New powerchair – lightening the darkness…

Regular readers will know I’ve just bought a new powerchair, a Shoprider (aka Roma), Lugano.

To say I’m very pleased with it would be an understatement – it might well be the best chair I’ve had, and there’ve been a few. Part of its attraction is that, while it’s suppose to be a Class 2, 4mph pavement machine, in goes like the clappers. It’s at least as fast as my Class 3, 8mph scooter.  Actually, that was an over-estimation. Using my satnav to check the speed gave me between 5.5 and 6mph

Why? I haven’t the faintest idea, but I assume the part of the circuitry which controls speed actually belongs to a Class 3 scooter, and somewhere there’s a Class 3 scooter with my 4mph processor on board.

It’s basically the same design as the abysmal Class 3 Pride Quantum 6000 (see the I bought a Lemon… series of posts), except that the designers of this thing have got it right – it’s sprightly, where the Q6000 lumbered. It’s also reminiscent of my Jazzy 1120XL from around the turn of the century – but with all the annoying glitches ironed out.

Like the Jazzy, the seat is supported on 4 posts. Adjusting the Jazzy’s seat height was an absolute pig, necessitating the removal of the very heavy seat – don’t these people consider that their customers are disabled? Anyway, on the Lugano, you simply release 2 catches under the rear of the seat, and the whole thing lifts up, pivoting at the front, to raise the rear, so you can adjust the rear mounts. To raise the front you remove one removable pin and pull back a fixed pin against spring pressure, lift the seat, which now pivots at the back. Release the pin when the height is right, replace the other, and you’re done. Nothing could be easier.

The footplate is equally easy to adjust, both for height and depth, unlike either the Jazzy, which needed a lot of grovelling on your knees with spanners. It follows that as all these bits are located by pins, there is some slight movement and rattle – and there is. But here’s the thing – not when you’re sitting in it. It rides over bumps and uneven paving slabs as quietly as you like.

Oh, and if you want freewheel mode, you don’t have to grovel in the grimy darkness of the undercarriage for the lever – the freewheel lever is operate by remote control – pulling a lever at the back of the chair puts it in freewheel via a bell crank. Very simple, very obvious – why doesn’t everybody do that?

So, I predict it’s going to be getting a lot of use. If it’s used for shopping, that’s going to be while it’s still dark for much of the year, and this is where it falls down – the frame tubing is wide-diameter, and there is nowhere to fit cycle lamps. Or, at least, there wasn’t until I spotted this.

This is the Topeak Headlux, a bikie’s helmet light, and it should be easy enough, though I haven’t worked out the fine detail, to mount one at the top of each mudguard – it’s quite possible that the helmet clamp will do the job. Problem, I’m pretty certain, solved.

Update, Feb 18:- As, indeed, it is, just not on the mudguard. The lights, smaller than I expected but good enough, have a Velcro-style strap to attach to a helmet. By fitting a longer strap they can be fixed to the outside edge of each armrest,  making them easy to remove for indoor use, so so they don’t get trashed in doorways. Not cheap, but an effective solution to putting lights on a powerchair. I also have a pair of LED rear lights on the headrest supports.

The chair is, of course, like all mid-wheel drive chairs, incredibly nimble indoors, especially where space is tight. This is helped by the fact that the front and rear casters track inside the track of the drive wheels, and are much closer to them, longitudinally, than either of the other two. This results in a shorter chair than the others, enhancing its manouevrability indoors. Of course, this results in a certain friskiness outdoors, but nothing familiarisation won’t cure, I’m sure.

A major fault of mid-wheel drive chairs is that, when ascending a kerb, or a steep ramp, the drive wheels can lift off the road, causing you to roll backward until they touch again if on a ramp. Repeat, ad infinitum, because you’re going nowhere! Or simply get stuck if on a kerb. The Lugano gets around this problem by hinging the whole of the rear sub-frame, so the drive wheels, unless you do something exceptional (i.e. dumb), stay in contact.

So, yes, I am very pleased with my new chair, and when I recover from having unpacked it and fitted the batteries – back and most joints and muscles comprehensively trashed – it’ll get played with – a lot. Once I’m able to put sealant in the tyres before taking it outdoors.


2 thoughts on “New powerchair – lightening the darkness…

    • And unlike the Q6000 it doesn’t claim to have something it actually doesn’t have – suspension! The Q6000’s suspension operated only on the casters – no help to the rider sitting directly over the drive wheels.

      I’m still amazed at the amount of thought that’s gone into making it easy to live with – most manufacturers seem to go for ease of assembly rather than ease of use. The body shroud, for example, is just a contoured plate that covers the batteries and is secured to the frame tubes with loads of Velcro, the mudguards being separate mouldings, bolted to the motor housing, and all totally rattle-free, unlike the Jazzy, where the much more complex single moulding, all-over shroud and mudguards, rattled incessantly. And the Lugano system will keep more road crap off the motors.

      And they’ve fitted inner tubes with right-angle valves, something everyone should do, especially when they fit alloy wheels, and almost never do. Makes it much easier to top-up tyre pressures, as well as allowing me to add red anodised alloy valve caps to match the chair.

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