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Thread: Off-road wheelchair with suspension for smooth ride (Trekinetic? Or alternatives?)

  1. #1

    Off-road wheelchair with suspension for smooth ride (Trekinetic? Or alternatives?)

    Hi All,

    I've been reading a few posts on this forum, seems really useful. My partner does not have an SCI/D, but her symptoms are very similar - she finds it difficult to sit up due to intense pain, and has very extreme mobility limitations.

    We have a 'traditional' folding chair at the moment, but her work is related to nature, plants etc., and so after a few years of saving up we're looking to see about getting a better chair for two main reasons:

    1. The small front castors on her chair tend to 'dig in' to the ground, particularly on sand, gravel and soft mud, which makes travelling off-road almost impossible depending on the conditions.
    2. Any vibration at all causes her agonising pain, and the hard small castors feed that vibration directly into her spine.

    We often find that going backwards on these sorts of surfaces is much easier, because the larger rear wheels roll over obstacles without jarring, so it feels like something like the Trekinetic K2 is the way to go. I've done quite a bit of research on the Trekinetic, and it seems that - cost aside - it's got a lot of upsides, and would work really well. However, the one concern I have is that it would be attendant propelled (i.e., by me ) and I'm wondering if anyone who has one can comment on whether it's comfy/easy to push - the wheelchair services department I've spoken to suggest that it may not work so well because of the central position of the rear wheel. Does it interfere with the person pushing?

    We're also going to look into some other makes/models, such as Colours (I've seen the 'Boing' mentioned here in old posts, but I think the current model we'd want to look into is the Shockblade, as it has suspension all round - although the small castors at the front are a concern).

    Any other recommendations we should look at? We've never bought a wheelchair before, so any info or advice would be greatly appreciated. We're based in the UK, if that's relevant.
    Last edited by Carer; 07-14-2017 at 10:32 AM. Reason: Extra info

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    I don't have one of these guys myself yet: https://www.gofreewheel.com/; but a lot of the folks here on this site do and they seem to love them. It solves your front castor concern, and is a great addition for any outdoor activities.

    Also, you could get knobby tires for the rear tires, and that will help with vibration concerns.
    Rollin' since '89. Complete C8

  3. #3
    Senior Member brian's Avatar
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    The cheapest and probably best option is to get big, fat, wide tires and underinflate them. Underinflating tires - if they call for max 70psi, only put 30psi in them - allows them to absorb a lot of energy and small bumps and cracks in the pavement.

    I advise against knobby tires as they will create tiny vibrations as the knobs on the tires roll across the ground. You can get large, fat, SMOOTH tires like these

    FRONT CASTERS:
    These cost $45 per pair including tubes
    But you'll need a new fork assembly, too. It's probably best to go to a DME to make sure it's all compatible.

    REAR TIRES:
    You'll want the fattest, smoothest tires you can find, which will run $30-$60.
    Look for tires that are at least 2" wide. You can put up to 2.2" tire on a standard rim.
    I assume you have 24" wheels (size 540), but 26" bike-size wheels (size 559) will give you many more options.
    A new set of size 559 wheels will cost about $270


    All of these upgrades should cost under $400 and I think will be the most value for your money. If this doesn't work, you can then look at spending $5000+ on a suspension chair.

    LEt me know if you have questions about any of this and I'll be glad to help.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Oddity's Avatar
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    If there is enough strength to push a manual chair "off-road", then my preference is a rigid frame chair, wide tires, and a Freewheel. The Freewheel lessens the effort required to push off-road by a significant amount, greatly improves the 'smoothness' of the ride, and it increases safety and stability by an even wider margin. I've used one extensively for nearly ten years (the same unit) and I plan to continue using it into the foreseeable future.

    IMHO, As far as advice ordering a chair, best to start with the extensive archive of similar posts on this site. Searching the Equipment sub-forum for 'help ordering a wheelchair', or something similar, will yield tons of really informative threads. Follow that up with specific questions in this thread and you'll be in good position to help your partner get a great chair.
    Last edited by Oddity; 07-14-2017 at 01:29 PM.
    "I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it." - Edgar Allen Poe

    "If you only know your side of an issue, you know nothing." -John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

    "Even what those with the greatest reputation for knowing it all claim to understand and defend are but opinions..." -Heraclitus, Fragments

  5. #5
    Senior Member tooley's Avatar
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    something to note - a FreeWheel is the best add-on for a rigid wheelchair. I think there now may be extra attachments to make it work with a folding chair, but be aware that the FreeWheel is designed for use on wheelchairs with a rigid (one-piece) footrest.

    as oddity stated - do your homework. It will pay off in spades.

    You may consider checking out Mike Box wheelchairs (website and instagram archive) for some ideas as to what is possible. If you can dream it it is possible, whether or not practical.

    as an example-



    Manufacturers in Europe may or may not be open to extensive customization. I have a rigid everyday chair made by Oracing in Spain and I know they are very receptive to building one-off pieces. Check out their Facebook.

  6. #6
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    I've been looking up the Freewheel lately and I knew I read something about working on a folding wheelchair.
    It reads this right on their site...

