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How to Choose the Right Manual Wheelchair: Size and Weight, Durability and Quality, Comfort and Support, Additional Features

When it comes to buying your manual wheelchair, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all model. These mobility aids come in all styles, sizes, prices, and customisation features.

That’s why you need to choose a wheelchair specifically designed for you—the one with special features that will serve your personal needs and preferences. 

Can you sit comfortably in a chair? Or do you need extra support when seated? Can you properly move your wheelchair by yourself? Or do you need someone to push it for you?

Tip: The best manual wheelchair isn’t the one with the highest price or with the latest customisation features. Instead, it’s one created to perfectly suit your mobility needs, integrate well into your daily life, and fit your budget.

If you’re in search of such a manual wheelchair, we’ll gladly help you find it. We’ll take you through everything you need to know about manual wheelchairs, including their price range.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn about in detail shortly:

  • Three top manual wheelchairs and their features
  • The benefits and advantages of manual wheelchairs
  • The average price of a manual wheelchair
  • Where to purchase top quality manual wheelchairs

 But before we begin, let’s briefly discuss the different types of manual wheelchairs and their key features:

Table of Contents

Types of Manual Wheelchairs

  • Self Propelled Manual Wheelchairs: Designed to be propelled by the users independently. They feature larger back wheels, each having an outer hand rim that’s used to turn and control the chair. 
  • Transit Manual Wheelchairs: Unlike self-propelled manual wheelchairs, transit wheelchairs require a caregiver to push the user during short travels or excursions. They’re generally lightweight, have a narrower frame, and are compact to fit through narrow doors.

    older woman being pushed around by caregiver in a garden
  • Ultra Lightweight Manual Wheelchairs: Are the perfect travel companion because of their foldable and super lightweight nature. Some weigh as low as 8 kg, making them portable and easy to lift and fit into your car’s boot. 
  • Bariatric Manual Wheelchairs: Heavy-duty wheelchairs made with strong and tough steel to accommodate heavy weight users. Their steel frame provides twice the strength of standard manual wheelchairs and they feature wider seats of up to 80 cm to provide comfortable seating.

Now, let's go through some of the best manual wheelchairs and their features in more detail…

1 - DAYS Swift Self Propelled Wheelchair With Handbrakes

The DAYS Swift Self Propelled Wheelchair with Handbrakes is an incredibly lightweight wheelchair with compact dimensions (28 cm L x 64 cm W x 76 cm H) that make it easy to manoeuvre through tight spaces.

Constructed with a light aluminium frame, the manual wheelchair weighs only 7.8 kg, hence it can be easily folded for transport or storage, even with limited upper body strength.

DAYS Swift Self Propelled Wheelchair with Handbrakes

Important Features of the DAYS Swift Self Propelled Wheelchair With Handbrakes

  • Folding backrest and quick release wheels: These come in handy when you need to store or transport the wheelchair. The folding backrest allows the chair to be quickly folded in half while the removable quick release wheels can be disassembled without any tools, making the process fast and straightforward.

    illustration showing folding wheelchair, quick release wheels and detachable wheels
  • Sturdy construction: This manual wheelchair is made with an aluminium frame that’s both lightweight and sturdy. It’s not only easy to carry but also durable and strong enough to sustain its 115 kg maximum user weight.

  • Solid puncture-proof tyres: The wheelchair’s solid tyres provide an excellent ride quality by preventing any bursts or punctures.

    Optimum tyre wear is guaranteed since the tyre’s inner tube is replaced with a rubber compound, so you won’t need to constantly check on the chair’s tyre pressure. This also means that no tyre maintenance is needed.

Besides its lightweight frame, the DAYS Swift Self Propelled Wheelchair with Handbrakes comes with added safety features, such as an extended brake handle (which eases brake application) and solid puncture-proof tyres. 

These features collectively prevent the undesirable rolling of your wheelchair and ensure it stays ready for use at all times (you won’t have to worry about punctured tyres).

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2 - Heavy Duty Bariatric Wheelchair 250 KG

The Heavy Duty Bariatric Wheelchair 250 kg is a premium-quality, manual wheelchair designed to meet the needs of bariatric patients who want a safe and comfortable way of moving around.

MAXMOBILITY Omega Heavy Duty Bariatric Wheelchair

Important Features of the Heavy Duty Bariatric Wheelchair 250 KG

  • Larger weight capacity: The average manual wheelchair has a maximum user weight of 115 kg, but this heavy duty bariatric wheelchair can accommodate heavier users of up to 250 kg, making it the perfect choice for the tallest and heaviest users.
  • Sturdy construction: The wheelchair is constructed with a heavy-duty double-crossed steel frame reinforced with welded joints that provide a strong and stable structure.
  • Larger seat width: Unlike standard manual wheelchairs which are approximately 45 cm wide, this bariatric wheelchair has an overall width of 74 cm when opened so as to accommodate wider seats and provide enough room for comfortable sitting.

At Mobility Shop Direct, we believe that everyone deserves to move around and live as independently as possible, regardless of their shape and size.

