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John Williamson

Power Wheelchair (Electric Wheel Chair, PowerChair) Tyres.  Detailed PowerChair Only Menu

On the face of things a pretty simple subject? Well no frankly...  Well it can be, if you don't care and anything will do!

But some of us care about comfort, punctures, longevity, grip, controllability and even how they look!  A powerchair to its user is his/her legs after all.  Wherever you go you are seen with it. It is associated with you like it or not.

Where to begin... Grey (Gray) tyres. Personally I hate them. Nothing could look worse than turning up to a business meeting/wherever dressed smartly and being sat in a dirty brightly coloured wheelchair with grey tyres shouting "look at me". Nobody will take you seriously.   My van, my powerchairs and my clothes are all black. I like black!

And you see this grey tyre?  It will be a discoloured yellow/brown soon even on the shelf.  Black ones just need a wash and if you are really fussy a quick coat of "tyre foam" to always look brand new.

ALL of my powerchairs are black.  The idea is that a super clean black powerchair shouts nothing!  Its not really noticed.  Do you want people to see you or a wheelchair? Well again a super clean black powerchair with grey tyres shouts "disability" to everyone. That is why I hate them the most.

That said not everybody cares about how things look. But there are other reasons.  Grey tyres are missing an important ingredient that is the reason 99 percent of the worlds tyres are black. Carbon which is created by the incomplete combustion of oils mostly. It is used to improve wear characteristics and to colour tyres.

Without it the rubber has lower tensile strength making it wear faster by crumbling tearing and ripping on the road as it has less elasticity. 

As such I have a pile of old grey tyres here that have been removed from my own and plenty of other's wheelchairs over the years. They have all gone a yucky brown/yellowy colour as they rapidly do but they all exhibit the same "dryness" a few months after fitting and crumble away rather than wear normally. You can pull bits off them! So can the road.

The reason people/manufacturers use grey tyres is exactly because they have no evil carbon to mark paints and carpets.

Personally I have been using black tyres for 12 years now and live in a fully carpeted house. These are brown and grey carpets. There are no black marks on my carpets anywhere. The only time black tyres seem to leave black marks is if either the tyre or the carpet is damp. Even slightly damp and it does happen. It wipes away with a carpet cleaner solution and a cloth. But if you take care and use common sense its really a non issue and It has not happened for about 5 years once I realised what caused it! 

They do leave marks on paints if you are clumsy enough to hit them but I don't anymore. I learned to be careful|! Of course with a mid drive powerchair with four casters swinging around in front and behind you this is harder to achieve. Another reason I prefer rear drive powerchairs. In any case it wipes away with a damp cloth.  I have brown, and grey carpets though. You might want avoid them if your house is full of white carpets!

Your Choice. Reasons to use black? They look much better and contrary to what you will read elsewhere they definitely wear better and age slower. They are available from non "mobility" sources and are therefore subject to more competition and are usually hugely cheaper! I buy mine on eBay complete with tubes, wheels etc for about 1/4 of the cost that a grey "mobility" tyre would have cost me. They are available in tubeless variants with the huge benefit that this brings regarding punctures (or lack of) if your wheels allow and in more sizes and tread patterns than you would believe.
Tubed type? Or tubeless...

For most powerchair users there is no choice. You are stuck with the type of wheels you are lumbered with by short sighted manufacturers. It is worth reading this so that next time you are looking for a powerchair you are fully armed with information.

I personally converted my powerchairs to take tubeless type wheels because the benefit to a paraplegic user is huge!  Punctures!  Or rather a lack of them. I changed my powerchairs wheels so I could take advantage of black (see above) cheap, tougher (4 ply and stronger construction) TUBELESS tyres.

The thing I dread the most is getting a flat in a strange rainy town in the cold at 2am on the way home. I am paraplegic so getting out and walking isn't an option!  Tubes pop like a balloon because that's what they are. They tear and or expand around any object that punctures them. With a tubeless tyre a small puncture simply doesn't matter as the tyre itself is the tube and they don't tear or expand around the hole...

The sealing rubber is bonded to the inside of the tyre. So if the object stays in it doesn't leak. Usually if it comes out then it still doesn't leak as the hole seals itself as its fixed to the tyre. Or if it does you get the "slow puncture" syndrome that means its an inconvenience that you can fix later rather than a disaster!

The added "gunk" or tyre seal that is often added to seal punctures by wheelchair manufacturers as an expensive option seldom actually works on tubes either. For the same reasons. The hole stretches and expands under pressure and the sealer cant seal it. It works great on tubeless tyres though!

What difference does this all really make? Lots. Between 1998 and 1999 I had around 10 rear wheel punctures, from glass, nails etc. Since changing to tubeless tyres which are both less likely to get a puncture and less likely to deflate when they do, I have not had a single one.  Ask yourself why don't the manufacturers do this for us?  They don't get it? They don't care? They don't evolve? Or they don't understand.  Most likely its a lack of interest or real competition in their industry.  That's why almost zero real progress happens year after year.

Rear wheels. Solid tyres. Foam Filled or inserts?  I avoid these like the plague.

Solid, Foam Filled, Inserts, OR PNEUMATIC type?  |    Correct Powerchair Tire (Tyre) Pressures?

The manufacturers offer these at great expense as a solution to the flat tyre problem. They are harder to "push" and therefore waste battery power and increase the average depth of discharge of your batteries and therefore shorten their life at the same time as giving you and your back a horribly harsh ride. Why do you suppose cars and motorcycles don't use solid tyres? If you like that sort of thing then go for it! But my back or my batteries cant stand it...

