Did you know that there is a global demand for different types of wheelchair wheels?
According to the Digital Journal, the wheelchair tires market size averaged $402.34 million in 2021 and will rise to $560.42 million in 2028. (1)
Surprisingly, my grandmother’s birthday was not too long ago, and I needed help to get her something. So I thought, “mmm…why not get her a wheelchair?”
I consulted my local dealer (the MAGIC man, as I call him) for some key points to picking the correct wheel and will share them with you today.
- Wheelchair wheels come in 2 options — spoked and mag.
- Common types of wheelchair tires include pneumatic, flat-free and solid.
- Your choice of wheelchair tire and wheel depends on your medical condition and need for the chair.
5 Types of Wheelchair Wheels and Tires
Fun fact: the average wheelchair user is unique in that while some stay indoors, others prefer being outdoors.
It’s true what they told you in school — everybody’s different. And so there’s a wheelchair specially customized to fit your needs, and there are people who will help you.
Now, before you learn too much too soon, let’s discuss a couple of wheelchair tire types:
1. Spoked Wheels
These were the standard wheels in traditional wheelchairs and had a similar design to bicycle wheels. Though they are still in use, you won’t find many wheelchairs rocking these wheel types.
The spooks are usually metallic and can range from 24 or 36, depending on the wheel design. Moreover, the spokes can be radial or crossed.
Here is a YouTube video from William Quinn on spoked wheels and how to tighten the spokes.
2. Mag Wheels
Different types of wheelchair wheels are popular with modern standard wheelchairs — most chairs come fitted with them.
They are made from composite materials and usually feature less than ten spokes.
Here is a YouTube video from Instant Mobility of a wheelchair equipped with mag wheels.
Typically, there are three types of wheelchair tires.
3. Pneumatic Tires
If you want to be Miss/Mr popular, this type is the one to get. It has a very niche feature — air-fillable tube-like bicycle tires.
Often called shock-absorbing capabilities, this type will make your ride smoother and give you a wide range of goodies — more comfort and fewer pressure sores.
Pneumatic tires are versatile in that they offer above-average traction indoors and outdoors.
But these wheels are air-fillable, and maintaining an excellent level of tire pressure is crucial.
The last thing you want is to get stuck with a flat tire without help.
Also, note that while you can repair tube punctures using a patch kit, you must change wheelchair tires and tubing after a couple of months.
4. Solid Tires
Guess what? These fellows are puncture-proof! That means that an active wheelchair user can enjoy low-maintenance service.
Also, the wheel can last well over the wheelchair’s lifetime without the need to change it.
Though this type of wheel offers more extended service, they are much heavier and contribute to the weight of a wheelchair.
These rear wheels offer less -absorbing capability, so expect a bumpier ride!
5. Flat-Free Tires
However, they do not go flat and are low maintenance making them an ideal tire type for power wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
And while they are not air-fillable, they offer softer rides than solid tires.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Wheelchair Wheels and Tires
1. Your Wheelchair Needs
Before buying a wheel or tire, you must know why you need one. If you are a person who spends more time indoors, a solid tire is the best option.
Moreover, you can use the solid wheelchair tire in areas with sharp objects.
But pneumatic tires are better if you are an active user looking to push your wheelchair’s limit.
2. Medical Condition
Your medical condition may inhibit your electric wheelchair use, forcing you to opt for a manual wheelchair.
Suppose you have a pesky spinal cord injury. You may love a manual wheelchair to protect you from problems — the chair’s cluttering and uneven terrain. (2)
As for weight, heavier individuals with bariatric wheelchairs need the wheels to support them. Interestingly, the average speed is NOT compromised with a manual wheelchair!
How Wheel Dimensions Compare to Wheelchair Sizes
Wheel sizes come in all shapes, colors, and textures. Your choice will depend on the type of wheelchair you have.
As an indication, the standard wheelchair usually features a 24 inches wide wheel.
Also, the standard electric wheelchair comes with an 18-inch wheel size. Meanwhile, the front caster wheel diameter range from four to six inches but can also be three inches.
For an expert’s take on dimensions, please check out this YouTube video from PushMobility on how to measure your wheelchair wheels.
What are the front wheels of a wheelchair called?
The front wheels in a wheelchair frame are known as casters. They range from three to six inches in diameter.
What are the three basic types of wheelchairs?
The three basic types of wheelchairs available are manual, bariatric, and motorized wheelchairs.
What is a mag wheel in a wheelchair?
A mag wheel is a wheelchair wheel made from composite materials. These wheels feature less than ten spokes and are lightweight and durable.
What are wheels that are tilted called?
Tilted wheels in a wheelchair are known as camber wheels. There are three camber angles, but the common one in wheelchairs is the negative camber. (3)
Now that you know the various types of wheelchair wheels, you are on your way to becoming a master wheelchair user — but there’s more:
Wheels are not indestructible. They sometimes break. And sometimes, you must replace them to ensure smooth usage to keep top wheelchair performance.
This is it: different wheelchair wheels and tires in a nutshell. It is up to you to decide how to care best for your wheelchair wheels.
So, what type of wheel would you choose for your wheelchair? Let us know in the comments section!
- 1. TheExpressWire. At 4.85% CAGR, Global Wheelchair Tires Market Size Worth USD 560.42 Mn by 2028 | Industry Trends, Share, Analysis and Forecast Report by Facts and Factors | Report [114 Pages] [Internet]. Digital Journal. [cited 2022 Dec 18]. Available from: https://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/at-4-85-cagr-global-wheelchair-tires-market-size
- 2. Spinal Cord Injury | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke [Internet]. www.ninds.nih.gov. 2022. Available from: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/spinal-cord-injury
- 3. Trudel G, Kirby RLee, Ackroyd-Stolarz SA, Kirkland S. Effects of rear-wheel camber on wheelchair stability. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 1997;78:78–81.