The Progeo Duke is a carbon fibre wheelchair in a market that’s is crowded already – both Sunrise and Invacare have the Quickie Krypton, Kuschall K-Series and Champion available in folding and rigid frame variants. So what makes the Duke so special? Dominic took a look at the offering from Italy.
You can find the full specification of the Progeo Duke on the specification page, including the measurement capabilities. However, the key things we’d focus on are the size range and the weight – 5.8kg without the wheels.
One of the biggest things that you immediately notice is that the Duke, like the Joker R2, is that the frame isn’t the same shape as other wheelchairs. It has a striking angular design, akin to something that’s been in a wind tunnel. It looks and feels like someone took care of the design – it’s very Italian.
Then there’s the front struts, with the name within the lacquer rather than a sticker. The pocket has a simple Velcro tab on the front, the rear has a zip.
It’s simple, its elegant and its practical.
Configuration for a Duke
Unlike the Duke’s sister model, the Noir 2.0, the Duke is configurable after purchase, meaning that you can have the centre of gravity, the foot rest height, caster size and back rest height adjusted to meet any change in seating needs – excellent if you have a disability that can progress.
The main bits that can’t easily be adjusted post-build are the camber (0, 2 and 4 degrees) as well as the frame width, depth and inset. Everything else can be adjusted should your ability or needs change.
On the road
When using the Progeo Duke, the frame feels solid and responsive to needs. It’s not too “light” on the front, although the front casters could benefit from being slightly closer to the frame – which is more my personal preference than anything.
The frame also feeds back well through the rear wheel supports – as they are aluminium, not moulded to the frame, you can sometimes loose a little feeling from the rear wheels about the adhesion in the surface, although I didn’t in this case. I also liked how the back, being an adjustable element, didn’t wobble about – the back brace is equally as strong as the frame.
Cool to the touch
I was half expecting the back carbon fibre to get hot to the touch, like a black wheelchair would, when out in the sun. This wasn’t the case – I could handle the frame without burning my hands and indeed, it was no hotter than my aluminium wheelchair. Whilst I know some people have commented that their matte black wheelchair gets warm, it’s not the case here – the lacquer over the frame helping.
When transporting the Duke, the standard side guards don’t fold or remove, meaning that they add to the overall frame size if you’re lifting it over yourself in the car. (Removable side guards are an option.) Whilst this is a similar issue with a couple of competitor wheelchairs, combine it with the rear wheel stems and it means that you have a larger wheelchair to lift across than you otherwise might.
The backrest is released by a cord linked to two pins. It locks in both folded and upright positions, meaning you can pick it up by the backrest bar without worrying.
Once on the front seat, you see that the profile is not dissimilar from other wheelchairs. It’s light weight means that many people will be able to lift it out – the removable option is £110 extra. But this does bring me neatly to…
I’ll start with the basics – the Progeo Duke can be fitted with a carbon, fabric or strap seating system. The back rest, with full carbon fibre as fitted to the test wheelchair is a £600 option. There are a range of supportive backrests available alongside the standard tension back, including the Physio Posture backrests and the ability to fit a Jay back.
Spinergy wheels are available as well, again as a cost option – however, I’d also take a look at the Progeo own ‘light weight’ wheels, as the size range is competitive compared to the Spinergy options. You can also add a range of handrims including Surge LTs. Brakes – I’d recommend spending the extra for the out-front brakes, which don’t impede side transfers.
I have saved the best bit to last though – you can fit a Triride, Batec, SmartDrive and Freewheel to the Duke without invalidating the frame warranty – as far as I am aware, at this time it’s the only carbon fibre wheelchair to offer this.
How much is the Progeo Duke?
The base price is £3,700. If you add in the Spinergy wheels and soft-roll casters, you’re then looking at a further £950, including the Marathon Plus tyres. Adding out-front brakes are another £110 too, bringing the price to £4,760, neatly in line with the Quickie Krypton (albeit with standard proton wheels).
Prices are correct as of 1 August 2018
Lets be clear – there are more and more choices when it comes to carbon fibre wheelchairs on the market. Any manual active wheelchair being entered has a lot of stiff competition.
The Progeo is right up there – limited yet clear options, great design and competitive price. So what’s the draw back? For me, it’s the size when being transported whilst folded down – it feels larger with the fenders – and the front caster stems feel like they’re a bit far back – shorting them by 5mm would make the world of difference.
But these are tiny things. I love the design. I love the way the name is within the lacquer. I love the way it handles. I feel I can handle all the battles that’s thrown at a Duke in it.
And you don’t need the income of a Duke to own one.