Grit Freedom Chair For Trickier Terrain
Posted on November 15, 2014 by Jamie Slaughter, with 8715 views
The wheelchair is a fantastic way to assist mobility for disabled people. Unfortunately, up until this point in time, there are many places where the wheelchair just can't go, where difficult terrain which makes it inaccessible. The GRIT freedom chair has identified this very problem and assembled a wheelchair capable of venturing into more demanding terrains. With similarities to a mountain bike, this freedom chair really does allow you to break the boundaries and stray into many more areas.
This wheelchair is not motorized, all energy is kinetic, adding to the mountain bike feel. The seed for the design was planted more than five years ago by a group of MIT students for a project called the Leveraged Freedom Chair. The idea was born from the realisation that in developing countries wheelchair support was poor and often the conditions were too difficult to manoeuvre. The primary objective was clear; to create a chair capable of handling tricky terrain, but also compact enough to be used indoors.
After gaining financial backing and support, the group began distribution of the chair, primarily to developing countries. Built in India, the chairs are sold in bulk at $250 each. Estimates suggest that more than 1,000 chairs have been delivered to approximately 12 countries.
GRIT are now ready to launch the Freedom Chair back to the United States. Communicating with wheelchair users to modify the design, the company have tweaked the chair. One noticeable change being the collapsible design, allowing the chair to collapse and be stored away or placed in the trunk of a car.
The chair operates by using a lever based, geared drive train. The gearing mechanism eases strain on the muscles and allows the user to power up steeper inclines. Built on a 4130 steel frame, measuring 48 inches (122cm) in total, it has two 26 inch mountain bike wheels which are concealed inside 1.75 inch hybrid tires. The solid rubber front wheel helps in the chairs stability, while the cushioned seat and adjustable foot rest, has a weight limit of 220lbs (100kg).
The chair is built completely from standard bicycle components which allows easy replacement or upgrades. Without FDA approval, at this stage, the Freedom Chair can only be considered for recreational use.
The pricing levels are at $2,195 and $2,695. Both models expected to begin delivery by May, 2015.