Probasics K4 Transformer is a technically competent chair that fails in most of its primary missions.
Recommended For: Not recommended. There are too many similar chairs that do an all-around better job than this model.
*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.
Do you spend at least part of each day in a wheelchair? Do you love to travel? If you answered yes to both of those questions, you might have begun looking for an affordable, lightweight wheelchair that can serve in several capacities at once.
A chair you can use daily, light enough to take on the road with you when you take trips, and that can pull double duty as both a conventional wheelchair and a transport chair, depending on your needs of the moment.
This, sadly, is not that chair. It tries to be, but ultimately, it fails. If you’ve had your eye on this one, we hope that this ProBasics K4 Transformer wheelchair review will save you some money and potential heartache. In the sections that follow, we’ll tell you all about this model and why, in our view, it fails in the missions it sets out to accomplish.
Sometimes, a company’s ambitions exceed its ability. While this is a competent, functional combination chair, for several reasons we’ll go into below, it fails to meet its own stated goals, and so, it fails you, the potential customer. Read on, and we’ll show you what we mean.
An Overview of ProBasics K4 Transformer Lightweight Transport Wheelchair
First things, first. If you’re not familiar with Roscoe Medical, you should know that although they’re not a major force in the wheelchair world, they have been in the business for more than two decades. They are a good, competent company that generally makes serviceable products, offered at the low end of the price spectrum.
The company isn’t known for making great wheelchairs, they’re known for making decent, affordable chairs, and most of the models they offer are just that. We admit here in our ProBasics K4 Transformer wheelchair review that this one is a swing and a miss. Before we get into the particulars and explain why that is, let’s start by looking at the core stats that define the model and shedding some light on the matter:
- Overall Product Dimensions: 22” (W) x 28” (D) x 34” (H)
- Seat Dimensions: 20” (W) x 16” (D) (This chair can also be ordered with a 16” or an 18” wide seat if you prefer)
- Chair Weight: 34 pounds
- Maximum Supported Weight: 250 pounds
Most of these numbers are okay. The overall dimensions of the chair are about what you’d expect for a conventionally designed wheelchair. Plus, the seat is offered in your choice of three different size configurations, giving you some ability to customize your ride. We like that.
The weight is likewise not bad. It’s certainly not best in class, but we regard any standard wheelchair that weighs less than 40 pounds to be a good fit for a travel chair, and this one slides comfortably under that mark. So far, so good then.
Unfortunately, the weight limit is a disappointment here. Most of the wheelchairs on the market today support 300+ pounds of user weight. This one can’t quite get there, missing the mark by a full fifty pounds.
That automatically limits the chair’s appeal. True, it’s still useful to some 80-85% of the market who take the weight limit seriously. And if you weigh more than 250 pounds, consider this model to be a nonstarter.
Also, note that it’s easy to find a transport chair that weighs in the neighborhood of 20 pounds, which makes this model significantly heavier than many of the transport chairs on the market today.
Most people would regard the added weight as fair trade, given that this chair can act as both a conventional wheelchair and a transport chair, depending on your needs.
That’s a totally fair point but recall, too, that Roscoe Medical is in the business of making very basic, affordable chairs. Yet, this one is pricier than some of the other combination chairs on the market but does not support as much weight or sport as many features.
Adjustability and Comfort
As is the case with most basic wheelchairs, there’s not much to talk about in terms of adjustability.
Unlike most of the other models Roscoe offers, the ProBasics Transformer wheelchair is not Hemi-height. You can’t make any adjustments to the seat height. It sits 20” off the ground, which puts it firmly in the big and tall territory.
Unfortunately, remember that it only has a 250-pound weight limit, and most big and tall folks weigh more than that.
You can adjust the length of the swing-away leg rests that come standard on the chair, but that’s your only adjustment option.
Comfort-wise, the chair is okay for short-term seating. It’s upholstered in sturdy nylon fabric, which is breathable. Note that there’s no padding on offer here. If you want padding for longer-duration sitting, you’ll need to buy something from one of the numerous third-party vendors selling wheelchair accessories.
