OPW — Clarifications and Design Plans

This is a continuation of the discussion started in the post, Off-road Power Wheelchair (OPW).

Robbie provided a few clarifications:

“Sorry I wasn’t completely specific; here are my thoughts so far. Off-road meaning the streets of Albuquerque, the Sandia Mountains and the Back country of Bandelier National Monument. Decent Amount of speed, meaning 5-7 mph. 300+ meaning it could be made for heavy duty, people weighing 300 or more.  [personal information omitted]   [I] have wanted to build a chair that would be worth using for outdoor without having to use an atv or a mule. A power wheelchair is legal anywhere so why not make it to where it can go practically anywhere.

The terrain I was thinking like hills and sand or if i wanted to, near the river. My original idea for tires was old jeep tires with steel rims but I’m not too sure.”

Our concerns and suggestions:

Our main concern of using automobile wheels on a power wheelchair is the need for a chassis or body which will accommodate heavy wheels.  It seems the desire to use Jeep(brand) wheels is from its ability to traverse rough terrain.  Maybe we can accomplish similar results with wheels lighter than any used on automobiles.  We’ll revisit this issue when we design our Real-world, Off-road Power Wheelchair (ROPW).

First let’s take a look to see what’s currently available for off-road power wheelchairs:

Make/ModelClaimed RangeLoad CapacityCost in U.S. Dollars (USD)
Viking 4x4“19 miles”352lbs$9,987
Action Trackchair“6 miles"n/a$15,000
BIG Bounder H-Framen/a500 lbs$11,995
Global Extreme Nomadn/an/a$7,495
Freedom 6x6“3 hours"n/a$11,000
P4 Country 4x4“18 miles”262 lbsn/a
Ziesel Tracked All Terrain“5 hours”n/a$30,000
V6 Frontier Off Road Powerchair“20 miles”400 lbs$13,665
X8 Extreme All Terrain Power Chair“25 miles”400 lbs$15,995
Trac About All Terrain Power Chair"12 miles"350 lbs$18,498

None of the power wheelchair we found had specifications even close to what Robbie is looking for.  The biggest problem being the range (“50 – 100 mile on one charge“).  It may be possible to carry an extra battery pack.  However, none of the power wheelchairs in our sample have easily accessible battery packs to switch out/in.

With this in mind, we took a quick survey of available electric bicycles to see what we can learn or technologies we can use/borrow for our own designs.

Make/ModelClaimed RangeLoad Capacity (Rider plus Cargo)Cost in U.S. Dollars (USD)
Bavarian Electric Touring Bicycle“125-mile range on a single charge”330 lbs$10,000
ProdecoTech Mariner 7 Electric Bike“25 – 35 miles per charge”n/a$1,399
Electric XB-610 Elite“30 – 35 miles on a single charge”300 lbs$1,099
Currie IZIP E3 Ultra DF“20 - 35 miles”n/a$2,899
M55 Riviera“65 miles on a single charge”n/a$16,000
Optibike R8HD“55 miles with pedaling”170 lbs$12,990
Giant Twist Freedom DX“60 miles with pedaling”n/a$2,250
OHM XU700“19 - 56 miles”n/a$3,199
Busettii 2014 Triker“35 miles on one charge”400 lbs$2,890
LifeCycle electric bikes“genuine range of over 130 miles”n/a$48,183

The obvious problem with some of these manufacturers’ claims is the part “with pedaling”.  The manufacturers who don’t put this in their claim may actually imply such assistance.  Unfortunately, the bikes with 100+ mile ranges are made in Europe and not available for test rides in the US.

The Busettii website offers “60–75 Day No Risk E bike trial offer! If you don’t have a dealer within 50 miles of your home to try before you buy then you can try this risk free offer!”  Busettii does not have any dealers in the state of New Mexico so we took them up on their offer.  🙂

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