First Impressions - The Blumil Segway Chair

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First Impressions - The Blumil Segway Chair

Postby MenCallMeGimpy » 01 Jan 2016, 03:47

I tested out the Blumil Segway conversion yesterday, so here are my first impressions for any that are interested.

The Blumil (http://www.blumil.com) is one of the cheaper Segway seat kits you can buy. Even so, it retails at $3,650 (£2,500), so it's only cheap in a relative sense.

What you get for your money is a seat and supporting frame, stability legs (and a mechanical handle to control them), and a removable T-shape steering column. You need to buy a Segway to attach the Blumil to, which adds another $7k or so to the bill. Obviously, buying a used Segway can help reduce the outlay.

The Blumil is pretty unspectacular in appearance, but that's not a bad thing. Some other seat kits (like the Ginny, Sui Generia, Going, etc.) are much flashier - and much more expensive - but the Blumil just says "I'm well-made and get the job done."

Riding the Blumil-equipped Segway was very easy. I was concerned I'd need a lot of upper body strength to stay upright and control it, but nothing could be further from the truth. The seat was supportive and kept me upright and in position, height was good for my 6'1" body, and my legs fell naturally on the footplate.

Getting on and off the Blumil/Segway was straightforward. The kit includes stability legs that immobilize the Segway, enabling easy transfers. Deploying these is a simple matter of pulling a handle on the left side of the seat. The handle does require a bit of arm strength, however, so it was a bit of a struggle for me. I would need a longer lever or for the lever to be repositioned if I were to buy this product.

Once on the Blumil, you turn the Segway on via the control key (a little disk-shaped fob that comes with the Segway), push the stability-leg handle forward, and your Segwaying! It only takes relatively small torso movements to make the device go (lean forward) or stop/reverse (lean backward). Steering is accomplished by pushing the steering column left or right (the lean-to-steer feature of standard Segways is disabled by the conversion). From a stationary position, a push left or right on the column turns the Segway around on the spot.

Other than having a seat on it, the chair behaves like any other Segway. It goes 12mph, gets about 20 miles range and is huge fun to drive.

The Blumil works with the Segway i2 (including the i2 SE) and the X2 (including the X2 SE) models. The i2 is the "around town" Segway, with a 25.5" width. The X2 is the "all terrain" version with fat tyres and a 33" width. The Segway forums say if you want the best of both worlds, get an X2, then buy i2 tyres and mudguards. You can then swap the boots back and forth, depending on your plans for the day. Trying to convert an i2 to an X2, however, causes hiccups with the programming (the Segway thinks your on a street when you're actually halfway up a hill and goes into panic mode, because streets aren't supposed to be like this).

In any case, I strongly recommend the seated Segway as a mobility solution. Whether the Blumil is the specific solution for you is a matter of personal taste, but I found its no-nonsense approach very appealing. The cost is another major consideration, since $12k is nothing to sneeze at, especially when the chances of getting insurance to pay for it are effectively nil.
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Re: First Impressions - The Blumil Segway Chair

Postby Squeedledee » 17 Aug 2016, 21:59

This review was useful to me when I was researching power chairs, so than you for posting it. I have settled on a Genny as it's the only pavement legal Segway chair in the UK, but my point is that I really liked it when I tested it out and was very impressed with the concept of Segway chairs when I first came across them.
They're obviously not for everyone but I think they're an excellent option for people who can use them. As I rely heavily on public transport and can't drive my own vehicle, I would say that size and manoeuverability are important (as for users with small homes) and I would strongly suggest that if anyone is interested but uncertain, that you give one of these machines a try.
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Re: First Impressions - The Blumil Segway Chair

Postby MenCallMeGimpy » 23 Aug 2016, 00:42

Squeedledee wrote:This review was useful to me when I was researching power chairs, so than you for posting it. I have settled on a Genny as it's the only pavement legal Segway chair in the UK, but my point is that I really liked it when I tested it out and was very impressed with the concept of Segway chairs when I first came across them.
They're obviously not for everyone but I think they're an excellent option for people who can use them. As I rely heavily on public transport and can't drive my own vehicle, I would say that size and manoeuverability are important (as for users with small homes) and I would strongly suggest that if anyone is interested but uncertain, that you give one of these machines a try.


Thanks for the info about Segway chair legality in the UK. I'm from London (though I live in the US now) and am still considering whether or not to get a Segway-based chair. The Genny isn't really available in the US, so I guess that makes my decision for me, since I return to London at least once a year and don't want to find myself "clamped." ;)
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Re: First Impressions - The Blumil Segway Chair

Postby Burgerman » 23 Aug 2016, 03:52

Tell them to go f***k emselves...
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Re: First Impressions - The Blumil Segway Chair

Postby Irving » 23 Aug 2016, 16:56

Squeedledee wrote:This review was useful to me when I was researching power chairs, so than you for posting it. I have settled on a Genny as it's the only pavement legal Segway chair in the UK, but my point is that I really liked it when I tested it out and was very impressed with the concept of Segway chairs when I first came across them.


How did you verify that? I spoke to the dealer and their response is confused at best. Have you experienced any issues using it in public yet?

The law hasn't changed as far as I can see. It's not road legal as it doesn't have (or the dealer seems unaware of) a MSVA certification as a class 3 vehicle but it doesn't meet those requirements. But it falls foul of the use on pavement (sidewalk) rules by being a motorised vehicle. Clearly the dealer is trying to equate Genny = class 2 invalid carriage, but in legislation an "invalid carriage" is defined by section 185 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (the "RTA 1988") as follows:
"In this Act `invalid carriage' means a mechanically propelled vehicle the weight of which unladen does not exceed 254 kilograms and which is specifically designed and constructed, and not merely adapted, for the use of a person suffering from some physical defect or disability and is used solely by such a person".