Remember, though, that this chair is relatively more expensive than a basic wheelchair. If you’re on a budget, you might not have much money left over for extras like that.
Extras and Options
This is where the bloom starts to come off the rose for the ProBasics K4 wheelchair. As with most of Roscoe’s other models, this one just doesn’t have a lot of different features on offer.
In addition to not coming with any sort of padding, the chair doesn’t offer anything in the way of onboard storage. As with the padding issue, there are tons of great companies that sell wheelchair storage solutions. If you plan to use this chair for traveling, you’re almost certainly going to want to make that investment.
Also, note that this chair’s leg rests do not come with calf pads and don’t elevate. You can buy elevating leg rests, but if you do, then you’ll lose the swing-away feature. It really depends on how you plan on using the chair. The unfortunate thing is that many companies offer leg rests that both elevate and swing away. Here, you have to pick one or the other.
Portability & Ease of Use
As we mentioned earlier in this review, the K4 ProBasics does a decent job in terms of portability. At 34 pounds, it’s about on par with many of its peers in terms of weight. It has also a small enough footprint that when you collapse it down, you should have no special difficulty finding room for it in the trunk space of most full-sized sedans.
Again, it’s significantly heavier than standalone transport chairs. Still, it has the advantage of being able to serve as both a standard wheelchair or a transport chair, ostensibly at the touch of a button.
While the mechanism that allows the chair to switch from one mode to the other isn’t quite one-touch convenience, it’s not bad. It’s just that it’s not hard to find other models made by other companies that do it better. This one can be finicky.
Partly, that’s due to the somewhat lower production values this chair brings to the table. Also, it’s just that Roscoe doesn’t have a deep pool of experience to draw from where this kind of product is concerned. Combination chairs are more expensive by design, which puts them outside the bounds of the chairs Roscoe typically builds and sells.
If you can look past its twitchy, somewhat finicky nature, you’ll find that the chair handles well enough on even terrains like sidewalks, parking lots, and inside shopping centers. However, it’s not going to fare well if you try to take it across open or uneven ground.
If that’s how you plan on using the chair for the most part, then you’re going to need to add replacement tires to your list of enhancements so you can get something with a bit of tread.
If your plan is to stick to even terrains, though, it will serve you well enough.
Pros & Cons of Probasics Transformer Wheelchair
In our view, this chair tries to do too much and winds up not doing any of it especially well. It’s a combination chair, which makes it too expensive to really be called a budget option. In the same breath, though, it lacks a lot of the finishing touches and extras that many of its comparably priced peers have. You’re paying a premium for a chair that just doesn’t have a lot to offer.
ProBasics K4 Transformer Wheelchair Review Conclusion
This chair should have been better than it is, and in fact, we’ve seen other combination chairs offered by companies with more experience designing and building this kind of product pull it off.
We absolutely understand what Roscoe was trying to accomplish here, and we applaud them for the effort.
Unfortunately, however, this chair is a swing and a miss. As mentioned in the previous section here in our ProBasics K4 Transformer wheelchair review, it’s not full-featured enough to compare with other, comparably priced combination chairs, and the overall quality just isn’t there. That, combined with its disappointing supported user weight, just makes it a nonstarter in our book.
On that basis, we can’t, in good conscience, recommend this model, and that’s a shame. On paper, it should be a decent traveling chair, but it manages not to be.
References & Resources:
- Compass Health, Official Brand Website.
- What Wheelchair Users Want Everyone to Know, Grotto.
- Usage Problems and Social Barriers Faced by Persons With a Wheelchair and Other Aids. Qualitative Study From the Ergonomics Perspective in Persons Disabled by Rheumatoid Arthritis and Other Conditions, Reumatologia Clinica.
- Social Representations of the Wheelchair For People With Spinal Cord Injury, SciELO.
- Benefits of Installing a Wheelchair Ramp in Your Home, Living Free Home.