The Küschall Champion SK is one of the smallest folding ultra-light wheelchairs on the market. With a unique folding mechanism, we had some big questions for this compact wheelchair.
The technical specs
The Champion SK is made from aluminium with 75° or 85° front angle options. There are 6 seat width (14″-18″) and 8 seat depth (13″-19″) options, whilst there are a range of rear and front seat heights. We tried to do the combination option calculations and gave up. The seat back is a standard nylon light upholstery (most people will opt for the tension backrest) and 24″ wheels with Schwalbe Black and Grey Pneumatic Tyres are also included. Most importantly, an auto-folding footplate comes as standard, helping to maintain the rigid feel to the wheelchair.
Folded weight without the wheels is from 6.7kg without the wheels, it can take a user up to 120kg.
Making it yours
There is a range of options including
- 13 Colours
- 3 clothes defenders (two of which are mud guards)
- 21 front casters
- 5 push handles
- 5 backrest angles (76-94 degrees)
- 9 rear wheel positions
- 3 cambers
- 11 different rear wheels
- 9 hand rims…
Most people go for the Spinergy wheels, a vented tension backrest, soft roll casters, 2 or 4 degree rear wheel camber and fold down handles.
Folding and unfolding
The folding is the Champion SK’s raison d’etre (or as the French would say, reason for living). The method of choice for the Champion SK is slightly different to a standard folding wheelchair – rather than using a cross brace, it has a folding bracket that is released by pulling on a cord at the back of the seat. To open the chair, you pull on a cord under the seat from the front. To close, pull the cord at the back to drop the back and close the frame. Sounds simple so far. We found it easiest to do this bit first before removing the wheels using the quick release axles.
The front frame, footplate and casters also fold down, meaning that the Champion SK folds as small as an A3 binder in it’s smallest form. The front folding frame is activated by small plastic push releases, which are easiest when your dexterity isn’t limited. When folded, the frame is held together with a clip under the front of the seat sling, meaning you should always ensure the seat sling lifted up as you fold the chair.
As for lifting the wheelchair, as a novice you’ll find the front casters dropping down if you’re not careful and it is quite worrying that you might catch or break the carbon clothing defenders if you’re not keeping an eye on the lift. If you’re going on a plane, you can also fold the chair small enough to put it into a rucksack (and the wheels in a wheel bag) – a great idea.
When it comes to unfolding the chair, pulling on the cord is the challenging bit, as you need to give it the right pull in order to achieve that magical “click” that means the under-seat brace is locked into place. We found this a bit hit and miss, most likely down to the new-ness of the wheelchair we were trying. We recommend making sure you try out folding the champion before you acquire one.
Getting out and active
With cars getting smaller and road users being encouraged to consider city cars over larger vehicles, we needed to find out if it would fit inside a car smaller than a medium estate car. We headed to Marshall’s Seat in Braintree, where we were challenged with the smallest car in the Seat range, the Mii. With it’s 1.2 litre engine, 5 doors and ability to seat 4 adults in comfort, what would this mean for someone looking to buy one on the Motability range for nil advance payment?
Placing the Champion SK in the boot, even with the wheels, you still have space for a small suitcase or a week of groceries. No friends with you? Then the Champion SK fits neatly in the footwell of the passenger seat. Putting the wheelchair in and out of the car is made easy by the low central console, too, which is good because when we lifted it in and out, we found the front casters and footplate would try to unfold if we didn’t pick it up correctly.
Best of all, because you’re driving an economic little car that does 64.2mpg, you can afford to splash out on a great colour or active brakes for the Champion SK. We loved the blue on blue combination of the Seat Mii and the Champion SK – so much so that we took a few photos.
On the path handling
The Champion SK is very capable of day to day active movement at around 3-5 MPH. The stable under-seat folding bracket and autofold footplate help with much of the ride handling. If taking an off camber downhill corner, you can feel a little flex in the frame – not enough to worry you though. A wheel camber comes into its own with the Champion though, as this gives added stability when cornering at walking pace or faster.
You don’t notice the folding element when on the grass either – the Champion SK is very capable over grass and bumpy ground, meaning that the picnic on a Saturday afternoon isn’t out of reach.
All of this means that when you’re running around the supermarket at five minutes to four on a Sunday, the Champion SK manages well, ensuring you get to the checkout before the tills shut.
Around the office and house
The Champion SK is a very capable manual wheelchair, which means you’ll be able to undertake day to day living with ease. The family life benefits from the easy maneuvering by the agile chair – and you expect nothing less of something descended from the Küschall K-Series. The Champion SK is a comfortable wheelchair that fits neatly into your life.
An underseat pocket (for a USB battery charger or wallet) is available as an option – one that we would recommend. You can also get a mobile phone holder too.
The Champion SK is a clever idea, with a great folding size that means it travels well. However, the folding and unfolding is cumbersome and fiddly at times, which means that if you have muscular or some neurological conditions, you may want to consider a rigid frame wheelchair instead – the Champion SK’s sister, the K-Series, is the inspiration for the Champion wheelchair.
We love the weight of the wheelchair when folded – for travelling, this is one of the easiest chairs to take abroad or in a small vehicle. The new vibrant colour range is amazing too, meaning you can customise your Champion SK to fit into your lifestyle even more.
Our only other challenge was when we came to price up the wheelchair. At £2,500 before you add any options such as handles or a supportive back upholstery, it’s quite expensive even for something as well built as the Champion SK.
If you’re a frequent traveller or have space limitations in your road vehicle of choice, this chair is great for you. That rucksack option, due this summer, means you’ll never worry about your wheelchair in the aircraft hold or an Uber boot again.
Bottom line – if you need the folding elements, you’ll be a fool if you don’t look at this compact folding ultralight wheelchair.