Being a full-time power wheelchair user, it’s crucial that my wheelchair meets my needs and enables me to maintain my independence and active lifestyle. Unfortunately, many wheelchairs currently available on the market fail to meet the basic requirements. I have experienced this frustration personally, so I was excited to have the opportunity to test drive the new Series 5 powerchair by Glasgow-based company, Freedom One Life.
Created by fellow powerchair user, Alex Papanikolaou, the Freedom One Life Series 5 Powerchair aims to empower wheelchair users to ‘live the life you choose’ without limitations. The Series 5 powerchair addresses five critical issues: battery performance, mechanical reliability, comfort, convenience, and transportability.
If you’re looking for a stylish, reliable wheelchair with exceptional battery performance, whether you’re navigating crowded city streets, exploring rugged terrain, travelling by plane, or simply enjoying a day out with friends and family, then this powerchair could be a great fit for you.
This review is based on my experience using the Series 5 powerchair over five days. If you would like to find out more about this wheelchair and whether it would meet your specific needs, I would highly recommend booking a test drive with the Freedom One Life team. They can arrange the test drive at any location of your choice and answer any questions you have.
First, let’s discuss the look of the Freedom One Life Series 5 Powerchair. Its strong and solid frame and thick tyres give it a powerful and sleek appearance. I was impressed by how the cables and mechanical parts are concealed to give it a clean look.
I’ve had several wheelchairs throughout my life, and I’ve always been frustrated by the limited colour options. Usually, the options are red, blue, silver or black.
However, the Series 5 powerchair comes in a range of colours, and users can even choose their own bespoke colour to make it unique to them. You can literally pick any colour you want.
The five standard colours for the Series 5 are:
- Sicilian Yellow
- Rosso Red
- Deep Blue
- Anthracite Grey
- Papaya Orange
Driving and Battery Performance
Battery performance is crucial, as I don’t want to worry about running out of battery power while out and about. It is frustrating having to plan around the limitations of my wheelchair or cut plans short on a day out or while on holiday because I need to charge my wheelchair for a few hours.
The Series 5 powerchair stands out from other powerchairs on the market because of its 40km range battery, which lasts three times longer. It can travel up to 40 kilometers on a single charge, which is impressive. Additionally, the Series 5 powerchair is equipped with zero-maintenance 660W high-power brushless motors and can reach a top speed of 12 km/h.
During my test drive, I had so much fun driving around at full speed through our local park. I could really feel its power! What’s amazing is that I didn’t have to charge the battery during the five-day test drive, and Alex himself only charges his own Series 5 powerchair around twice a week.
With the Series 5 powerchair, there is no bulky charging unit to lug around with you when travelling. All that is required to charge the powerchair is a cable that connects directly to the side of the chair.
Once charged, the cable can be safely and neatly stored in the backrest that has a zip compartment or more conveniently, in the side pouch next to the armrest.
Reliability is another key factor for me. The Freedom One Life Series 5 powerchair has been road-tested over 20,000km by Alex himself, proving its reliability even in extreme conditions.
The powerchair is made from premium-grade components and materials, and its electrical parts are concealed behind weatherproof and waterproof panels.
The joystick controller is also double-sealed and waterproof, and a rain-mode screen allows for control and setting changes in the rain or while wearing gloves.
Personally, I could have done with this when I recently attended Edinburgh Castle Concerts and got caught in a heavy rain shower. We improvised by covering my joystick with a plastic bag, as I don’t have a wheelchair joystick rain cover.
Not my most stylish look, but the Freedom One Life Series 5 Powerchair has already thought of this issue and made the entire joystick controller waterproof.
Comfort and Seating Options
Comfort is one of the most important aspects for me when it comes to a wheelchair. I spend around fifteen hours every day in my wheelchair, so it needs to be comfortable and meet my complex seating needs.
A wheelchair with good suspension helps maintain balance and stability, especially when driving over rough terrain. Not only can driving over bumps be painful, but due to having poor trunk control, I can become easily unbalanced, which then affects my ability to drive my wheelchair.
Usually, the slightest bump or driving up/down a kerb can force my upper body forward. To prevent this from happening, I’ll either wear my chest harness or have the person I’m with hold my shoulders back.
The low-pressure tyres of the Series 5 powerchair make driving over bumps and rough terrain (even sand) a breeze. It does not have traditional suspension because the team felt that was a potential point of failure. With rear tyres that are 16.5 inches high and 6 inches wide and front tyres that are 4 inches wide, I felt incredibly stable and comfortable while testing it in a local park and driving over rough terrain.
Sitting in the same position all day can lead to health issues, such as pressure sores. That is why having the ability to change positions throughout the day is vital for wheelchair users like me.
The Series 5 powerchair has a powered tilt (50°) feature, which I found especially useful while relaxing and watching TV. The backrest is ergonomic and hugged me in both upright and tilted positions.
Even though the demo chair I tried had a backrest that was fixed in a slightly reclined position, I was pleased to hear that the seating can be customised to suit the individual when purchasing the chair.
Freedom One Life founder, Alex said that “almost every chair we sell has some level of seating customisation. It’s really important to us that people have the right seating and feel comfortable, so we take time to make sure it’s right for each individual.”
