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Thread: Occasional use off-road wheels on a budget???

  1. #1
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    Occasional use off-road wheels on a budget???

    Normally I wouldn't be caught dead in a manual (I LIKE my shoulders) except when I am having to go somewhere my powerchair won't... Because of our house layout I also use it (reluctantly) inside at home.

    My manual is a Quickie Q-7, that I put a pair of SPOX wheels w/ Natural fit pushrims on to replace the wire wheels that it came with.... The SPOX wheels have skinny solids on them which saves me the hassles of keeping them inflated, and are OK for the short distances I use them most of the time.

    However I am also an adaptive rock climber, and on the few occasions a year where I get the chance to play on real rocks (instead of the power-chair accessible rock gym) I usually have to fall back on the manual in order to get to the crag, since nature is not ADA compliant A couple of weeks ago our adaptive climbing group went to Crow Hill in MA, which required the AB volunteers to carry me in my chair over about 1/2 mile of boulders and other obstacles - the kind of stuff that would have been rough to walk over... Not going to complain to them but getting scuffed around the rocks chewed the heck out of my natural fit pushrims. I was able to mostly clean them up with some emery cloth, but that did a number on the pretty anodized finish... The skinny indoor solids certainly didn't help pushing the chair either....

    In addition the local bicycle chopper gang wants to take me along on one of their expeditions - we are planning to build a rig that effectively turns my Q-7 into a trailer, that can hang off the back of a tandem with a couple of the more "gorrilloid" members doing the motive power....

    For both of these I'd like to have a spare set of wheels with wide shock absorbing tires - presumably knobbies - that can be run reasonably soft. I would probably eliminate the push rims (My friend Sean O'Neill who taught me a lot of my climbing tech has a setup like that on his chair which works quite well)

    I looked on SportAid, and their prices for off-road wheels are extortionate (like anything mobility related...)

    I do have the pair of wire-spoke wheels that came on my Q-7, and I'm wondering if there is any reason I couldn't fit a set of bicycle rims to those hubs, or possibly take the NaturalLT push rims off them, and fit a pair of really wide balloon tires...

    The wheels currently have Primo "Orion" hospital Green (even if they say it's grey) tires in 37-540 (24 x 1 3/8") and have 30 spokes...

    What is my best option to get offroad suitable tires on my chair w/o breaking the bank?

    ex-Gooserider
    T-5 ASIA-B para, currently working on building own power chair, as being in a manual is an EXTRA handicap.

  2. #2
    Senior Member ~Lin's Avatar
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    I dont see why you couldn't take the hubs from your wheels and use them with a bicycle rid. Ive been considering the idea myself, but putting push rims on has me stuck. So since you dont care about push rims it shouldn't be an issue. I was at my local bike shop the other day and asked how much to build a wheel, and they said if I supply all the parts its 35 to put it together. So ive thought about trying to find a wide bicycle rim that matches in spoke count to a spare wheel set I have. Id like to use a set of balloon tires, especially for when I get my smart drive power assist.
    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.

  3. #3
    Kudos to you for drawing me out of lurk mode and compelling me to make a CareCure username. I've lurked for a long time. (No SCI; Cerebral Palsy since birth). I am also one of those people who has set up an outdoor chair...and done it on a budget. My insurance won't cover anything chair-related as I still walk in my home, but the whole outdoor / long distances thing has compelled me to a chair for efficiency and enjoying myself again. If it wasn't for the chair I would limit my activities a ton because of the pain / muscle spasm / distance issues.

    I have a Quickie Ti set up with knobby 24 x 1 3/8 tires, pneumatic, inflated to about 65 lbs. I really like it and have taken it to some extreme outdoor places - one with a hill so steep I had to ride down with my hands on the handrims to keep from becoming SCI, and then literately pull myself back up and sit sideways on the graded hill to rest (thank goodness there was a handrail I could pull against) - and that trip involved a lot of vehicle-packed gravel that was surprisingly easy to roll through (just stay in the tire tracks from the cars).

    Then the next place I've taken it to was just recently, seriously out in the boondocks with lots of gravel and dirt for paths. It worked pretty well; certain parts of the terrain tried to dump me out and another part I lost control (that was the only time!) - and had to be caught by somebody - but overall I couldn't have done those activities without my chair. I would have been so grumpy and tired had I tried to use my forearm crutches.

    Some of the gravel was larger gravel, what I call "slag," and I had to wheelie it. My casters on that chair are stock Primos (the cheap ones, I think) - and it would have been better to have different casters. A lot of the time, especially in the slag, that's what caught me up. I think it was due to their smaller size and I doubt they make knobby casters but.... (I did consider it, and/or larger casters). Wider casters would probably be helpful, too (I have 5 x 1's on that).

