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Thread: Random thoughts on making your chair stupid-light...

  1. #1
    Suspended Andy's Avatar
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    Random thoughts on making your chair stupid-light...

    I had the opportunity to totally disassemble my chair as I needed to replace its frame due to some cracking. What really amazed me is that the frame on your typical titanium chair is not the heavy part, actually it is ridiculusly light. The added weight comes from such parts as the casters, the brakes, the axle tube, and upholstery (mostly in that order). This got me thinking, while all the wheelchair makers are going on about how their titanium chair is the lightest, we are still dealing with heavy clunky hardware weighing down the total weights. As an example, the caster assemblies are pretty heavy, even when you have hollow caster stems, because those caster stems are made of steel. I see that they make titanium quick-release axles, why not titanium axle stems? That in itself would shave 1-2 lbs at least off a chair. Then there are the brakes (made of steel also). How about some titanium brakes (or even hard-anodized aluminum)? These two assemblies stuck me as something that really could use some improvement when you are looking to make your chair ridiculously light. While I might be splitting hairs on this subject, I still think it would be really cool to be able to have these options in the quest of not having to lift up too much weight when breaking down a chair for putting it in your car (and reducing the weight that you push around).

    While I am babbling about this stuff, I thought I would throw out some tips on how to make your chair light as possible. So here we go...

    1. Look at the back of your chair. Are you running something like a J2 back with a steel panel? That in itself is somewhere around 5 lbs of dead weight. Maybe switching to a hard back made of plastic like one of those Jay 'extreme' backs would be good for you. Or, you could simply get a sling back for the ultimate in lightness (and the thing will fold down completely and not have all sorts of clunky hardware attachments).

    2. What sort of tires are you running? Do you have those 'everyday' tires? Those are pretty heavy, switching to something like a Primo V-Trac tire will shave a lb. or two off your wheels, and the higher pressure these tires use dramatically reduces rolling resistance.

    3. Are you running standard wheelchair wheels? While this is a relatively costly option, those Spinergy wheels with spokes that are not made of steel are noticably lighter than your typical wheelchair wheel.

    Well, that is all the random thoughts I have for now on the subject of super-light wheelchairs. Hope it helped with how you are setting up your chair and gave you some ideas on how to improve yours. If anyone has any other ideas on this subject, throw them out there, I would love to hear about them!

  2. #2
    I striped off everything I didn't use and shaved about 5 lbs. off my chair. The anti-tip bars were the first to go, but the mounts were the last thing to come off because I had to remove the axle tube and replace 4 bolts.

    I stopped using the arm rests because they were rubbing my elbows raw (I have sensation there, but aparently I can't feel pain). The arm rests themselves were a pound or two, but removing the mounts shaved off another extra pound. It took some getting used to, but I find I have much better balance now that I've weened myself off of them. Not having arm rests in the way also makes the chair a whole lot easier to push.

    If you really want to get extreme, you can fill your tires with helium, and if the frame tubes are sealed you can fill it with helium also. I've seen racing bicycles that have helium filled tires and frames, so it could work for wheelchairs too.

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  3. #3
    I have my chair down to about 17lbs without my cushion. right at 20lbs with the cushion.

  4. #4
    Senior Member amanda's Avatar
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    trying a varilite back, rather than the heavier and bulky types, might shave a lb or two off your chair weight. I was using a jay back and had to remove it every time I loaded my chair. but, with this one I leave it on with no problems.


    I've often wondered about the weight of the axle and hardware that isn't titanium.The footplate isn't ti either. I bet my chair would be a feather weight if every piece of metal was titanium. that would make for a better day.

    " The best way to predict the future is to invent it."
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  5. #5
    Yeah, the frame is as minimal as possible for the most part. So clean an sweet ( I have a ZRA), but it is the add on stuff that adds up. Casters are damn heavy; they make the billet type with holes in them, but they are $$$$. I have a lot of extra weight on my chair due to: black coated handrims, a small bag with wallet/keys/phone, and I put a piece of 3/8" of OAK under my cushion. These are well worth the added weight, IMO! I have no anti tips, no push handles, no calf strap. I roll the Spinergy rims and I do love them-- still pretty light with the coated pushrims and Primo V traks.

    It is pretty sick how light chairs are and how light they will become over time. My first chair was a Quickie Revolution and it was seen as a breakthrough then!!! It was heavy, but made these TiLites seem like paper. Good thread!



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  6. #6
    Suspended Andy's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Amanda:


    I've often wondered about the weight of the axle and hardware that isn't titanium.The footplate isn't ti either. I bet my chair would be a feather weight if every piece of metal was titanium. that would make for a better day.
    Amanda, the axle tube doesnt seem all that heavy considering the size of it. The main tube is made out of aluminum with the axle receivers screwed in the ends being made of steel. It didnt seem to be too much of a weight hog to me when I had it off. Now if you have a TiLite chair with those adjustable axle height plates on it, that could be a weight penalty to consider as those are steel, along with all the extra bolts used to have this feature. I wasnt all that impressed with the weight of the angle adjustable footplate on my chair, I would like to go with the basic titanium tubing footplate that comes with TiLite's chairs, although I think there may be a problem with the footplate angle if I were to turn it around to be used as the first point of impact on the chair to open doors like I currently have my angle adjustable footplate. Now if you like having your footplate mounted like it comes from the factory, that might be something to consider if you wish to shave a lb. or so off your chair.

  7. #7
    Senior Member amanda's Avatar
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    andy- I have a quickie ti. the footplate is fixed. I'm not sure about the type of metal it is. I do know it is not titanium though. you can tell on my chair every piece of metal that isn't titanium because of all the scratches on the given part. I cannot even imagine what my chair would look like if it weren't ti...it would be sooooooo scratched up.

    on the subject of striving for an ultimate light-weight chair..... I'm wanting to invest in some light wheels. the ones I have right now are just regular bicycle-type wheels. what are the options for shaving a few lbs? what can you tell me about the spinergy wheels? I've checked out their site and there is a dealer in my area. it will be until after finals before I can get down there though. do they come with a quick/quad release? (is that one in the same?) also how do I know what size my chair has on it right now and are they interchangeable size wise. my chair is adjustable, so if I were to go for a smaller or bigger size would it be do-able? and what would be factors in deciding a size...other than having to transfer around a bigger tire?

    sorry to be so long-winded

    " The best way to predict the future is to invent it."
    - Alan Kay


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    I got the titanium handrims and hubs on my Spinergys to shave some weight off. I've "invested" a lot of money on the high performance high pressure tires in the past both in my racer and in my everyday chair. I've gone back to everyday tires in my everyday chair after getting 2 flats in 1 week...bye bye $300. There's light weight, high performance and cost to consider and you can't get all three.

  9. #9
    Suspended Andy's Avatar
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    Hey Steve...those Titanium handrims you have, does the surface become all shiny smooth and slick like anodized aluminum rims with age, or do they maintain a nice rougher surface like when new?

  10. #10
    making your chair stupid-light...
    you can fill your tires with helium
    Do not waste your time and money filling your tires with helium or hydrogen. They are the two smallest elements. Both migrate through rubber quickly. If a low pressure rubber helium filled party balloon deflates over night. Imagine how fast a 100 PSI rubber tube will lose pressure. You will need to top them off every few hours and wake up to flat tires every morning. The aircraft industry and some racers use nitrogen in their tires to get rid of the 21% oxygen that is in air to reduce the risk of fire or slower forms of oxidation. Air is about 78% nitrogen and 1% argon and other gasses. If you've never set your wheels on fire during breaking or acceleration you are best off filling your pneumatic tires with free air, it is mostly nitrogen.

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