Fred's guide to Titanium, Carbon Fibre and Lightweight Wheelchairs

Hand bikes and Wheelchair Power Trikes

A webpage based on the experience of a long term wheelchair user

Also new products for disabled people.

Updated 29th July 2022

On This Page

My story - 38 years of using Lightweight chairs

Choosing a Lightweight Wheelchair

Which material for the frame?

Quickie Helium Long term test

Titanium and Carbon Fibre Wheelchairs

Quickie Krypton Review

Clip on Hand Cycles and Powered Bikes

Wheelchair maintenance accessories


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My first handbike was the Tracker, then I got a Chevron 21 speed and now I have a Batec hybrid.

Batec Hybrid Electric Bike Tested by Fred





My Story - 38 years using Lightweight Wheelchairs

Since becoming disabled in 1984 I have owned around 20 wheelchairs. I currently own and use 4 chairs for different activities and have a hybrid handcycle and a battery powered Batec clip on bike.

Some of the makes I have owned include Swede, Quickie, Chevron, Panthera,  RGK, Davinci , Levo , Cyclone and now GTM from Poland.

I have also had an active interest and been a part owner in one of Britain largest specialist wheelchair retailers.

Over these 38 years I have got to know most of the manufacturers of sports and lightweight wheelchairs in the UK. I have also bought wheelchairs directly from the USA and travelled to Africa and the Middle East. My wheelchairs have been used up mountains, on lakes, across deserts and even deep inside the tomb of Tutankhamen!

With the help of my friend and fellow Inventor "Dangerous" Dave Mountain we produced the innovative Handem tandem.


With this page I will attempt to give unbiased useful advice to prospective purchasers based on my experience and knowledge of wheelchairs. I don't claim to be an expert but I think my experience may be especially useful to those newly disabled or professionals new to the field.

Talking Chairs with Tennis Champ Peter Norfolk


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How to choose a lightweight Wheelchair


Standard Size or Custom built?

Using the best quality metal is still no guarantee that you will get a good chair. Aside from the engineering it is crucial that the chair is the correct size and shape for you.

Potentially the best wheelchairs are custom built to your size. A custom built wheelchair can be lighter, and stronger but usually has less adjustment or options for accessories. If the person measuring you up for a custom wheelchair gets it wrong you might as well tie a skateboard to your bum and use that. Always check that the dimensions of the custom chair they deliver is the same as the spec sheet when you ordered it.


How to Buy a Custom Built Wheelchair

Buying a custom built wheelchair has its risks. You need to have complete faith in the salesman who measures you and orders it and hope that the factory will build it to the correct specifications.

Measuring someone correctly for a wheelchair takes skill and training. Don't be afraid to ask the salesman how long he has been doing the job and how many of your type of chair he has sold. My experience is that there are a lot of untrained or unskilled salesman and a lot of blaggers selling wheelchairs. One safeguard is to insist on trying a demo chair that is as close as possible to the one you want to buy. Trying a wheelchair means using it for an afternoon at least. Just sitting in one in a showroom with flat tyres for 2 minutes is not good enough. You need to get out and use it in realistic circumstances.

Usually the salesman will take some measurements from your existing wheelchair if you are happy with it. The problems arise when you alter a dimension like the camber or width or position of a fixed axle. If you have not tried a chair with those dimensions you could be in for a shock when your new chair arrives.

Another way to limit problems is to either collect your new chair from the showroom or have the company deliver it to you IN PERSON. After hours of effort selling you the chair many companies then send it to you in a box and leave you to assemble it.

 If the salesman who sold you the chair is present when you take delivery of it many problems can be avoided. Some people I trust to measure me for a custom built chair are Vinny Ross at Davinci mobility, Russ at RGK, and Stuart at Cyclone all are wheelchairs users who design and manufacture wheelchairs in the UK. Also Peter Norfolk at EPC has 30 years experience in a wheelchair and although he does not manufacture them he can give you unbiased advice on any make of chair.

Buying a chair direct from a manufacturer has advantages and disadvantages. They will invariably be biased and are unlikely to recommend the better chair for you if it happens to come from a rival. As with any expensive product shop around and don't rush your purchase. You may well be sitting in it for the next 6 years so another hour or 2 looking is nothing. Purchase in haste, repent at your leisure!

What to do if it goes wrong

A custom built wheelchair is a bit like a new house. It is complicated and there may well be small things that need altering. The building trade call this 1st and 2nd fit and use a snagging list to get the house completed and perfect. Reputable companies will not be satisfied until you are, and should sort out any problem with your new wheelchair. If you have a big problem that can't be sorted contact the British Healthcare Trade Association BHTA. All good manufacturers and dealers will be a member.