The test in court will be to prove that Genny is specifically designed from the ground up for disabled use only and is NOT an adaptation of a Segway (e.g. an add-on seat). Things that would indicate the former would be e.g. a joystick rather than lean-steer, non-removable seat, proper brakes (not just regenerative - tho that makes self-balancing more difficult).
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Re: First Impressions - The Blumil Segway Chair

Postby MenCallMeGimpy » 24 Aug 2016, 01:01

Irving wrote:The test in court will be to prove that Genny is specifically designed from the ground up for disabled use only and is NOT an adaptation of a Segway (e.g. an add-on seat). Things that would indicate the former would be e.g. a joystick rather than lean-steer, non-removable seat, proper brakes (not just regenerative - tho that makes self-balancing more difficult).


The Genny website mentions that it "partnered with" Segway in the creation of the chair, so this might be how they intend to meet the "designed from the ground up" requirement. I emailed Segway to ask about the partnership, but just got a snotty "Segway does not endorse any modifications to its products" boilerplate email that completely ignored my question. So I don't know how real the "partnership" is.
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Re: First Impressions - The Blumil Segway Chair

Postby MenCallMeGimpy » 24 Aug 2016, 01:03

Burgerman wrote:Tell them to go f***k emselves...


Well, I suppose the cops can't shoot me like they do anyone who annoys them in the US, but they can probably club me to death.
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Re: First Impressions - The Blumil Segway Chair

Postby Burgerman » 24 Aug 2016, 03:31

They don't do that either here. They will leave you completely alone if disabled.
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Re: First Impressions - The Blumil Segway Chair

Postby Burgerman » 24 Aug 2016, 03:32

They don't do that either here. Not even if you are black! :roll: They will leave you completely alone if disabled.
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Re: First Impressions - The Blumil Segway Chair

Postby Sully » 25 Aug 2016, 16:07

How do they know if you are disabled, there are plenty of disabilities that have few if any outward signs of disability. How about DWI when you drive your chair home from the Pub ~~--\__/--\__/\__ :lol: :lol:

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Re: First Impressions - The Blumil Segway Chair

Postby MenCallMeGimpy » 25 Aug 2016, 21:12

Sully wrote:How about DWI when you drive your chair home from the Pub ~~--\__/--\__/\__ :lol: :lol:


Last time I was in London, I probably should have got a few of those. I was a serious hazard to navigation. My old trick from my able-bodied days (aim for the middle of the three paths ahead of you) didn't work nearly as well with the chair. ;)
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Re: First Impressions - The Blumil Segway Chair

Postby Irving » 26 Aug 2016, 19:25

Ok, a little more research and a discussion with the importer has got a little further...

@Squeedledee: does your Genny have a CE Mark on it somewhere? What does the documentation say regarding use in the UK?

Forgive me for being a little anal on this, there are good reasons in relation to my own plans, and it may have an implication for TomK too.

Genny has a TUV Certification #60102002 (that's the German equivalent of BSI, British Standards Institute) for the device. The TUV certificate is a third-party validation of the manufacturer's self-certification that Genny meets the safety requirements of a Class 1 Medical Device, in that its manufacture, components, etc. aren't intrinsically going to do you harm. The certificate covers:

• IEC 60601-1: general safety for medical electrical devices
• EN 12182: technical aids for disabled persons

and is a 'general surveillance' certification , meaning its a recurring (typically annual) production & process quality control check.

Tellingly it DOESN'T certify it to:

• EN 12184:2014 design requirements & test methods for electric wheelchairs and scoot mobiles
• ISO 7176-series - the internationally accepted series of standards that describe the various testing methods for wheelchairs and scoot mobiles
including the critical areas of static & dynamic stability, effectiveness of brakes, etc.

As far as I can see, Genny's TUV certificate covers the manufacture of the device and its basic compliance with being a Class 1 medical device. Which gets it a CE mark and is arguably all that's needed to be legally sold in the EEA, though interestingly there is no mention of CE marking on any of their on-line documentation or webpages expounding their 'safety'. In any case CE marking says nothing about its fitness for purpose as a wheelchair (in the same way that CE certification of a USB phone charger says its been designed not to overheat, blow up, electrocute you or set fire to your house. It doesn't guarantee it won't fry your phone with 12v instead of 5v)

The importer has been told by Genny that the TUV certification means it's compliant with being a Class 2 invalid carriage and there is no other UK certification needed to use it on the UK pavement/public spaces. I'm not so sure that's true. The certification relates to being legally able to be sold in the UK (as a Class 1 Medical Device), not to its use (as a Class2 Invalid carriage). In the latter the RTA 1988 still holds sway IMHO, though I'll admit to not being an expert here.

The reason for researching this is what happens if you want to manufacture and sell a new wheelchair design, aka Tom K, or any other disability support tool, e.g. arm or leg exerciser? If its a custom job NONE of the CE marking issue applies. However, to avoid potential prosecution relating to legality of being sold without a CE mark it must truly be a custom job, i.e. a one off. I suspect that minor & cosmetic changes (e.g, colours, wheel types, tyre choices, 2p v 4p motors etc) probably won't apply here (else all manufacturers would have to separately certify every variant they offer); it needs to be material and, in the case of a wheelchair, there may be an issue with having a generic design of power base even with custom seating (but maybe having castor to drive-wheel wheelbase linked to user height might suffice but it would need agreement).

'Interesting article' I found on my travels.

All of which should probably be on its own thread - apologies.
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