The Firefly: A Motorized Third Wheel

firefly-motorized-third-wheelIn the unpredictable world of the Internet, you can never predict when a video – new or old – will go viral. Recently on Facebook and social media, a slightly grainy video of a woman attaching a motorized third wheel to her manual chair and then driving through a residential neighborhood has been making the rounds.

Other than a graphic identifying the device as the “Firefly” and a brief link to a foreign website at the end, the video has no voice over, details about the device or other information. After a couple of friends shared the link, I decided to investigate.

Using the handy translate feature, I learned that the website belonged to a European distributor of mobility products made by U.S.-based Rio Mobility. In addition to the fully motorized Firefly – which can go up to 12 mph – Rio Mobility also makes similar-looking manual and assisted handcycles that can be easily attached to a manual chair. The manual handcycle attachment is called the Dragonfly, and the assisted version is the eDragonfly.

Rio Mobility’s website has a number of videos that do a better job of explaining the firefly and showing it in action. As a user named Larry testifies, having a motor attached to your chair can be a savior in hilly locations like the San Francisco Bay Area.

None of these products are brand new, so why the video recently went viral is beyond me, but they do look to be cool options in the rapidly-growing power-assist and handcycle markets. Rio Mobility also makes a lever drive attachment called the Pivot, that allows the user to crank levers to propel a chair instead of pushing.

Whether any of these options is right for you is, of course, for you to decide. It is worth noting that the Firefly is available through Amazon.com; though it will set you back just around $2,000.

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