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Thread: Starting process for next (4th) wheelchair - Adjustability v. Fixed?

  1. #1
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    Starting process for next (4th) wheelchair - Adjustability v. Fixed?

    I have a T3 complete SCI, (10 years post). I?m coming up on 6 years for my current chair, a Quickie Ti. I?m about to start the process of asking my private insurance for a new chair. I?ve been looking at both the Tilite TR and the Icon. After scanning the forums, I?m struggling with some questions and I?m a bit overwhelmed. Any help would be appreciated.

    For those with fixed. Are you happy, or do you find yourself wanting to adjust?

    For those with adjustable? such as a TRA or an Icon, are you glad to have the extra hardware or does the weight or ?extra? hardware bother you?

    Is there another chair that brings the best of these together? Or a way that you can start with adjustability and then upgrade to fixed? (i.e. rather than leave adjustable hardware on, actually swap out hardware to achieve position changes down the road?)

    My last chair was not measured perfectly (legs too short, etc.), but close enough that I was able to make do with a few adjustments here and there. I really liked the compromise between weight and adjustability that the Quickie Ti offered me. It has a slim profile for fitting in tight spaces. I?ve tended to tinker with position every once in a while and have swapped out parts here and there to try and make the chair better.

    I?ve been looking around the forums and the two chairs, so far that top my list are the Tilite TR/ZR or the Icon. My previous chairs have been the Quickie GPV (1st chair, measured completely wrong), Tilite TRC (second hand demo chair, close but not measured for me), and the Quickie Ti (measured for me, but not perfect).

    I?d like to order a chair that would serve me well for the next 5-10 years. The TRs seem nice as long as I can get the fit right. Keeping the chair as light as possible and with minimal add-ons is appealing. On the other hand, since I haven?t ever felt like I?ve found the perfect fit in a chair before, I?m afraid to get the measurements wrong and I will be disappointed. Or simply a year from now, I will want to try a different position to help reduce position pain.

    Along those lines, I?ve also considered the TRA. However, having tried an older model TRA as a demo chair for a period, I found all of the extra hardware surprisingly cumbersome. A few pounds came make a big difference on lifting the WC in and out of cars or generally, etc. (The Quickie Ti felt like it was a good compromise of adjustability without adding too much heavy hardware.) I also think I have a good shot at getting a TR approved through more mainstream routes.

    On the other hand, I also like the idea of adjustability. The Icon caught my attention as embracing multiple adjustments as opposed to a one fit for 5+ years approach. This seems more consistent with my own behavior in the past. However, I?m not sure if I keep adjusting because I keep needing new positions or because I just haven?t found a good one in the first place.

    I?m in the Denver area and like the idea of having the folks over at Craig Hospital do the fitting as I?m hoping their volume of patients will inform good WC measurements. However, since I haven?t felt a perfect measurement yet, I?m still afraid of getting it wrong for the next 5 years.

    Also, I try to stay quite active, however, I seem to have ongoing joint issues in the wrists and shoulders. I?ve added, and found quite useful, a Smart Drive power assist and Free Wheel front wheel as regular periodic equipment. Ideally I?d be able to keep using these items.


    Criteria I think I am looking for in a WC:

    -Rigid Frame
    -Ultra light Weight
    -Rigid Back
    -Ability to disassemble for Car Transport
    -Ability to utilize the FreeWheel and the Smart Drive as needed

    Apparently I can?t write short posts. However, any opinions gratefully appreciated.

    Michael

  2. #2
    Senior Member ~Lin's Avatar
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    I don't believe the Icon can really be compared to other "adjustable" chairs, personal opinion. Its just so radically different.

    From the lowly opinion of someone rather new to wheelchairs, first chair quickie Q7 and second chair coming is an Icon. I think from what you've said that an Icon would be better than the TR for your next chair since your previous chairs didn't fit completely. Despite my first chair having been ALMOST perfect, and the demo Icon adjusted to the tiny changes I wanted to make having felt perfect, I know I feel a lot more comfortable knowing I can make changes if I need to. And just so many other things about the chair, like for me making wheelbase changes depending on what my knees need. Having as narrow as possible a chair in the summer without any extra work on my shoulders, and then being able to add a half inch or even full inch for baggy winter clothes without suffering in the summer for it. Changing up things if my weight changes, which it does but in a small range due to GI issues. Changing up the dump or seat height so easily, the back angle adjustment is a real necessity for me which is why the Q7 was my first chair but the Icon meets this so much better.

    I believe the Icon meets all the criteria you said you're looking for right now. Its really quite light, and feels much lighter than it is with pushing and loading, I believe because of the way the weight is distributed compared to other chairs. Its easy to fold down the back to load and probably doesn't take up much more space than a TR, and hell you could even do quick release clamps for the front end and remove it if you were in a situation with less room. No problems with the freewheel anymore since they redid the foot plate, and same with the new smart drive bracket and attachement for the battery worked out.

