S-Ergo 105 is a fantastic wheelchair, offered by a great company for a great price. It is, however, designed for a somewhat narrow segment of the market. It is recommended for anyone weighing up to 250 pounds.
* 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.
Are you a busy, on-the-go person who also happens to have a mobility issue? If so, then you know what a challenge it can be to find a good quality wheelchair that’s light enough to take with you wherever you want and need to go, and yet rugged and full-featured enough to stand up to the rigors of everyday use.
It’s a fine line, and some companies struggle to make such chairs a reality. Karman is not one of those. As one of the most well-respected names in the industry, they have a long track record of making top-quality products and standing behind them, and they offer a number of robust, lightweight models.
Is the 105-S right for you?
The short answer is that it may be. As you’ll see as you move through our Karman S-Ergo 105 review, this particular wheelchair is somewhat narrowly targeted. If you are in the group of target users this wheelchair was meant for; you’ll probably fall in love with it. If not, you’re unlikely to be impressed.
If you’re curious to know more, read on. In the sections that follow, we’ll tell you everything this model gets right, and reveal exactly the kind of person this chair was built for. Let’s jump right in and take a closer look!
An Overview of the Karman S Ergo 105 Ergonomic Wheelchair
The first thing to talk about here in this section of our S-Ergo 105 review where this model is concerned is the name. The simple fact is that you don’t find many models that even mention ergonomics, which makes the S Ergo 105 chair stand out right from the very start.
The ‘S’ in the name is a signifier of the shape of the seating frame. It’s curved in something resembling an S-shape that follows the track of a healthy human spine for a better, more comfortable, and ergonomically correct seating experience.
That’s fantastic, and the ergonomic design of the chair also influences the aesthetic. At first glance, and without knowing about its ergonomic features, you may be hard-pressed to say exactly what’s different about the chair. Those design elements give it a slightly different and unique look that’s not only comfortable but also pleasing to the eye. Its Pearl Silver and Rose Red paint job certainly don’t hurt either!
Before we say more than that, let’s pause for a moment to look at the core stats that define the model. Here’s a quick overview:
- Overall Product Dimensions: 23” (W) x 39” (D) x 35” (H)
- Seat Dimensions: 16” (W) x 17” (D) (This chair is also available in an 18” (W) x 17” (D) configuration if you prefer)
- Chair Weight: 27 pounds
- Maximum Supported Weight: 250 pounds
These are very good numbers.
The S-105 is marginally narrower and less deep than most of its peers while maintaining a comparable height. The smaller footprint paired and the tubed aluminum construction of the frame are the twin secrets that keep the overall weight of the chair to a very surprising 27 pounds.
We regard any wheelchair that weighs less than 40 pounds to be an excellent travel chair option, and this one comes in well beneath that threshold.
Unfortunately, there’s a tradeoff. Note the maximum supported weight. Most of the wheelchairs on the market today will support 300-pounds or more. Sadly, this one is unable to meet that standard. It’s fine if you happen to weigh 250-pounds or less. If you weigh more, no matter how much you may like this model, it’s just a non-starter.
Adjustability and Comfort of Karman S-105
As exceptional as the frame design of the Karman Healthcare S-105 is, the chair doesn’t win high marks in terms of adjustability. The footrests are fixed-frame, where on most chairs, they either swing away, elevate, or both. Also, note that the footrests don’t win high marks for added comfort either, given that they use a calf strap in the place of calf pads.
That certainly gets the job done, but the lack of padding does negatively impact comfort somewhat.
The armrests are similarly fixed in their positions, but they are padded and ergonomically sculpted, so comfort doesn’t take another hit.
Finally, be aware that the seat on this chair isn’t height-adjustable either. It is fixed in its position at 19” from seat to floor.
Given those facts, before you commit to buying this model, you’ll definitely want to take a few measurements to be sure the chair is a good fit for you.
Comfort-wise, the S-105 fares significantly better. The silvered upholstery is nylon-based and coated with an antibacterial treatment.
