Electric wheelchairs fit into three main categories: rear wheel drive, mid wheel drive, and front wheel drive.
Choosing a suitable configuration depends on your lifestyle and needs; the location of the drive wheel impacts manoeuvrability. So, whether you would like a chair that can be used in tight, indoor spaces, or you’d prefer a powerful chair for rougher terrain, there is certainly a wheelchair for everyone.
Rear Wheel Drive – Popular for its Power
• The majority of our electric wheelchairs have a rear wheel drive system, which is traditionally the most common of the three. Generally, they are powerful and easy to use.
• Rear wheel drives are a favourite of those who spend a lot of time out and about. These wheelchairs have a good balance of indoor/outdoor movement and offer a smooth ride on many terrains such as cobbled streets, shingle, and grass.
• In comparison to other configurations, they offer greater manoeuvrability and reliability at higher speeds. Although, when operating on steep inclines they are at greater risk of tipping backwards due to the mass of the weight being at the back. If you feel you will be driving on steep inclines it is important to have anti-tippers installed.
• These wheelchairs are reliable, and successfully perform at higher speeds.
• Out of the three categories, rear wheel drives have the largest turning circumference, therefore it may require larger spaces to turn in.
Mid-wheel drive – Stable and Compact
• The Travelux Quest Midwheel Powerchair, as well as the Jazzy Air Rising Powerchair, both offer a mid-wheel driving experience. With 6 wheels in total, these chairs have two sets of caster wheels to maximise stability and balance.
• The front and back casters prevent tipping forwards/backwards, so mid-wheel drive chairs travel well across a slight slope.
• A great advantage of a mid-wheel drive is their small turning circle. This means that these chairs are highly manoeuvrable and that they are useful for tight spaces – particularly homes, shops, and office buildings.
• The drive wheel is in line with the user’s head and centre of gravity, which means it may be a better option for those with perceptual/cognitive impairment.
Front Wheel Drive – The Obstacle Climber
• As with the rear wheel driving chairs, these chairs have two sets of wheels. However, front wheel drive chairs pull on the front rather than push from the back.
• There are typically no front casters, so feet can be near to the body. This is great for sitting closer to objects, for example at a desk or a dinner table.
• Front wheel drives are good off road – climbing obstacles is considered a strength. The front wheel driving system normally allows good curb climbing of 2 inches high.
• Front wheel drives tend to have lower maximum speeds and can at times be harder to handle at higher speeds.