2014 - Volume #38, Issue #5, Page #11[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Kim Butler, administrator for Molten Rock, the U.K. company that designed and manufactures the off-road wheelchair, says the lightweight but sturdy bicycle-based design was developed by Chris Swift, who was paralyzed by a neurological disease in 1995. Swift, an agricultural engineering student, needed something to get him around rough terrain. A trust-funded research project resulted in the first prototype in 2005. Several improvements have been made since by engineer Jon Anders who builds the chairs, called Bomas.
The design allows it to be customized for people with wide ranges of abilities.
“It’s the only off-road wheelchair available with head or chin controls for riders with no hand function,” Butler says. “The standard version with handlebar control has a twist grip throttle to accelerate and fail-safe braking (release the throttle and the chair stops). The handlebars can be removed for easy sliding transfer. The chair is also available with joystick control for individuals with limited hand function.”
With 20-in. BMX tires on the front and 24-in. mountain bikes tires on the back, the Boma maneuvers well on grass and gravel and through mud, snow and sand. It can climb 8-in. steps and travels easily on slopes up to a one-in-six gradient. Battery powered with front and rear suspension, it’s quiet and relatively smooth.
A pair of batteries powers the chair for 12 to 16 miles. An additional set of batteries can be added. The 68-in. long, 176-lb. rig rolls easily up a ramp into a pickup minivan or trailer or on a rack on the back of a vehicle.
The Boma can be purchased in North America directly from Molten Rock in the U.K. The company plans to set up North American distributorships by the end of 2014. Current cost starts at about $11,850 U.S.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Molten Rock Equipment Ltd., Unit 2, Rook Tree Farm, Hulcote Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire, UK MK17 8BW (ph 44 0 1908 585648; www.moltenrock.co.uk).
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