Even better, the seat is nominally padded, which is a rarity in the wheelchair world. In the overwhelming majority of cases, you have to buy padding separately, and the base model has none at all.
It should be noted, however, that if you spend more than a couple of hours of each day in the chair, you’ll probably still want to invest in additional padding. Even so, the built-in padding will probably work just fine for you if your mobility issue isn’t that severe and you only need your chair for a few hours a day.
Extras and Options of Karman S-Ergo 105
In another unusual twist, the Karman S-Ergo 105 comes with built-in storage! The storage pocket is on the small side, but the fact that it exists at all is outstanding. You’ll probably still want to buy additional storage, and you can find tons of great options offered for a song by third-party vendors, but we love the fact that the base model gives you at least a little storage to work with.
Unfortunately, the chair doesn’t come with anti-tippers, and they’re not available as an optional addition, either. We feel that these should be standard on every chair sold, but the industry as a whole seems to disagree. If anti-tippers are a must-have for you, then this isn’t the chair you want.
Karman does make a number of options and accessories that fit most of the chairs they make. If there’s something “extra” you want or need for your chair, be sure to head to the company’s website, and you’ll be able to customize your ride further.
The last thing to talk about in this section, and something that definitely qualifies as an extra, is the fact that the chair comes with a limited lifetime warranty. That’s huge.
Bear in mind that most insurance companies will only pay for a new wheelchair every five years or so. It means that if you get a chair that has a shorter warranty and something goes wrong, you’ll be on the hook for the cost of the replacement. Here, with proper care, that’s just not an issue, which gives you tremendous peace of mind.
Portability & Ease of Use
While the S-Ergo 105 wheelchair doesn’t win high marks in terms of adjustability, it shines brightly when it comes to portability and ease of use. We can’t say enough good things about the tubed aluminum design.
Twenty-seven pounds is a superb weight for a wheelchair, especially given that most of the chairs on the market today weigh 35 pounds and up.
It’s easy to collapse, and when collapsed, it only presents a 12” profile, which makes it easy to store in the available trunk space of most full-sized sedans and even easier to stash in a hatchback, truck, SUV, or van if you have any of those.
Airline travel is similarly easy with this model. Remember that airlines charge by weight, so every pound matters here. Bear in mind that every airline has different policies. Although the vast majority of the time this chair will sail right through check-in at the airport, you’ll want to call ahead and double-check, just so there are no problems at the gate!
In terms of handling, its scant weight paired with its narrow frame makes it handle like a dream, even in tight spaces. Also, note that the spoked wheels do have some tread on them, allowing this chair to travel over open, uneven ground more easily than most other wheelchairs.
Granted, if you want to enjoy rough hiking trails and the like, you’ll probably still need to upgrade the wheels, but the base model offers excellent handling over a surprising variety of terrains.
Pros & Cons of Karman Healthcare S-105
In our view, the biggest pros of the Karman S 105 ergonomic wheelchair are as follows:
On the other hand, it does have some significant drawbacks, with the main one being that it’s only capable of supporting 250 pounds of user weight, and a secondary issue is that almost nothing about the chair is adjustable. Those things combined make this a fairly narrowly targeted chair.
Karman S-Ergo 105 Review Conclusion
If your measurements and the chair’s measurements are a good fit, and if you weigh 250 pounds or less, you’re probably going to love this chair. In that case, we highly recommend it.
Unfortunately, that’s going to make this chair unworkable for a not-insignificant segment of the market, and we can’t recommend it at all for people in that category. Overall, we can only give this chair a provisional recommendation here in our S-Ergo 105 review, but we readily admit that it’s a rock-solid design.
References & Resources:
- Karman, Official Brand Website.
- Karman S-Ergo 105 Wheelchair User Manual
- Standard vs Ultralight Wheelchairs: Differences in Propulsion in Biomechanics in Pediatric Manual Wheelchair Users, Kessler Foundation.
- Wheelchair Love – A Guide For New Wheelchair Users, Tourettes Hero.
- Manual Wheelchair Use: Bouts of Mobility in Everyday Life, Hindawi.