The wheelchair is a device designed to allow disabled citizens to move around freely. It has revolutionised the lives of millions of people worldwide, enabling mobility where none was previously attainable. The wheelchair is essentially a seat, which interacts with the floor via wheels. The wheels are either propelled manually or electronically, causing the chair to move.
Naturally, one of the most important elements of a wheelchair to consider is the tyre. But it can sometimes be difficult to know exactly what to look for in a tyre
It is the intention of this guide to provide extensive information about the different types and features of wheelchair tyres, so that prospective buyers can make the right choice when shopping for them. This guide will also look at the online auctioning platform eBay, and explain why its various composite aspects make it the ideal tool with which to buy wheelchair tyres.
Basic Wheelchair Tyre Information
This section will provide the most fundamental and basic pieces of information pertaining to wheelchair tyres, which it is necessary for all buyers seeking to buy them to know. These are:
- Type of wheelchair
The first thing to take into consideration when shopping for a wheelchair tyre is its size. This is self-explanatory; if the tyre is the wrong size for the chair’s wheel, the wheelchair user will not be able to make it fit, thus will not be able to use it. In order to avoid wasting money on a tyre that doesn’t fit, prospective buyers should first measure their wheelchair’s wheel. This should allow them to determine what size their new tyre should be.
Tyre size is measured in inches. The measurements indicate the diameter and width of tread of the tyre, and are written as diameter x width. For instance, a tyre with a diameter of 24 inches and a tread width of 1 ¾ inches would be written as 24” X 1 ¾”. Note: the diameter measurements apply to the tyre and not the wheel. If the wheel measures at 22.5”, for instance, the tyre diameter will be 25”. A good way of figuring out which size tyres are needed is looking for markings on the old tyres which are being replaced, as the size is usually marked on the tyre.
Wheelchair tyres are usually made of rubber, due to its many practical qualities. These qualities include:
- Flexibility – allowing the wheelchair to adapt to rougher terrain
- Strength – helping prevent damage
- Durability – making for a longer-lasting tyre
Be suspicious of any wheelchair tyres not made of rubber (with the occasional exception of solid plastic, though even this is of lower quality); it will probably not be even close to the norm in terms of functionality.
Type of Wheelchair
There are several different types of wheelchair, and naturally different types of wheelchair require different types of tyre. For instance, racing wheelchairs will require thin, hard, streamlined tyres, allowing for optimal speeds on completely flat surfaces, whereas off-road motor powered wheelchairs will need thick, malleable tyres with plenty of traction. Before buying a tyre, ensure that it is made to be fitted to the kind of wheelchair for which it is being bought.
Types of Wheelchair Tyre
There are two main kinds of wheelchair tyre, each with very different properties and designs. These types are:
This section of the guide will look in great depth at both, highlighting their advantages and disadvantages for the reader’s convenience.
The pneumatic wheelchair tyre is the more recently invented of the two main kinds of wheelchair tyre, sporting more complex technology, with several benefits and a few problems.
- The pneumatic tyre essentially consists of an outer layer of thin rubber, surrounding an “inner tube”, which is essentially a tunnel of air, which runs around the inside of the tyre.
- The air is held in place with a thin membrane of material. This has the advantage of improving the quality of the ride. The air compresses when the tyre moves over a rough or uneven surface. The tyre, instead of being rigid, moves to accommodate the change in terrain, and as a result less kinetic energy is able to travel through the wheels into the chair’s frame. This translates into a less bumpy, more comfortable ride.
- The pneumatic tyre has other advantages; being filled with air, it is significantly lighter than its solid-through counterpart. It also provides advantages in grip, manoeuvrability and speed.
There are, however, disadvantages to filling a tyre with an inner tube of air:
- Namely, high levels of maintenance are generally required. As a primary example, the pneumatic model of wheelchair tyre is highly susceptible to puncture damage.
- Since it consists of a much thinner layer of rubber, that layer is correspondingly easy to pierce, and a puncture of this sort allows the air to escape from the tyre. This, naturally, can cause practical problems if the puncture occurs whilst out and about with the wheelchair.
