In a Nutshell:

The Drive Medical Bariatric Transport Chair is a great chair, offered by one of the giants in the industry. Easy to use, versatile, and easy to transport. Exactly what you want in a high-quality transport chair. Recommended for Heavier people who have mobility issues, regardless of age.

Customization options
Ease of Use
Comfort
Performance

Overall Rating

4.5/5

Benefits

  • Surprising add-ons
  • Well-implemented features

Drawbacks

  • No under-seat storage
  • Small water bottle holder
  • No travel bag
Drive Medical Bariatric Transport Chair
4.5

Recommended For: Heavier people who have mobility issues, regardless of age.

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Are you a heavier person with a mobility issue? Have you been struggling to find a top-quality, rugged, and durable transport chair that’s a good “fit” for you?

We understand. It can be a daunting challenge. The tradeoff is that the more weight a chair can support, the heavier it is, which works against a transport chair’s primary function, which is to be light enough to be effortlessly moved from one place to the next.

If it’s something you’ve been struggling with, we’ve got you covered, and you’ll love our in-depth review of Drive Medical’s Bariatric Transport chair.

Drive Medical is one of the giants in the mobility industry. They make great products, which you can read about in our Drive Medical wheelchair reviews, and this model is no exception. While it’s not (entirely) a perfect transport chair, it comes pretty close, which is why it won top honors as the best bariatric transport chair in our roundup review.

In the sections that follow, we’ll outline everything this fantastic model can do and highlight its few shortcomings so you’ll have all the information you need to make an informed purchasing decision. Are you anxious to have a closer look? Let’s get right to it!

Key Features of DriveMedical Bariatric Transport Chair

The first thing you’ll notice about Drive Medical’s Bariatric Transport Chair is its big, burly design that practically radiates stability and ruggedness. It’s not an especially attractive chair (although its sporty red color adds a dash of flair), but transport chairs are rarely designed with aesthetics at the forefront of the design team’s mind. It looks like what it is. It’s got a job to do, and good at it.

As a bariatric model, it’s wider than the average transport chair, but the designers took care not to get too carried away here. It’s still trim enough to fit through a standard doorway, although you’ll want to ensure your arms are tucked inside the armrests when going through doors, as there’s no room to spare!

Left View of drive medical bariatric wheelchair

Chair Specifications

Here are the relevant stats on the model:

  • Unfolded Dimensions (ready for use): 41” x 30” x 37.5”
  • Folded Dimensions (ready for transport): 41” x 12” x 37.5”
  • Chair Weight: 36 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 450 pounds
  • Seat to Floor Height: 21”
  • Back of Chair Height: 16”
  • Seat to Armrest Height: 7”
  • Armrest Length: 14”
  • Width Between Armrests: 22”
  • Seat Width: 22”

As you can see, with a seat width of 22” and capable of supporting an impressive 450 pounds, this model goes far above and beyond the capacity of most of the other transport chairs on the market today.

There are a couple of interesting things to note here. First, this model features full-length arms. That sets it apart because most of the transport chairs on the market today have shorter, desk-length arms. We prefer full-length because the longer arms are more convenient to people with limited mobility in that they provide a larger surface they can hold onto when being transferred to and from the chair. 

Also, this model features impressively sized 12” rear wheels paired with 8” front wheels. We’ll have more to say about this later, but for now, we’ll mention that the bigger rear wheels make it easier for this model to traverse a wider variety of terrains, which is excellent!

As all transport chairs do, this one collapses into a reasonably small footprint, which is good, but there’s a catch. Because it was designed to hold more user weight, it’s a bit heavier than most other transport chairs on the market. Even so, with a total weight of just 36 pounds, it shouldn’t present too big a challenge when loading and unloading into a vehicle’s trunk or other storage space.

It’s also worth mentioning that, unlike most other transport chairs, when you fold this one up, you can use the push bar as a convenient handle, and the chair will still roll when it’s folded for transport. That’s a nice touch that makes it even easier to maneuver, load, and unload.

Finally, where most transport chairs feature handles at the back, allowing an assistant to push it, this model does things differently. In place of the standard handles, Drive Medical has placed an aluminum bar that spans the entire width of the seat back.

It’s a small change, but you’d be amazed by its difference. With pre-positioned handles, the assistant MUST place his or her hands in a set position to provide locomotion. The bar gives the assistant much more flexibility, allowing him or her to maintain a more natural stance, which means the assistant can provide support for longer without fatigue.

Adjustability & Comfort

Note that we’re reviewing this chair’s 22” configuration, but at the point of sale, you can order it with either an 18” or a 20” seat if those would work better for you. The chair’s footrests can be adjusted to taste, and it has anti-tipping struts you can use if and as needed, which rounds out the adjustments on offer in this model.

The footrests also swing away, which enables the caregiver to push the transport chair right up next to a dining or other table. That’s good news because it means that the person sitting in the chair can enjoy a family dinner at home or out at a restaurant without being transferred from the transport chair to the dining chair.

An Image Sample of Easy Adjustability of Drive Medical Bariatric Transport Chair

Where comfort is concerned, we’ll start by saying that in most cases, transport chairs aren’t designed with comfort foremost in mind. They’re designed for relatively short-duration sitting, about 1-3 hours at a stretch. More than that, and it’s going to start getting increasingly uncomfortable.

