Off-Road Comfort

Posted October 2nd, 2011 by Anthony

Anthony using his power wheelchair on an iron platform supported by six foot wheels.

Anthony & the maker, David, with off road, people-powered wheelchair mover.

Yes, it has drawbacks—many, but this wheelchair mover is the most comfortable off-road conveyance I’ve tried. OK, it wouldn’t fit in my van. It needs somebody energetic to push it. Nonetheless, I love the simplicity of this design.

I tried it out at the Petaluma Rivertown Revival event when the maker, David at di Falco Fabrications, cajoled me into giving it a try. I thought he was crazy until we started rolling. The ground was rough and pocked with gopher holes. I barely noticed them while gliding along on the large wheels. He found that larger wheels worked better for mountain bikes and decided to see what he could do to help wheelchair users and people with mobility limitations get around at the event. He put a chair on the platform for non-wheelchair users to give it a try. The height of the wheels was dictated by the 20 foot lengths of iron he had in his shop. I assume he had a pickup truck to bring it to the event.

In the disability community we joke that every inventor dreams of an invention to help the blind. Well, almost as many dream of creating a new, wonderful, usually stair-climbing wheelchair. I’ve been using wheelchairs and other modified conveyances since 1952. Some specific adaptations work fine. When I was six or seven years old I rode around the block using an oversize tricycle as part of my rehabilitation after my spinal cord injury. My father attached an old pair of my shoes to the pedals and I had just enough strength left in my legs to pedal. It was a great workout. My primary mobility aid then was a child-size Everest and Jennings POS. Since I’ve owned manual and electric powered wheelchairs from a Stainless folder to Quickies and now a power Jazzy. Except for the revolution in design in the 70s when wheelchair users began designing their own vehicles there really hasn’t been much that’s radical since. It’s not say that there hasn’t been interesting tries. I enjoyed my ten minute ride on an iBot. It really was fun balancing on two wheels while being over six feet tall. Primarily, the changes have been in the materials used to construct the frames and wheels. The Quickie was made possible by the availability of tubing being used by bicycle builders. The flow of expertise and designs from the bicycle world has made for better and better refinement, including aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber, sealed bearings, brakes, and aerodynamic wheels.

This is all to say that I rarely see anything in the world of wheelchairs that captivates me. The off road whatchamacallit pictured not only interested me, it also amused me. I love the simplicity of the design. Who knows if it’s a new branch on the wheelchair tree. In any case, it was fun. Of course, it’s not going to join my stable of wheelchairs anytime soon. But, it’s rare that I see simple, different devices for mobility that make sense.

3 Responses to: “Off-Road Comfort”

  1. ann humphrey responds:
    Posted: October 3rd, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    the idea of smooth over rough terrain sounds good, yikes the wheels are big…

  2. Off-Road Wheelchair Mover responds:
    Posted: October 4th, 2011 at 3:02 am

    […] event, David di Falco of di Falco Fabrications in Petaluma, CA constructed this enormous big wheel wheelchair mover from square tube and diamond plate. [Thanks, […]

  3. Off-Road Wheelchair Mover | Continuing Education News responds:
    Posted: October 4th, 2011 at 5:49 am

    […] event, David di Falco of di Falco Fabrications in Petaluma, CA constructed this enormous big wheel wheelchair mover from square tube and diamond plate. [Thanks, […]

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