In the history of this column, I’ve never found a product so intriguing and applicable to us wheelers that it merited a whole column unto itself. However, as innovation goes, there’s always a first.
“Power assist” — that is, the ability to motorize an ultralight manual wheelchair for easier propulsion — has been around for decades in incarnations from the mild to the wild. However, what has been recently realized is that less is more. Many consumers —whether paras with shoulder strain or quads with strength limitations — still want the minimalism of a manual wheelchair over a power chair, where accessibility and transportability are vital. They also need the benefit of some sort of power assist and would love to have that option but don’t want to convert their ultralight wheelchairs into cumbersome machines.
Fortunately, one of the most fascinating ultralight wheelchair innovations in a long time provides a power assist solution that keeps a manual wheelchair as close as possible to its ultralight nature.
To witness a seemingly normal ultralight wheelchair travel a city block on a single push is an astounding sight. What’s more, seeing it climb an uphill city block without any push strokes at 5 mph is mind-boggling. Yet, this is exactly what the Smart Drive by Max Mobility allows.