Electric wheelchair types and their capabilities? Rear wheel Vs mid wheel drive?

My wife usually uses an electric wheelchair outdoors controlled by me and a manual wheelchair indoors pushed by me. Her outside wheelchair is an Invacare Bora which has small castors on the front and is rear wheel drive. This is perfect outside because we have a wheelchair adapted vehicle where the back comes up and a ramp folds down. The rear wheel drive is great for climbing the ramp but is not very good for maneuvering indoors. I have been looking recently at mid wheel drive wheelchairs such as the Jazzy 600 ES which they claim gives great maneuverability indoors and is also great outdoors. However, I think I foresee a problem? Since this chair is mid wheel drive and it has 1 set of 2 casters front and 1 set of 2 casters back for stability outdoors and the drive is on the large midwheels, what happens when you try and climb up the ramp into the WAV? Surely the front casters would hit the ramp first and I am thinking this would lift the drive wheels off the floor thus losing drive and traction. Am I right? Does anyone own this type of midwheel drive wheelchair and also own a WAV? ? If so are they right that it gives extra maneuverability indoors?Can it get through a standard doorframe? and what happens when you try and get up a ramp into a WAV or a ramp into a venue?

Hey there Redbridge, best thing is see if someone done a review about them on YouTube, if that fails try see if you can test one out or ask the people who sells them.

Hi Redbridge and welcome!

My wife uses a manual wheelchair at present, so I’ve no direct experience of powered chairs. The NHS provided one that didn’t really meet her needs, so we went to a local dealer with a good rep - he’s a wheelchair user himself. He gave good advice and we’re much happier with my wife’s wheelchair. I can only suggest finding out where there’s a good dealer local to you. They’ll be able to tell you what the advantages and disadvantages are of each drive type.

Hi, my wife has a midwheel drive powerchair and, similar to the Jazzy, the front and back castors both have suspension (you can see the “springs” in the pictures of the Jazzy). So they will rise up independently of the rest of the wheelchair. She is able to self-drive up the ramp into our WAV. There is a bit of a “bump” when the middle wheels reach the top of the ramp and the chair levels out, but that is not really any worse than the real-wheel drives.

If possible, I recommend visiting a local dealer and trying out the various types of chair on ramps and around. I’m sure that will reassure you.

1 Like

Great reply thank you KevScott. I wonder what make and model you wife uses? I only mentioned the Jazzy 600 ES as i saw a video on youtube which looked good but it gave no mention to its ability to climb a ramp. I am flexible to buy any model or make which would work.

She has a Quickie Jive from Sunrise Medical. I think the current model is the Q700M. It has a lot of features, which we unfortunately do need, and so it can be rather expensive. Hence I would only recommend if you need the additional features as cheaper models are probably just as effective depending upon the individual. Replacement parts can also be expensive and take a while to get but I don’t know how that compares to other manufacturers! We had several test drives before purchasing as well. I think there are also some companies that offer short-term hire as well if you want to try them at home and around.

Thanks for the advice. We went to a well known national chain of disability stores and checked out the Sunrise Medical Quickie 700M. First we checked that they had this chair in stock and the manager suggested we came in our WAV so we could see if the Q700M would manage to climb the ramp. Of course we intended to do that anyway as how else would we get to the store? But the Q700M went up the ramp very easily. It was a day of heavy rain so if it can do it when the ramp is soaking wet, it can do it anytime. So we bought one! It cost nearly eight thousand pounds but its already proven to be great outdoors and indoors. The mid wheel design makes it much more maneuverable so it goes between rooms and through doors far easier than the old rear wheel Invacare Bora.