This can be in the form of custom-made lateral and calf supports, a specific backrest and seat cushion etc. The team takes pride in ensuring that any customisation appears seamlessly integrated and well thought-out, rather than looking like an add-on or afterthought.
The attached seat cushion comes as standard on the Series 5. However, I have a custom moulded seat cushion on my own wheelchair due to my complex seating needs and would require something similar on the Series 5 powerchair for extra support and pressure relief.
Freedom One Life advised me that the seat cushion can be changed to suit the user’s needs, and this would be taken into account at the time.
There are many options available to customise the powerchair to suit your needs and preferences, like a centre-mount footplate or swing-away footrests. I find swing-away footrests to be more comfortable for positioning my legs. With centre-mount footplates, my feet tend to fall off and I require help placing them back on the footplate.
The Series 5 powerchair also has the option of a fixed or swing-away controller. I love the versatility of the swing-away controller, which swings in both directions and can be pulled closer to me for easier access.
The seat-to-floor height is 584mm, but the elevation feature allows the seat to be raised in height by 300mm to reach for things higher up and to be at the same eye level as others.
Convenience and Transportability
The Series 5 powerchair was designed with user convenience in mind, whether you’re using it day-to-day or while travelling. Everything has been carefully considered, with solutions provided for common issues such as the onboard charger that can convert power no matter where you are, the freewheel lever that’s easily accessible, and the isolation feature that comes with an isolation key to switch the powerchair into plane mode.
The isolation key helps prevent damage that may be caused by airport staff who might pull cables to disconnect the power.
As someone who’s had an airline refuse my wheelchair because the backrest was too high and couldn’t fold down, I appreciate the Series 5’s foldable backrest, which makes it easier for the powerchair to fit in the aircraft hold. There are also 4-point tie-downs for securing the powerchair when travelling in a car.
Pricing and Financing Options
The Freedom One Life Powerchair costs £22,500, which includes everything. In a conversation with the Founder, Alex, he explained that only premium parts and materials are used in the Series 5 model. Every aspect of this chair, from the battery to the metals, paint, and nuts and bolts, was meticulously designed to ensure longevity and reliability.
Although the cost may seem high, it’s important to consider the long-term benefits. With other chairs, the cost of ownership can quickly mount up once all the things you need are added, such as tilt and lift, high-end seating and frequent battery replacements and repairs.
In contrast, the Series 5 requires minimal maintenance and ongoing costs. In fact, the battery is expected to last for the entire lifespan of the chair, which is a significant advantage over traditional wheelchairs that require battery replacements on average every 12-18 months.
The Freedom One Life team creates each Series 5 powerchair according to the customer’s requirements. They carefully consider every detail to ensure customer satisfaction, which is reflected in the chair’s price.
It’s important to note that the cost may not be affordable for all disabled people, just like with any other product or service. However, for those who can afford it, the benefits of the chair will exceed the cost. The team is also happy to discuss financing options and ways they can help, and support schemes such as Access to Work.
Watch me test drive the Series 5 Powerchair
Where to Buy the Freedom One Life Series 5 Powerchair
You can purchase the Freedom One Life Powerchair directly from the manufacturer’s website. I highly recommend you get in touch with the team if you are interested in a test drive or find out more about the powerchair.
I am happy to provide you with a discount code that will give you 5% off the total cost. Please use the code ‘SIMPLYEMMA‘ when placing your order.
Frequently Asked Questions
I shared this Instagram Reel showing me testing driving the Series 5 powerchair and invited followers to ask any questions they may have. Here are a few of the questions I received on Instagram:
How fast does it go?
It can go 12 Km/h.
How does it handle different surfaces?
This Series 5 powerchair has been tested on 100mm kerbs, rough forest trails, hard-packed sand beaches, cobbles, and cattle grids—you name it!
What is the widest seat width offered and the weight limit?
The maximum user weight is 136kg and the standard seat width is 460mm. Custom seating can be done on request.
What’s the turning circle like? Does it feel quite stable on uneven ground?
The chair has a small turning circle to manoeuvre in small, tight spaces. Check out this video showing the Series 5 travelling on a bus. The chair also has a very low centre of gravity combined with the large tyres making you feel very stable.
How big is it? Is it mainly an outdoor chair?
The large rear tyres make the chair look deceptively big; it is, however, just 111.5cm long and 65cm wide, making it the same size or smaller than other rear-wheel drive powerchairs. It was really important to Alex to keep the design as small as possible and to create a chair that would perform equally well indoors, outdoors, and on public transport.
Does the back cover protect the battery from rainwater seepage?
All components are concealed in car-like body panels, making the Series 5 fully rainproof. The panels protect components from water ingress and from mud / off-road terrain. No cables are visible, so they can’t be caught on things.
Conclusion: Is the Freedom One Life Series 5 Powerchair Right for You?
The Freedom One Life Series 5 Powerchair is an excellent option for wheelchair users looking for a reliable, powerful, and customisable wheelchair that meets their needs and enables independence. It stands out as a game-changer in the world of powerchairs.
While the Series 5 powerchair may come at a higher price compared to some powerchairs on the market, for those who can afford it, its benefits will far outweigh the cost. The team is happy to support customers’ finance needs as well as discuss financing options to make it more accessible.
Find out more about the Series 5 powerchair on the Freedom One Life website.
Disclaimer: As always, all views and opinions expressed in this post are my own and 100% honest.