The Heavy Duty Bariatric Wheelchair 250 kg stands out as one of the strongest and sturdiest wheelchairs we’ve supplied to the bariatric market perfectly meeting the mobility needs of heavy wheelchair users. 

The chair’s robust steel construction gives it the rigidity and strength to hold more weight than the rest of the wheelchair models would, while its padded armrests provide the extra support and comfort needed by the users.

Overall, the Heavy Duty Bariatric Wheelchair 250 kg represents excellent value for your money and will offer reliable and comfortable service for many years to come.

Expert Tip: However, before making your purchase, please ensure that you have enough room for storage. This is because the wheelchair is huge and bulky with a bigger seat width when opened (74 cm) that may not fit through some vehicles or entrances.

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3 - DAYS Swift Ultra Lightweight Compact Portable Wheelchair

As one of our best selling DAYS Swift Wheelchairs, the Ultra Lightweight Compact Portable Wheelchair is your perfect travelling buddy because of its lightweight frame and compact form when folded (64 cm L x 28 cm W x 76 cm H).

Weighing only 7.8 kg, the foldable wheelchair can be easily carried and stored in almost all types of vehicles’ boots, letting you enjoy short trips and holidays conveniently.

DAYS Swift Ultra Lightweight Compact Portable Wheelchair

Important Features of the DAYS Swift Ultra Lightweight Compact Portable Wheelchair

  • Lightweight construction: Most standard wheelchairs are made of heavy stainless steel, but this manual wheelchair is constructed with an aluminium frame, a material that’s durable yet lightweight.
  • Puncture-proof wheels: It has large 30 cm (12") rear wheels and 20 cm (8") front wheels, all made out of solid polyurethane that are durable, don’t require maintenance, and help with manoeuvring through gravel, curbs, and uneven grounds.
  • Foldable design: The wheelchair features a half-folding backrest that gives it a compact form (when folded) and lets it take up minimal storage space whether in the house or in the boot when you’re on the move.

The DAYS Swift Ultra Lightweight Compact Portable Wheelchair may be one of our lightweight manual wheelchairs, but this shouldn’t downplay its rugged durability.

Here is a walk-through video of this wheelchair.

The wheelchair is made with aluminium—a light but equally durable material—to withstand the user’s maximum weight of 115 kg and reduce the stress of moving around.

With this ultra lightweight wheelchair, you’ll enjoy your freedom and travel anywhere with ease.

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essential checklist choosing manual wheelchair photo snippet

What is a Manual Wheelchair?

A manual wheelchair is a wheeled mobility device in which a person with limited mobility can move again and regain their independence.

This type of mobility aid comes in handy for people who: 

  • Can walk with a balancing aid such as a walking stick or a walker but require a chair for longer distances or when running errands
  • Need a transport aid most or all of their time
  • Have a strong sitting balance and can maintain their stability when seated 

Manual wheelchairs can either be propelled by the user—normally by pushing on the rims that surround the wheels—or pushed by a caregiver using the handles on the back of the chair.

Those that the user independently propel themselves to wherever they want to go to are referred to as self-propelled wheelchairs. They have larger rear wheels that make them generally easier to roll along rougher surfaces.

DRIVE Lightweight XS2 Self Propelled Wheelchair

On the other hand, manual wheelchairs that require someone to push the user are called transit or non self-propelled manual wheelchairs

They are generally lighter in weight and have attendant brakes that enable the caregiver to slow the chair down, or lock it for safety when needed.

Portable Transit Wheelchair with Seat Belt 17 Inch

Advantages and Benefits of Manual Wheelchairs

Even with the rise of electric wheelchairs in the market today, manual wheelchairs have proven time and again why they remain highly sought after. 

Here is a quick overview of a few of the primary benefits of investing in a quality manual wheelchair:

Available for Use at Any Time

One of the benefits of a manual wheelchair is that it’s always ready for use.

These types of wheelchairs don’t require charging, unlike electric or powered wheelchairs whose batteries will take up to 12 hours to fully charge, then run for about eight hours before needing another charging session.

Therefore, you’ll be able to use your manual wheelchair anywhere and at any time without worrying about the amount of juice left in their batteries.

This is one of the features that makes manual wheelchairs highly versatile and reliable; you can go farther with them still fully functional. All you need is your own upper body strength or a caregiver to push the chair on your behalf.

Low Cost of Maintenance

Maintaining your manual wheelchair requires just a few tools (tyre repair kit, spoke wrench, industrial lubricant, screwdrivers, and a bicycle tyre pump) which you can easily find at a local hardware store for a minimal cost

The table below compares the average cost of replacement parts, tools for maintenance, and professional servicing costs per year for different types of manual wheelchairs.

Type Of Wheelchair Average Costs Of Replacement Parts Per Year Average Cost Of Tools For Maintenance Professional Servicing Costs Per Year Total Annual Maintenance Cost
Standard Manual $200 $50 $150 $400
Lightweight Manual $300 $70 $200 $570
Heavy-Duty Manual $400 $100 $250 $750
Sports Manual $250 $60 $175 $485
Power-Assisted Manual $500 $120 $350 $970
Tilt-in-Space Manual $700 $200 $500 $1400

Once you have all the necessary tools, all you need to do is a maintenance check at different intervals, depending on the parts of the wheelchair being checked.