    So of course keep in mind my opinion based on the more limited amount of experience, but I'm a total Icon groupie after having experienced the chair. That said, I DONT think its the perfect chair for everyone, but from what you've stated I think it would be a really good choice and at least worth demoing to help decide.
    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
    Thanks Lin for the kind words, and I agree that the Icon seems to hit all the required elements that you're talking about Michael, but I wanted to chime in with a couple of points.

    Weight - we've been fighting a bit of an uphill battle on the weight issue because for some reason, the Icon "looks" heavy - might be the shape of the main chassis or the color, or a combination of a few things, but it seems like people are starting to come around to acknowledge that it fits into the ultralight category. Seems like enough people have tried an Icon in real life and are vouching for how nimble it feels and how light it actually is that we're overcoming the misconception that it's heavy.

    In a real-world comparison (I'm not talking about marketing claims), on a similarly equipped aero Z (solid seatpan, but still no suspension), we're 2lb lighter, we're 1/2lb lighter than a ZRA and we're 4lbs lighter than a Quickie Q7 that's equipped with their rear suspension, so we're definitely in the ballpark on weight, and we can do a "weight exercise" once you get your configuration done - by trimming the horizontal tubes of the front end and the backtubes, as well as the seat post - on my chair, I reduced the weight by just over 2 lbs overall just by cutting off unneeded tubing.

    In terms of the transport weight (where it makes a difference), having most of the mass centered directly under the seat helps - we think it's the same thing that makes the Icon feel "nimble".

    Here is a link to a video of me loading my Icon into a pretty small vehicle:

    https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v...type=2&theater

    I tend to grab my chair at the center of the back tubes because I get a good lever advantage that way, but the other way to do it is to use one of the grab-points under the seat - either the seat tube itself, or the Y shaped part of the seat tube. Having a grab point that is so close to the center point of the mass of the frame makes it a lot easier to balance, and easier to lift.

    The transport weight of my personal chair (side-guards, carbon seat, ADI carbon back, FrogLegs SoftRoll 5" castors) is just under 13lbs.

    In terms of the durability of the Icon, it starts out VERY durable, and the "modularity" of it (the ability to swap out parts) means that if the front castor arms get dinged up, or if the airlines damage a part, only the part that's damaged needs to be replaced.

    We have a rep in the Denver area who could set you up to trial an Icon at Craig - PM me at jeff@iconwheelchairs.com if you want me to get that ball rolling.

  4. #4
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    I NOT know anything about Icon other than what I have read. I am sitting on a TR3. Really zero add-ons. It is customized from standard - brakes, wheels, etc. 26" wheels and I think it weighs somewhere around 11 lbs minus cushion. Cushion is a Stimulite Sport. My primary goal was make the chair as light as possible. I will say the chair is just short of 2 yo. .Only thing I have had to replace a few times are the scissor locks. But I like them and will keep replacing them.. I like that they are out of the way and I can use the entire 26" radius with my hands for whatever I need and not smash fingers. I am not disappointed with the chair. I did pay out of pocket for it. I did do my own measuring before I had vendor come in and do it I do not adjust the chair. Only thing I changed was height of footrest by somewhere around 1/2".

  5. #5
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    @Lin - Thanks for the input on the Icon. Your feedback helps. I'd be curious as time goes on if you find you continue to make changes or start to settle into a few specific ones.

    @Jeff - I couldn't find any weights for your wheelchair on the Icon website, is there a place where I can find them? I'm not making any assumption specifically about weight, just that I don't want to have extra parts if I don't need them. Also, even if the adjustability gets me a little more weight certainly it's a question of value. (Which is what I think you are trying to address with your chair in the first place.) Also, the link you posted for the video seems to show 'content unavailable' on Facebook. Not sure if that's on my end or yours. I do like the simplicity of the cantilever design of my Quickie Ti and I definitely have a routine for how I dissemble it for the car so I am definitely curious to see a 'real world' break down of the Icon (and maybe try it myself.) I probably injure my wrists throwing my chair around when trying to transport as much as just from pushing.

    @rimtrhmiles - Thanks for the input on your TR3. So when you measured, did you feel pretty confident about getting it right? (Also, FWIW, have you tried the Out-Front compact scissor locks? I've been borrowing a pair from a friend to try out and like them a lot. They stay out of the way of my push range, but I don't have to lean under my chair to lock them. The one drawback is that they can take a little strength/leverage to operate if they are tight on the wheel.)

    Michael

  6. #6
    Not sure why it's showing that - I just posted the video on the Icon Wheelchairs Facebook page timeline.

    We don't have a list of parts by weight, and we're trying really hard to not get into the misinformation marketing BS about frame weights - all of our competitors weight their frames with no upholstery (seat or back), and no footplates, or castors - basically anything that they can take off the frame, they strip off before weighing the "frame weight", which I don't think is helpful.

  7. #7
    I agree w/ Lin. I will keep my thoughts even shorter.

