Experience Renting a 2010 Madsen kg271/Bucket Bicycle

Earlier this summer, our family returned from a week’s vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, MA.  During our stay we rented a Madsen kg271/Bucket bicycle, and a tandem bike in Edgartown, MA from the Wheel Happy bike shop.  We pre-planned renting a Madsen bike from this shop since we were really curious about how it would look in real life, the capacity, the comfort, and generally how it would work over several hours.  We rented a 2010 (we think) version in blue. 

We biked from Edgartown to Oak Bluffs, had lunch and walked around, then returned to Edgartown, after some more “playing around” and testing out the bike.  Although this was only a relatively brief test over several hours, it was sufficient for a first impression and a feasibility discussion.  Our trip lasted a total of about 13 to 15 miles, mostly along coastline and small hills.  We were on the bikes over 2 hours in total, but we did take a few breaks.  There were a few small hills, but nothing too difficult for us to handle with the bucket bike.  We were very impressed by the Madsen kg271/Bucket bike, and considering all of our options, we believe that this bicycle is the best (most efficient and practical) way to transport kids in this leisurely way.  Here is a photo from our lunch stop in Oak Bluffs:

Below is a photo of my mother-in-law trying out the bike while her puppy looks on – she found it stable and easy to pedal.  While sitting near the kids, her dog jumped out of the bucket two or three times, but quickly learned to stay inside the bucket.  She may be interested in purchasing one for her grass-fed beef farm, and to go back and forth to the farmer’s market to sell her beef.  She mainly rode on a rented tandem bike on this trip, but she did try out the Madsen and was impressed by it, particularly the pedaling geometry.

Here is a brief video of her riding and getting off the bicycle:

This is me transporting my mother-in-law in the back of the Madsen Bucket bicycle.  She loved it!  She would have gladly been transported back several miles to Edgartown this way if one of the kids were big enough to ride on the tandem bike we rented at the same time.

Below I have listed a few pros and cons with the Madsen Bucket bicycle.  These are mainly related to this particular bicycle, but also include some basic Pros and Cons of bicycle transportation.  Granted, the Madsen we tested was an older model, so some of these Pros and Cons may no longer be valid.

Note: I was the primary “driver”.  We also had perfectly clear weather around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The handling of the bike in wet conditions or off of the main bike path was not tested.  We dealt with minimal traffic and sidewalks.  We did ride the bike through sand that was over the sidewalk, sometimes over an inch deep and sections that were over 10 feet long.  I maintained a line through the sand, kept my momentum, and didn’t have a problem.  Although I was a little worried at first, and the sand seemed unpredictable, the Madsen handled the sand better than I expected.

  • Great for transporting kids and gear for a day trip, and being able to talk with the kids while riding. 
  • Bucket is a good size for our kids, who are a little larger than your typical 2 and 4 year old.  Our kids are 33 and 42 pounds respectively.
  • Would make a great vehicle for leaving large events where car traffic (bumper to bumper) would be an issue, such as the 4th of July fireworks, concerts, or similar events that end at a specific time.
  • Good vehicle for bike-friendly cities
  • Worked well enough for my height.  Not sure the geometry is ideal for my height, but it is good enough.  On a good day in the morning, after a long stretch or hanging from the monkey bars, my height measures out around 193 cm, or 6' 4".
  • Works for dogs after they learn to stay inside the bucket
  • Ride is smooth, good geometry for pedaling, no real need for pedal clips or baskets.  Set height adjustment was sufficient.
  • Relatively efficient for carrying a lot of weight; assume Madsen bike is more efficient than a tricycle cargo bike since it has only two wheels.
  • More stable than expected, even with kids moving around.
  • Turning was easier than a tandem bicycle, and not much different from most other traditional bicycles.
  • Lots of people interested in the bicycle coming up and asking about it – we were happy to help answer their questions.
  • Price seems reasonable although today’s price is higher than previous versions.  It would be an investment for most people.  Occasional discounts (for pink versions, black Friday sales, etc. are nice).  When we mentioned the price people were slightly turned off, but I believe it is probably justified.
  • Climbing hills is probably easier than with other bicycle options that offer similar utility, depending on gear ratios, height of rider, etc.
  • Felt surprisingly stable in short sections of sand over the bike path.
  • Great backup for an automobile over short distances, if automobile is not working or being serviced for some reason, or if there is too much traffic to allow an automobile to get to its destination in a reasonable amount of time.
  • General bicycle pros can be added to this list, which vary by individual use, but they include things like free parking, ease of maneuvering through busy traffic, exercise/fresh air, improved health, lower carbon footprint, attention and smiles by others, etc.  
  • Cargo capacity is amazing at 271 kg (600 lbs)!

  • Seats in the bucket came undone and fell off the Velcro.  This was unexpected for us, and the kids each told us to stop immediately and fix the problem (as well as a 2 year-old can do so).  This may have had to do with kids wiggling, the seat belts, or issues with the dog.  In any case it was quickly fixed.  Stronger or larger hook and loop fasteners (Velcro) might help.  This seems to be fixed in newer versions.
  • Kids get more sun exposure in the bucket bike than in a traditional trailer
  • Hard seat (we know the new model has a more comfortable seat)
  • Chain in rear runs low to the ground.
  • Parking it is not as easy as other bikes, but probably easier than a bike with a trailer.  Parking is probably similar to a tandem bike, maybe easier.
  • Hills difficult, although no more difficult than a bike trailer or other setup.
  • Need to make sure air pressure is set properly for heavier loads.
  • Since this was the first trip using the Madsen, it felt a little small for serious cargo hauling, but it seemed to handle what we needed it to do without any problem - I believe it is more comfortable and efficient for hauling gear than most “typical” bicycles I have tried in the USA.
  • Other general bicycle cons cannot be denied, such as the fear of a bicycle getting stolen, flat tires, maintenance requirements, poor weather riding conditions, getting hit by cars, chased by dogs, health hazards (i.e. heart attacks), and other individual use factors (such as being sweaty when getting to a destination where one needs to be presentable to the public or office crowd), etc.
  • Not sure how easy the bucket is to take off to do maintenance – unknown.
  • Chain guard rattled a little.
  • Shifting/gears needed adjustment 2/3 way through trip – this may have been an isolated incident, since the shifting worked great during the 1st half of the trip.
  • Bicycle is longer and wider than most – it is more difficult to transport by car, and more work to get it on top of a car’s roof rack than a bike/trailer combination.
  • Water may pool in the bucket without drain holes, a very minor issue that is remedied by drilling a couple of small holes. This is fixed in newer models.

Have you rented a Madsen or are looking to rent a cargo bike?  Do you have any strange bicycle renting experiences?  Feel free to leave a comment below!


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