The base model chair is about average in terms of comfort, but it’s very easy to buy an after-market seat cushion or extra cushioning for the seat back if you’d like to make it a bit cozier.

No matter how many extra cushions you add, though, the one thing you can’t fix or adjust is the fact that neither the seat nor the seat back is angled. This means it feels like you’re sitting in a simple, straight-backed chair. That’s fine for short-term sitting, but if you plan on being in the chair for more than a few hours, then with padding or not, it will start to get uncomfortable.

The addition of an angled seat would have another advantage beyond simple comfort.

It would make it easier for patients and caregivers to navigate sloping outdoor terrains because an angled seat (like a car’s bucket seat) would place the sitter more firmly in the chair and make it less likely to slip out or down when going downhill. Indeed, the included safety belt helps in this regard, but it would be even better in combination with an angled seat.

On-Board Storage & Extras

In our view, this is where Drive Medical’s Bariatric Transport Chair truly shines. There are a few different things to discuss here, but the first and most significant is to again draw your attention to that fantastic full-length bar that sits along the back of the chair. 

This allows the caregiver maximum flexibility in terms of where to grip to do the pushing. It’s simple but makes a tremendous difference and is probably our favorite aspect of this model. There’s also a handbrake on one end of the bar, which gives the caregiver fine-grained control over speed and breaking, which we regard as outstanding.

An Image Sample of Full-length Bar of Drive Medical Bariatric Transport Chair

In addition, the DriveMedical Lightweight Bariatric wheelchair comes with a built-in safety belt for added patient security when the chair is in motion. It also contains a handy storage pouch on the back of the seat and a small mesh pouch for holding a water bottle or other small items.

While all those things are solid feature additions, our one complaint is about the water bottle pouch. It’s just a shade too small, and many water bottles won’t quite fit. It’s easy enough to buy a bigger after-market version, but it would be easy for the company to fix it, so we were a bit disappointed. Nonetheless, where extras are concerned, this model offers more than almost any comparably priced transport chair we’ve seen.

An Image Sample of Seat Belt of Drive Medical Bariatric Transport Chair

We should also mention that although most companies that offer onboard storage put the pouch on the back of the seat, we’ve found a few models that provide a storage pouch or basket under the seat, and we prefer this approach. After all, the person sitting in the chair has to get up to access whatever’s in the pouch. They could access a basket under the seat without getting up, so we regard that approach as the superior solution.

Sadly, the Drive Medical 22 Bariatric Aluminum transport chair chose the “behind the seat” approach. Since most companies do this, we didn’t take points off for it, but in a perfect world, we’d prefer to see the storage under the seat.

An Image Sample of Wheel Lock of Drive Medical Bariatric Transport Chair

Capable of Handling a Variety of Terrains

At the start, we mentioned that we liked the 12” rear wheels. Transport chairs that sport rear wheels larger than their front wheels have an easier time navigating uneven terrain, making them much better able to handle outdoor terrain.

If you plan on mostly using the chair indoors, it won’t matter much to you, but the first time you take it outside, you’ll love those big 12” wheels!

No Learning Curve & (Almost) Ready to Roll Out of the Box

The DriveMedical Lightweight Bariatric wheelchair is almost ready to use right out of the box. About the only thing you have to do is attach the footrests, and you’re ready to go! Because of that, there’s no learning curve to speak of. It may take you a couple of minutes to adjust the footrests to your liking and tighten the safety belt; it would be hard to describe that as a “learning curve.”

Pros & Cons of the Drive Medical Bariatric Wheelchair

An Image Sample of Drive Medical Logo for Drive Medical Bariatric Transport Chair

We love almost everything about this chair, and we think our review to this point reflects that. It offers many well-considered and well-implemented advancements, enhancements, and extras.

That said, we’d like to see a couple of small things changed. These are, in no particular order:

  • Under the seat storage!  This is a pet peeve of ours, and we strongly believe that the storage offered should be accessible by the person sitting in the chair.
  • Angled seating – which, as we mentioned before, would make the chair even more capable of handling outdoor, sloping terrains.
  • A bigger water bottle holder – Small, almost inconsequential thing, but in our view, if they’re going to offer the feature, we’d prefer that it be large enough to be useful.
  • A travel bag for easier transport – True, this model doesn’t need it as much as some others do, given that it can roll while folded up, but imagine how much more convenient it would be if you could put the chair itself and the footrests into a travel bag with a handle? Storing it would be a snap! Sadly, not many chairs offer travel bags, and this isn’t one of them.

We’ll be quick to add that none of these are deal breakers. They’re just little finishing touches we’d like to see that would make a great chair even better.

Drive Medical Bariatric Transport Chair Review Conclusion

The Drive Medical Bariatric Transport chair is well-designed and ruggedly built. It gets almost everything right, and we regard this chair’s few negatives as relatively minor points. With that in mind, we’d recommend this model without hesitation to anyone looking for a chair that supports heavier users. It’s utterly fantastic, and you won’t be disappointed.

Recommended Reading

Nova Medical Products Heavy Duty Transport Wheelchair Review

We explored the NOVA Transport Chair, a heavy-duty all-terrain wheelchair for up to 400 lbs.

Drive Medical Deluxe Lightweight Aluminum Transport Wheelchair Review

Meet Drive Medical’s Deluxe Lightweight Aluminum Wheelchair, which is perfect for children and adults needing mobility support.


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