like the carry cot on our Joolz Day.
  2. The toddler seat has to recline. The only place that Bobble still naps is in the pushchair, so there has to be somewhere for him to sleep during day time naps.
  3. It has to fit in our (estate!) car, by having a fairly compact fold.
  4. It has to handle as nicely as our Joolz Day, so we're talking a smooth push, good handling up and down curbs and a good length extending handle.
After a fairly extensive review of the market for doubles, we realised that the Bugaboo Donkey was the only pushchair out there that met our criteria.

THAT price tag

Let's start by addressing the elephant in the room. The cost. Each time we did the sums, this was the one thing that would cause us to go back and start questioning our needs to buy a double at all. If you're not familiar with this, brace yourself. The price tag for the Donkey is £1000 (give or take a few quid either way depending on offers and your need for extras). Yes. I know. You can buy a secondhand car for a similar amount. But here's the catch - there are no other pushchairs on the market that offer the same features as the Bugaboo Donkey. It is unique, and an extremely clever piece of engineering. But wait! Don't stop reading because you think this is a crazy amount of money to spend on a pushchair. Further down the page I am going to share some secrets about how you can knock off several hundred £s from this price tag. I promise you that we did not pay anything near this amount for our brand new Donkey.

10 highlights

The Donkey has many fantastic features - here's a quick list of the best ones.
  1. You can use it as a single pushchair or a double - it takes less than a minute to convert from one to the other.
  2. In double mode it is only 74cm wide (14cm wider than single mode), which means it fits though all standard doorways.
  3. The two seats operate independently - your baby can face you, or the world. Your toddler can face you, or the world. The seat units when facing inwards recline fully flat.
  4. The carry cot has a mattress suitable for using overnight.
  5. The underneath basket is massive. In single mode you have tonnes of storage space with the underneath and side basket.
  6. In spite of initial appearances, you can comfortably fit a 3 year-old in seat unit.
  7. The handlebar has a huge extension so it's suitable for parents big and small.
  8. It's light and smooth to push on most terrain.
  9. You can recline the seats recline with one-hand - same goes for removing the seats.
  10. There are lots of different options for personalisation - a range of different colours exists for everything from the base fabrics, hoods and aprons to seat liners and footmuffs.

10 lowlights

Of course there are some imperfections - here's a quick list of the ones that niggle me the most.
  1. The rain covers are ridiculous. They are designed to fit so tightly that you practically break your fingers trying to get them on. With a footmuff on, it is virtually impossible to get it on at all. Furthermore, because the seat units sit so closely, the rain covers start sticking together when you're trying to stretch them on. **Note - Bugaboo have since released a new version of the rain cover which I've been told is much easier to get on.
  2. All side by sides feel a bit like you're pushing a tank, some shops and cafes will simply not be accessible any more.
  3. At a quick walking pace all Donkeys are known to start vibrating at the front wheels until you slow down again. It seems to be a bit of an engineering problem, Bugaboo really should investigate it.
  4. Trying to pack it into a car, even a spacious estate feels like a mission.
  5. Having a foam rather than a leather handle on a pushchair that costs around £1000 seems a bit crazy to me. Because this is a wide pushchair in double mode you're much more likely to catch it on things and tear it. Also, foam bumper bars look like huge teething toys to babies and toddlers.
  6. Why oh why oh why does the bumper bar not pivot so that you can leave it in place when you take your child in and out? Madness. There are rumours that this is one of the improvements coming on the 2015 model.
  7. Some people report problems with the strap length being an issue for older children - we've had no problems here with our average size 2/3 year old.
  8. It's impractical to hang a changing bag off the handle - but the ample sized basket means you have plenty of space for all of your clobber underneath.
  9. Hasn't been an issue for us - but in twin mode with 2 car seats on it's too wide to go through a standard size door.
  10. In single mode the side basket is not covered in the rain.

How to buy a cheap Bugaboo Donkey

That's my low down on the pros and cons, now what about the price. As I said, there are definitely ways that you can avoid paying full price for a Donkey. We managed to make a saving of 23% off the price of our brand new Donkey (that's well over £200) - here's how.

John Lewis brand new in box returns
Our local John Lewis (in Cambridge) had in its warehouse a brand new in box Bugaboo Donkey. It was a duplicate item that had gone to a customer, but wasn't required. As it had the customer's address label on the box, they weren't able to sell it at the RRP. This seems a little crazy doesn't it? The box had never been opened, so the contents were in perfect condition. And we were able to buy it at a 23% discount. Of course, these deals are not advertised, it was just a very lucky coincidence that came about through a phone call to the store. But it's definitely worth calling your local shop to see what they might have in - you never know!

Second hand but hardly used
The other route you can go down is second hand. Of course there is good old eBay, but if you don't want the stress of bidding why not consider Facebook? There is a very active Bugaboo Donkey Loves UK page full of people talking about Donkeys, and selling whole pushchairs and accessories. You have to apply to join the group (it keeps out some of the spammers trying to take money for pushchairs they don't own and are pretending to sell) but once you're in you can try and grab yourself a bargain. Many sellers are prepared to post items if you can't find one for sale near to where you live. The admin very helpfully provide an up to date price list so you know whether what's being advertised is a fair price.

  • Donkey Mono v1 silver: £400-450
  • Donkey Mono v1 black: £500-550
  • Donkey Duo v1 silver: £600-650
  • Donkey Duo v1 black: £650-700
  • Donkey Mono v1.1 silver: £500-550
  • Donkey Mono v1.1 black: £600-650
  • Donkey Duo v1.1 silver: £700-750
  • Donkey Duo v1.1 black: £800-850

Of course prices will vary according to the condition of the pushchair, so make sure you find out exactly what is being sold before you commit to buying. Also expect to pay postage and PayPal fees on top of these prices.

What's the difference between a Donkey v1 and a v1.1

Just a quick note about the difference between v1 and v1.1. V1.1 has two buttons to fold, and the frame folders flatter, and therefore smaller than v1. There's rumoured to be a new version coming out in 2015 but don't expect major changes other than the things I've mentioned above (pivoting bumper bars and a more practical rain cover).

Disclaimer
I'm obliged to add that this review was not sponsored by Bugaboo. We forked out our own hard-earned cash to buy our Donkey. All thoughts and opinions above are my own. Other double pushchairs are available - but you ain't going to find anything else as good as the Donk!

Finally, a little note about that picture... Little H was only 4 days old which is why I look so FAT!

 

2 comments:

  1. I also have this stroller and I've been using it for over 2 years now! My daughter was the first passenger (I was using mono version) but now she's 3 and if she wants to ride in a stroller, she prefers her lightweight Yoyo+. Now I'm using Donkey for my twin boys. At the beggining I was affraid that double version would be bulky and I won't fit through doors. But this stroller is really slim and compact. I can't complain about it, after two years of using it still works as new!

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    1. Ah, I'm glad you're still enjoying your Donkey! I only had ours for about a year in the end, as we just didn't need a double and it was holding its value so well that it would have been silly not to sell. I do miss it though, that big basket... I could get everything in it!

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