Lightweight Adjustable Wheelchair
Lightweight Adjustable Folding Wheelchairs
Many of the ultralight folding wheelchairs are quite similar to the lightweight wheelchairs but offer more adjustability for even more fine tuning to the user's needs. They are more expensive than the ultralight models but are basically ordered the same way with similar options. The difference is really most noticeable after delivery when all the adjustments become evident while setting the chair up.
They are designed for users who are going to be using the chair daily for most of their mobility needs and spend many hours a day in the wheelchair but also lead a more active lifestyle and are looking for a little better performance.
Seat Widths and Depths
Most models of wheelchair in the ultralight folding category offer standard sizes from 12" to 20" in 1" increments a some will even allow for custom orders for in between sizes of seat width.
Seat depths for ultralight folding wheelchairs are also available in sizes between 12" to 20" in 1" increments and again some models will allow for custom in between seat depths.
Seat to floor heights of this category can be anywhere from 14" to 22" and will often be up to 2" lower at the back of the seat to create what is known as "dump". This "dump" kind of wedges the user in the seat for more stability and will also provide better access to the wheel push rims. Wheelchairs with dump built into the seat are not compatible for many seating accessories and not intended for users who require a lot of seating products beyond a good cushion.
Frames, Weight & Capacities
Ultralight folding wheelchairs are usually made out of aluminum but can also be made out of titanium to save as much weight as possible. The weight capacity of will range from 250 lbs to about 300lbs.
The overall weight of a ultralight adjustable wheelchair will be between 16 lbs. and 32 lbs with the titanium frames being at the lower end of the range and the aluminum at the upper end according to the manufacturers specifications.
Unfortunately there is no standard for reporting the weight of a wheelchair and different manufacturers will weigh their products with different options attached. They may, or may not, include the weight of the arms or footrests or other components.
Casters, Wheels and Tires
The rear wheels on this category of wheelchair are normally available in 20", to 26" with the larger sizes being most common and have either air filled or solid tires.
The front casters on ultralight wheelchairs can be any size from 3" to 8" with the most common being 5" or 6". The 6" and 8" sizes are the only ones where air filled tires are options in most cases however I don't recommend air filled tires on casters as they tend to go soft very quickly making the wheelchair hard to propel.
High performance carbon fibre wheels and high pressure tires are also available on some models where the user really wants a high performance every day wheelchair.
Ultralight wheelchairs come with adjustable axle plates which allow for the fine tuning and positioning of the rear wheels. The wheels can be mounted in several locations on the axle plate allowing the wheels to be moved forward or backward and up or down on the frame. These adjustments provide the ability to adjust the wheelchair's center of gravity for those who are sports minded or need to find the perfect wheel position to aid in propelling the wheelchair.
The axle plates also allow the wheelchair wheels to cambered for greater stability and user access. A cambered wheel is one that is tilted in towards the chair at the top effectively making the wheelbase wider. It is a common feature on sports wheelchairs to have quite a severe camber but can be beneficial for every day wheelchairs as long as the camber angle isn't too great.
Ultralight folding wheelchairs have a couple of brake styles that aren't available on the lower category wheelchairs. In addition to the usual push or pull to lock brakes there are scissor brakes which mount under the seat and are totally out of the way when not in use.
A couple of models in the ultralight adjustable wheelchair category also offer brake systems which are engaged on both wheels with the movement of a single lever.
Another option for this category of wheelchair is hill holders, also known as grade aids, which push against the wheels of the wheelchair and prevent them from rolling backward while allowing them to roll forward when climbing slopes.
Armrests on ultralight folding wheelchairs, depending on the model, can be exactly the same as the lightweight wheelchair category or be simple padded tubes which will swing away or be taken off when not required. Many users of this category of wheelchair don't use arms at all and any arm chosen when ordering will incur an upcharge.
Generally, wheelchair arms come in either full length or desk length. The full length arms are often an aid to people who use the arms for support when transferring while the desk length allow the chair to positioned close to a table without having to remove or flip them out of the way.
Another consideration is the arm height. The standard arms will be 9" or 10" above the seat rails but once a cushion is added the effective height will be 7" to 8" and too short for most people. If the arms are too short the shoulders will slump and the user will slouch making sitting in the chair uncomfortable fairly quickly so manufacturers came up with height adjustable arms which are the best choice for most people who require armrests.
Ultralight wheelchairs will have a few options for footrests. They normally come in 70° and 60° angles for adults and chairs that are sized for children will also have the option of 90°. The less the leg length or the higher one wants their feet from the ground the lower the angle should be. Steeper angles (70° and 90°) will also limit caster sizes in most wheelchairs to the smaller sizes.
There are a couple of footplate options on the ultralight wheelchairs. The user usually has the choice of standard composite (a plastic like material) or aluminum footplates. There are also footplates that are angle adjustable for people who aren't comfortable with having their feet flat on the standard footplates.
Ultralight folding wheelchairs also will offer elevating legrests as an option but it isn't a common occurrence for anyone to choose them. elevating legrests tend to be quite heavy and kind of defeat the purpose of ordering an ultralight wheelchair in the first place.
- Well fitted to user
- Many options
- Many accessories
- Very adjustable
- Excellent positioning ability
- Moderately expensive ($2,000.00 - $3,500.00)