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Easier travel for wheelchair users

An idea for a wheelchair with a geared handle to drive the wheels

Here’s my idea for a new kind of wheelchair. Wheelchairs seem like a horribly slow way for disabled people to get around; watching somone struggle slowly uphill is painful to watch.

I’m a cyclist and love wheels and gears, and I wonder why can’t wheelchairs have gears too?! In my diagram above, the drive wheel will have conventional handrails, as well as a knob (which would be great for turning the drive wheels quickly for low-geared uphill driving).

Thoughts: Should the axle be lockable for high speed travel in high gears, and how could the chair be steered in this case? A fast wheelchair would need a longer wheelbase - maybe a front wheel that could be extended and retracted? How easy would steering be with a single wheel? Would it get in the way of the driver’s feet? Gear change levers could be placed on one of the drive wheel mounts, but how easy would it be to change gear whilst moving? Would there be a freewheel (like on a bicycle) or a fixed chain? A freewheel would mean you'd need brakes.


If I was good at mechanics and at running a business, I’d make this. But I hope someone who is good at these things will read this. If you make lots of money out of it, give plenty of it to charity on my behalf, as your payment for this idea.