New wheelchair called revolutionary

It may not have won financial backing when he pitched it on the Dragons' Den, but a Calgary man says the wheelchair he helped design will go into production this year.
The Icon wheelchair's adjustability will set it apart from other products on the market, its developers predict. ((Icon Wheelchairs) )
A Calgary man's dream wheelchair may not have won financial backing when he pitched it on Dragons' Den, but it will be going into production later this year.

The Icon wheelchair will be more comfortable than anything else now on the market, according to Christian Bagg, who helped design the chair. 

"It's super adjustable, it's modular and it has suspension," Bagg said.

These features allow the chair to adapt to a user's changing needs — something traditional wheelchairs simply can't do, he said.

Earlier this year, the Icon was featured on the CBC Television show Dragons' Den, where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business concepts and products to a panel of business moguls.

Wheelchair designer Christian Bagg with a prototype of his Icon chair in Calgary. ((CBC))
The investors turned down Bagg and his partners, Michel Garneau and Paralympian Jeff Adams, balking at their request for $500,000 for a 20 per cent stake in the fledgling company.

But since then, Multimatic Inc., a large manufacturing firm based in Markham, Ont., has signed up to make the wheelchairs.

Bagg — a machinist who broke his back snowboarding 14 years ago — said he has long believed a new kind of wheelchair was needed.

"Most of the people I see cruising around on the street in chairs are in chairs that don't fit them properly," he said.

Wheelchairs have not undergone a significant redesign since about 1985, he said.

"By having the chair so adjustable, I'm really excited to give people the opportunity to change the way they sit," Bagg said. "And change the way they get around in the world, and just feel confident."

Barry Lindemann, who speaks for the Canadian Paraplegic Association, said the new chair has created a buzz in the community.

"And it's cool to think a Canadian or Calgarian is helping revolutionize the wheelchair world," Lindemann said.

Bagg said he gets 10 inquiries a day from people who want to buy the chair, sight unseen.

The Icon will be ready for sale in August, he said. A base model will retail for about $3,500.