Carbon Black, the revolutionary wheelchair that has had us all on tenterhooks, waiting for its release, has finally arrived.
We first became aware of it last June when Fiona saw, and promptly broke, a prototype of the chair at The Design Museum. Immediately the Carbon Black had our attention due to its sleek and intelligent design. Our interest only grew when we saw designer, Andrew Slorance, on his BBC documentary, My Perfect Wheelchair, later that summer. However, after that, things went a bit quiet and despite being slowly fed information about the progress being made, something seemed to be causing the release date to become further away rather than closer. So, there was a feeling of relief, as much of excitement, when we saw that Carbon Black is, at last, officially on the market.
We know from the quantity of inquiries that we’ve received, that we weren’t alone in our anticipation of this innovative new wheelchair. Seeing the finished product, you feel like it has been worth the wait. The Carbon Black is complete reworking of wheelchair design in terms of function and its focus on style too. The designers started with a blank canvas to create something which is minimal, lightweight and that anyone would want to be seen in. Key to Slorance’s vision was that the chair’s frame should be as minimal as possible so that the user isn’t in anyway obstructed or hidden in the bulky chair; more you less chair. The result is so beautiful that one could spend ages just admiring the stunning images in the Carbon Black gallery.
Made from carbon fibre – that material which always gets Jeremy Clarkson and the rest of the Top Gear team so excited – the Carbon Black has an incredible strength to weight ratio, unparalleled energy efficiency and is able to absorb bumps for a smoother ride. Carbon Black uses dry bearing technology, so there is no need for oil anywhere on the chair and the chair’s disc brakes (as opposed to standard wheel brakes) are another thing that would be appreciated by petrol heads.
But the chair appeals to people from all walks of life and we’re more interested in the comfort, practicality and style than the engineering that makes the thing work. Again, the Carbon Black excels here, with backrests with a comfortable, breathable surface to lean against that doesn’t retain water and optional folding clothes guards to protect your clothes from rubbing on the tyres.
The price of Carbon Black wheelchairs was finally revealed, when the website went live, just over one week ago, as £9,950 for a standard chair with no add-ons. To add all of the optional extras, which include LED lights (£500), an under-seat pouch (£70), the clothes guard we mentioned (£600) and more, would cost £12,620.
These figures represent an obvious stumbling block for many people who might be interested in using a Carbon Black and even we have noticed some people quibbling about the price. It’s a bit of a shame but it’s not really a great surprise considering that the aim was to create a completely new type of wheelchair, with the best possible quality parts and intuitive design. This was never going to be covered by the NHS. Realistically, without wanting to sound callous, it’s no shock that it is as expensive as it is; you wouldn’t expect a Ferrari to be the same price as a Ford Anglia. It’s a niche product but hopefully one that mainstream manufacturers can learn from.
It’s been wait, but for Andrew Slorance the Carbon Black vision has taken six whole years to come to fruition, a good deal longer than for most of us who found out about it so much more recently. It’s an exciting time to be able say that his groundbreaking vision for a stylish wheelchair has now become a reality.
To book at test drive with Carbon Black visit their website or call 01667 454 089.