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Thread: Wheel recommendations?

  1. #1

    Wheel recommendations?

    I'm looking into rear wheel recommendations, and/or troubleshooting help is welcome too. Here's my background:
    I'm a part-time chair user and insurance covers nothing. I need the chair for long distances / long days as I have Cerebral Palsy and while I do walk, the forearm crutches just aren't enough for all the places I go or all the busy people around me who may run into me. Hence, the chair...and it is my friend.

    My current chair is used, about 13 years old and still going strong. The (I think original) wheels on it were Sun Rims SW6000s. There was a lot of creaking and pinging, and I think it was the wheels. I scraped up the handrims (12 degree camber option; I use the 3 degree option for commuting) - and tried to remove those and trade them with another set of handrims I had. ($$$ does not grow on trees.)

    That fix went wrong; I had to get new handrim bolts. I also found out during this process that my original SW6000s had been tightened too tight (my fault) - and will require a pretty good repair on the outer wheel rim. I called for some bike shop quotes (not the nice bike shop I found later) - and the price was just about the same between possibly repair / buy new. All shops (notwithstanding the nice bike shop that I didn't call) - said they would hit me with a consultancy fee ahead of time to see if they were repairable, then charge on top of that if it was more than 3 turns on 4 spokes (there's 36 per wheel).

    I temporarily used another set of wheels (solid inserts; felt like about 10 lbs apiece, grunt). After shoving those around for a few days I was able to trade out 7/16 bearings to 1/2 bearings in a brand new set of wheels that only cost me $70 (they were cheap because they're an oddball bearing size, and a simple bearing trade put me in business.)

    After less than 48 hours of having the new, trued and tightened with inflated tires wheels on the chair (I think they're New Solutions brand, 24"), I found out another reason they could have been sold so cheaply. They're soft. I mean, they're soft as in jumping one curb and getting caught in one public transit clamp (possibly) took them out of true so badly that I had to make a desperate wonky roll to my nearest friendly bike shop and, found out pleasantly, they only charge $12-$15 to true a wheel, instead of the $30 base price another bike shop wanted per wheel, to go up as they had to do more than 3 turns on 4 spokes (I have 36).

    The friendly bike shop was able to do a pretty good job; not perfect, but it helped a lot (darn rivnut handrim on the cheap wheels kind of made it difficult for them). They have all the mods to do w/c wheel truing, so they'll gain some more business from me. They also recommended that I get some higher quality wheels when I can afford it. Yeah, figuring out I need to go that route...(at least at the cheap part). The bike shop recommended Spinergys, as that's what the local w/c b-ball leagues use (and the bike shop can true, too). However, I'm not sure that I can afford Spinergys at the moment, and I've seen reviews on here that Sun Rims may be just as good. I've only had Sunrims in the past, and wouldn't mind going with them again, it's just figuring out where the best choice is.

    Budget wise I'm kind of locked into the $100 range. $150 or $175 at the top of my budget and I'd rather not go that high. $200 isn't going to happen. I've seen some used Spinergys for that on eBay at times, sometimes in good condition, sometimes not. I'm willing to do repairs on whatever wheels I get, depending on the price of parts. I know the budget pretty much puts Spinergys out of the equation, and that's fine, but I do want to get a rim that won't come out of true every time I turn around. I'm willing to buy used.

    What's a good brand somewhat in budget? Sun Rims? Others I don't know about? I'm pretty new to the wheelchair parts world, although not completely inept.

    Is it possible to replace just the spokes of these cheap wheels (with the right size but a heavier metal) and do any good? Would a different spoke pattern do better? They're currently in some sort of design-inspired Z or half-Y shape, and my other wheels have all had the more traditional V type spoke layout. Do you have a recommendation of which spokes to go with if I try this route? I doubt a person could put Spinergy spokes on this "traditional" rim, but I will admit to entertaining the thought... Or, should I just guess that if the original spokes are so soft, the outer rim of the wheel is soft, and stronger spokes won't help?

    My usual rolling conditions are outdoors, with a considerable amount of time on minimally-maintained brick sidewalks. I think that's what's really done a job on a lot of my Sun Rims spokes. During the week I run 3 degree of camber to fit on the buses (30 inch wide ramps, chair about 28") - and over long distances with minimal buses, I'll sometimes throw it to 12 degrees (31.75 inch width footprint). It's not uncommon for me to leave it all day / all week at 3 degree camber, but the 12 degree option really helps to conserve energy on those really long treks. (And make me even faster, LOL).

    Carpet / tile conditions indoors.

    Wheels must be able to handle jumping and/or dropping curbs without taco'ing or coming out of true (eventually is fine; weekly is not; monthly will add up too). My environment is not always perfectly ADA-accessible.
    Wheels also need to take outdoor undeveloped (i.e. grass, dirt) areas without an issue. I train a service dog puppy and he likes a bit of grass to go pee! I've got outdoor wheels set up on a different chair for the really serious outdoor stuff, but the wheels should take some outdoor undeveloped area use, please.

