Excel K4 is a good-looking, surprisingly full-featured lightweight manual wheelchair, offered for a song. It is recommended for anyone on a budget who weighs 300 pounds or less.
* Note regarding Brand Reliability: This metric is a measure of the strength and longevity of the brand, which by extension, is a measure of the level of support you can expect.
Have you been feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices available to you on the wheelchair market? Are you on a budget and having a hard time finding the “right” chair for you? One that’s relatively low cost, lightweight, and full-featured?
Finding the right chair can be a daunting task. If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then you’re going to enjoy reading our Medline Excel K4 review.
Medline isn’t an industry giant. They’re a mid-sized company that specializes in making good, low-cost wheelchairs, and, as you’ll see in this review, they’re pretty good at it.
With that in mind, we’ll be quick to admit that the MDS806550E wheelchair (its product number) isn’t a perfect chair, and it’s not for everyone. It’s easy enough to find more robust models out there. Those more robust models are, however, invariably more expensive. If money is tight, you’ll find this to be a very good model to consider.
In the sections that follow, we’ll take a close look at everything this chair has to offer, and we won’t pull any punches when it comes to describing its shortcomings and limitations.
Even if you ultimately decide that some other model is more to your liking, we think you’ll agree that this is a solid contender and a very good model to use as a basis for comparison.
Intrigued? If so, let’s jump right in and see what this one has to offer!
An Overview of the Medline K4 Basic Wheelchair
Aesthetics aren’t usually a major factor when choosing a wheelchair. Even so, there’s no need to get a wheelchair that’s downright ugly if you can avoid it, and the Medline K4 is surprisingly handsome as wheelchairs go.
It’s all black and sports Mag wheels, which give it a vaguely racy appearance. Granted, it won’t win any beauty contests, but that’s true of most of the wheelchairs sold today. Overall, we describe it to be a better than average-looking chair here in our Medline Excel K4 review. It’s basic and, even with the Mag wheels, somewhat understated.
Before we can explore the model further, though, we should press pause to review the basic stats that define the chair. Here’s a quick overview:
- Overall Product Dimensions: 38” (H) x 25.5” (W)
- Seat Dimensions: 18” (W) x 16” (D) (can be ordered in either 16” x 16” or 16” x 20” configurations)
- Seat to Floor Height: 18” – 20” (Dual Axel)
- Wheel Size: 24” Rear, 8” casters
- Seatback Height: 17”
- Leg Rests: Elevating
- Armrests: Desk Length, Flip-Up, Removable
- Chair Weight: 33.5 pounds
- Maximum Supported Weight: 300 pounds
These are uniformly excellent numbers that paint this chair as one designed to appeal to the vast majority of the market. With three different seat dimensions to choose from and a supported weight limit of 300 pounds, the Medline K4 basic is a good fit for some 85% of the wheelchair market.
Upon looking at these numbers, the only complaint we have is with the seat depth. 16” is fine for most people, but we’d prefer an 18” seat depth, which would allow for a more comfortable seating experience over longer periods. Even so, this is a relatively minor issue and is unlikely to be a deal-breaker for most folks.
In the wheelchair world, armrests come in two flavors: Full-length and desk-length. Deciding which type of armrest works best for you comes down to how you plan on using the chair. Full-length arms are best for people who plan to spend extended periods of time in their wheelchairs each day and who don’t spend a lot of time working or dining with friends and family at the dinner table.
Desk-length arms are handy for people who want to roll right up to the dinner table and enjoy a meal with family and friends, or roll up to a computer desk and do something without having to take the time to transfer out of the wheelchair and into a dining or computer chair.
We like the fact that this model comes with desk-length arms. They’re versatile and especially attractive for a person who wants to stay active and productive.
Adjustability and Comfort Medline MDS806550E
Wheelchairs offered at the lower end of the price spectrum usually don’t offer a lot in the way of adjustability, and, sure enough, that’s the case with the Medline K4 Basic wheelchair. You’ll find two adjustment features on offer.
First, this is a dual axel, Hemi-height chair, so you can adjust the seat height, setting it to either 18” or 20” as you prefer. Second, both leg rests swing away for easier transfers into and out of the chair and elevate, allowing you to prop your feet up when you’re not sitting at a dining or computer table and giving you the option of kicking back and relaxing when you feel the need.
Note, too, that this model comes with calf pads for a bit of added comfort.
That’s it, though. There are no advanced adjustable features like seatback tension adjustments, and this chair doesn’t recline, nor can you adjust the height or width of the armrests. Again, that’s not really a surprise, though, given the modest price of the chair.
