The Mountain Trike is a brilliant new wheelchair, designed to help less able people enjoy the countryside. With three wheels, suspension and a clever lever system, these wheelchairs are able to go off-road, making them perfect for lovers of the outdoors.
The Mountain Trike’s inventor, Tim Morgan, has recently been awarded a Silver Medal from the Royal Academy of Engineering for his design. He told The Daily Telegraph why he made the wheelchair: “I’m a mountain bike racer and I love the great outdoors. I designed this to fill the gap of a mountain bike equivalent for wheelchair users.”
The Mountain Trike clearly aims to emulate the mountain bike and is succeeding by all accounts – one guy has ridden up Mount Snowdon in one of them. This mountain bike influence is clear in the design of the chair. The main feature is that user sits in the wheelchair seat and uses levers, which are attached to a chain like on a bike, to propel the chair forwards. The chair also has hydraulic disc brakes which are similar to those on a mountain bike.
But one of the great things about the Mountain Trike is the steering. Rather than having to use the brakes to help steer, you simply turn a steering lever “like a joystick”. This then turns the back wheel and changes direction. That all means that you don’t have to use those mountain bike style brakes to help steer and you can keep your momentum.
Even hardened thrill seekers like to keep comfortable and Morgan seems to have taken this into account when making the chair. The seat has been designed to keep users as comfy as possible and mountain bike style suspension prevents people from experiencing too much of a bumpy ride. Best of all, the lever system means that you don’t get your hands dirty touching the wheels!
It’s a really great idea but we have a few minor concerns. Firstly, we he have to tackle the issue of style – that’s obligatory given our name. For something that is so practical the Mountain Trike does actually look pretty good. The vibrant colours of the frames must look pretty cool as you speed through the woods. But compared to some other wheelchairs, these are less stylish and probably less versatile too – can’t see many people using one as a day chair.
A genuine problem is the cost of the chairs. Buying a Mountain Trike sets you back £4,395 excluding VAT if you buy them from their website. That seems like a lot for something that a lot of people wouldn’t realistically need or want to use every day. However, what Mountain Trike have ingeniously done is make some of the chairs available to rent. If you’re going on any kind of expedition – a hike, a week in the country or a festival for example – you can pay to borrow one for a short period of time, giving you all the fun of having the chair but without the complication of always having it. You can also go to an Experience Centre and have a go on one for the day. What a brilliant idea!
Mountain Trikes are an excellent addition to the world of wheelchairs. A wonderful way to enjoy the countryside and go off the beaten track.
Would you want to buy or hire one? There’s lots more information on their website, including some informative videos. Get in touch to tell us what you think.