Turning a manual wheelchair into a electric whee... - Ataxia UK

Ataxia UK
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Turning a manual wheelchair into a electric wheelchair


It has come to the time when I need to get a wheelchair for every day use. I have found a manual Ti Lite wheelchair that I love and is really suitable for my needs. As my condition affects my upper body as well pushing a manual wheelchair is hard.

Have any of you tried the power add on's? The Alber E Fix E35?

I tried E motion which was easy to use. But the wheels are so heavy that I wouldn't be able to cope with them by myself and I was told Smart drive wouldn't be suitable for me.

I am getting the wheelchair to try and improve my independence. So looking for away that I could turn my manual wheelchair into an electric wheelchair that is easy and I could do by myself.

15 Replies


As you know i have the Kushal efix wheelchair. The problem is that the motors are in the wheels. This makes the wheels heavy. I don't know if there is another way or if some other manufacturers have lighter wheels. The battery is also heavy!

Hopefully someone can help you on here.

Good luck

Alison xx

Thank you Alison xx


you need to be clear about what you want with any add-on to a manual wheelchair. also some dealerships don't suggest alternatives as they don't have arrangements with the companies (which means they don't get commission - callous but true!). Before looking at options decide:

do I want just one chair to do most things

will I be making the changes to the chair daily

will I be doing this myself or is help at hand

will I be putting it into my car - again alone or with help

If I run out of battery before getting home what ill I do

how far do I need to travel

where am I looking to travel...…..and lots more questions.

The key to using power-assists is good technique of propulsion (not strength) so the battery lasts longer. I'm not sure why you were told the smart drive would be harder to use than the e-motion wheels - each part is only 2kg instead of 10kg and is suitable for fitting to an active user chair like the Ti lite. The other options to consider are electric bike options - these allow more freedom over difficult terrains. You will also get the most out of your manual wheelchair if you find a wheelchair skills course and go on this. Technique can help overcome reduced function - also good chair set up and trunk support (so you can maximise use of your arms)...something like a Jay 3 back or Matrx posture back. Depending on your situation will determine the best options ….sometimes 2 chairs are needed as one can't do everything you want. Make sure you get a thorough assessment and advice from a specialist therapist before purchasing anything.

hope that helps?

in reply to Cuds

Thank you so much super helpful advice. I got my quote today for just a mannual wheelchair so no way can I afford power add on's too!

thinking about the Alber E-fix.....if you don't have armrests on your Ti-lite you will have nowhere to connect the controller to! As an add-on the E35 is more compact than the Quickie F16 powerkit. Using any add-on like this usually means you will have it in situ most of the time rather than swap between manual mode and power assist.

also...….forgot to add this one.....Freedom Trax chdr.tv/allte6e8c2

I will be receiving the light drive this week. I got it funded along with my wheelchair. I have tried it out before purchase and was pleased but wil not know how wel it functions untill I try it on a daily basis. I had the same problems with the E-motion. Having to take the wheels off and on is not easy when trying to maintain balance. The light drive is much easier to handel. Good luck with finding something that works for you.

in reply to Meekster

Thank you. Please let me know how you get on with the light drive.

If and when you can afford them do make sure you get a proper try out first. I bought the eMotion add ons but found the lag between holding the rims to stop and the jigger jagger of the rims as they stopped really confused my coordination. It felt like there was no control.

I am looking at trying out the Smart drive MX2 as my only last option for staying independent in wheeling. Just need £4975 and a proper assessment...

I would expect a home trial for that amount ad I did when I bought my scooter.


Sadly getting a proper trial is not always possible, it depends on where you live and we are in a blackspot for supply and aftercare. I did have a trial of the eMotions but a trick the sales teams use is to take you on a road rather than a pavement which can have slopes cambers twists and lumps, making it much harder to operate.

in reply to sheild

Sorry to hear that. Everything seems to cost so much money! I really struggled to use the e motion wheels in the shop as like you I felt like I had no control and it messed with my ataxia.

I have some kind of ataxia but it is complicated by Mitochondrial disease. What I find is that when my body shifts or twists as in moving around in a wheelchair, I lose the plot. When I had visual tests at the hospital they just jerked my head up and down and asked what I could read, I was able to do that. Ask me to see anything while I am moving my whole body and the answer is nothing. Translate that to a wheelchair and I have to control my movement if not panic sets in. Clearly a powerchair would be the answer except that I can't see to operate the controller while moving...

in reply to sheild

Oh no I hope you find a solution soon and a wheelchair that works for you. Sorry I can't help more.

Hi we have just bought The Rocket ll dual function chair with self propelling its a powerchair/manual chair its best of both at a flick of a lever it turns into a manualchair its frim a company called fenetics in yorkshire £1500

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