We like to think of the GRIT Freedom Chair as the best of beauty and brains: it’s visually appealing and efficiently engineered, and it took years of dedication, multiple prototypes, and a lot of feedback from wheelchair riders to get here.  Read on to learn about six surprisingly awesome design features of the GRIT Freedom Chair

1) The axle is 2x stronger than normal wheelchairs

Wheelchair riders know the frustration of bent axles! We want our GRIT Freedom Chair riders to be able to move beyond the pavement with confidence, so we spent months engineering an axle that’s twice as strong as what you’d find on a regular wheelchair.

Awesome Design Features of GRIT Freedom Chair, stronger axle: two people use stack of weights to test the frame and axle

The GRIT Freedom Chair axles are 15mm in diameter, compared to the 12.7mm (half an inch) diameter that’s standard on most wheelchairs. Because the strength and stiffness of an axle is proportional to the diameter to the fourth power (d^4), this diameter increase results in a much stronger axle!

We tested them by repeatedly dropping the chair off an 11 inch curb, at an angle so that it only landed on a single wheel, with over 300 pounds of weight. The axles survived with flying colors!

2) The suspension is built into the frame and wheels

Suspensions are more and more common on mountain bikes, but they aren’t really well suited to most wheelchairs: they’re heavy and expensive, they make it hard to know exactly where your center of gravity will be, and worst of all, they tend to steal power out of every push stroke (watch the suspension of some off-road chairs as a rider uses them, and you’ll see what I mean). 

Awesome Design Features of GRIT Freedom Chair, built-in suspension: disassembled GRIT outdoor wheelchair

They do, however, have some advantages, especially on rough terrain. Without a suspension, chairs can feel stiff and rides can be full of exhausting vibrations.

We wanted to give our GRIT Freedom Chair riders the comfort benefits of a suspension, without any of the downsides. How did we do it? We threw engineering at the problem! The GRIT Freedom Chair’s steel frame absorbs vibrations from the wheels, limiting what gets transmitted to the rider. The front wheel is made out of industrial-strength rubber, and has holes in it to help it absorb the shocks of bumps on the trail. Lastly and most importantly, we designed the seat supports out of sheet metal and made it flexible in just the right places, to help absorb the jostles of riding off road. 

3) You can change gears more easily than on a bike

We wanted to give GRIT Freedom Chair riders the benefits of changing gears, without any of the extra cost and complexity of derailleur systems. To accomplish this, we designed the lever system to allow the rider to slide their hands up and down the bars. This gives riders the same range in gearing as a typical mountain bike system (3:1) without any complicated knobs or buttons.

Pushing at the top of the bars gives the riders a lot of torque (50% more than regular wheelchairs), making it easy for them to climb hills and roll over grass, mud, and even the beach. Pushing at the bottom of the bars requires more effort, but lets riders push the levers a lot farther each stroke. This makes our all-terrain wheelchair go faster, about 80% faster than regular wheelchairs on flat ground, and without any extra effort.

4) The front wheel absorbs bumps and adapts to riding conditions

Wheelchair casters get beat up by average riding conditions, and off-road most casters don’t have a chance. We designed the GRIT Freedom Chair front wheel to survive extreme riding conditions and to give riders a comfortable, safe, and effortless ride on a variety of different terrains.

Front wheel: product image of GRIT Junior outdoor wheelchair with large front caster wheel

The first thing new riders notice about the GRIT Freedom Chair front wheel is how big it is — at 8.75″ diameter it’s twice as big around as regular wheelchair casters. And that means that it’s a lot less likely to get stuck. It rolls right over bumps, rocks, branches, grass, and sand. It’s solid rubber, which is great at absorbing vibrations and means you’ll never have to worry about punctures. The holes in the wheel help to reduce weight and also allow it to deform (and spring-back) when you hit big obstacles. Think of it as a built-in shock absorber!

The shape of the wheel itself is important too. If you look at the wheel from the front, you can see that it’s got a triangular cross-section. This means that on smooth ground, only a small part of the wheel touches the ground, reducing friction and making it easier to push the GRIT Freedom Chair. On soft ground, more of the wheel contacts the ground, giving it a wide contact area to keep it from sinking in. The front wheel gives great performance whether on pavement or sand!

