June 15, 2006 With the post-war baby boom now moving towards senior citizenship, markets for many specialised goods and services devoted to elderly needs are about to mushroom and one that’s certain to reach unprecedented heights is that of wheelchairs. The proportion of the population using wheelchairs increases sharply with age with roughly 3% of people over 65 using them and as an unprecedented number of fashion- and status- conscious boomers reach their seventies, designer wheelchairs and other mobility aids will be big business. Accordingly, when a manufacturer of WRC and Formula One race car parts turns his hand to wheelchair design, we expect there’ll be an equally exclusive market for high tech practical wheelchairs and the Trekinetic K2 launched at the UK’s Mobility Roadshow last weekend certainly fits that bill. Built by designer Mike Spindle, the K2 is entirely new in every respect. Gone is the old tubular frame, replaced with a carbon fiber monocoque based around the seat. Similarly, the layout has been rearranged with two large wheels with adjustable camber at the front and singular rear trailing castor for excellent stability and the ability to negotiate uneven (off road) terrain. It also has adjustable height via an adjustable nitrogen shock absorber, is extremely light, folds up for easy transportation in just a few seconds, has a unique brake-steer system, an automatic inbuilt umbrella and although it’s not cheap at UKP1800, it has no equal in the world of wheelchairs.
Designer Mike Spindle launched the Trekinetic K2 on the same weekend as the British Formula One Grand Prix where parts he created (suspension arms, wheel hubs, gearbox linkages and a range of other parts in Aluminium, Carbon or Stainless Steel) were circulating Silverstone in at least four of the 22 cars. Similarly, his company builds portions of cars that competed in the World Rally Championship the previous weekend in Greece and this coming weekend in the Le Mans 24 Hour race.
So it’s not that surprising that Trekinetic’s Mission Statement should be bold, ambitious and aiming for the very elite end of the market. It reads:
'Via an innovative approach we will originate a new concept in manual wheelchair design. By challenging conventional layouts and by evolutionary development, we will introduce a superior product, that will hopefully capture the imagination of both wheelchair users and the able bodied alike. Born from a philosophy to seek out radical solutions to complex engineering issues, utilising cutting edge materials and processes, we will look to improve the mundane image of the manual wheelchair. In so doing, we will seek to offer an enhanced lifestyle and future for their occupants"
These were the research and development targets for the wheelchair:
- Modern approach to design
Off Road and City capability
Superior comfort and support for the user
Tipping backwards under acceleration to be eliminated
Rear Shock absorber for a smooth ride
Simple on board wet weather protection
Dynamic braking system to cope with hi performance
Foldable for transportation
Fun to be in and be seen in
Variable wheel Camber for stability and practicality
The full story of the development of the Trikinetic is well told at the company web site so there’s no point in going over it again. What should be said though, is that Mike is keen to create greater volume for the Trikinetic to reduce his manufacturing costs and would be “delighted to hear from bona-fide distributors around the world.”
Contact him here.