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August 2, 2014

9 Badass Wheelchairs


When life gives you lemons, you make badass wheelchairs. I’m paraphrasing that a little, but you get the gist. While there’s nothing funny or enviable about having limited mobility, there is plenty that’s funny and enviable about the wheelchair designs that have been created by some of the more creative (read: insane) minds out there. Some go for “sleek,” some go for “comfort,” and some go for “brute force.” But they’re all a lot more interesting than the wheelchairs they bust out after you get your wisdom teeth pulled. Take a gander.

9. Professor Xavier’s Steampunk Wheelchair

As obnoxious as steampunk is (and it’s ridiculously obnoxious), this does sort of look like the Taj Mahal of wheelchairs. What exactly all those knobs and levers do is beyond me, but I’m hoping that they have a purpose, because with wheelchairs, as with every other vehicle, the name of the game is weight. As impractical as this looks, it could still be useful if functional, but you’d probably want to jettison a lot of that glitz at the sight of the first steep ramp.

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8. Pegasus Upright Wheelchair

This one actually serves a pretty practical purpose in that it allows the users to stand almost completely upright, mitigating a lot of the accessibility issues that wheelchair users face. Also, it’s got a pretty bitching minimalist design which probably means it’s lighter and faster than a lot of the monstrosities on this list.

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7. Tank Tread Wheelchair

This beast doesn’t know the meaning of the word “inaccessible.” The tank treads make this wheelchair resemble something out of Inception, which is totally cool out-of-context, but I don’t know how happy you’ll be attached to a tank when it’s time to use a bathroom stall. However, if you’re using this thing to climb Mt. Everest (and it appears that you could), you could just get the sherpas to help you out. That’s what they’re there for. It supposedly weighs 500 pounds and runs about $24,000. Seems worth it to me.

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6. Carna Folding Chair

This one looks like a hybrid wheelchair/marital aid with all the weird nubs on the back and seat. It’s anyone’s guess as to what they do, but they look kind of nifty. Over time, I’m not sure that sitting atop a hundred plastic nubs would serve one better than, say, a cushion. But having never been relegated to a wheelchair for more than about 15 minutes at a time, I’m comfortable letting better-informed minds than mine figure this sort of stuff out.

The black and red color scheme also strikes me as a bit “80’s.” I don’t know what would work better, but I’m thinking maybe something along the lines of a nice muted gray. That way it won’t show dirt when I take this nubby bastard off-roading.

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5. The Zenith Wheelchair

Could any wheelchair ever live up to the name “Zenith?” Let’s find out. The whole vehicle is geared towards more aggressive, in-shape users who can put their body and balance into controlling this unwieldy guy. The tracks move independently, allowing the user the ability to almost turn on an axis. The back is designed with inspiration from Herman Miller office chairs, so all this performance likely won’t come at the expense of comfort. The only drawback for this (and many other chairs, it would seem), is the inability to run this thing should the power die. I’m sure many failsafes are in place, but I can’t imagine that the power dying on an electric wheelchair being anything less than catastrophic for the user in many circumstances.

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4. Jet-Powered Wheelchair

No specs are given here, but this looks like a strong choice if the name of the game is speed and acceleration. I can’t guarantee handling or stopping power, but if you need to get off the line quickly, this may be the throne for you. Also excellent for games of “Duck, Duck, Goose.” You’ll probably find a hell of a discount on this guy, seeing as how it’s already got sponsors attached to it.

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3. Chevy Truck Wheelchair

This thing doesn’t have much narrative to go along with it, but what do you really need. It looks wildly impractical, but also very comfortable, which I guess would make it practical. Man, this is confusing. Does it beep when it backs up? Can you tow a boat with it? This thing begs more questions than it offers answers, but I have to get it on the list for style points alone. It’s not the one I would pick, but that’s not to say it’s not a damn fine ride for the right person.

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2. Flame-Throwing Wheelchair

Oh, your chair has a zero-turning radius on it? Hmm. That’s pretty cool. Mine is covered in diamond plate. Yours has suspension on it? That’s amazing. Really cool. Mine has a center-mounted flame-thrower on it. Yeah. It literally THROWS FLAMES. I don’t know when one would need that accessory, but it pays for itself after the first use. It would also be helpful in clearing folks out of the way. Just give them a little singe and let them know you’re behind them. I say you make this standard equipment. The streets are too boring as it is. Let’s light them up with flame-throwing wheelchairs.

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1. Nimbl Hubless Wheelchair

The laws of physics, time, and space are being violated here. The wheels on this wheelchair seem to have no hub, meaning (I guess) that they are connected to the body of the chair at the top. I don’t know what the purpose is, other than possibly to pinch your fingers at every conceivable opportunity, but the result is pretty amazing looking. It’s also got a sweet telescoping seat that raises up in a “go-go Gadget” fashion to increase accessibility. Not bad at all. It looks like the what the future of wheelchairs SHOULD look like, rather than some overblown monstrosity that looks more at home at Comic-Con or a monster truck pull. Winner.

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