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We found ourselves rather unexpectedly in need of a wheelchair when one of our adult offspring was struck down with M.E. Having never had to deal with mobility equipment before this, we were rather 'in the dark' about what to look for. However, we decided our experience as cyclists would come in handy, so we combined our knowledge of bicycles with our hope that the illness would be transient, and decided to look for a wheelchair that would do its job efficiently without breaking the bank. The only other criterion was that the wheelchair must be light enough to be pushed by a none-too-strong 50-something grandma who is smaller than the occupant of the chair!
Fortunately, our local garden centre has a couple of 'transit' wheelchairs available for customers to use, so we were able to do a couple of 'trial runs'. These convinced us that what we needed was a wheelchair with: a) large rear wheels, as the small-wheeled chairs we tried were quite hard work to push & especially to steer; b) attendant brakes for contol on slopes; c) a nice high back for support (the user is quite tall); d) solid panels on the sides for a feeling of security as well as for warmth; e) adjustable footrests for long legs; f) if possible, a non-utilitarian appearance!
Extensive searching of the internet showed us that it was possible to acquire a chair with all these features, & the one that caught our eye was this one from Angel Mobility. We were interested to find that the wheelchair was available from Amazon & eBay but not direct from Angel Mobility: maybe it's an older model which they're trying to sell off? Due to budget constraints, we opted to buy from eBay, where the chair was priced at £109.95, as Amazon was £10 more expensive.
The specifications of the chair as listed on eBay were as follows: Features - Quick release puncture proof tyres - With the added benefit of handle bar brakes - Swing away removable footrests - Solid 20cm/8" front castors - 60cm/24" quick release rear wheels with puncture proof tyres - Anti-tips - Fold down backrest -Seat belt - Heel-loops - Double cross brace - Free tool kit [we didn't receive this with the chair, I shall ask for it to be sent & update this review when we receive it] Specifications - Height : 94cm/37" - Length (inc footrests) : 109cm/43" - Width : 64.8cm/25½" - Seat height : 50cm/19¾" - Seat width : 46cm/18" - Seat depth : 43cm/17" - Seat to footrest adjustment : 34cm/13¼" - 44cm/17¼" - Maximum user weight : 114kg/251lbs - Net weight : 8.3kg - Weight inc footrests : 13.3kg
The chair arrived folded, packed in a sturdy cardboard box. There were no instructions but we found it very easy to unpack & set up.
First impressions: The frame of the chair turned out to be a very pretty metallic 'Kingfisher' blue rather than the bright turquoise it appears in the picture. This went down very well with the chair's occupant. It was remarkably easy to put together - all that was needed was the removal of a few pieces of protective wrapping, and the addition of the footrests which simply dropped on to their supporting lugs & fixed into place by clips which reminded me of those used on the hinges in our kitchen cupboards! Pushing down on the sides of the seat opened the chair & dropped the seat into place, after which the backrest could be flipped up. This clicks into place by the use of devices like those used to link the poles on an old-fashioned frame tent. The brakes were already attached & adjusted. I think we had the whole thing ready to roll in about ten minutes!
Adjusting the footrests, by removing an allen bolt on each, dropping the footrest to the required position, & replacing each bolt, took another few minutes.
Finding out that the wheelchair does (just!) fit into the boot space of our Ford Focus hatchback once the pacel shelf was removed, and that the aforementioned slightly weedy grandma can lift it in and out by herself, took another ten minutes. Now we were ready for our trial run! We chose to revisit the garden centre in order to be on familiar ground (no nasty surprises!) and to make an accurate comparison with the complimentary chairs we had previously tried.
Our daughter declared the chair both acceptable and comfortable, & it is much easier to push than the small-wheeled (& much heavier) transit chair. The seat back is nice & high, giving good support up to the shoulder blades, which is very important for someone who is weak & finds sitting upright very tiring. The armrests are quite high, which again suits our fairly tall daughter (1m72) but may be too high for someone of smaller stature. The seat width is just right for her, as it feels secure without being too snug. I would suggest however that it may be a little too narrow for anyone with wide hips!
Finally, I have to say the speed of delivery was second to none: the chair was ordered in the afternoon of a Wednesday & arrived on the Friday morning!
So all in all we feel this wheelchair was a good value purchase: I will try to remember to update the review after a few weeks or months of use to let you know how it coped with the wear & tear.
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