What they should do is fit proper tubeless and puncture resistant tyres like these below (as I am currently fitting to this powerchair) But that would mean some improvement and some progress!  Some evolving... They don't seem keen on that.   They give a nice smooth ride, don't tire batteries, and are al but impossible to puncture.

Maybe they would need to get some made in grey. That would mean a phone call. And some tubeless wheels. All available off the shelf mind. No, tubes will be ok for the disabled -- they were for the last 30 years! They don't know the difference!  Well some do.  And the more people that read this the better.

puncture proof tyre casing

Puncture resistant tyre casing medium  |  Puncture resistant tyre casing large


The best type of tread pattern/tyre size/type for your drive wheels? Ideally if you only ever go on dry grass, roads or pavements or carpets then you need a "slick" type tyre. That is one with NO tread pattern.  They wear better, roll easier, don't damage lawns or carpets as you turn, and are less prone to punctures. These are pretty hard to come by in the sizes we need for powerchairs so the next best thing is something like this below

powder coated wheel

tyre medium |  tyre large 

In grey (if that's your thing) or in black (and also in all but puncture free tubeless in this case on my own powerchairs) as shown on my recently built powerchair here. Because there's no chunky tread to tear up carpets or make a noise on pavements. And because they last forever... These ones are brand new 3.50 x 8 tubeless scooter tyres. 15 inches diameter total. Actually fitted to cheap trailer wheels. But they are perfect tyres and tread pattern for pavements and indoors. They can of course be used with a tube too. And in many cases they can replace the 3.00 x 8 tyres on many standard powerchairs too. Its only 6mm or a quarter of an inch bigger top and bottom!

If you go off road or on wet grass etc then you might want some with a tread pattern a bit more like this:

off road tyre power wheelchair

145-70 - 6 off road & 15x6.00 - 6 lawn tyre medium  |  145-70 - 6 off road & 15x6.00 - 6 lawn tyre large

I am currently building a powerchair that will use these. here But its just the type of tread we are interested in the not the size. The ones laid down and far left are for sand, loose stuff and for mud. They will work ok too on roads and pavements and even in the house if you take care.  The The one stood up is designed for grass (wet or dry) and pavements. It will also be ok in the house too. In your own size remember. We are just looking at tread patterns! You only need go this wide if you are going to the beach or a muddy field. 

 Or if you want a smooooth ride. Those huge sidewalls and the low 4 to 5 psi pressure that these large volume tyres need to support you have other benefits apart from grip!  They deform around objects or bumps. Better than any suspension we have on powerchairs.  That's the reason I am building this powerchair here

Caster Wheels

Caster wheels should always be rounded in profile and smooth. And preferably tread FREE in an ideal world. Even on an off road powerchair... I have seen a large number of clueless dummies and that includes some manufacturers who fit "off road" style caster wheels (tyres) to off road powerchairs. They do it probably unthinkingly but its just wrong! A perfect caster would be a hover wheel with NO grip.

off road wheelchair wheelsBecause a castor does not "want" grip! Its job is to simply go exactly where it is pushed whatever direction that may be. Tread or any extra grip just hinders its operation and wastes battery power and upsets and steering response more than a smooth caster would have done. Ideal caster for all on or off road powerchairs is a tread free (or as close as you can get) rounded profile tyre. 

What NOT to buy opposite for any caster >>>
unless you don't quite understand basic physics...

Rounded profile because otherwise as it comes up to an edge at a slight angle (a raised paving slab alongside you for e.g.) it will bounce away rather than ride up it. The bigger and fatter the castor wheel the nicer the ride and the easier time the caster wheel and you have.

Mine are 9 inch (measured) and a claimed 10 inch and about perfect for every outdoor/indoor dual purpose powerchair. Actually they are 3.00 x 4 tyres. In black of course since they are 20 for 4 with tubes! (About 1/5th of the price of mobility grey ones...)

What to buy for your caster wheels. You are mostly looking at the shape of the tyre here not the size! The size is whatever fits your chair. And smaller is better indoors and bigger is better outdoors. And wider is better off road...  I am using these on my off road powerchair since they are almost smooth so work good indoors and out and off road.

drill the front caster

Caster fork being drilled medium | caster fork being drilled large 

Ignore the drill!  (image from a different page on this site)  I buy these tyres 4 at a time cheaply from eBay. Look up 3 x 4 tyres... Minimoto tyres, mini bike tyres etc.  The wheels too were about 20 UK Pounds for 4 of them. I use them on my home built/modified powerchairs here

Correct tyres for a true indoor/outdoor wheelchair here on my powerchair!

Wheelchair caster tyreFor what its worth I 1/3rd fill my caster tyres and rear tyres with tyre seal (an off road version) . The seal goo is thicker for off road vehicles so stands some chance of working even on a tubed tyre if its a third full!  This stuff works better on tubeless but it does offer some protection with tubes too.

Front caster wheel tyres. Opposite, these 3.00 x 4 (9.5 inches diameter) are ideal for indoor / outdoor use on or off road. >>>



Detailed PowerChair Only Menu


Powerchair Tyre Pressures  What should they be and why?

Tyre 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.

Powerchair Tyres
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 Pneumatic?
Advantages and disadvantages of each type
. Which should you fit?

Run Flat Tyres for your car or van.











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