Can You Reinvent the Wheel?
Well a farmer from Israel has done just that. Gilad Wolf was looking for a way to make the ride and manoeuvrability better for his wheelchair and decided the part of the chair that had been overlooked and makes the use of wheelchairs so frustrating were the wheels.
The SoftWheel has a rim containing three shock absorbing cylinders. They suspend the wheel’s hub, evenly distributing the weight along the chair giving the user the ability to easily ascend and descend individual steps, also giving a smooth and fast ride over bumps and reducing injuries caused by wheelchair vibration.
When the concept became reality Gilad marketed the SoftWheel Acrobat for wheelchair users but this got him thinking about other applications and it naturally led to looking at the comfort and efficiency of the ride for cyclists. The SoftWheel Fluent was created. Both types of wheels will go on sale at the end of the year, they won’t be cheap (around $2,000) but they will make a huge difference to wheelchair users and to cyclists. It’s said to be compatible with all frames including electric bikes and it can be retrofitted.
It looks like cyclists won’t have the loss of energy that traditional mountain bike suspension gives and the impact will be dampened for a full 360 degrees. It should be ideal for country roads with the traditional UK potholes. Cyclist’s who require a gentler ride for medical reasons might also benefit; for example older riders with arthritis, muscle weakness or reoccurring vibration injuries. It certainly looks an interesting design, we will aim to review it once it’s released.