I have been eyeing the Madsen bucket bike for a while now and was lucky enough to test ride one. REI had a return and they let me take it out (they don't usually keep them in stock -- and I used to see the bike on their website but don't anymore). It was a blue one, and they were selling for $1,550. It was super cute, though the plastic bucket was more plastic-y and flimsier than I had expected.
Lo and behold.... I didn't like it at all!
I brought both kids with me, and set them in the rear seat next to each other. There was a lap belt for each of them, and plenty of room for them to sit next to each other facing forward. There was plenty of leg room, and for kicks, my older son asked me to remove the other seat. It came out easily, as it had been velcroed in. The benches themselves were cushioned and narrower than I had expected, and a lot of the kid rides above the bucket, which made me feel like they were pretty vulnerable to the elements. The double kickstand was really stable for them to get in and out of the bucket.
After getting some help out of the store, and lots of stares, I was able to step through the frame and get on the bike. Turns out the seat was a bit low and it was an easy tool-free adjustment to raise it. I took a deep breath and got the bike going. BUT it was in a low gear and I felt like I needed to be in a higher gear and fumbled with the shifters a bit and didn't find one. Their workings weren't intuitive for me and I couldn't get any stability. So I stopped, still in the parking lot, and had the sales associate hold the back of the bike so I could change gears without dislodging the quiet children.
Ok, try #2. I got back on the bike, and turned a corner of the parking lot, aiming to make a loop then go onto the street. I got it going, but felt really wobbly. I tried picking up speed, knowing that speed makes bikes feel more stable. It didn't help. So I looped around to the store entrance, said thanks but no thanks, and had my curiosity satisfied. The sales associate told me the previous owner had returned it because he felt like it was wobbly, and because his kids had tried to get out while it was in motion! Thank goodness my children were calm and stable-- I can't imagine going on it with kids wiggling around.
All in all, I am so glad I got to ride the bike. I really wanted to like the USA box bike. But at 8 speeds and super long, I just didn't feel like it was up for the task of being my bike. It was super wobbly and the kids were as far back as a trailer, and less protected. I'm so glad I didn't have to buy and return it.