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237 posts

Master Geek

#288338 21-Jun-2021 23:04
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My wife suffers from severe spine pain while walking. Until recently she has used a walker to ease the problem when shopping etc, but now it is getting to the stage where anything more than about 5 minutes is too much.

So, I am looking at buying a folding electric chair (not a scooter) that we can take with us in the back of our SUV so that she can regain some of her mobility independence. Desirable attributes include light weight but stable, easy to control, highly manoeuvrable, easy to stow, capable to go "off road" to a certain extent.

There appears to be quite a number of brands and suppliers in the market, and mostly seems to be sourced out of China. Typical of China products the descriptions always extol their many virtues and it becomes difficult to determine what is really good and the not so good. I would really appreciate if you have first hand experience to report here with your experiences and recommendations. Build quality, supplier's knowledge and support, availability of spare parts, points to watch out for etc. 

Listed here are some of the brands and suppliers that I have seen so far:

Airwheel, Kiwi Grab (**),

Companion Travel Lite, Beachwheels NZ,

Auckland Mobility Warehouse,


FreedomChair, Montec Mobility Limited,

and others on Trademe.

** Kiwi Grab seems to have a bit of identity crisis. Their 'About' page talks mostly about rugs, even the name sounds a bit dodgy. Are they legit?

I look forward to your information.

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1345 posts

Uber Geek

  #2732434 22-Jun-2021 08:04
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I am in a similar boat to you, my wife's mobility has plummeted over the past 18 months.


We have bought two walkers from Auckland Mobility Warehouse, a word of warning for here, the product is excellent, the guy knows his stuff, he stands by what he sells and he is a grumpy, know it all, gruff man that can put you off, if you can see past that you will be fine.


My wife has just had to get a wheelchair because walking more than 200m is now too much, we could not put a normal wheelchair in our car, AMW did not have one so we bought one off TM, small, folds up, solid wheels, we now know it is not suitable and I have now bout a new car that can take a full size wheelchair ( not the sole reason for the new car but a huge motivation to get it )


My wife is in hospital at the moment with a broken ankle and we have a full size Invacare wheelchair. While this does not fold up tiny the ride is far superior, easy to push ( but now rear handle brakes ) and she can self propel with ease.


My advise - Look and take lots for test drives, AMW will let you do this.


I would say use pneumatic tyres not solid.


If you wife plans on going on a footpath, the wheels need to be as big a possible, the state of the footpaths around where I live are shocking, so bigger wheels will help.


Add this to the dream list, I am a beach person but hardly get there now due to my wife's mobility. 





I know enough to be dangerous

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237 posts

Master Geek

  #2732836 22-Jun-2021 21:53
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Thanks for your response. Yes, indeed we are in similar boats...


I agree, wheel size is an issue. Some of them look pretty small for covering the rougher ground.


I love the look of that 2 wheel self balancing machine. A great example of Kiwi ingenuity at work. If it was for me I would jump straight in, but it probably isn't quite what my wife needs!

17148 posts

Uber Geek

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  #2732843 22-Jun-2021 22:07
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As a user these are some points to look for


1. A lower centre of gravity gives more stability both actual and feeling.


2. Larger wheels are important of the chair can get stuck on obstacles like stones, ridges on paths and kerbs


3. Light weight to assist helper manage the chair


4. good suspension 


5. a good quality mobility cushion to prevent pressure sores.




237 posts

Master Geek

  #2732848 22-Jun-2021 22:35
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Thanks Mike.


Can you say what brand chair you use, and how well does it fit with the points you mentioned?

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Ultimate Geek

Lifetime subscriber

  #2732860 23-Jun-2021 05:26
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I'm in a situation where a deteriorating pre-existing medical condition is likely to see me using a powered wheelchair in the near future.
Not exactly the same as your wife, but I'm navigating a similar electric wheelchair maze.


My use-case is mainly for work, both inside (I spend a lot of time seated in the office at the computer or in the workshop) and outside (worksites, auction and machinery yards).
I need to be able to easily pull it apart and chuck it in the back of my car - a Subaru wagon - in the back/behind the seat of a pickup, and occasionally in the cab of an excavator, tractor or similar.
I'll also need to pop it into the small baggage compartment of light aircraft.


I fly regularly (for work and pleasure) - and travelling on airlines with a lithium powered wheelchair you're constrained by IATA regs to 2 batteries, each with a maximum size of
160 Wh (watt-hours). 


I'm being helped by an absolutely wonderful team. Neurologists, Radiologists, O/T's and Physios.. the list goes on.
But I've found O/T's and physios, left to their own devices will over-spec everything and suggest large, high tech things - with the cost of added complexity.


In the end I've settled on the simplest wheelchair possible, a custom built lightweight folding-back rigid frame (from Invacare) with E-motion M25 pop-off power assisted wheels (along with a set of manual ones).
I can pick it up with one hand, the wheels pop off with one button push, importantly it has 'flight mode' batteries that pop out and are certified to be carried by most airlines.

As Mike points out, the little front castors most of these come with are pretty useless on unpaved surfaces, so I've gone with larger-than-standard pneumatic (actually foam filled) ones.
Annoyingly, wheelchair manufacturers often have spec-sheets that when you tick one thing (ie. 80 degree front frame) exclude the other thing you want (ie 8" pneumatic front castors).
I had to trial-order from a bunch of manufacturers until I found one that would allow the combination I wanted.


Anyway now I'm looking at all the associated modifications - a ramp to the house, widened and reversed bathroom door, roll-under kitchen sink etc.
Best of luck with your search.




Edit: One thing I'd stress is loaning/borrowing a chair you think is suitable and giving it a real-life trial.


237 posts

Master Geek

  #2733349 23-Jun-2021 20:43
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Very helpful information thanks Sidestep



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Uber Geek

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  #2733418 24-Jun-2021 08:19
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My chair is the Invacare chair that looks like a standard manual self propel chair with the added benefit of a detachable motor. It is easily put into our SUV and my wife can handle it with ease.The front wheels can get caught on some obstacles especially the poorly designed kerbs at pedestrian crossings. That can be scary especially with impatient dickhead motor vehicle drivers.


237 posts

Master Geek

  #2733998 24-Jun-2021 20:20
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Many thanks to those who have contributed so far, I really appreciate your input.


I would really like to hear from someone who uses one of the lightweight folding chairs from China. Are they any good?



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