One final note on this topic: The Amazon sales page has an entry that makes it sound as though the armrests and seatback are height adjustable. They’re not, though technically, they do “move,” raising and lowering along with the seat itself when you change seat heights.
On the comfort front, we’d describe the K4 basic lightweight wheelchair as moderately comfortable.
The upholstery is nylon, which is breathable, and that certainly helps where comfort is concerned, but there’s no padding on offer here, so the longer you spend in the chair, the less comfortable you’re apt to be.
The good news is that extra padding is an easy fix. There are literally dozens of seat and seatback pads to choose from, ranging from memory foam to conventional block foam with fabric upholstery. The sky’s the limit where that’s concerned. Even better, since the chair doesn’t cost all that much, you’ll almost certainly be able to afford to add whatever sort of padding you prefer.
Extras and Options of K4 Lightweight
This will be a relatively short section in our Medline MDS806550e review because there aren’t any built-in “extras” where this chair is concerned.
We’re completely certain that was a conscious design decision aimed at keeping the price of the chair as low as possible, with the thought being that users could then head to the aftermarket and customize to their heart’s content.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that Medline offers a universal cup holder that works with all their chairs and sells a side saddlebag, designed to drape over the armrests to hold basic supplies.
While we were somewhat disappointed that there’s no built-in storage pocket, we completely understand the reasoning. Low-priced chairs almost never offer extras, and this one is no exception.
Portability & Ease of Use
This is one of the many, many strong points of the K4 Lightweight. Weighing in at just 33.5 pounds, it’s light enough that you should have little to no difficulty stowing it in the trunk of your car without assistance. It also has got a small enough footprint that it won’t be a particular challenge to find a place for it in any mid-sized sedan. Naturally, if you have a truck, SUV, or van, it’s an even simpler proposition.
While it’s certainly possible to find transport chairs that weigh less, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a lighter wheelchair that’s as capable. Also, most of the transport chairs available in the market require the presence of another person for movement.
With this chair, you don’t need anybody else. You can move around under your own power (though it does include handles in the event that you want or needs a push).
In terms of ease of use, it’s hard to see how this could be improved upon. The K4 is about as simple and straightforward as it gets. Everything works exactly as you expect it to, and the handful of adjustable features are all entirely intuitive. Kudos to Medline for a job well done here!
Pros & Cons of Excel K4 Basic
Other than the fact that we wish the seat was a bit deeper, we don’t have any complaints about the Medline Excel K4 Basic wheelchair.
It’s a rock-solid design. Basic, yes, but that was an intentional design decision that enabled the company to offer it at a delightfully low price.
It’s designed around some very good core stats with broad appeal. If you decide you want one of these, you’ll have enough money left over to personalize and customize your ride.
Medline Excel K4 Review Conclusion
If you just skimmed our Medline Excel K4 review and are looking for the bottom line, here it is: This wheelchair is designed for the masses. It’s unlikely to fit you like a glove but is adjustable enough that it will provide a comfortable seating experience.
It’s much more of a work chair than one designed to lounge in for extended periods, and this fact is underscored by its lack of padding and the presence of desk-length arms.
Even so, it’s certainly possible to add enough padding to make it into a decent chair for use for longer periods, and the elevating leg rests would support that as well.
All that to say, we really like this model, and we think you will too, especially if you’re on a budget.
We recommend it.
You May Also Want to Consider
As a basic, low-cost wheelchair, there are tons of other, comparable alternatives. If this model isn’t to your liking, whatever the reason, there are plenty of other, similar choices, including:
The Invacare Tracer SX5 is functionally similar but made for people of lighter builds. If you weigh 250 pounds or less, this is a great alternative.
If you’re looking for a chair made by one of the biggest and most well-respected brands in the industry, then the Drive Medical BLS18FBD Blue Streak might be perfect. Same with the Tracer SX5, it only supports a maximum of 250 pounds, but is even less expensive than Medline’s offering.
Finally, you may want to consider the Drive Medical Cruiser III. This is another delightfully inexpensive wheelchair that has a 300-pound weight limit. The Cruiser III has the advantage of being offered by one of the best-known brands in the business.
References & Resources:
- Medline, Official Brand Website.
- Wheelchair Use in Ultra-Lightweight Wheelchair Users, Taylor & Francis Online.
- Types of Wheelchair, Physiopedia.
- Ultralight Wheelchairs: Titanium vs. Aluminum, Mobility Management.
- Characterizing the Community Use of an Ultralight Wheelchair With “On the Fly” Adjustable Seating Functions: A Pilot Study, NCBI.