When it comes to ultralight manual wheelchair performance, rigidity has forever been the ultimate standard. After all, a rigid frame best translates the user’s push strokes and movements into the wheelchair’s momentum — an extension of one’s body in motion.
However, rigidity comes at a personal price. Despite advanced frame materials and designs, as well as wheels and casters that absorb shock, rigid ultralights can still prove bone-jarring under rough, bumpy conditions, a factor that can increase user fatigue at best, and cause pain at worst. Over the past two decades, a host of “suspension” ultralights have come and gone, able to soften the ride, but only while adding tremendous weight and bulk that frustrated users.
If only there were rigid designs that could integrate a true, shock-absorber suspension into a slim, ultralight package. Fortunately, two “boutique” builders are showing off the latest wave of true suspension manual wheelchairs — and they’re ultralight and ultra-cool.
Reinventing the Rigid
When Jeff Adams and Christian Bagg — both users and engineers of high-performance wheelchairs — set out to create ultimate suspension wheelchairs for everyday use, they couldn’t help but simultaneously reinvent the manual wheelchair. The result is the Icon, a true suspension ultralight that’s so far beyond conventional rigid wheelchairs that it comes full circle into arguably the most function