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Powerchair Tyre Pressures.
Just like in your car or motorcycle a
Powerchair has a "recommended" tyre pressure. But this is just a guide. The
correct tyre pressure is the one that suits you and your specific compromises best.
I used to race bikes (and cars) before landing
in a wheelchair... There is no such thing as a "correct" tyre pressure.
If you want an easy comfortable ride
outdoors because you have muscle spasm issues, pressure sore problems or just
because you prefer less vibration it can help (a little) to run with a lower
tyre pressure that the manufacturers "recommended" pressures. Its your choice! This is usually
chosen to be about 30 to 35 PSI depending on who manufactured your power wheelchair.
But they don't even know your weight!
That makes a huge difference all on its own. Adults go from very small and light
(say 100 pounds or less) to well over 300lb.
So even if there was
a "correct" pressure to use, it still wouldn't be correct for most people! If you
double the weight a tyre has to carry, then you have to double the pressure to
maintain the same tyre shape and contact patch area. This is one of the
problems of foam filled tyres. No adjustability for user weight. Take a look at
the door pillar on your car. More load? More passengers? Requires more pressure.
Its the same in your powerchair.
And they don't know your condition. Some people cannot cope with
simple vibration or the kind of shocks that hard "correctly" inflated tyres give on our
uneven streets for a large bunch of
medical reasons. "Suspension" as fitted to current Powerchairs just doesn't cut
it. It can "help|" with the big bumps but does nothing to help with smaller high
frequency bumps/vibrations such as you experience on cobbles or similar sized
It can help slightly on bigger jolts but we travel much too slowly for it
to ever be very effective. Our wheels are too small! So for these people
effected (and myself included) running with lower tyre
Related Note: I actually removed the (useless) suspension and fitted
special fat really low pressure tyres instead to my own powerchairs eventually!
The real problem is that powerchair manufacturers fit tyres with too small
sidewalls for comfort. But I
digress. (Here if you are
So what other effects does running with lower*** tyre pressures
have? (***lower than advised)
a) causes slightly faster tyre wear
generally but over a wider area of the tyre rather than just the middle.
b) causes more grip on snow
or slippery conditions (but not hugely so, as the tyres are too small)
c) increases rolling
resistance and so shortens range slightly while increasing the average battery
discharge level. That means your batteries will die a little earlier. But not by much.
d) depending on the amount
you choose to reduce the pressures the ride height and ground clearance is
reduced slightly as well. This may or not matter to you.
e) improves ride, increases
comfort, helps prevent shocks and vibration causing spastic problems.
f) can make powerchair harder
to steer (esp. if rear drive) if you lower pressure in front casters by much (especially if
programmed badly as most powerchairs seem to be!)
g) on a car or bike can cause tyre overheating. Not exactly an
issue in a wheelchair!
Advantages of over inflating your tyres? Non. And
can be dangerous too!
So what is the CORRECT pressure for your power
wheelchairs tyres? Well its the one that best fits YOUR set of REQUIREMENTS and compromises.
You have to choose between Comfort, Traction, Wear
Rate, "Handling" or "Steering" in a chair, and consider how important ride
height is and any other effects such as caster flutter. That usually
gets worse with the pressure too high and improves as it is lowered within
reason. The correct pressure is the one that fits
your own preferences based on all of the above. And occasionally (like today!)
based on the weather!
Going to the pub in the snow? (as I am
in a minute!) I would
temporarily drop mine down from say 30 to 15 PSI on a normal powerchair. As it helps slightly with grip
If I do get stuck I would drop them down even more! Anything that may help in
fact rather than be stuck. But
wouldn't leave them that low once back home again. In any case I found a
better cure to this problem altogether!
Going a long way today? Smooth surfaces? Save
battery power and inflate them to the "recommended" pressures.
For E.G. if you are having problems with
spasm (spasticity), or whatever feel free to reduce the pressures until one or some of the
downsides above begin to bother you more than the improvement in ride comfort!
Lower the pressures to the point where the types LOOK as if they are a bit low!
Don't worry about it just try it!
With current "state of the art" powerchair design, we
do NEED more help!
The world is not
flat! Everything in life is a compromise! I
don't know your chair, your issues, or your preferences. The only way is to test
and see. The correct pressure is the ones that perform best for your
purposes. If you let some air out and cant tell, then let out more until you
can. Try it. If you go too far then you will be able to feel a squishy soft ride
and it will steer badly.
On a mid wheel drive chair or 6 wheel
powerchair much of this doesn't apply obviously since the
4 caster wheels will just take the weight and you will get less traction as your
centre wheels barely touch the ground... And comfort or traction in snow
will be worse. Another reason I dislike these types of powerchairs.
Detailed PowerChair Only Menu
Powerchair Tyre Pressures What
should they be and why?
Weld Aerosol Punctures.
We just love those! At least get et a can
of tyre repair foam today!
Puncture Proof Tyres I
mean real puncture proof, like the military use.
NOT solid, foam filled, inserts or and of
the other "mobility solutions" that jar your spine every few feet outdoors.
There are better ways.
A page discussing the types of powerchair tyres we
have, can get, and which are best and why. Advantages and
disadvantages of each type. So you know what to look for or to swap over to!
Powerchair Tyres Solids or
Advantages and disadvantages of each type. Which should you fit?
Run Flat Tyres for your car or