    Wheels must be able to handle the occasional misplaced, offensive "clamp" mechanism. I'll either get into it without realizing it and then get stuck, or a strap on public transit may find its way to my wheel, for whatever reason (someone in a rush, or just wheeling over it wrong and me hooking it without knowing it). This can generate large side-to-side forces. Again - the occasional truing required because of this is fine; but I need it to last several times before I have to go back to the bike shop.

    Thank you for any guidance you can give! I appreciate this forum and have looked through it for a lot of good advice (generally without posing questions; I search and they are solved)!

    With appreciation,
    Last edited by Mystery; 11-23-2014 at 05:46 AM. Reason: Edited list of what wheels must survive :)

  2. #2
    I did that once, fixed up old 24 inch sun wheels when I was getting started wheeling. Let me tell you, don't waste you money doing so. Watch Craigslist. For about fifty bucks you should be able to get brand new take offs.

    As for truing, check out you tube and get a spoke wrench. You can learn to fix a wheel up to be passable.
    I have had periodic paralysis all my life. I lost my ability to walk in 2011 beginning with a spinal block, which was used for a hip fracture caused by periodic paralysis.

  3. #3
    A picture of what you have would be a good start. What is the clamping mechanism? I think the 12 degrees of camber is a bit much for a street chair. Might see how you feel with 4-6. In general a wheelchair should use radial spokes. The spokes go from the rim to the hub without touching or crossing any other spokes.

  4. #4
    Senior Member GJ2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Royal Palm Beach , FL
    I have a pair of used spinergy spox 18 spoke rims with standard uncoated handrims.. they are 24 inch rims ... I could fit into your upper budget plus shipping if your interested pm me ...

  5. #5
    I PM'd you GJ2; I'm definitely interested in hearing more!

    In response to Bald Fat Dad...the wheels I have had previously must be the radial spokes. The current wheels I have are New Solutions at Allegro Medical, and they seem to cross each other terribly (as compared to the straight radial spokes that never crossed each other). The old wheels I had were very close to this Quickie parts listing. I have 2 sets of Sun Rims SW6000 and one that is rebranded as a Quickie but looks and is sized exactly alike.

    In doing further research, I found these updated Quickie wheels, and I also found the New Solutions wheels rebranded on Quickie's website. Personally, making the discovery of those listed together (and rebranded) kind of scares me. They're both the same price on that website and I would hate to pay over $350 for the same damn wheels that came out of true so easily (for $70/pair). It doesn't make me feel very good to see the radial wheels listed on the same website for the same makes me worry those might just hop right on out of true, too. (Of course, I'm being a tad paranoid because they are two different products, but I will say after seeing that, I'm leaning more toward spending the money on Spinergys and not worrying about truing all the time! )

    And thank you to NoNoise for the advisement against trying to true the taco'd wheels...I agree, but was willing to try anyway. I think I'd much rather spend my time (and fingers; truing tends to make them sore) - on something else. And getting "take offs" (or used wheels) is fine with me!

    Also, does anyone know the advantages / disadvantages of the radial wheels vs. the crossed-over-spokes wheels? Does one ride better than the other? Take effort better? I would think the radial wheel would be better, but they must make crossed-over spoke designs for a reason. What is it?

    Thanks again for your help. If others have more to add, please do!
    Last edited by Mystery; 11-24-2014 at 02:40 AM. Reason: Added wheel spoke design question

  6. #6
    Wheels with cross spokes were invented, because the chain drive on a bicycle wants to wind up the spokes before it moves the wheel. By crossing the spokes you pre wound them. In a chair we don't have that problem.

    Look at these.

  7. #7
    In following up with this:
    A couple weeks after posting this, I was sitting at work with New Solutions wheels on my chair - I was sitting at work. Just sitting. When out of nowhere, KABANG! The sound reverberated the entire room including the floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows. It was terrible. It didn't quite sound like a weapon, so I was momentarily worried but slightly curious, and the (one, at the moment) coworker in my office was quite helpful. I said, "(name), what was that?!" "I don't know." So we started looking around...she eventually wandered out to the hallway where everyone was talking about the huge sound and "what in the world was it?!" Not finding an answer immediately in proximity, we decided that we had better call Security, just to be safe. It sounded like something huge had fallen, or something else correspondingly large in major mishap and/or danger, and the type of workplace we are, a call to Security for something like that (especially still not identified after two minutes) - is warranted.

    So, there I am, continuing to look for cover, trying to find out if there's anything I can find about our sound - maybe something in an unused cube that had fallen? When I find that my damn chair won't wheel properly. Now, I'd been struggling with it all morning, and it had wheeled tough, and I could tell it was majorly out of true (with a bulging tire) - on the bus 15 minutes ago...but really? Failing me at this time? When I'm half petrified? Yeah, I can walk some, but not over long distances. Long distances are only possible with a ton of adrenalin running through me, in order to escape, and I would probably need a coworker's arm if I had to walk it.

    Then I looked down at my chair...and I said, "(coworker name), I think we found out what it was." "Really? What was it?!" (Embarrassed) - "I think it was a wheelchair tire." "Are you kidding?" "No. It's totally off the rim. Look." Then we laughed, breathing a sigh of relief. "Oh my gosh," I said, "I am so glad I read about those happening on the wheelchair forums. If I hadn't read about it I never would have known." We laugh and breathe some more.

