When I am asked how much my wheelchair costs and I answer, most people are surprised.
Usually quality wheelchairs cost between Euro 2000-3000 and in my country you can buy
a used car for that amount. But if you are disabled you do not have a lot of choice, you need a
wheelchair. In many countries (such as mine), the cost of the wheelchair is not always fully
reimbursed. For example, in Lithuania, the government will pay up to 1200 euros and the
disabled person has to pay the amount left over. This can be very difficult for many people.
So, finding a quality affordable wheelchair is very important.
We have created a list of quality lightweight, adjustable, affordable wheelchairs, together
with Pros and Cons (advantages and disadvantages). The list includes both rigid and
folding wheelchairs. But what do these terms mean and why are they important?
Weight: does it really matter? YES! Lightweight wheelchairs are easier to lift and are
easier to push. Be very careful when comparing weights of wheelchairs. Some companies list weights
without wheels, footrests, armrest, etc. It can be very difficult to compare the weight of one
wheelchair to another. Even the weights given below may not be truly comparable. So,
please double check with manufacturers before buying. Another word of caution: Some
wheelchairs achieve very low weights by sacrificing adjustability. Be very careful of this
trick. As noted below, adjustability is a key feature of a wheelchair unless you are a very
experienced wheelchair user.
Adjustiblity why is it necessary?: If you are going to use the wheelchair for a long time,
you should he “fitted” by a professional, just like you would be measured by a tailor before
buying an expensive suit. The wheelchair should “fit your body” and be built for that fit.
But bodies and needs can change over time and even the best professional can make a
mistake in the measurements. This is where after market adjustability comes in. Being able
to adjust the seat height, camber, center of gravity, backrest, front caster heights, are very
important. Why? Lets take center of gravity for example. When you are new to a
wheelchair, you do not want it to tip very easily because you can fall backwards and injure
yourself. But as you get used to pushing the chair, you will want to make it “tippier” so you
can more easily go over bumps and cracks. Adjusting center of gravity will allow you to do
that. If you chair does not adjust easily, you will be stuck with the chair even if it no
longer fits your needs.
Folding vs Rigid: Which is better? Usually if a wheelchair user selects a wheelchair, they
will prefer a rigid wheelchair. If a carer (parent, spouse) selects the wheelchair, they will
prefer a folding wheelchair. Why? A rigid wheelchair performs better, requires less
maintenance and is usually lighter. It can fold for storage in a car, but you need to remove
the wheels and fold the backrest. This can be easily done in less than a minute. But a
folding wheelchair, folds up quicker for transporting simply by pulling up on the seat sling.
Below are a selection of some of the best low cost, quality, adjustible wheelchairs on the market.
Weight 9 kg
Adjustibility rating 5/5
Best Base Price: $1,014.95 (Bike-on)
Pros: This is probably the most adjustable, ultralight weight wheelchair on the
market. Even seat width is adjustable, if you buy a “growth package”. Why is
this important? You want to buy the smallest seat width that will fit you. The slimmer
the wheelchair the easier it will fit through narrow doorways and shopping aisles. But what
happens when you gain weight? You can outgrow your wheelchair. To my knowledge only
Colours Spazz-G has the option to grow seat width. But the growth package is not
cheap. Contact the manufacturer for more information.
Cons: The name. Yes, many people are shocked by the name “Spazz-G” and
think that this must have been done by mistake, since “Spazz” is a
derogatory word. But trust me, Colours knew what they were doing when
they chose this name.
Much of the adjustability is achieved by buying and exchanging parts as can
be seen in the video below. They may be expensive, but a lot less expensive
than buying a new wheelchair
This low price may not be available outside of the USA. Colours does not
have many international dealers. And if you find one, they will probably
charge a higher price than in the USA. But it is worth asking about it.
Best Base Price $1245 (Spinlife)
Adustibility rating 4/5
Pros: This is a classic wheelchair, on the market for 30 years. The manufacturer Sunrise Medical
is one of the biggest wheelchair companies and offers good support. A sturdy and reliable
Cons: Old fashioned, “box frame” design, looks a bit clunky and is a bit heavier than other
Best Base Price: $1231 (1800 Wheelchair and others)
Adjustability rating 4/5
Pros: More modern than the GP/GPV, the Qri is lighter and nicer looking.
Cons: A bit less range of adjustability compared to the GP/GPV. For example camber
adjusts only from 0-3 degrees. But most people will not notice the difference.
Best Base Price $1212 (Spinlife)
Weight 28.8 lbs
Adjustability rating 4/5
Pros “One of the best features of the QXI is that almost all adjustments can be
made with one 10 mm hex head wrench…Each adjustment can be made in less
than a minute.”
Best Base Price: $1099 (Karmenhealthcare.com)
Adjustability rating 4/5
Price: $499 (1800Wheelchair)
Weight 19 lbs with wheels
Adjustability rating 0/5
Pros: Superlight weight, Super low price
Cons: Not only is nothing adjustable, but there are no options to choose from. For example, the
seat is 18 inches wide. Do you want a 16 inch wide seat? Too bad, it is not available. Cheap
chair, but you get what they got. There is a 22 inch wide chair with 350lbs capacity
available at a higher price
Price: Currently $450 discounted from the usual $900 (Whirlwind.com)
Weight 45 lbs with wheels
Adjustability rating 3/5 (Camber appears to be non-adjustable)
Pros: This is meant to be used primarily as an outdoor, rough terrain wheelchair. It was
initially created for undeveloped countries, where people needed a low cost, highly durable
wheelchair. It glides over bumps, grass and gravel, and other obstacles which could make
an everyday wheelchair flip. It is strong, durable and easily repaired when damaged.
Cons: It is very heavy, at least twice the weight of a typical wheelchair, which may make it
difficult to lift into a car. It may also be more difficult to push up a steep incline.
Due to the extended front caster wheels, it will may be more difficult to get things off of
counters and tables, or to reach anything in front of you.