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Thread: Lever Drives - making a "hiking chair"

  1. #1
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    Lever Drives - making a "hiking chair"

    I've been dreaming about ways to get a bit more hiking in...seems like most trails that are advertised as wheelchair accessible are about 1/4 mile long, and aren't always worth the drive. I've been able to do a lot of wheelchair hiking by attaching my Freewheel and having my significant other help me over big obstacles, but I want to be able to do more. I thought that a lever drive system plus a Freewheel might add up for a great hiking/outdoor adventure chair.

    I had the chance to test out a Grit chair for a bit (http://www.gogrit.us/), and the price is pretty good. It's a big piece of equipment, and although it disassembles, it's still a lot to haul around, and to store. My apartment is pretty much taken over by adaptive equipment at this point! Besides the size of the equipment, I also felt like I couldn't really brake using the Grit, but the details are fuzzy now on how that worked (I just remember skidding down a small hill).

    I have been trying to find up-to-date reviews of various lever drives, but many reviews are based on the use of levers for daily propulsion, which I wouldn't plan on doing at this point in time.

    Wijit: http://www.innovationshealth.com/pro...it/meet-wijit/

    Nudrive: http://www.nu-drive.com/

    Looks like Rio Mobility isn't making their lever drives anymore.

    Anyhow - I'd love to hear user experience (please provide details such as injury level, and what you used it for if possible). Has anyone done something similar?

  2. #2
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    Did you see this? https://www.ted.com/talks/amos_winte...ir?language=en

    I drove to Palisade CO try out the Grit chair. I was so excited until I realized how outrageous the price was. I got this email from Mario (the MIT inventor), the next day, when I questioned the price.

    I didn't meet you in Palisades but I'm the chief engineer at GRIT and am responsible both for the current price of the Freedom Chair and for the $1500 down payment in the financing plan.

    The Freedom Chair costs us $1900 in parts, which doesn't include the labor to put it together, the $300,000 or so it took us to develop it, the costs of rent and insurance, and the cost of paying our staff's (frankly, below-market) salaries. In short, we're not gouging you on each chair, we're losing money on each chair. We're not a profitable company, and we lose money on each chair. As a startup, this is fine. We'd prefer to focus on selling more chairs, in the hopes that the volumes will (sometime in 2017) allow us to cover our costs, than to make the chair so expensive that few riders could afford it. If we were focused on breaking even on each chair, we'd have to have charged almost $7000 per chair last year. Instead of doing that, we stopped paying ourselves. Last year, we went nine months with no paychecks, because we preferred to keep the price affordable than to overcharge. Our faith in the product and in our mission focused us on the goal of selling enough Freedom Chairs at a lower price (half the price of every other similar chair on the market) that the costs could get paid off.


    So why is it $3000 when the LFC in India is $200? Quite a few reasons: it's folding, which adds complexity and cost. It uses US bike parts, which are higher quality and possible to find locally, but also more expensive. We use the least expensive wheels that'll work than we can, from the lowest-cost bulk distributer in the US. And buying them wholesale, they are $150 each. US bike parts are much more expensive than the parts in India, but they last longer, perform better, and can actually be serviced and replaced in the US. We also make the US chair in the US. This is to support local industry, make a much higher product, and to save our riders thousands of dollars on shipping costs. Shipping from India to the US is expensive, especially at the volumes that we are doing it. Glori did a great job of discussing the differences, and if you want more info you should check out this blog post that does it in more detail: http://www.gogrit.us/news/2015/2/20/...-of-two-chairs.


    As for the payment plan, we chose $1500 as a down payment because the math worked out. We knew we had to have a down payment to help us cover some of our fixed costs (the parts we already paid for, the rent and insurance, etc), and were willing to gamble on the rest. We gambled that a certain number of the people we lent to, all of whom (since they were likely rejected from the standard line of credit) probably were risky loans, would never pay us after the down payment. Many would pay in full, but not everyone. We surveyed dozens of potential customers about what payment plans they thought would be reasonable. We talked with our investors, who have patiently been watching us lose their money for the last year, about what a reasonable balance would be. And we came up with a 50% down payment, 50% paid over a year. It was easy to explain on our website, was in line with what customers were asking for, and seemed like a reasonable balance of risk.


    Hopefully this helps shed some light behind the curtain,
    Mario
    I really liked the chair too but it is limited in what can be done with it. They post a picture of the thing marred up in sand and I don't see it being great on the beach. I think you can do almost as good with a "freewheel" and a good set of knobby tires. This was marketed at Craig (or so said the Ben (that did the demo). There was a retired nurse from Craig present when I was trying it out and she asked if they had took it to Craig and let them try it. Ben (the Grit guy) and Glori (Grit marketing) had no answer for her but did say Craig through it in the closet til they picked it up. The retired nurse also said that her freewheel had done just as well on trails after she took the Grit for a demo ride.

    It is hard to buy a different piece of equipment for every activity one wants to do. I could see $1500 and people would buy it and be able to afford it but not at $3000.

    I realize companies have to make a profit but I don't think they should double the price of the cost it takes to build it. They gave 10+ people chairs to use for a year and they are supposed to be posting stories and marketing them to others. The only problem with this chair is that you can find better, safer rugged quality mountain chairs for about $4000-$6000 made by quadriplegics/paraplegics that use them and users who are well versed in wheelchair life. Why would I dump $3000 into the Grit?????

