A couple of days ago we posted an article about the release of the Carbon Black wheelchair – an innovative and stylish chair we’d been anticipating for a while. Undoubtedly, the CB’s innovative design is something of a game changer for how we approach wheelchair design, but, although they’re now on sale, they’re tough to get your hands on. One issue is the cost, which is several times higher than most wheelchairs, but it’s also still quite hard to get your hands on one due to popularity – just organising a test drive is problematic at this stage.
We thought in light of this big release, in the interest of balance, we should take a chance to reassess the state of wheelchair design at the end of 2013: what cool wheelchairs are out there, what is on the horizon and what has vanished from the wheelchair market? We’ve looked at some of these before, but, as you’ll see, it was important to take another look and provide an update! We’re look at the best of the best, the most innovative and different designs out there:
It might be best to start with the vanishing act, which mentioned above, so we can clarify what we meant by that. It’s the sad case of the Nomad MRK1, which was one of our favourite, cutting edge wheelchairs but then, the moment we looked away, it seems to have disappeared without a trace. It was a really stylish, minimalist design but as far as we can tell, they’ve just gone. We can’t find them anywhere and the domain name that was once the Nomad Wheelchair website is now an advert for Japanese anti-aging cream. It’s all rather curious. If anyone knows of the whereabouts of these trendy chairs, please get in touch with us.
Moving onto a more positive note, Quickie wheelchairs are some of the best, lightweight chairs available. The new Helium generation of Quickie wheelchairs have been really popular and many Paralympians are using them. They combine function, as “the lightest, most manoeuvrable manual wheelchair ever conceived”, with style.
They are available to purchase and retail at around the £2,000 mark, depending on whether you’re eligible for VAT exemption or not, although prices will vary based on where you go. They’re on sale at various online mobility stores including Gerald Simonds, Active Mobility and John Preston as well as in many local shops (just call your local store or Sunrise Medical to find out more).
Trekinetic wheelchairs are strikingly different to the rest of the crowd, with designs that have completely rethought how a wheelchair should work. Using their experience from engineering cars – Trekinetic All Terrain Limited was originally a state of the art engineering company (under a different name) that specialised in the manufacture of components for the Motor Racing and Formula 1 industries – they have developed state of the art wheelchairs.
There are two key differences between Trekinetic chairs and the rest: Firstly, they have reworked the traditional seat and replaced it with a bucket like ‘Monocoque’ seat, which fits around the body more comfortably that a normal two part chair. Secondly, the front wheels, which you find in most wheelchair models have been removed and replaced with a single wheel behind the seat. This gives more control, stability and helps with shock absorption.
Their original model, the K2, looked a little too chunky and ‘offroady’ for our taste but the newer GT3 looks really sleek and cool and costs £4295. They also have a new power chair, the GTE, which looks good too (£8995). You can find your local dealer on their dealer map.
Marvel wheelchairs are a Canadian model of advanced manual wheelchairs. Like Trekinetic, they’ve taken engineering ideas from another field and seen how they can be used to improve wheelchair design. In Marvel’s case it’s the engineering principles found in bicycle design that have been influential.
They’ve made these wheelchairs which are adjustable, comfortable and look good too. The suspension is lightweight and technologically advanced and the chairs are light but durable. They look to have that pared back design that we tend to look for in a wheelchair. They’re supposedly available in the UK at Cyclone Wheelchairs, although we can’t find the chairs on their site. If you’re interested it’s best to give Cyclone a call.
RGK make bespoke wheelchairs for discerning wheelchair users. Every model they have made over their 25 year history has been uniquely tailored for the individual customers. The co-founders and directors of RGK and most of their customer advisors are wheelchair users so they have the first hand knowledge of what does and doesn’t work. Their chairs all differ in style and price but never in quality. You can find your nearest supplier through their store locator.
Finally, we’re going to give a brief mention to the WHILL wheelchair. It’s not even out in the US until next year, with UK distribution likely to take much longer, but it’s a really great electric wheelchair which uses Segway technology. They’re going to be really cool when they do go on sale!!