Upon seeing the title of this post, you might begin to wonder how many bikes a man needs in his garage/man-cave. The answer: you can never have enough if ridden regularly.
My Madsen purchase actually occurred earlier this fall but I just got around to reviewing the bike after getting some time in the saddle. I first came across the Madsen this summer and knew I must have one after test riding the 2011 prototype at Madsen headquarters. Following lots of impatient calls and waiting, the 2011 model finally arrived for distribution to waiting customers like me. The Madsen is designed for hauling up to 4 kids at a time or whatever your creative side can dream up. I've yet to fill the bucket with water for a bubble bath, a keg on ice, or other unusual objects but I have managed 4 kids in the bucket.
The Madsen is designed for a family with younger kids that is tired of driving around a minivan with the other soccer moms/dads in the city. It has a bench seat on either side with two seat belts to keep the kids secure (or from beating the crap out of each other). Its a great build with solid components that aren't over the top (internal hub); keeping costs reasonable. Last time I checked the 2011 model was retailing for $1485. The only modifications I've made thus far are comfier lock-on grips, Schwalbe Marathon XC tires and the forte campus pedal to allow SPD use.
I have managed over 100 miles on the bike in two months and have no regrets with my purchase. Most people's first question is "isn't that hard to balance?" The Madsen is amazingly easy to ride with the bucket sitting low to the ground and well placed over the rear wheel. I can feel some wobble when the kids throw punches at one another but otherwise feels like riding a heavy cruiser. It's obvious that weight wasn't much a factor in design and the bike provides a workout when pedaling up the steeper hills in SLC. For those that ride often, its a fun challenge to see what you can conquer with kids loaded in the bucket.
Eight gears allow the rider to take most hills with ease. I eventually plan to swap the front chainring to get the gearing a little higher as I've only really needed the low end a few times. I often find myself "geared out" on anything with a slight downhill grade. Most will find the stock gearing sufficient for their needs. The combination of a front disc and rear v-brake provide enough to stop the bike quickly if needed. A dual leg kickstand keeps the bike stable, even keeping it stable when the kids climb in and out of the bucket. The coolest feature of this bike might just be the integrated front wheel lock. Easy to operate and provides another level of comfort; knowing your bucket isn't being carted off while in the grocery. Though I do carry a cable lock for added security when leaving the bike unattended in public.
The Madsen is not only cool but provides children a totally different experience from riding around in a minivan watching Disney DVD's. It's a great feeling to have the kids observing the elements around them; pointing out birds, squirrels and odd looking people (just kidding). The kids often wave and flash their cute smiles at cars as they go by. I look forward to many years of grocery getting, park hopping and taking the kids to school in what has been dubbed "the bucket".