The concept of a wheelchair is fairly fixed in most people’s minds – 4 wheels, generally with the little ones in front, big ones behind and a seat in the middle of them. Possibly batteries and a motor at the bottom or handles behind.
British design company Trekinetic have been gradually trying to design a better wheelchair for a number of years. Ex Formula engineer/inventor Mike Spindle was inspired by the idea of a portable modern all terrain wheelchair and came up with the Trekinetic. The original concept was to do away with the small wheels in the front of a wheelchair that get caught on uneven surfaces.
Fast forward several years and the company Trekinetic now produce three models of chair, two unpowered and one powered all with the distinctive trike design.
There are a number of key elements to the design which allow its use. First the big wheels have two user settable widths – spreading for stability and speed outside and compressing to make the wheelchair narrower inside. The rear single wheel has a built in tendency to steer the chair straight. Built in shock absorbers cushion the ride. It folds to a surprisingly small size for transport with quick release wheels and breaking down to three small pieces.
The three chairs are the K2, the original off road and hard use chair; the GT3, an urban optimised chair and the GTE powered chair. They range in price from £3295 to £8995 with a large number of possible extras and customizations possible. Their website advises on possible sources of funding and explains how to get partial funding from your local wheelchair services.
If you are interested in giving a Trekinetic a go there are 8 dealers in the UK and a number more worldwide – check here to see where your closest is. In addition the company is in the process of donating several chairs to attractions across the UK with the idea that wheelchair users could borrow them for free for a day when visiting as an extended test drive. The Science Museum in London, for example, have them available for use inside the museum.