    The price is everyone's complaint that I have seen and no matter what explanation they give (and they have been giving them for near 10 years now)......Disabled does NOT equal ignorance.

    http://www.pinkbike.com/news/freedom...arms-2014.html

    There is a reason why the United States BANNED "3 wheeled four wheelers" in 1988 and agreed even to not market them to the public when the ban expired 10 years later. Too many people got killed with them tipping over...the same applies here. This chair is very unstable other than on flat ground even for an able bodied person.

    It was also heavy to load in and out even though they marketed it as lightweight. The levers are an excellent concept but I see this fizzling as they priced themselves out of the market (especially with the video available that I posted above).

    Just my .02 cents.
    Last edited by darkeyed_daisy; 06-20-2016 at 09:07 PM.
    T12-L2; Burst fracture L1: Incomplete walking with AFO's and cane since 1989

    My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am. ~Author Unknown

  3. #3
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    I guess I rambled too much - I'm definitely not in the market for a Grit. Based on my experience of just pushing it for a few minutes I wouldn't be happy with it.

    Although the 3K price is a lot - it's less than a new set of Wijit lever drives. I'm hoping for info on those if anyone has any!
    At this point I'm resigned to the fact that everything wheelchair related will always be pricey, mostly because it's a small market. Regardless, I wanted to do some research so I can think about it.

    Although a Freewheel plus lever drives might have some stability issues, I definitely wouldn't be treating it like a mountain bike (boy, that would be nice to have! But talk about storage & funding problems). I just want to make gentle fun hikes a little easier, and maybe get to go further.

  4. #4
    Senior Member forestranger52's Avatar
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    Renegade Wheelchairs. $5,000 to $5,600.

    www.renegadewheelchairs.com
    C 5/6 Comp.
    No Tri's or hand function.

    Far better it is to try mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure. Than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much or suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory or defeat.

    Teddy Roosevelt

  5. #5
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    That looks rad, but I don't have room to store any more equipment in my apartment. Plus, the reason I focused on the lever drives was because they have more mechanical advantage (I even read a research paper about it!), and they'd be easier to travel with.

    Quote Originally Posted by forestranger52 View Post
    Renegade Wheelchairs. $5,000 to $5,600.

    www.renegadewheelchairs.com

  6. #6
    MagicWheels. You never have to take them off, no storage problem. They have a 2:1 mechanical advantage both uphill and *downhill* for stopping. And you can switch back to normal driving by rotating large switch in the center of the hubs.
    http://www.magicwheels.com/
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by darkeyed_daisy View Post


    I realize companies have to make a profit but I don't think they should double the price of the cost it takes to build it.

    I've run small manufacturing companies since 1999 and I can tell you that a 50% gross margin is normally just barely profitable. I always targeted 65-70% GM as this would typically yield a net profit after overhead and G&A of about 15%.


    I know "doubling cost" might seem like a large margin but direct costs only include the parts and labor that go directly into the product. They don't include engineering, sales, rent, utilities, administrative costs, computers, software (CAD), employee benefits, vacation time, insurances, warranty costs, customer support costs, etc.


    So, in truth, doubling the direct costs is almost certainly not enough to make a net profit for most businesses.


    What I will say, however, is that there are likely ways they could reduce their direct costs. Many companies aren't great at changing designs in small ways to lower manufacturing costs.

  8. #8
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    Not an easy thing to do once the Ted Talk was out there though and not easy to explain $200 jump to $3000?

    https://www.ted.com/talks/amos_winte...ir?language=en

    Those MIT guys have been at it a while...almost 10 years and still can't get the design off the ground so I think they have more problems than just price?
    T12-L2; Burst fracture L1: Incomplete walking with AFO's and cane since 1989

    My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am. ~Author Unknown

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgrant27 View Post
    I've been dreaming about ways to get a bit more hiking in...seems like most trails that are advertised as wheelchair accessible are about 1/4 mile long, and aren't always worth the drive. I've been able to do a lot of wheelchair hiking by attaching my Freewheel and having my significant other help me over big obstacles, but I want to be able to do more. I thought that a lever drive system plus a Freewheel might add up for a great hiking/outdoor adventure chair.

    I had the chance to test out a Grit chair for a bit (http://www.gogrit.us/), and the price is pretty good. It's a big piece of equipment, and although it disassembles, it's still a lot to haul around, and to store. My apartment is pretty much taken over by adaptive equipment at this point! Besides the size of the equipment, I also felt like I couldn't really brake using the Grit, but the details are fuzzy now on how that worked (I just remember skidding down a small hill).

    I have been trying to find up-to-date reviews of various lever drives, but many reviews are based on the use of levers for daily propulsion, which I wouldn't plan on doing at this point in time.

    Wijit: http://www.innovationshealth.com/pro...it/meet-wijit/

    Nudrive: http://www.nu-drive.com/

    Looks like Rio Mobility isn't making their lever drives anymore.

    Anyhow - I'd love to hear user experience (please provide details such as injury level, and what you used it for if possible). Has anyone done something similar?

    dang wish you had posted 2 weeks ago I threw away new drive system for me it was a pain and trying to figure out away when in netrual I would have give you mine for shipping cost

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by vjls View Post
    dang wish you had posted 2 weeks ago I threw away new drive system for me it was a pain and trying to figure out away when in netrual I would have give you mine for shipping cost
    Don't ever through things away without asking. There are lots of hobbyists here like me who would love to tinker with them.
    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.

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