Its release has been hotly anticipated since the start of the year and we've finally got hold of the coveted Bugaboo Donkey 2 and put it to the test!
The Donkey has been THE pushchair to be seen with for quite some time now, nearly seven years in fact! Since its original release, stylish and practical Dutch brand Bugaboo has listened to the feedback from parents and made improvements, bringing us the Donkey².
We gave the Donkey V1 a fabulous 5 stars back in 2012 but how will its big brother stand up to our rigorous test? Let's see...
What's in the box
In Mono mode
Folded size: 52 x 60 x 93 cm
In Duo/Twin mode
Folded size: 52 x 74 x 93 cm
Weight: 15.3 kg
Create your own configuration from an aluminum or black chassis, one of three base fabrics: black, grey mélange or blue mélange, and one of 13 colours for the sun canopy and side luggage basket cover.
The excitement has been slowly building here at PX HQ since we knew that the Donkey 2 was coming in for review. I mean, which pramaholic wouldn't want the opportunity to put the hottest pushchair release of 2017 to the test?!
It arrives, in true Bugaboo style, perfectly and precisely packaged. You may be slightly alarmed at first, as there does seem to be quite a few components BUT assembly is simple and relatively quick. Definitely a task that first-time parents can tackle with ease!
There are so many possibilities with the Donkey and it's renowned for being the most versatile pushchair on the market. Like a transformer of the pushchair world, it can change its footprint from double to single and back again, all in the flick of a few clips. Just like that!
This version of the Donkey has undergone quite a few significant changes to the chassis and even though we didn't think the performance of the original donkey could get any better... it just did!
The signature Bugaboo lightweight but workmanlike chassis is certainly present and in true Bugaboo style all of the functions are clearly marked with white clips and levers.With a Bugaboo it's safe to assume that if you see a white button or lever, then it usually operates something!
The first thing that strikes us about the Donkey chassis is how light it is to push. The wheels have great ground clearance and feature a fab new suspension system. Previous modes of the Donkey have featured air wheels, with parents struggling with the occasional puncture. Bugaboo designers have listened to parents and we can confirm that the new foam-filled tyres will roll over any terrain and the Donkey 2 has to be one of the smoothest pushchair we have pushed recently!
The white buttons on the front wheels can be flicked up and down to allow the wheels to lock into place or swivel, depending on the terrain you are tackling.
As parents we all know that you can never have enough storage! Children come with LOTS of luggage and the Donkey² caters for this brilliantly. The underseat shopping basket is a great size. It's deep without rubbing on the wheels or the ground below and can hold plenty of kit for the whole family. Picnic bags, coats and wellies are just some of the everyday parenting items that we carried in the underseat storage basket daily. We never struggled to put everything we needed and more in the basket of the Donkey², which was great on day trips and long walks. Of course, not to mention the additional side basket when the pushchair is used in mono mode. This basket lifts off to be used as a regular shopping basket and now even comes with a handy zip-open, slightly stretchy cover to keep everything safe whilst in the side basket.
The brake is again easy to use. The white pedal is easy to spot whether you are using the pushchair with carrycots or seat units and in mono or duo mode. It is situated next to the back-left wheel and is as solid as a rock when engaged. To release the brake, just flick it up with your foot. The pedal is smooth on both sides and definitely classes as ‘flip-flop' friendly for those summer days.
The handlebar on the Donkey² has the most simple yet wonderful height adjustment system. Just flick the white clips on either side of the handlebar open and you can extend the handlebar to one of 8 heights. Just click the white clips closed again to secure the handlebar at your preferred height.
The handlebar is also covered in leather-style covers to add that extra bit of Bugaboo luxury to your new purchase.
Mono is Bugaboo's lingo for using the Donkey in its single pushchair form. You can buy the Donkey 2 in mono mode if you only have one child to transport in your pushchair. In mono mode you receive both the carrycot fabrics and the seat fabrics in the box, so you are able to use the Donkey 2 as a single pushchair from birth and when baby is ready to move to the seat unit, you simply velcro and clip the seat fabrics onto the same frame as the carrycot fabrics were attached. It is all a relatively quick and simple process.
In the mono configuration the seat sits next to the side basket, which makes the overall width of the pushchair 60cm. Although some may think this is on the wider side for a single pushchair, it is actually on a par with/narrower than many other single footprint pushchairs on the market right now.
The width is not a problem at all, in fact the Donkey 2 steered beautifully through and around all manner of everyday obstacles during its time with us.
In mono mode the Donkey 2 performs like a dream for both parent and child. The seat can be used in both parent and world facing modes. Admittedly the Donkey 2 may feel on the large side for a single pushchair at first, but the Donkey 2's presence is half of its charm and after just a few outings we got used to the size and found it very comfortable to use and push in all manner of everyday situations.
Duo is Bugaboo's term for using the pushchair with children of two different ages; ie. a newborn and a toddler. To fit the extra seat/carrycot onto the chassis, we first need to extend the chassis. This is where the magic happens! There are three white clips on the chassis of the Donkey 2 - one in the centre of the handlebar, one between the front wheels and one between the rear wheels. To extend the chassis just flick all of these clips open and press the button located on the central chassis bar. You can slide the chassis out until the white button clicks back into place and then close all of the white clips to secure the frame. Voila! A double pushchair.
The width of the Donkey 2 in Duo mode is 74cm. Although the Donkey² stands really proud and appears large, the width is comparable to many other side-by-side double pushchairs on the market, such as the Out'n'About Nipper. It really isn't the monster that many parents view it to be in Duo mode. We were able to comfortably manoeuvre the Donkey² Duo around most shops and through most doorways. We only met a few doorways with which we struggled and in hindsight these doorways were often in small shops and cafes with baskets and flowerpots cluttering the entrance!