    The wheels I have are your stock rims; Sun rims of the compatible size. (I don't remember what they are right now, sorry). I took special time to tighten all my fittings before I left for said outdoor trip (even though I knew I would probably rattle my chair really well) - and am glad I did. The spokes came out of it surprisingly well - I only had a few that really needed to be tightened, but to me, one or two spokes a little loose can really make a big difference when I get to the streets. Outdoor nature I really don't notice; either that and/or I'm only out for a few days. Once I return to the city though, loose spokes hurt!

    The other thing I did is I have a Matrx 16 x 18 back on this chair. I have to admit - *that* is what saved me a ton of times in the outdoors recently, and when I ride in my now-mostly-daily street chair, I miss the Matrx most of all. I've got to get someone to help me switch it out. The way my back cooperates with that Matrx is very nice. It almost acted like its own shock absorber while I was bouncing over all this stuff, which is great because I can't afford any suspension or major mods. If it hadn't been for the Matrx, and I'd been running the fabric back of my now-mostly-daily chair, I would have felt things a lot more. As it was it was nice, although I did come home somewhat sore (I anticipated that - it was *a lot* and most ABs were sore, too).

    The thing I would recommend / have done also is to make sure my tires were in good working order - I got a flat in the tube just before I left for this outdoor adventure, so we replaced that and the guy who helped me put some powder on the rim to help the inner tube slide along. I hadn't heard of that but he swore by it. Then we also added the green slime to my tire tubes which I've done before and have good success with. I took a spare tube (although not a spare tire - I was traveling a bit light and risky because I do have the ability to walk some if I get a flat) - just in case I needed it but I didn't.

    I have the ability to fairly easily do my own wheelchair mechanics (except for a few) - so when I bought these knobbies long ago, and new tubes, I was able to get them very cheaply. I think I got them from Wheelchair Parts.Net where you can get discounts if you click on referral links, or sign up for their newsletter. That made things pretty cheap...about $45 I think for two tubes and two knobbies. I was then able to use the same tubes as the other tires, and saved the brand new tubes for when I had a flat...(which I just did).

    Enjoy your outdoor trip!

  4. #4
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    I am no genius on what you asked here, but I have thought similar. I swear answer to your quest is NO, you cannot easily just get the bicycle an put on the wheelchair. The bicycle is standard English measurement while the wheelchair is metric for everything. Even though a lot of wheelchair things are advertised 24", 14" and 26", they actually are metric 540 mm, 559 mm and 590 mm. I really think they specifically make them metric so that you cannot do what you are asking. If we could do what you are asking, we would have a million choices instead of only a handful of choices. This allows medical industry to keep these costs sky high.

  5. #5
    I use some Kenda 24x2. I have an old Quickie GP with those and 8 inch on the front. Put some camber in the rear wheels if you can, so its harder to tip over. Or dish or space the rears out. I bolt them on the chair, cause I can, instead of quick release pins. You can run these tires as high as 80 psi or I go down to about 15 for sand. I'd hook your chair up like a rick shaw or travois. Seat belt, leg straps, gloves, goggles/sunglasses, helmet, good cushion.

  6. #6
    Senior Member ~Lin's Avatar
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    Wheelchair wheels are the same sizing as bicycle wheels if you use ERTO sizing. A 24" wheelchair wheel is 540 ERTO, 25" wheelchair wheel is 559 ERTO. The first number in the sizing such as 25-559 refers to the width of the rim, 25 is 1" wide. As long as you use ERTO sizing you can use whatever bicycle equipment you want, tubes, tires, etc. Just need to know the correct size. A 26" bicycle wheel for example is 559 ERTO, equal to 25" wheelchair wheel. So if you told a bike shop you needed something for a 25" wheel they may tell you there is no such thing, if you tell them you have a 559 ERTO wheel you will have no problem.
    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.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by ~Lin View Post
    Wheelchair wheels are the same sizing as bicycle wheels if you use ERTO sizing. A 24" wheelchair wheel is 540 ERTO, 25" wheelchair wheel is 559 ERTO. The first number in the sizing such as 25-559 refers to the width of the rim, 25 is 1" wide. As long as you use ERTO sizing you can use whatever bicycle equipment you want, tubes, tires, etc. Just need to know the correct size. A 26" bicycle wheel for example is 559 ERTO, equal to 25" wheelchair wheel. So if you told a bike shop you needed something for a 25" wheel they may tell you there is no such thing, if you tell them you have a 559 ERTO wheel you will have no problem.
    I just bought a pair of those expensive rims you mentioned after trying to do the build it yourself thing and learned a thing or two doing my search for the parts needed. Sportaid has a knobby tire in 50 by 540 size that would fit your rims but the drawback is the overall diameter of the wheel will be about 25" when installed rather than 24'.
    Maybe that won't be a problem. I think price was about $40 for the pair. The wheels I bought are 50 by 507, the 507mm rim is what you would need to find, a pair of 1.95
    2 or 2.125 by 24" wheels off an old bike should give you the rims needed. Not sure what you'd do about the wheel hubs as I didn't get that far in my search.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the many replies.... It does sound like I should be able to do the conversion to a bike rim or possibly a wider tire - though that seems iffy from all the charts I've seen. If I do replace the rim and fit a new tire, it would probably be best if I tried to get as close to the same OD as my usual solid tire wheels just so I won't have to mess with my brakes to much when swapping.... Will need to check the SPOX wheels to see just what size they are and then work backwards to figure out what size rims to look for.

