Wheelchairs may not seem like they can go off-roading, but thanks to Not a Wheelchair, they can. Zack Nelson and his wife Cambry Kaylor developed the adaptive device that they call The Rig. The somewhat vague name is intentional, as their creation is hard to define what, exactly, it is. “What do you call a chair with four wheels, off-road capabilities, totally silent, super-fast, and a great long-range?” Nelson says in a video introducing it. “I’m not really sure either, but it’s definitely not a wheelchair.”
Kaylor inspired Nelson to first create The Rig. In 2005, Kaylor had an equestrian accident and became paralyzed from the waist down. She uses a wheelchair and has had to live within the limitations of its design. To help her have all sorts of fun outdoor adventures, Nelson fused two electric bikes together and put a seat in the middle. It was comfortable and allowed Kaylor to maneuver off the pavement. Knowing they were on to something, the couple then got to work improving upon the initial design. This led them to an accessible electric bike that can go 12 miles per hour and has a range of about 10 to 20 miles.
The overall goal for The Rig is that it be capable and affordable. After all, it was a hole in the market that encouraged them to invent The Rig. “Shopping for an off-road wheelchair can be frustrating,” Nelson writes. “There are a few different options out there, but they can cost as much as a car or are super slow.” The Rig, by contrast, comes in a variety of colors with a starting price of $4,750.
Although The Rig is a great option for wheelchair users to maneuver outdoors, the creators note that this isn't a medical device. “The Rig does have manual steering and manual brakes. It does require upper body strength and hand strength to maneuver,” Nelson writes. “Just about as much strength as it takes to operate a normal pedal bike. Also, coordinating the throttle, brakes, and the steering does require full cognitive and decision-making ability.”
Scroll down to see The Rig in action, and learn more about it on the Not a Wheelchair website.