People who rely on a wheelchair have limited access to natural landscapes because wheelchairs don’t have the power or strength to handle off-road conditions. All-terrain wheelchairs can help, but these vehicles have a high price tag; reliable models can cost upwards of $10,000. A new vehicle, Not a Wheelchair, now offers an alternative that’s fast, lightweight, and costs less than $5,000.
Not a Wheelchair, also called The Rig, began as a DIY gift that Zach Nelson made for his partner Cambry Kaylor out of parts from two electric bikes. The couple continued to develop the project, eventually partnering with Utah Trikes for parts and manufacturing. Now, The Rig has hit the market, with plans to begin shipping in September of 2020.
The Rig truly isn’t a wheelchair; in fact, it’s not a medical device at all. Rather, it’s an accessible electric bike made of high-quality bicycle parts. The Rig allows people with lower-body paralysis and related conditions to enjoy a comfortable, back-road nature experience.
Steering and braking operate via left and right arm controllers, so The Rig does require upper body function and strength to drive. It features a silent electric motor and dual battery system. These power The Rig at its top speed of 12 mph for up to 20 miles. Attaching additional batteries can extend its range up to 100 miles.
Like most off-road bikes, The Rig can handle trails, many types of rugged terrain, and even packed snow on a gentle incline. And it also has limitations, as does any bike. The Rig doesn’t work well in wet sand and it doesn’t have the power for moderate to steep inclines. It also lacks water protection around the motor, so riding in the rain or through puddles remains off-limits, at least for now.
Not a Wheelchair may not be a mountain climber, but it can allow wheelchair users to spend time having fun in a natural environment. It enhances the user’s independence without compromising convenience or safety. At the same time, The Rig makes hiking or camping with friends or family who walk more enjoyable by minimizing hassle and maximizing freedom and ease of movement.