    Swapping is another question - When I tried swapping the indoor wheels for the ones I mentioned I found the QR axles wouldn't lock in, probably because the adjustment nuts were set for the SPOX wheels - so it sounds like my best bet for a fast switchover would be to get a second set of axles - any suggestions for low cost sources (besides eBay) and how do I figure the length? (will changing the camber spacers change the axle length I need?)

    I'm a member of the Artisan's Asylum in Somerville MA, which gives me access to a bicycle shop (as well as any other sort of shop I need) so no problem with building the wheels if I come up with the parts, and I'm sure the SCUL folks (the bicycle chopper gang) can help me figure that out... (and I could probably even MAKE my own axles if it came down to that....)

    We are actually planning a travois sort of conversion on my chair, so that it will be easy to put on and off... Essentially brackets around the camber tube to take the main pulling load, with tubes going up to the tow bike hitch, and some smaller brackets going down to the caster wheel supports to set the height of the front casters 3-4" off the ground... Normally I run zero camber to keep my width down, but I have the camber angle axle mounts that I can put in, and will probably put the seat belt and armrests back on.

    I think I can go up one inch in caster size w/o worrying about the forks, though that might screw up the seat position, and I don't think I can go wider with the existing forks. Not sure if replacing the forks is on either, since if I remember the stuff the DME said when I was being fitted for the chair, I would have had to have wider spacing on the caster arms to be able to run forks with larger diameter wheels... Again not sure if that is worth it though - this last trip the volunteers just put ropes on the chair to pick the front casters up as part of the general setup to help get me up the trail... I have a trade-off question to make about how much I want to put into doing the off-road conversion considering that this will still be primarily an indoor chair... I want to make any conversion either quickly reversible or something that won't seriously compromise the function of the chair in my day to day use of it....

    ex-Gooserider
    T-5 ASIA-B para, currently working on building own power chair, as being in a manual is an EXTRA handicap.

  9. #9
    Senior Member ~Lin's Avatar
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    Axle size is going to depend on the wheel hub width and the length inside the axle tube to where the balls lock into place. Here or ebay would be the cheapest place to buy axles since they'd be used, if going for new your best bet would be one of the online dealers like bike-on, sportaid, indemedical.

    I'm going to assume the axles were too short for both sets of wheels, but if they were too long they could be used for both sets of wheels by simply using some washers between the nut on the axle and the hub with the smaller hub wheels. They could be easily removed when swapping axles between wheels as long as kept in a location they didn't get lost. The button would just stick out further from the washers.

    With current rims there is going to be a max width of tire that the rim can handle. I would just adjust your brakes before these outings to be safe, I don't think you're going to find a perfect setup that both meets your needs and ends up working without changing the brakes. Knobby outdoor tires are going to be larger than your indoor tires, and if you went down in rim size you're going to be negatively affecting your pushing efficiency. Your only option for something like that would be hub locks which are very expensive and you're trying to stay cheap. Most brakes only take a few minutes to adjust anyway, and for safety sake you really want them adjusted correctly so they aren't slipping during either use.
    Last edited by ~Lin; 09-02-2014 at 05:27 AM.
    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.

  10. #10
    How about this. Make a chair out of PVC. Use a piece of steel rod for an axle. Get both rear wheels and front caster wheels from Harbor Freight.com. Probably throw the whole thing together for less than a $100, maybe $50. That way you leave your street chair alone.

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