5) It’s designed to be customizable and repairable

Awesome Design Features of GRIT Freedom Chair, customizable and repairable: standard bike wheel & parts used in GRIT all-terrain wheelchair

Here at GRIT, we’re tinkerers. So naturally, we encourage our GRIT Freedom Chair riders to tinker with their chairs: to add accessories, swap out components, change the gearing, or make repairs.

We ship every GRIT Freedom Chair pre-drilled with extra mounting holes so that it’s easy for you to add your own straps and accessories. The steel frame is easy to weld to (if you’re so inclined), and we’ll work with you to help you design your own add-ons. 

Most importantly, every moving part on the GRIT Freedom Chair is an off-the-shelf bike part. No special fasteners or proprietary interfaces. Your local bike shop has everything you need to customize or repair your chair.

6) The lightweight steel frame is rust-proofed

We designed the GRIT Freedom Chair frame out of high strength steel. This lets us use thin tubes, resulting in a frame that’s lighter than most off-road wheelchairs (even those made out of aluminum). Even better, steel frames are much less likely to crack than aluminum frames, meaning you can ride your GRIT Freedom Chair longer, and in more extreme conditions, than the competition.

One concern with steel is that it can rust, so we attacked this head on. Instead of painting the GRIT Freedom Chair, we powdercoat it. This is a much more durable solution — it’s more scratch resistant, thicker, and it looks better. As an extra layer of protection, we zinc plate each chair’s frame, inside and out. So you never have to worry about your chair rusting!

Design Features of GRIT Freedom Chair, rust-proof: whole frame of rugged GRIT wheelchair with powdercoat and zinc plate protection

14 Replies to “6 Awesome Design Features of the GRIT Freedom Chair”

    1. Hi Jorma- Yes, the user can pop a wheelie using the levers to get over obstacles such as curbs. And often the leverage combined with the big front wheel means you can just roll over the obstacle without even wheelie-ing over!

  1. How do I get one?
    I’m 24 and its been a year since the wreck where I got paralized…
    How much are they
    I still have a hospital chair it big n bulky.
    Please let know how to buy one unless u need a tester is love to be a tesyer

  2. I know a young lady who shows livestock. Is outdoors training cattle washing cattle and in the dirt. So to speak. Where do they find one.

    1. Hi Kelly – Freedom Chairs are currently only available to purchase through our website! If your friend is interested in test ride, she can get in touch with us at info@gogrit.us and let us know where she is located and we can let her know if there is a demo site in her area. We also have a 14 day "no questions asked" return policy so she can order a Freedom Chair, try it out at home and return it if it’s not a good fit. Hope that helps!

  3. I have weight issues (lymphadema + long time spinal damage) Do you have a model capable of supporting me @ 370#, a 23" wide X 18" seat", or is this just another program for thin folks?

    1. Our weight capacity is 300lbs and our largest seat width is 18". We’re researching options for larger seats, but will have to do more testing and certification before we increase our weight capacity.

  4. What about indoor use? I am on faculty at a large university in a northern climate. I need to go some distances outdoors in the snow to different parts of campus, some areas not well paved, so the rugged outdoors features will be useful. I also need to get around easily indoors in some rather tight spaces. It looks as if the front wheel makes the chair long enough that some indoor doorways are going to be difficult.

    1. The Freedom Chair is pretty maneuverable indoors. It’s about a foot longer than ultralight chairs, but it’s about the same length as a hospital-style chair with the footrests in front. Having a single front wheel actually makes it pretty easy to navigate around obstacles indoors. With the levers removed, the wheels can be pushed forwards and backwards just like a regular wheelchair. With the levers inserted, however, you can’t roll backwards without activating our hill-lock feature.

      We’re offering a 14 day risk-free trail period if you’re interested in seeing how the Freedom Chair works for you!

  5. Does the chair have the ability to add handles that allow someone to push at times when I couldn’t propel myself?

  6. I have a similar question to Debby Green. When the handles are added to allow someone to push does the person pushing also have the ability to use the leverage handles? My daughter has an intellectual disability and would not understand the purpose of the handles, but it would sure make pushing her up hills a lot easier for me!

  7. This is awesome!
    I was actually googling for a trailer hitch that won’t jacknife whrn the car is in reverse. Your wheelchair…. hmmm… the ability to re-direct.
    I am now imagining a user… having detachable storage towed behind them.

    Would you consider making trailer hitch attachments?

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