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Thread: TR3, SmartDrive etc. at fun San Jose Abilities Expo

  1. #1
    Senior Member grommet's Avatar
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    TR3, SmartDrive etc. at fun San Jose Abilities Expo

    Well yesterday it was the San Jose Abilities Expo for us and we had fun. What a great day. I met Deb as she Rocke'd and Rolled. Saw lots of friends and saw all the things I had on my list including the Tilite TR3 and the SmartDrive.

    The SmartDrive is .. well it looks as good in person as it does online. There were two people at the show who owned them and were reps but not at the show for SmartDrive. Still I did see it in action (didn't try it) and got lots of questions answered. It really does look like the answer for me. But I have learned, you gotta try something for yourself. So I am looking forward to a demo. Check it out if you can.

    The Tilite TR3. The reason I went to the show was to see it, everything else was second on my mind. Eh. It is a little different from the Series 2 as best I could tell. Definitely some improvements. I do like the new lines and the geometry of the lower frame rails. Also there is a new mounting bracket for the fold-down seat. It looks smaller and stronger. Definitely a better look. The round stabilizer bar is interesting, not sure yet how it's an advantage but it's new. Bottom line on my experience seeing it, it's not radical enough that I am going to go out and get it just because it's the newer model. I would certainly get it as the next chair because I love my TR2 and this is the one that would be available. It is improved but it's not earth shattering. No one promised me it was, I just built it up in my mind that it would be radically different and as I saw it, it is more of an upgrade, an improvement.

    Pat D was there with his FreeWheel. What a nice guy. Worth a trip just to meet him. It was fun being at the Expo and all day seeing people walking around with their brand new FreeWheels. Pat must have been doing crazy good business. This year I did try it. I don't know. We didn't make all the adjustments we could but as I it was it raised my front end more than I was comfortable with and it didn't seem like the right time for me to have one. Also, I don't have snow or mud where I live and I don't go off-roading much or on grass. $500 is a fair price, it's a great piece of equipment very well made and designed. I didn't seen my need for it just now though. By the way, you should see how fast Pat can take his on and off. It's like a faked Youtube video. You think it's can't be that fast. But he does it in what seems like 2 seconds. Cool.

    D's Locks. Steve Holub was there and he is a great guy. I can't stop talking about how much D's Locks have helped me since I've gotten them but I won't go on about it here. If you're interested in hub-locks, read the threads and see how people who have them feel about them. For me, they have changed my wheeling life, hugely. He was great, see him if you are at any of the shows.

    Push Girls. Yep they were there in person, two of them at least. They were just like they are on the show which led me to believe what I already thought, the show really is just them living their lives. They answered questions and spoke a bit. I asked a question I thought some CCer's have wondered about, do they work for Colours? They said Colours is a sponsor. It didn't entirely answer my question or did it? Maybe it means they are just getting chairs and not extra. They were nice.

    Colours booth. Oh geez uh, like Fourth of July at a strip club? No that's not fair. This year they didn't have the erotic models. I did for once really take a close look at their chairs. Okay, I am not a bling guy. I don't want to be noticed, I don't like all the colors but .. and I can't believe I'm saying this, they've got some pretty good looking stuff. It grows on you. Their USA chair is really pretty. The red white and blue colors are something to behold and the seatback fabric was very comfortable. Maybe they should start selling it as an after-market product. The chairs still weren't to my liking but they've got something. They are an option and clearly they are working at innovation.

    Mike Box. Wow. Really interesting chairs and I am definitely interested. The problem of course if you have to know exactly what you want and I don't know enough about my measurements to be able to hav that custom a build but wow. See the chairs in person and be ready to be impressed. The guy is also sweeter than Santa, funny too. It was a pleasure meeting him.

    The Expo is a great place to see products first hand and it's seeming more and more to me that it's the only way to judge stuff. You gotta hold it, sit in it, shake it. The place can feel a little sleazy with the high-pressure selling from some of the vendors but I'll tell you what, none of the folks who made what I think is the good stuff put any pressure on you at all. The larger vendors are a bit vulture like but if you can stand a trip to a car dealership then dealing with those guys for a few minutes won't be a reason to avoid the show.

    Very glad I went. My girlfriend was a freaking saint! She let me look at things as long as I liked without even a tiny exhale or impatient whimper. I can't imagine how boring it was for her (AB) but she was an angel and I got my fix. So check out the show if you can and if not for the interesting and sometimes great products and some of the great people you'll meet, go just for the fun of seeing the bullshit the major vendors are slinging. If you step back a bit, it's actually entertaining seeing them smile sell and mostly lie. If you're looking for what they are selling you don't need to talk to them anyway, ask folks on CC and they'll tell you what's going on.

  2. #2
    Nice read grommet. If I try and analyze my going from the TR to TR3 I have to try and separate the changes they made and the changes I made in my setup, which my changes made my TR3 a much better chair for me, plus I much prefer the polished frame.

    I like the more rounded front on the TR3 and with the inset of the bottom frame rails it not only gives a sleeker look, but when I lean over and look down, I don't see the bottom rails. The bracket for the folding back is much cleaner. As you say, it isn't a dramatic change, I never saw it as one, but the subtle changes are nice IMO. Also, the composite brakes are excellent, a non-issue for you.
    C5-6 Complete - 8/13/1982

  3. #3
    Senior Member grommet's Avatar
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    Brian, I definitely like the chair. It looks good and the new folding-back brackets are nice - I want those. Thanks for telling me about the view looking down. I didn't know that. The less chair I see, the better. One of the things I liked about the Icon, it looks like it disappears beneath you. For me is that the TR is such a good chair that I wonder how much they can improve it but they didn some ways. I am looking forward to getting one.