Below is an example of a basic maintenance routine for a standard manual wheelchair:

  • Weekly check up: The condition of the brakes 
  • Monthly check up: Loose nuts and bolts, wheelchair frame for cracks, wheelchair alignment, tyre pressure, backrest, and all moving parts
  • Quarterly check up: The condition of the quick-release mechanism (if any), footrest, and upholstery
  • Yearly check up: Schedule an annual check by an authorised supplier

Here is a checklist against which you can compare the elements of your wheelchair to determine how strong, durable and safe it is.

checklist to determine the quality of your wheelchair

Generally, manual wheelchairs don’t need a lot to function; they just require a bit of external force and some lubricant applied to their joints occasionally to keep them moving smoothly.

This means that you don’t need to set cash aside for maintenance or repairs, which is a common occurrence for powered wheelchairs. 

Electric wheelchairs have a lot of wires and components that can break down and need repair or replacement occasionally. 

Besides, their batteries will perform at peak capacity for approximately one and a half years, and thereafter need a replacement every 12 to 24 months.

Price Range for Manual Wheelchairs

The price of a quality manual wheelchair ranges from a few hundred dollars into the thousands.

There are multiple types of manual wheelchairs, and their costs vary just as much as the person who will use them. 

Like many important purchases, specifications, features, added accessories, and brands will dictate the final pricing of a manual wheelchair.

A tilt and recline wheelchair, for instance, will cost more than a standard transit wheelchair because of its multiple additional features and accessories. 

Mobility Shop Direct offers a wide range of manual wheelchairs from reputable brands at a considerable price.

Check out the price range for our various types of wheelchairs in the table below.

Type Of Manual Wheelchair Lowest Price Highest Price Average Price
Self Propelled $450 $1,349 $900
Transit $400 $1,349 $875
Lightweight $470 $800 $635
Ultra-Lightweight $470 $800 $635
Folding $400 $1,349 $875
Bariatric $500 $1,299 $900
Tilt and Recline $2,250 $2,695 $2,473

What Our Customers Love About Our Manual Wheelchairs

If you’re looking for the highest quality manual wheelchairs from reputable brands at affordable prices, then Mobility Shop Direct is your number one stop shop.

Don’t take our word for it? See what our esteemed customers had to say about their newly acquired manual wheelchairs: 

  • They are compact and lightweight, hence easy to manoeuvre and lift into the car
  • The chairs are easy to fold and store 
  • They are comfortable and easy to use
  • They were delivered right on time and in excellent condition
  • The chairs are strong and sturdy 

"The chair is the second of that type I’ve purchased, being the narrowest and lightest I could find. Delivery was very swift. Thank you."
Dimitri C, Verified Buyer, Australia

"... this wheelchair is simply wonderful. I giggle whenever the taxi drivers tell me how much lighter it is compared to some other ones they've lifted in the past."
Kate E, Verified Buyer, Adelaide, Australia

"... Very comfortable, easy to use, and extremely portable. I love how the wheels can be released and how the back can be folded so it doesn't get damaged when placed in the boot of the car..."
Jacob A, Verified Buyer, Adelaide, Australia

"Super fast delivery with exceptional customer service. Highly recommended."
Dianne I, Verified Buyer, Australia

"As a pensioner weighing 183 kg I struggled to find a bariatric wheelchair under $500 that could support my weight until David recommended this wheelchair to me. Excellent service!"
Pamela D, Verified Buyer, Adelaide, Australia

"... Our son has used it for just over a week and absolutely loves how much more comfortable this tilt and recline wheelchair is… To see him so happy is simply priceless…."
Joanne V, Verified Buyer, Australia

How Long Do Manual Wheelchairs Last?

With proper care and maintenance of your manual wheelchair, expect it to serve you for at least five years. This will also depend on your frequency of use; if you use it occasionally, it will most likely exceed its lifespan.

What Are the Easiest Manual Wheelchairs to Push?

Since they are designed to distribute the weight of the user evenly, most manual wheelchairs are easy to push. 

However, the lightest to push are transit, lightweight, and ultra-lightweight wheelchairs, which all have a lightweight frame and come with a narrow seat that makes them easy to manoeuvre.

Choose the Most Suitable Manual Wheelchair

Expert Tip: When it comes to buying a manual wheelchair, there really isn’t the best fit for everyone, but instead, one that’s most suitable for your mobility needs.

At Mobility Shop Direct, we offer a wide range of manual wheelchairs fit for every user.

Whether you’re looking for a heavy-duty wheelchair that will comfortably sit your bariatric patient or a lightweight and portable chair for your weekly doctor visits, we’ve got an option for you.

So browse our entire collection of manual wheelchairs today to find what works for you. 

And if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our team will be more than happy to answer you.

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