When the going gets snowy and slick, people turn to snowshoes and ice cleats to get them over wintery ground. Those in wheelchairs don't have quite as many simple options. Essentially mini skis that lock onto the front wheels of a wheelchair, Wheelblades are designed as an easy-to-use solution that aid traction and give a little extra oomph through snow, ice and slush.
Like a snowshoe does for the person wearing it, the Wheelblades spread the weight over a greater surface area. Instead of slipping and sinking, the front wheels float and glide. A pair of channels on the base of the ski compress the snow, which increases stability.
Swiss inventor Patrick Mayer, himself a quadriplegic, designed Wheelblades out of his own desire to make getting around in winter less of a chore. Mayer's condition was caused by a snowboarding accident, and as a snow lover, he was disheartened by the difficulty of getting around during the winter months. Unable to find an affordable, easy-to-use winter mobility aid, he designed his own. Upon constructing a solution that met his needs, Mayer decided he should get the Wheelblades to market for other wheelchair users.
Wheelblades use a clamp lock to secure to the wheels. They are designed to be installed within minutes by raising the wheelchair up on its primary drive wheels, lowering the front wheels on top and closing the clamp on the binding. The binding fits a variety of wheel sizes.
In addition to wheelchairs, Wheelblades will also work with strollers, providing extra mobility for mothers and fathers taking their child out on a winter walk.
Of course, like any mobility device, Wheelblades have their limitations. You obviously won't be able to plow through snow of all all depths and distances, and Mayer suggests pairing the blades with winter tires on the main wheels for the best results. The website also warns against going at speeds over 10 km/h (6.2 mph).
Wheelblades are available for pre-order with deliveries scheduled to begin in October, just in time for winter in Europe. The retail price is €87 each /€174.00 per pair (about US$112/ 224 as of publishing).