The RoughRider, an offroading wheelchair designed for people who often have to cross rugged terrain, has proven its worth over the past decade across the world, from the muddy roads in Haiti’s post-earthquake environment to the streets of Vietnam. But while people in other countries have had access to the Jeep equivalent of wheelchairs for years, U.S. riders have been literally left in the lurch–until now. Proto Labs recently announced that it has helped Whirlwind Wheelchair International–the company behind the RoughRider–bring the wheelchair to the U.S.
As it stands, the RoughRider is produced through a network of regional manufacturers and local wheelchair shops in the developing world that build the product via a public domain licensing program. The chair is made for rough terrain, and U.S. citizens don’t usually traverse potentially dangerous landscapes on a daily basis. But the active wheelchair-bound American still needs help with hiking trails, gardens, beaches, and other places that don’t jibe too well with standard wheelchairs.
The wheelchair’s specs include shock absorption-equipped wheels that easily maneuver through sand, mud, rocks, and grass; a folding, super-tough frame; high-traction rear tires; and push-button, quick-release wheels (in the near future).
Whirlwind Wheelchair is pricing the chair at $799 in the U.S, and it’s always affordable in other countries, where it can be produced with locally available parts (i.e. bicycle wheels and bearings from Honda motorcycles) and basic tools. Want one for yourself? Whirlwind is offering the chairs to a select trial group in the U.S. now.