- In addition, it further raises the overall cost of wheelchair maintenance; the pneumatic tyre is already more expensive than the airless. It is possible to buy pneumatic wheelchair tyres with kevlar inserts, designed to block punctures of this kind. These make fixing the tyre a relatively simple matter of patching the insert. An insert can only take a small amount of punctures before it becomes too unstable for the chair to work.
Solid, airless tyres are the exact opposite of pneumatic tyres; they are completely solid. Often they will be made from thick, moulded rubber or plastic, though sometimes a filling of foam is used. Occasionally tyres will be semi-pneumatic, featuring a tiny ring of air. For the most part, though, airless tyres are fixed units. The fact that they lack the inner tube, and thus the flexibility and adaptability of the pneumatic tyre, translates into a less comfortable and smooth ride. However, the airless tyre has an edge over the pneumatic tyre when it comes to cost and durability; since the tyre is solid, it cannot be punctured. Thus it does not need to be replaced or repaired, and is likely to last much longer.
This section briefly details the main points to remember regarding the maintenance of wheelchair tyres. These are as follows:
- Pressure – it is important to maintain the pressure of a wheelchair tyre (if it features an inner tube full of air, that is). A low pressure can result in poor shock absorption and agility, caused by low resistance generated by the tyre. Conversely, too much pressure can cause bursts and tears in the tyre.
- Mounting – it is crucial that the tyre is attached to the wheel’s rim in the correct manner. It the connection is loose or flawed the wheel can come off. Further, if debris is caught between the two components, great damage can be caused.
How to Buy Wheelchair Tyres on eBay
The consumer auctioning website eBay has a great number of design features that contribute towards its effectiveness as a means of purchasing wheelchair tyres. There are a huge number of sellers that use eBay to sell their goods, which results in an enormous selection of products available, ensuring a good choice for the buyer. Further, the website’s streamlined, efficient and intuitive design make the process simple, hassle-free and fast. This section of the guide will detail how eBay can be used to buy wheelchair tyres:
- Locating the appropriate area of the website is a simple matter. Start off at the eBay homepage. On this page, in the left-hand margin, is a list of the broadest categories. From this list, select Jewellery & Beauty. This should relocate the user to a list of the sub-categories found within this category. Select Health & Beauty from this list, and Mobility, Disability & Medical from the next which appears. Next, select Mobility Equipment, followed by Wheelchairs. Since wheelchair tyres do not have their own category, typing “tyres” into this page will search for tyres within the wheelchair category. Alternatively, typing “wheelchair tyres” into the search bar will yield equally useful results. The page should now display a list of items, represented by thumbnail images and brief, functional product descriptions. This list is called the item listings.
- Once an item listing has been arrived at that contains appropriate items, the search can be refined further, using the “filtering” options, found in the left margin of the page. These allow categorisation by price, condition and the seller’s location. In addition, the user can choose between two primary modes of shopping, namely “auction” and “buy it now”, which allow bidding and instant purchases respectively.
- Clicking on either an item’s thumbnail or name in the listings will take the user to the item’s individual page, where comprehensively detailed information about the product can be found. This page also features information about the seller, including user ratings and feedback, allowing the buyer to choose based on the seller’s reputation as well as the product’s features. There is also a feature enabling the potential buyer to ask questions of the seller, which displays previously asked questions and answers for future user’s perusal.
- The diverse range of products, combined with the helpful user interface, work together to make eBay the perfect place to shop for wheelchair tyres.
The wheelchair is undoubtedly a device which has changed the lives of countless disabled citizens. Wheelchairs necessarily rely on their tyres for efficient and effective mobility. Choosing the right tyre can be difficult, though. This guide set out to cover the most important features of wheelchair tyres which need to be understood by prospective buyers. Bear in mind:
- Type of wheelchair
- Pneumatic or airless
Shopping for wheelchair tyres is facilitated and helped by using eBay, the popular online bidding platform, thanks to its tremendous selection, and very helpful user interface.