New Off-Road Rig for Wheelchair Users

This electric vehicle is made from bicycle parts for outdoor adventures.

Sep 5, 2020

What do you call an off-road vehicle that allows wheelchair users to go almost anywhere? This motorized electric vehicle is not a wheelchair but it's not exactly a bicycle either. That’s why it’s aptly called The Rig and it will be coming to a trail near you soon.

“It's hard to define what this is,” said Zach Nelson in the introductory video, “after all what do you call a chair with four wheels, off road capabilities, totally silent, super-fast, with a pretty long range. It’s definitely not a wheelchair.”

The vehicle is made mostly from electric bicycle parts and was developed by Nelson to allow his then girlfriend Cambry – now his wife – who is a wheelchair user to build an off-road vehicle that will allow her to go more places.

“Personally I love my light blue rig. We’ve put over 1,000 miles on it and it’s taken me places I never thought in a million years I could go.” Like on a hike to a waterfall in Hawaii or up the canyon on packed snow places I couldn’t go in my wheelchair,” she said in the video.

Since it is not a medical device, it cannot be called a wheelchair. According to Nelson, it is a modified electric bicycle that happens to be more accessible. His company is aptly called Not a Wheelchair.

The rig has an aluminum frame with detachable bumpers, according to New Atlas, as well as a padded seat, and an electric bike motor.  It has a range of 10 – 20 miles (16 to 32 kilometers) and a second lithium battery can be added for a longer range. The vehicle has a top speed of 12 mph (19 kmph) and is amazingly stable. Nelson teamed up with Utah trikes to build it.

What’s really useful is how easy the vehicle is to transport and according to Nelson can fit in pick-ups, jeeps, and Subaru Outbacks. The rig can carry camping equipment and a wheel chair so it can be used in a variety of places but it is not waterproof. That’s still on the drawing board.

The off-road vehicle is in the pre-order stage with shipping currently planned for November 2020. It is available in seven colors and is far less expensive, said New Atlas, than any electric off-road vehicle currently available.

People who have disabilities should not have to be limited to where an ordinary wheelchair can go. That’s why inventions like the rig and the standing robotic wheelchair from UPnRIDE will give people with walking impairments more mobility. So, hop on the rig and make sure you wear a helmet.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.