Not all of the latest technological advances for ultralightweight manual chairs involve the engineering of titanium or aluminum. Several recent innovations, in fact, give ultralight users some literally powerful new options.
Max Mobility’s SmartDrive power-assist system is motion activated. Once the system is installed, the ultralight user pushes his or her chair’s pushrim to start the SmartDrive rolling. The system continues to propel the chair at that speed — the user can increase speed by pushing the pushrim again — until the consumer stops the chair in the usual fashion.
SmartDrive can be turned on and off with the touch of a button — which is recommended during certain maneuvers, such as rolling down ramps or performing wheelies, to ensure the unit isn’t inadvertently activated by pressure on the pushrims.
The SmartDrive unit (weight = 11 lbs.) attaches to the wheelchair’s axle hitch, while the battery unit (8 lbs.) slides under the seat. The system focuses on giving consumers an instant “power boost” whenever and wherever they need it.
Spinergy’s new ZX-1 power add-on system can be quickly attached (and detached) to most rigid manual chairs: It fits chairs with widths of 15-20" and rear wheel sizes of 24", 25" or 26". The ZX-1 system includes a joystick that mounts on the right or left side, eff ectively turning an ultralight chair into an on-demand power chair while retaining the chair’s inherent maneuverability.
The ZX-1 also includes two 12v 15-amp batteries that produce a 4-mph top speed, Frog Legs forks, removable handlebars with arm pads, and a carbon fiber motor cover to keep the system’s weight down. Spinergy touts the ZX-1 as a way for ultralight users to cover longer distances while expending far less energy than they would if they self propelled, while also being able to detach the system when it’s not needed.
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This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Mobility Management.