    Click on HERE to learn more fitting your FreeWheel on a FOLDING Wheelchair.

    I can't attest to how this will work, but it could be a good cost effective option for our OP.
    Like other have said, do a little homework.
    Rollin' since '89. Complete C8

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Carer View Post
    1. The small front castors on her chair tend to 'dig in' to the ground, particularly on sand, gravel and soft mud, which makes travelling off-road almost impossible depending on the conditions.
    2. Any vibration at all causes her agonising pain, and the hard small castors feed that vibration directly into her spine.

    We often find that going backwards on these sorts of surfaces is much easier, because the larger rear wheels roll over obstacles without jarring, so it feels like something like the Trekinetic K2 is the way to go. I've done quite a bit of research on the Trekinetic, and it seems that - cost aside - it's got a lot of upsides,
    That Trekinetic K2 is an interesting chair which I would like to try, but at it's *cost* and lack of availability here in the US I'll not see one in a long, long, long time if ever. You do have alternatives which have been mentioned here however starting with the size and type of the casters. I have several outdoor chairs and have converted all of them to 8 inch diameter pneumatic, all are 1 1/4 inch wide while one is 2 inches wide. The 2X8 inch is my favorite as it plows through the open ground the best. It also took me several years to happen upon forks that would accommodate those wheels. But power chairs have the same steering axle diameter, so I think the forks are readily available. At any rate you have to have a wheelchair that will accept large 8 inch casters, most won't. The down side of large casters is indoor use. In a word they suck indoors compared to little ones. I use a different chair in the house with 3 inch casters. That's fine, off road chairs are not meant for the dinner table.

    The Icon might take large casters. And it is a suspension chair. But what I like suits what she needs is that the wheelbase can be extended by flipping the caster position forward making it better suited for off road travel. This caster adjustment probably doesn't show on their website. BTW the chair is unbelievably adjustable. http://iconwheelchairs.com/a1/

    Lastly if my memory serves correctly, they were working on a way to connect a Freewheel to an Icon https://www.indemedical.com/FreeWhee...nt_p_1514.html I see that they do advertise for folding wheelchairs, so if you are using a folder now, you could get the Freewheel now and use it on any other wheelchair later.

    Good luck sorting these responses out, we are trying to help, mostly saying the same thing, Oh yes the rear tires should be larger pneumatics for a soft ride. You might have to trial and error to find the optimal width.
    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.

  8. #8
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    Lots of good advice already provided, so I'll just add a couple of things:

    My son trialled a Trekinetic several years ago (prior to the K2 version I believe). Definitely comfortable, until you need to go up a kerb/curb (UK/US?!?), then your feet get a jolt and the front footrest moves up (along with your feet/legs) to get over the obstacle. We felt that was the chair's biggest downside (apart from its cost obviously!). I would also agree that pushing the chair would be annoying with the large rear wheel definitely in the way.

    If your partner is still reasonably happy with her current folding chair, then I would definitely recommend the Freewheel with the folding chair adapter, along with larger rear wheels (as per Brian's suggestions). It would be the most cost effective way forward. It will also be far easier to push than your current set-up.

    What kind of seat cushion is she using? There are many different types that could provide protection against vibration and they are a lot cheaper than a whole new chair. (I would suggest looking at the cushion along with a freewheel and larger rear wheels, as just changing the cushion won't help you off-road).

    We've experimented with many off-road things over the last ten years. For manual propelling the Freewheel is a definite winner in our view (our son has used his for 8 or 9 years now). For mechanical propelling (think electric motors, quad bikes, Icon Explorer etc) that's a whole different story (although if someone could come up with a powered Freewheel they would be on to a winner!).

    Finally, since you are in the U.K., I would imagine getting to trial a Trekinetic would be easier for you than others overseas. And I'd recommend trialling as many things as possible before you buy.
    Gordon, father of son who became t6 paraplegic at the age of 4 in 2007 as a result of surgery to remove a spinal tumour.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonoise View Post
    Lastly if my memory serves correctly, they were working on a way to connect a Freewheel to an Icon https://www.indemedical.com/FreeWhee...nt_p_1514.html
    The Freewheel definitely fits on an Icon now. Icon upgraded their initial footrest design (which was fine for normal use, but too flimsy for a Freewheel). My son got his footrest changed over as soon as the new footrest was available (a few years ago now). They listen to feedback, and do something about it!!!
    Gordon, father of son who became t6 paraplegic at the age of 4 in 2007 as a result of surgery to remove a spinal tumour.

  10. #10
    I have tried a trekinetic and whilst it is comfortable the fact that the front wheels cannot be wheelied over an obstacle like a small log or earthbank when you are off roading, in a similar way that you would deal with a kerb in a four wheel chair, makes it quite limiting on off-path off-roading. As a self propelled chair, I also prefer the pushing position of a rear wheel drive chair to the front wheel drive of the Trekinetic. I can self propel up steeper hills in a more conventional chair. I don't really know how it compares as an attendant pushed chair but it is heavier and more bulky to lift in to a car.
    For serious off roading I did notget on well with the Trekinetic but for a muddy path or gravel/grass without too many obstacles it is a good chair.

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