Approximately 10% of the world’s population has a disability, and many of those disabilities can cause limited mobility. For whatever reason, you may be confined to a wheelchair, and if you are then you’re probably still interested in keeping up an active lifestyle. With today’s modern wheelchair designs, this is more of a reality than ever. One of the questions that you face, however, is deciding what type of wheelchair tire is right for you. Are off road wheelchair tires the right choice? What about foam tires? Here’s all the information you need to know in order to decide what tire is best for you.
Types of Tires
The first thing you need to know are the types of tires and the benefits and drawbacks of each one.
- Urethane-filled tires This type of wheelchair tire is filled with solid urethane rubber and cannot be punctured. As result, it is very low maintenance. You can buy urethane tires as a whole, or you can buy a tube insert to add to a regular tire. The upside of these tires is that they cannot go flat and are very low maintenance. The downside is they don’t have as much give us other tires and are not very good on rougher terrain. They don’t make great off road wheelchair tires and are recommended for use indoors.
- Tires filled with foam This type of tire is also filled, and the foam, once it is cured, is more flexible than the urethane tire and much more like an inflated tire. It’s often used outside, and it’s 100% maintenance free. They’re also able to take enormous amounts of weight, which makes foam a good choice for larger clients, or for use on power chairs or scooters with heavy motors.
- Traditional pneumatic tires We all know what this type of tire is like. It’s a tube filled with air, and while it requires the most maintenance, is also by far the most effective on rough terrain. If off road wheelchair tires are what you want, pneumatic tires are going to give you the best performance. Pneumatic tires come in superwide, which is best for off road wheelchair tires and gives great traction, medium width, which provides traction on a variety of surfaces, and narrow tires that work well on pavement and are great for speed. Of course, pneumatic tires require the most maintenance and upkeep and flat tires are always an issue.
Types of Tread
The next question you want to consider as you think about your wheelchair tires is the tread. The tread can make an enormous difference.
- Tread for speed If speed is your main concern, you want a directional tread. Directional treads have a “V” shape pattern and are designed to increase in speed as they go along.
- Tread for off road wheelchair tires If you want to take your wheelchair anywhere, you probably want a knob tread. The knobs on tires provide traction in difficult terrain, and do have some serious grabbing power when it comes to wet rocks or roots. However, on hard packed surfaces the knobs stick and create rolling resistance. It’s possible to get smaller knobs on your tire which will let roll with some ease on hard surfaces, but also provide some traction off road. Or, they might just leave you frustrated in both situations.
- Tires for the wet If you are planning on spending a lot of time in places that are wet, a tread with knobs that are tightly packed rolls quickly in dry conditions but can become packed with mud when it’s wet. More widely-spaced knobs are better at shedding dirt and perform better in rain and snow.
The last thing to consider is your tire pressure. The softest ride comes from pneumatic tires, and the greater the pressure the firmer your ride. For powered wheelchairs, lower tire pressure will affect how much energy it takes to move.
Now you know! Get out there and find the tire best suited to your active lifestyle.