    Anybody who is on the market for an Ultralight chair, should consider & demo the ICON. If It works 4 you, it has a level of adjustment (& thereby, flexibility) no other chair can match.

    I would buy mine again.
    Last edited by etcpressions; 11-01-2014 at 01:52 PM. Reason: Typo

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by catalystpt View Post
    @Jeff - . . .Also, the link you posted for the video seems to show 'content unavailable' on Facebook . . .
    Michael
    For me, too.

    I can stand and walk a bit, so my situation is different than yours. Starting from a closely fitting AeroZ, it has taken me over four years of tweaking/modifying/living-with (including cutting & drilling) for it to fit me real well. A TR is the choice for my next chair only because 1) TR is the same brand as my AeroZ (and I like my AeroZ), 2) several features I need are not available on the Icon (primarily a flip-back footrest for standing), and 3) my condition (MS) is progressive and I'm older (59), so the type of activities in which I will participate will not expand (more likely shrink), so I won't need the ground-breaking and unique adjustability of the Icon.

    I've been on this forum long enough to have witnessed the birth and growth of the Icon. If I were younger (i.e. more prone to athletic involvement), and expected to be able to expand my activities, I would definitely try out the Icon. It is a game-changing contribution to a virtually stagnant ultralight wheelchair market. The only negative feedback on the Icon I've witnessed on this site is the extensive adjustability of the Icon can be overwhelming to some. But, from lurking during that feedback, Jeff was exceptionally responsive and understanding.

    If you like the idea of true adjustability, it would be a serious mistake not to try an Icon.

    PS: Many of my mods to the AeroZ would be expensive to reverse, so I considered them (mocked them up with wood parts) very carefully before changing the aluminum parts. Had I had an Icon, most of those mods would have been quick, easy, and easily reversible.
    Last edited by chasmengr; 10-31-2014 at 08:54 PM.
    Chas
    TiLite TR3
    Dual-Axle TR3 with RioMobility DragonFly
    I am a person with mild/moderate hexaparesis (impaired movement in 4 limbs, head, & torso) caused by RRMS w/TM C7&T7 incomplete.

    "I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but what I don't think you realize is that what you heard is not what I meant."
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  9. #9
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    I would definitely go with the Icon. I have had a TRa, which I really liked, A ZRa, which I really liked, and just bought an Icon, which I love. The negatives about the TiLite chairs is that if you need a replacement part, you have to go through a dealer. They were just sold to Permobil, and say that nothing will change, but who knows? The track record for the industry has not been good. The great things about Icon, are that you only have to make a couple of choices about the base chair - seat width range, and back height. Everything else can be adjusted. The best thing is customer service, Icon is in it for the wheeler's experience, not for the money.
    Last edited by Donno; 10-31-2014 at 08:59 PM. Reason: grammar
    Don - Grad Student Emeritus
    T3 ASIA A 26 years post injury

  10. #10
    Senior Member elarson's Avatar
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    I was reluctant to comment on this because I am not a user (caregiver and equipment person) and my husband is not SCI, but I hope it helps to hear all sides.

    My husband has hemiparesis (one sided paralysis). We were very interested in the Icon because of it's adjustability. Unfortunately, it was not able to be configured easily at that time for doing foot propulsion with one leg, which is needed for hemiparesis. We decided on a ZRA and overall we are very happy with it. But we would have loved being able to adjust some things more easily, like seat height, should my husband be doing foot propulsion and want it lower or using a power add-on and wanting it higher.

    I don't know how "on-the-fly" changes are to the Icon, but certainly I think they are easier than on a ZRA. I just spent many hours tonight trying to reconfigure the ZRA because of issues we are having with fitting it to a power add-on, and it was not fun. I know that our reasons for adjustability, especially on the fly are not typical, much like Lin's, but I do think having it is important, especially if you do not know exactly what you need, or your needs change over time.

    It was interesting to hear Jeff's comments about weight. I think certainly you can get a TR lighter than an Icon (I am not familiar with the TRA), but I'm impressed to hear it is lighter than a ZRA, which has no suspension. Personally, I wish the Icon was available in titanium, but that is another story.

    I would be very careful with going from a Quickie to a TiLite fixed frame, or any manufacturer to another on a fixed frame, without making 100% sure that the measurements work for you. I think it is definitely worth considering the Icon, and certainly you can demo it easier than a fixed frame chair to see if you can dial it in.

    Although I think TiLite makes great chairs, I also agree with Donno about replacement parts and needing to go through a dealer. Especially for those of us who are international, this has been a very sore point because of even more excessive dealer markup than in the US.

    Wishing you the best of success. Keep us posted on how you get on.
    Partner of an incredible stroke survivor. Limitations: hemiparesis and neglect (functional paralysis and complete lack of awareness on one side). Equipment: TiLite ZRA 2 and 2GX, Spinergy ZX-1, RioMobility Firefly. Knowledge: relative newbie for high-level equipment (2012), but willing to try to help others who are new with similar limitations (definitely not a guru, but inquisitive).

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