Pushing a wheelchair in sand is hard. Heck, just walking through sand can be pretty tiring! But nothing beats getting down to the water and enjoying the sunshine.
The Freedom Chair makes it easier for you to get out on the sand. The lever system makes it easier for you to push yourself and the larger rear wheels and front caster mean you won’t be sinking in as much as you would with a standard manual wheelchair.
Soft sand is certainly a workout, and some riders may need assistance from a buddy as they work their way down the water. But once you get down to the water, and on more packed sand, you can spend the day leaving tire tracks!
Beach Wheels and Wheelchairs
The biggest challenge faced by riders in the sand is that they tend to sink in. The looser the sand, the more they sink in. And the more they sink in, the harder their chair (Freedom Chair or otherwise) is to push. Wider tires spread out the rider's weight more, and don't tend to sink into the sand as much. This is why typical beach wheelchairs have such big balloon tires.
The issue with balloon tires, though, is that they are only good on sand. They do a good job of spreading the rider's weight over the surface, but on smooth ground their big footprint causes a lot of friction, making them harder to push than regular wheels.
While the Freedom Chair’s standard wheels are already significantly larger than standard wheelchair wheels, our optional Sand + Snow Wheels take it up a notch.
In designing this wheelset we experimented with several designs, the goal being to prevent sinking in, while also not creating unnecessary rolling resistance. We looked at "fat tires,” like what you find on some trendy new mountain bikes, and while these seemed like an obvious starting point, the extra width made it harder to push. They create a huge contact patch with the ground, which helps with traction on slick and loose surfaces, but creates too much friction, and makes them heavy and slow to turn.
We continued experiment with different treads and tube sizes, and came up with the perfect intermediate solution, one that plays nice on and off the sand. Our Sand + Snow Wheels use a 2.25" wide tire, compared to our regular 1.75" tire width on our standard rim. This may not sound like a big difference, but in practice it dramatically reduces your sinking in on soft ground.
Plus, these wheels are easy to swap with your standard wheels. They attach to the same quick-release system, using the same axles. All you need to do is adjust your parking brakes to accommodate the extra width (using the small allen key that we include) and you can be cruising with your new wheels at the beach!
Many GRIT Freedom Chair riders use their chairs at the beach. The versatility to cruise on the boardwalk, on the em, and also on the sand, makes it a great option for traveling, too. Interested in seeing how others use their Freedom Chairs? Check out our Riders Stories and choose content based on your interests and hobbies here!