Softwheel WheelsAdded: Friday, 10 February 2017
Main Category: Mobility & DME
Categories: Daily Living, Editors Picks, Mobility & DME, Reviews
I've been riding these aluminum and carbon fiber bad boys for about six months now and so far, I'm loving every second of it.
They've traveled with me to Denver, Salt Lake City and cruised miles of trade show floors and airport hallways, so I've put them through a lot.
First things first, they look amazing. Seriously gorgeous, with matte black wheel rims and semi gloss black push rims. These are the wheelchair equivalent of the LBD and they look right at home on my fabulous Lasher Sport yellow and mirror chrome wheelchair. Add that to the fact that they ride like an expensive sports car and they're better for you medically and you'll see why I love them.
The magic of the Softwheels comes from the offset auto-adjusting shock/spoke and hub assembly which makes up the Adaptive In-Wheel Suspension System. On flat surfaces, the shocks stay rigid. On rough surfaces the shocks instantly adjust and absorb the rattle and impact of cracks and curbs.
The difference on smooth floors is noticeable. The rigidity of the wheels and the position of the spokes transfers the energy of each push to the lower part of the hub, so you're actually getting more leverage with the same energy.
It's the same with bumping down curbs. You land with a strange sort of "non-thump" that absorbs the jolt without compression or bouncing. Like the perfect combination of comfy fat under inflated tires and the precision of high pressure skinnys.
Pushing up ramps (like at the airport) is another area where it's absolutely apparent. Normally it's push hard, gain a few feet, stop (or slow down) and repeat, constantly starting from a dead stop (or backward roll) until you reach the top. If you're like me and you carry your bag on your lap, it's even more difficult because you don't have the lean space to gain leverage. The SoftWheels help with that because they continue to move forward, not in a motorized or powerful way, but with a gentle, floaty gliding feeling, like the energy return on a spring, which in essence it is.
They are heavier than my Spinergy 12 spoke carbon wheels and my generic 36 spoked wheels. A lot heavier actually, and at first I had reservations about that since we've been on this quest for lighter chairs for decades but surprisingly the weight combined with the design of the spokes adds to the stability of my chair. If you're a billet wheel rider, these come in about the same weight, depending on the style you have. I have the bubbles and the SoftWheels are a bit lighter than those.
They are wider at the hub than other wheels, so your current axles may need to be adjusted or you may need new ones. The axles from my XTR fit perfectly so I'm using those. Overall my chair is about 3/4 of an inch wider with the new wheels, which hasn't caused any real issues.
It took a few days to get used to the new position of the push rims because the wheels are a bit wider at the hub than my spinergy wheels and an inch smaller, I usually ride 25 inch wheels and these are 24 so it's bit different feeling in my chair.
On the topic of push rims. You're covered there as well. The wheel rim has the standard 6 position configuration, so if your favorite rims are also standards, just switch them out.
They also come with an extended valve to pump the tires up since the rim itself is wider and a standard pump won't reach the valve. I keep it in my purse.