You can purchase the Donkey 2 in Duo mode as a package or you can even purchase extension kits if you decide to convert your Donkey 2 into Duo mode after a little while.
One of the most appealing features of this pushchair in Duo mode is the ability to use with a carrycot and a toddler seat with the option to have the toddler parent or world facing.
The Donkey can also be purchased in Twin mode. Similar to using the pushchair in Duo mode, you can clip two seats, two carrycots or two car seats to the frame of the Donkey 2, making it perfect for two children of the same age. With all the same fantastic features of the Mono and Duo mode, the Donkey 2 in Twin mode simply comes with two of everything in the box. You still get the signature Donkey side basket in the box with the Donkey 2 Twin just in case you are out and about with one child and want to reduce the chassis down and use in Mono mode.
The opportunities for using the Donkey 2 are seemingly endless!
The seating on the Bugaboo Donkey 2 is extremely versatile and flexible. At 74cm wide in total as a whole pushchair, you can't expect the seats to be too roomy, and in fact they are quite snug but although there isn't much wriggle room in the width department, we never had any complaints from our 3-year-old and 2.5-year-old testers. They were always comfortable in the seat units.
The harness on each seat is five-point and made of quality webbing, which can be clipped and secured into a white round buckle with four separate clips. The clever design on the Donkey 2 provides a ‘stay-open' harness to make putting wriggly babies and toddlers in and out of the seat unit a lot easier for parents. The adjustment on the harness is also easy to use, with sliding clasps adjusting the harness to multiple positions according to the height of your child.
Each seat of the Bugaboo Donkey 2 has an independent recline system, so one child can be snoozing whilst the other is playing. It is operated by pulling the white lever on the back of the seats. There are three recline options to choose from and the seats do lie fully flat if needed.
The seats can be removed from the chassis by pressing the white buttons on either side. They can be pressed independently or at the same time and the leatherette-covered bumper bar acts as a handle to lift the seat on and off the chassis. When clicking the seat back onto the chassis it will make a sturdy ‘click' when properly in place.
The bumper bar is a fixed-position bar. It would have been fab if gate-opening as this would be far easier than having to remove it completely to put baby in.
The hood is available in no less than 13 different fabric colours. There is great coverage by the hood as it is but this is made even better by the extendable zip-open panel. When this is extended the hood touches the bumper bar of the seat, shielding baby from any weather and giving great privacy during nap times. The fabric of the hood is unique and although thick and dense, is a little like lycra in its nature.
The same frame is used to mount the fabric seat panel as well as the carrycot fabrics. Simply undoing the velcro straps and re-attaching whichever fabrics you require changes the frame from a seat to a carrycot in just a minute. This is a bonus for parents as there's no huge carrycot or seat unit to store whilst it isn't in use.
The carrycots are again on the snug side, as is any carrycot of a compact side-by-side pushchair. The included mattress is thick and soft. Our 12-week-old tester slept soundly on the fleece-covered mattress and seemed comforted by the deep sides of the Donkey 2 carrycot. The same hood is used on the carrycot as is used on the seat unit, as well as the same bumper bar. As the same frame is used, the removal of the carrycot from the chassis happens in the same way as the removal of the seat unit.
There is also the option to use the Donkey² with your car seat if the adaptors are purchased separately.
Folding the Donkey 2 couldn't be any easier. It takes just seconds to operate and fold and unfold the pushchair. The pushchair has the ability to fold with the seats in situ but we did find it much more manageable to remove the seats and fold the chassis separately.
There are just a few steps to fold the pushchair. First, apply the brake. Then slide the handle down to its lowest position by un-clipping the white clips on each side of the frame. Finally, pull up on the white trigger levers on each side of the frame (the left has a button in the centre, which has to be pushed in at the same time). The pushchair handle drops downwards to the floor and the chassis makes a neat, if large, package.
The final package is free-standing when folded, making it perfect for storing in the hallway or if you have to take a trip on public transport. By no means is the fold package small... In Duo mode the folded size is 52x74x93cm and in Mono mode 52x60x93cm. Of course, this can be made smaller and slightly more compact by popping the wheels off.
One thing that was noticeable when folding and moving the Donkey 2 (especially in duo or twin mode) was its size. The whole package is quite bulky to lift if you are putting it in and out the boot of your car. It's far easier to transport if you remove the seat units.
Although on the large side, the fold is comparable to other double pushchairs on the market and its size is a small price to pay for the versatility that the Donkey² offers you when in use.
The Bugaboo Donkey 2 oozes substance and, thanks to the signature Bugaboo design features, it performs like a dream - making life much simpler for modern-day busy parents of one child, two children of different ages or even twins.
There's no smoke and mirrors with the Donkey 2, it genuinely one of the most versatile pushchairs we have know with its ability to extend from a single to double pushchair and back again in just a few seconds.
With the improvements to the suspension, addition of foam-filled puncture-proof tyres and added features such as the side basket cover, the Donkey² offers effortless function for parents and the smoothest of rides for baby.
Although the price tag may be on the high side, you certainly get what you pay for as the seating options are so vast that this pushchair really could last your family a lifetime.
We loved the fact that the Donkey 2 can be personalised too, so if you get bored with your choice of colour, you can simply purchase a new sun canopy and you instantly have a brand-new look that is individual to you.
We love the Donkey 2, If you don't mind lifting something that little bit bulkier in and out the boot of your car then it really is a fantastic set of wheels!
We give the Bugaboo Donkey 2 5 out of 5 stars