Wheels, tires, tubes - how do I choose them for my wheelchair?
Not only are there many different aspects to consider when choosing a wheelchair, but also when choosing the right accessories. We help you choose the right tires, wheels and tubes for your needs
How do you fit a wheelchair to your needs?
Like bicycles or cars, wheelchairs have long been manufactured to meet the varying needs of users. The initial 'simple' wheelchairs that were only used to transport patients have been replaced by highly specialized wheelchairs, such as active wheelchairs for people with severe disabilities. These allow the user to be as independent as possible and to continue sporting activities. In addition, there are also indoor or all-terrain wheelchairs, as well as ultra-light wheelchairs for children. Indeed, there are many subdivisions and classes of wheelchairs. Some say that choosing the right wheelchair is comparable to buying a car. In this case, you should first recognize your own needs.
Here are the main considerations to guide you:
Type of disability - a different type of wheelchair is needed for a person with spasticity, i.e. a disease of the nervous system (a wheelchair that stabilizes the position, provides support and is comfortable for the caregiver to control) than for a person with a mobility disability (in this case, an active or other wheelchair that enables active and as independent a life as possible is suitable).
Type of wheelchair drive - manual or electric? If the wheelchair user has dexterous hands, it is definitely worth choosing a manual wheelchair. This one requires more effort, but allows to maintain fitness and upper body function.
Lifestyle - a person's needs are extremely important. The depth and width of the seat, the weight of the wheelchair, the support, the positioning of the wheels or other accessories and add-ons should be chosen so that they make it as easy as possible for the person to lead an active and fulfilling life and not become a pain.
What should be considered when choosing wheelchair tires?
The tire is the part on the wheelchair that wears out the fastest. This depends on the quality of the material from which it is made, but also on the way the wheelchair is used: the surface on which it is most often driven, the frequency as well as the type of driving.
Marking - as with car or bicycle tires, the size of wheelchair tires is also specified. The most common is 200×50. You will also see the ETRTO format, which stands for two numbers separated by a hyphen, the first indicating the width of the wheel, tire or tube in millimeters and the second the exact diameter of the tire or rim.
Color - the material used for wheelchair tires is gray and does not leave marks on domestic surfaces such as panels, tiles and boards.
Tire profile - you can usually find tires with profiles such as light, herringbone, V, cube and others. The range of wheelchair tires includes both tires with tubes (pneumatic) and maintenance-free tubeless tires (solid).
Puncture-proof solutions (Flexel)
Tires filled with flexel (foam) and covered with hardened and abrasion-resistant rubber are completely maintenance-free and provide a ride comfort comparable to conventional tires.
When purchasing wheelchair tires, it is important to remember that, like any other tires, they will require regular maintenance and may need to be overhauled or replaced. It is therefore a good idea to invest in high-quality parts that will last much longer than the cheapest products.
The right tube for the tire
When it comes to inner tubes for wheelchair wheels, there are models for different tire diameters and with different valve types:
- Tube with straight valve
- Inner tube with 90/30 valve or 90/90 valve
Front wheels for wheelchairs
In most cases it is possible to replace individual parts, but sometimes it is necessary to replace the whole wheels. They are usually made of hardened, abrasion-resistant rubber and plastic or carbon fibers that make up the rim. They come in different sizes and shapes, each designed to fit a specific wheelchair model.
It should be remembered that there may be several sets of wheels for a particular wheelchair model. For active people, these are usually wheels with a smooth tread used for everyday driving around town on smooth surfaces like asphalt. Many have an additional set with a thicker tread that is used for off-road driving, such as trips outside of the city.