  4. #4
    You don't really have to know exactly what you want with Mike Box chairs, you do have to have an idea. He personally will walk you through the order form.

  5. #5
    Senior Member grommet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ABox View Post
    You don't really have to know exactly what you want with Mike Box chairs, you do have to have an idea. He personally will walk you through the order form.
    Wow, that's exciting to hear. I thought I couldn't be in the market for a Mike Box chair because I don't have everything down to millimeteres but that sounds possible. I care more about strength and reliability than anything else and it seems to me that's where Box chairs shine the most. I loved seeing the guys there using them. They looked like they were having fun. I mean chairs are no effing fun but .. you know. If I could feel even better about going all over and not having to worry about my chair that would make me happy. Not that I've every gotten a lick of trouble from my Tilite TR but whenever I go down stairs (did it at the show, didn't want to wait in the cue for the elevator) or off curbs I see in my mind the photos of cracked Tilite frames I've seen. I'm only 150lbs so maybe it's never going to be a problem but the Mike Box chairs look like I could spend all day trying to break one and I'd only be tired.

    Thanks for telling me about Mike working with people on their measurements. It puts an option on my list I didn't think I had. I need to check out the website. http://www.mikeboxdesigns.com/

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by grommet View Post
    Wow, that's exciting to hear. I thought I couldn't be in the market for a Mike Box chair because I don't have everything down to millimeteres but that sounds possible. I care more about strength and reliability than anything else and it seems to me that's where Box chairs shine the most. I loved seeing the guys there using them. They looked like they were having fun. I mean chairs are no effing fun but .. you know. If I could feel even better about going all over and not having to worry about my chair that would make me happy. Not that I've every gotten a lick of trouble from my Tilite TR but whenever I go down stairs (did it at the show, didn't want to wait in the cue for the elevator) or off curbs I see in my mind the photos of cracked Tilite frames I've seen. I'm only 150lbs so maybe it's never going to be a problem but the Mike Box chairs look like I could spend all day trying to break one and I'd only be tired.

    Thanks for telling me about Mike working with people on their measurements. It puts an option on my list I didn't think I had. I need to check out the website. http://www.mikeboxdesigns.com/
    We are in the process of getting a new website designer so hopefully in the near future it will have a more consumer friendly appearance.

  7. #7
    Enjoyed the review.

    There's no question that the TR3 just looks more hardier than other TiLite models. But, I have to say, I'm not the biggest fan of the new lower frame design. With everything so tightly spaced, my pant leg ends up getting hitched on the frame. I've never had this problem with my other chairs.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by grommet View Post

    The Tilite TR3. The reason I went to the show was to see it, everything else was second on my mind. Eh. It is a little different from the Series 2 as best I could tell. Definitely some improvements. I do like the new lines and the geometry of the lower frame rails. Also there is a new mounting bracket for the fold-down seat. It looks smaller and stronger. Definitely a better look. The round stabilizer bar is interesting, not sure yet how it's an advantage but it's new. Bottom line on my experience seeing it, it's not radical enough that I am going to go out and get it just because it's the newer model. I would certainly get it as the next chair because I love my TR2 and this is the one that would be available. It is improved but it's not earth shattering. No one promised me it was, I just built it up in my mind that it would be radically different and as I saw it, it is more of an upgrade, an improvement.
    I could simply be suffering from a lack of imagination, but I think there's a whole lot of wheelchair design revolution left. The Marvel struck me as something revolutionary but I couldn't get it to fit (even with Jeff's assistance) and its caster wing design hinted at potential skin issues. Same with the Icon -- it's revolutionary looking but the frame geometry would subtract from my independence, not enhance. (Though I'm happy for those for whom it's the perfect chair. Choice rocks).

    Carbon fiber frame chairs are promising for their ultra-utlra-lightweight potential but will they offer the same durability as a titanium frame chair? Probably not. And, of course, they're obscenely expensive.

    So a chair like the TR3 (and its next of kin) may represent the state of the art, maybe even the apotheosis of wheelchair design. Sure, there are some mad scientist wheelchair designs that get posted around here from time to time, but none of them are truly practical. So the advancements really come in shape of improved components and accoutrements: better wheels, cushions, hub locks, innovative implementation of carbon fiber.

    For me, I think my ZR2 is certainly allowed into the hallowed chamber of state of the art chairs. Rigid fixed-frame chairs are IMO the best you can get for performance and durability. And there are lots of innovative components you can add to them to personalize them for fit and appearance.

    We live in a time of great manual chair design and manufacture with TiLite and, soon, Oracing leading the way.

  9. #9
    Great review. Thanks!

  10. #10
    Senior Member ~Lin's Avatar
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    I'm so jealous. I hope I can afford to go to the Chicago expo this summer. My friend (sparkleraptor here) was at the San Jose expo and got flsr and a freewheel.
    Board Member of Assistance Dog Advocacy Project working in Education. Feel free to ask me any service dog questions!

    I am not paralyzed. I have a genetic connective tissue disorder with neuro complications and a movement disorder.

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