ATP Series

Optimizing the Ultralight

They're Engineering Marvels, But Ultralightweight Chairs Can Still Enjoy an Aftermarket Performance Kick

Metermeasuring optimization


It seems almost sacrilegious to talk about “improving” today’s ultralightweight manual wheelchairs. They’re design and engineering masterpieces that use materials — aerospace aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber — we equate with racecars or space flight. Once the chair’s owner is added to the equation, with his or her unique measurements, many of today’s ultralight chairs become one-of-a-kind vehicles.

Yet, engineers, ATPs, clinicians and consumers reach for more.

These aftermarket choices can further personalize ultralightweight chairs. Learn more about performance possibilities at the International Seating Symposium (see ISS 2017: Putting Ultralights in the Spotlight).


CARBON AGILITY BACKREST & ROHO HYBRID ELITE CUSHIONType of product: Solid backrest A backrest and cushion are usually the largest contributors to the overall rolling weight of an ultralightweight system. No other two products can so significantly affect an ultralightweight chair in the same way. A carbon side guard vs. aluminum may save ounces, but a carbon backrest or lightweight cushion can save pounds. Unlike the cushion, the backrest itself also generally remains mounted to the frame when a rigid frame loads into a vehicle, so that weight is felt every time one loads. The new Carbon Agility is incredibly lightweight at 1.8 lbs., but also maintains angle adjustability for optimizing the final fit. This allows many users to select a fixed backrest with the ability to still fine-tune their final backrest angle, which also saves significant weight. The new ROHO Hybrid Elite seat cushion offers a lightweight contoured foam base for enhanced stability plus the trusted skin protection of ROHO cells in the seat well. ROHO, (800) 851-3449;


Apex CarbonType of product: Ultralightweight carbon rigid wheelchair Designed to optimize ride, reduce weight and provide optimal stability and performance, the new APEX uses state-of-the-art carbon manufacturing technology to produce a frame that is lightest in its class, but also durable and adjustable. With a special rigidizing system, the APEX delivers the smooth ride you expect from carbon, but also increases lateral stability and responsiveness. With durability in mind, the carbon is carefully molded to specific specifications and tested to ISO and ANSI/RESNA standards. Special attention is given to the number and direction of carbon layers in specific frame areas. The frame is further protected from daily wear and tear by innovative integrated frame protectors that help to keep the frame looking like new. A transport weight of just 9.2 lbs. helps to minimize the impact of propulsion and lifting the chair during vehicle transfers. Motion Composites, (866) 650-6555;


VeloceType of product: Ultralightweight folding wheelchair The VELOCE uses state-of-the-art carbon manufacturing technology to create a frame that is light, durable and adjustable. With a patented symmetrical cross brace, the user will experience a level of stiffness and responsiveness not usually found in a folding frame. The design of the Symmetrical Molded Cross Brace, the Rigid Unibody Frame and the Ultrarigid Folding System work in unison to reduce flex and torsion in the frame to ensure that propulsion is most efficient. The unique Mantis Frame with its fixed front end and rigid footplate further improves the rigidity of the chair and allows you to maximize positioning of lower extremities. Motion Composites, (866) 650-6555;


Outdoor Wheel PackageType of product: Off-road wheels Spinergy’s Outdoor Wheel Package is designed with push efficiency in mind. It combines the award-winning LX wheel and its ultralight PBO spoke technology with wide, knobby tires that ensure maximum traction on rugged terrain. Spinergy’s patented PBO spokes are three times stronger than steel at half the weight, which not only creates lightweight durability, but also makes them guaranteed to stay in place and in true over any bump in the road. The package includes a complete installation of all parts needed for off-road rims: Spinergy Light Extreme “LX” wheels, a silver aluminum pushrim, Kenda Nevegal black non-marking knobby tires, steel Spinergy axles, a black or silver hub, as well as the choice of any Spinergy spoke colors: black, blue, red, yellow, white, orange, green or pink. Rim sizes: 22", 24" and 25" diameters. Spinergy Inc., (760) 496-2121;


ZX-1 Power Add OnType of product: Power add-on Compact in size, the ZX-1 Power Add-On attaches to any manual wheelchair’s camber tube (camber tube addition available for some folding chair models) and can be autonomously operated by the user via the joystick. By simply parking over the unit and pressing a button, the automatic attachment or detachment takes seconds, allowing for instant conversion and access to life-enhancing options. Thanks to two powerful 24-volt gear-driven electric motors commonly found on most large power chairs, it has the ability to operate on many surfaces, including gravel, hard pack, rocky terrain, thick grass and hills. The ZX-1 is as robust as most power chairs, but only weighs 82 lbs. and tucks underneath the wheelchair, preserving the user’s original overall width. The ZX-1 adds only about 3" in length. Its compact size makes the ZX-1 ideal for airline travel and use in homes and spaces with narrow doorways. Spinergy Inc., (760) 496-2121;


Elevation Ultralight ChairType of product: Ultralight chair with dynamic seating Elevation enables increased function, independence and comfort. Suitable for a range of users, it allows them to embrace daily activities. Unique features including gas strut suspensions, an ultralightweight frame, dynamic seat height and adjustable back angle make for a highly adaptable chair. PDG Mobility, (888) 858-4422;


Smart DriveType of product: Powerassist system The SmartDrive gives wheelchair users the freedom to do more. They can cruise up the steepest ramps and sidewalks. Even thick, padded hotel carpet is no problem. The SmartDrive has an anti-rollback feature that allows its user to stop on a hill and then easily get going again. The system is like a cruise control, with users setting the speed by the speed of their push. Users turn using the pushrims, just as they would turn while going downhill. SmartDrive is intuitive to use: Push to go, and tap, then brake to stop. SmartDrive moves with the chair and is so lightweight, users don’t even know it’s there. Capable of going for miles on a single charge, SmartDrive can spin in place, be in a wheelie, or hop off curbs. Max Mobility, (800) 637-2980;


RibGripsType of product: Ergonomic handrim Designed by a veteran with quadriplegia, RibGrips feature soft rib discs that offer 360° of gripping surface molded over aluminum hand rings that attach to most standard wheelchair wheels. The patent-pending design provides users with a better grip that can facilitate range of motion and function. RibGrips’ proprietary thermal plastic material is soft, yet extremely resistant to tearing, peeling or separation from strikes. RibGrips, available through Numotion, fit most standard 24" handrims; conversion hardware for 25" rims is available. Numotion;


Rogue XpType of product: Ultralight chair with growth Designed with maximum adjustability and growability, Ki Mobility’s Rogue XP can accommodate young people as they grow and go. With expanders, Rogue XP can be grown up to 3" in width. Depth adjustment is predetermined by you on the order form with the option of up to 3" of additional growth. Rogue XP is offered in widths of 10-18" and depths of 10-20". But despite all that adjustability and those growth options, the Rogue XP provides a perfect combination of rigidity and reduced vibration dampening to create an ultra-responsive ride. Rogue XP owners can choose frame, accent, release cable and wheel color for a customized look. Ki Mobility, (800) 981-1540;

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Mobility Management.

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