    We call Security back to tell them of the probable solution, "Yes, I'm (name) and we just called about the huge sound in (location). We think it was a wheelchair tire." "A wheelchair tire?" the dispatcher asks incredulously. The tone reflected a very polite, but very confused, unsaid, "where in the world does a wheelchair show up from?" - I interjected: "Yes. We have a few wheelchairs in here (true!! Mine was not the only one! However, mine was the only one with pneumatic tires....). We think one of the tires exploded." "Okay," responded the dispatcher, "I will let the responding officers know of the possible solution."

    I was not on the clock yet. I decided since I wasn't on the clock yet, and since I preferably need my chair at work, (in rollable condition, mind you) - that I would attempt to change the tire. I have a spare inner tube and everything I need. I also had a chair in the corner with solid (mag) tires if I absolutely had to trade them for a day. Well, it took me a damn hour, but I got it done. I found the inner tube to be completely exploded, totally unsalvagable, with something like a 3" gash in the seam of the side of it and the tire bead blown off. I had to make the tire work, since I only carry a spare tube, but I did make it work. I limped along the rest of the day with wheels that I wasn't sure were going to function. The irony of all this? I had bought new wheels (quality ones this time!!) just a couple days before. Yeah!

    I got new tubes at the bike shop that afternoon and came home.

    I then talked with Allegro Medical. In my opinion, they are not helpful and I will not deal with them again if I can help it. They advised me to write a review of the wheels, which they would post. They have not allowed it to be posted, even though they reassured me that they could not edit it or refuse its posting. They have lost my trust as a mobility equipment dealer. They do not stand behind their products or even make it right for the consumer, in my opinion. I knew I was outside of the warranty period, and they have a "if you take it out of the packing you have to keep it" type of policy, but them telling me to post a review and then not allowing it really bothers me. I thought, if nothing else, I will make someone pause before blindly buying these wheels. For Allegro Medical to not allow the review, in my opinion, they are continuing to take advantage of unsuspecting customers. That's how I see it anyway.

    Additional wheels in hand a few days later, and energy in my body, I took apart the (good) tire and saved the tube. I looked for any manufacturer's marks and could find none. I also looked on the other one. I found the original tube crammed in to the point they were risking pinch flats in my opinion (the tube was pinched 3 places) - and the spoke heads were pushing through the rim tape. Either of those issues could have caused a flat tire, I think. The wheels were unsalvageable, and while I tried to get the handrims off, I ended up stripping screws so I said (bad words) and "forget it." As soon as I pull out my custom bearings, the wheels are going in my recycle bin. The tires (which had crappy tread on both, and damage on the one) - and the Original surviving tube, made by JChangJiu, (tires were made by "Feichi Tyre" (international spelling)) - went in the trash. I have had good luck with CST tire tubes, so I'll try to stick with those if I need more. I did just buy some Kenda heavy duty tubes to have on hand though for spares, as the ones I picked up from the bike shop seem really thin ("do not inflate with floor pump" seems like a hint they might not be good quality).

    The only thing that worries me about the tire tubes now (especially the Kendas) - is that there was mention of lead in some tubes but not others. CST didn't seem to mention it, but Kenda does, and I would have preferred to stay away from lead if possible. I suspect all of them have some levels of lead in them though...but less would make me feel better.

    If anyone would like me to post the full review of what I wrote for the tires (model number RW241P, manufacturer unknown - I was told New Solutions was a distributor of them and they were "made overseas," and he kept hurrying me through things...that's why I looked for a manfacturer's mark but I found none) - I will be happy to do so (I saved a copy).

    In the meantime, I think I'm choosing to stick with Sun Rims or Spinergy. I'm not going to try an off-brand again unless other people have reviewed it well or I get a good enough deal to justify the hassle.

    I will post back with my reviews of Spinergy next. Can't wait to try them... ... Getting the chair ready now. I need to see if I can adjust the camber system on my Quickie R2, as I think that's a tad out of line. I also want to drop the RSH of my gray chair (Quickie Ti) but won't do that until the green chair (R2) is fixed. One chair in working order at all times, even if the adjustments aren't quite to my liking!


  8. #8
    These "economy" wheels are what you got?
    I have had periodic paralysis all my life. I lost my ability to walk in 2011 beginning with a spinal block, which was used for a hip fracture caused by periodic paralysis.

  9. #9

    Didn't know the difference, although they are listed for $110 over at other sites. Spinlife sells them for $110, and Quickie / Southwest Medical may sell them for something like $300. I know Spinlife's are the RW241P model, not sure what's really there in Quickie's listing, but I have an opinion about RW241P (and anything that looks like it). I believe they're only good enough for the recycle bin, and perhaps indoor-only use. In my opinion, this should be clearly disclosed as part of the product description.


  10. #10
    Senior Member ~Lin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Indianapolis, IN
    What kind of spinergy's did you get?
    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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