After our review of the amazing RoughRider Wheelchair, I contacted the manufacturer,
Whirlwind and asked for an interview, because I had to find out more about this
incredible wheelchair that sells for such an incredible price. Bruce Curtis was kind
enough to agree to an interview which we conducted via Skype on December 10, 2020.
Our discussion was fascinating and the essentials are below:
RehaDesign: What did you think about the review of the RoughRider that we published on
our blog? Does it seem accurate to you? Is there anything you would like to add or
Bruce: Ralf and I thought it was a good review. Yes, one of the problems of the chair is
that footrests make it difficult to reach out in front of you. That is a problem for some
people, but you always have a trade off. There is no perfect chair, similarly getting under
tables and transferring out of the chair can be challenging. Also the weight of the chair is
another issue. While inside the chair handles much better than you would expect,
outside is where the chair shows its superiority to standard wheelchairs.
RehaDesign: Your website says "Radius usable in spaces as tight as less stable
chairs", which is surprising considering how far the front casters extend. So,
are you saying that maneuverability is not an issue?
Bruce: Interestingly, the absolute length of the wheelchair is not much
different than a normal everyday chair. So, the maneuverability is also not
much different. It just looks that way.
RehaDesign: Tell us about the adjustibility of the RoughRider. What can be adjusted
(Camber, backrest, etc) and what is usually adjustable on other chairs that is not
adjustable on the RoughRider that buyers should know about?
Bruce: Backrest on our RoughRider is not adjustable. Camber is not really adjustable.
You can change center of gravity. All have 5 axle positions to change the center of
gravity. The feet rest are adjustable.
RehaDesign: How is a RoughRider different than a normal wheelchair
Bruce: RoughRider has a long wheelbase, which makes extremely stable. Even if
another person stands on the footrest, it will not flip forward. Obviously, if you hit a crack
or a bump, you will not flip like you would in a standard char. However, there are 5 axel
positions which can easily change the center of gravity. Move it forward to make the
chair more tippy, move it backwards to make it less tippy. The caster design, floats over
obstacles. The center portion of the casters protrudes. Only 1/4 inch is in contact with flat
surfaces like cement or asphalt. But up to 4 inches of caster surface is in contact with
sand, mud or snow.
RehaDesign: Are any special requests or customizations possible? For example,
the largest seat width is 18.5". Would a larger size be possible on request?
Bruce: No, you can only get what is on the order form.
RehaDesign: Many wheelchairs are available with 20, 22, 24, 25 inch tires.
Are these options available with RoughRider? Is there a children's chair?
Bruce: No, just 24 inch tires. The wheelchair is made so that it is
interchangeable with bicycle technology, making it easier and cheaper to
RehaDesign: The weight (45 libs/20kg) is quite heavy. Is this because of heavy duty
materials that are used?
Bruce: It is because the wheelchair is made out of mild steel conduit tubing, not
aluminum. The frame of the RoughRider is made to be durable and will usually last at
least 15 years.
RehaDesign: Tell us about the business model of RoughRider
Bruce: There are actually two companies selling RoughRider, for historical reasons. We
are Whirlwind. But there is also RoughRider USA. The two companies produce very
similar wheelchairs, with some minor differences. But we are a non-profit and most of
our money goes to developing countries. RoughRider USA is a limited liability company
RehaDesign: How long will the price stay at $450?
Bruce: It is hard to say. The price is low because the other RoughRider group is having a
“clearance sale” to sell off excess inventory and we are price matching in order to stay
afloat. But at some point this will probably end.
RehaDesign: Are there any future developments that you are considering?
Bruce: I believe that the other organization is working on a RoughRider made of
aluminum and this will probably drop the weight about 10 lb (5kg). OmniRider, will be like
the RoughRider, but with a movable seat, so that you can reach forward more easily.
But it will probably be heavier.