For the Active User
Wheelchairs have moved on a long way from the old days of chunky grey metal, with nuts and bolts everywhere. People want to look good, and their wheelchair is no exception - particularly if you are out and about in it all day. At Wheelchairs on the Run we put allot of effort into making their Our MK range looking good, and customize with a range of contrasting colours
The first thing to consider when picking an active user wheelchair is your level of experience. If you are new to self-propelling, it can take a while - often around a year or more your driving skills will develop with time, so an adjustable chair will let you change the profile from a stability-focused position to a much more active and efficient "tippy" setup as your skills improve.
More experienced wheelchair users usually know their ideal setup so need less adjustments - often just some minimal fine-tuning is needed, allowing the chair to be lighter. For those with years of experience, a bespoke welded frame is the ultimate choice - while allowing no margin for corrections, it is the lightest option, allowing you to propel further and faster.
One of the most crucial factors when picking a wheelchair is its weight. After all, the heavier the wheelchair, the more you will have to push around with you. Much of this is discussed in the below three sections (transport, folding or rigid, frame material) as that tie into the weight of the chair. Many products list two different weights - the "transport weight", which reflects how the wheelchair will most commonly be lifted (cushion and wheels removed), and the "overall weight" which reflects what you will be propelling around. Bear in mind that advertised weights tend to be based off exceedingly small seat sizes, and the lightest options available on the chair (some of which will be cost options). If you need a larger frame, or armrests and so on, the weight will be increased.
Traditionally, folding wheelchairs are perceived as more transportable, and they are therefore a popular choice for careers or family members to fold up and put in a car. They also have the advantage of taking up limited space in your house when not in use.
However, rigid wheelchairs can potentially be extremely transportable - more so even than folding ones. Most higher end ones can have folding backrests that lock down, and with the quick release wheels popped off this makes them incredibly compact - this allows the wheelchair user to lift them easily over their body and onto a passenger or rear seat (they will also fit into the back of most cars). Significantly lighter than folding wheelchairs, they often allow the wheelchair user to independently drive and transport their own wheelchair without needing assistance.
As discussed above, transporting is a key factor when deciding between a folding or rigid wheelchair. However, this decision has a big impact on performance too. Rigid wheelchairs offer much improved efficiency by being much lighter, with equivalent folding chairs usually being at least a couple of kilos heavier. Roughly 75% of active user wheelchairs are rigid ones, and we generally recommend opting for one unless there is a requirement for it to be folded.