Electric wheelchairs were first developed by Canadian inventor, George Klein, to assist injured veterans during the Second World War. They have come a long way since then and technology has improved so much in recent years that those confined to wheelchairs have found their horizons expanding – so they can now venture off road in territory previously considered ‘out of bounds’.
However these all-terrain wheel chairs come at a price. Here, Chartwell Insurance, a completely independent insurance broker that offers a specialist, caring service for disabled customers, takes a look at what choices are available, whether they are easy to transport, how heavy they are, and, most importantly, how far can you go on a single battery charge.
The Boma from Global Wheelchair is designed so users can line up their everyday wheelchair close to the Boma seat to help with transferring. The Boma is tough enough to cope with hiking, going to the beach, wildlife watching, or just escaping outdoors – it’s been on expeditions across Africa and in the Alps. It comes with full independant suspension, balanced Magura hydraulic disc brakes, large mountain bike wheels and tyres and has a price tag of about £8,675 (ex VAT). With a range of 12 miles, it comes apart into six sections for transport, the heaviest section weighing about 18kg.
The Extreme 8 from Magic Mobility can cope with snow, sand, soft wet ground, rocks and pebbles, and even slippery surfaces. A Standard X8 with MPS seating, foot plates and lights costs around £9,600.00 (ex VAT). Its range is from 4-10 miles depending on the terrain.
The author of Wheelchair Driver has spend the last 14 years in a wheelchair after a bike accident. He has started building his own power wheelchairs to get what he wants at a price he can afford. Take a look to get an idea of what’s involved and benefit from the experience of someone who is constantly refining his ideas for the perfect ride. There’s an active forum on the site where you can ask questions and get advice.
Davinci Mobility Trail Rider Power Assist is an adaption kit that attaches to your everyday wheel chair to turn it into a propelled trike. It has a 2.2kg lightweight 250W motor, making the total weight of the motor and trail rider just 11kg. Gerald Simmons also offer a free-wheel all terrain add-on kit to allow you to push over surfaces that would otherwise have been impossible.
Active Ability has recently launched the Trekinetic GTE ultra lightweight powerchair that weighs in at just 34kg. Trekinetic keeps the weight down by positioning two lightweight motors inside each of the big front wheels. The wheels are quick release and can be removed almost as easily as those on a conventional wheelchair. Priced at £8,995 excluding VAT and delivery, it breaks down into three parts for easy transport.
The powerchairs over at Terrain Hopper are more like dune buggies. They’ve got a ground clearance of 25cm and can cope with mud, dry sand, rocks, curbs, loose surfaces, undergrowth and snow. They are essentially bespoke vehicles and can’t be loaded in the boot of a car. You need to contact the company for details of prices, but you can watch a video preview of the chair in action.