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Which Material for the Frame?

Steel is the cheapest but heavy so forget that unless it is thin diameter Chrome Moly steel.  Aluminium is light and strong but still relatively cheap. Quickie use oval shaped aluminium in their excellent Helium model to increase the strength and save weight.

Titanium is stronger and lighter but expensive and hard to weld. I have had 2 titanium chairs but my favourite all time chair is my aluminium Quickie Helium.

The latest material is carbon fibre which is the lightest but hideously expensive.

I now have the hideously expensive Quickie Krypton carbon fibre wheelchair.


Frame Colours - Paint or Polished finishes?

All the painted chairs I have owned looked shabby after 2 years as the paint chipped off or got scratched, usually the front end and caused by car transfers.

A bare metal polished finish on a wheelchair is far more durable and will last for many years. My old polished aluminium Chevron is 18 years old now and still looks good apart from scratches on the footrest.

The brushed or polished titanium finishes are even more durable and this would be my choice if offered.

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Aluminium Framed Wheelchairs

Quickie Helium Review

This is me trying out the first Quickie Helium, the first wheelchair to use oval section Aluminium tubing for improved strength and lightness.

I bought a Quickie Helium and absolutely love it. It has more adjustments and options than any other custom built chair and Sunrise Medical are always improving it and now offer a similar cheaper chair called the Argon2.

The Argon2 does not use oval tubing but it does have more "in use" adjustment options than the Helium.

The Helium has also been improved over the last 8 years with better brakes, backrest, castor forks and more options than ever.

The Helium is being replaced in 2022 by the Nitrum which is similar but now has a more secure folding backrest mechanism.



FOR SALE - Surge LT Wheelchair push rims, 24 inch.

These superb rims are profiled and have an inbuilt rubber strip to give you more grip

325 new , for sale 150 the pair - mail me for details

Can be viewed and collected from Oxford or Shoreham-by-sea near Brighton



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 Titanium Wheelchairs

Titanium is very light and strong but expensive. It also has the disadvantage that it requires highly skilled welding techniques and real precision engineering. A badly made aluminium chair can be bodged up (and often is). A badly made titanium wheelchair is harder to rectify. A well made custom built titanium wheelchair may be the best thing you ever bought, but getting it right takes skill - and possibly some tweaking.

There are also 2 types of frame design commonly used in titanium wheelchairs. The open, cantilever frame design and what I call the ridged, box frame design.

Both have advantages and disadvantages depending on your specific needs. I like open cantilever frames as they are easier to get past a steering wheel if you are a driver.

Since Quickie introduced oval profile aluminum tubing there is less need to buy an expensive titanium wheelchair. My Quickie Helium is as light as my old titanium chairs but much better value.

With the improvements in carbon fibre too I think it is likely that titanium wheelchairs may well have had their day.

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Carbon Fibre Wheelchairs - Any Good?

The lightest carbon fibre wheelchair frame - "on my head"

I have tried many carbon fibre chairs and even been involved in the design of one. Initialy carbon fibre did not lend itself as well to tubes as it did to panels. Therefore carbon fibre chairs have offered little weight saving compared to titanium or oval section aluminium. Also the gloss black finish is far more vulnerable to scratching and chipping.

Quickie Krypton Review

 In 2018 Quickie introduced the Krypton using the latest technology in tubular carbon fibre. I bought the 3rd one to be made from the initial batch of 10.

The tubing varies in profile and diameter depending where it is on the frame. This is to optimise strength and was very hard to engineer.

The result is a super strong chair that is about 1.5kg lighter than my aluminium Helium model. This makes quite a difference when I lift it onto the car.

The new Quickie Krypton Carbon Fibre Wheelchair Tested By Fred

Carbon fibre chairs look great and the one above is completely custom made but not quite the lightest wheelchair in the world. This is because it has been designed so it can still be adjusted to some extent after you have bought it. The lightest carbon fibre chair is probably the Italian made Progeo which costs nearer 8000 than the 5000 price tag on the Krypton.  The wheels shown on the image above do not come with the Krypton but where given to me for testing as I have one of the first limited edition of 10 Krypton chairs. The 3 spoke wheels are all carbon fibre including the push rims that have crenulations to give more grip. They do look awesome and are ridiculously light but if I had to chose I would rather have my 12 spoke Spinergys with oval shaped Carbolife Geko push rims.

I have had my Krypton 2 years now and love how it looks and how easy it is to lift into the car. It is slightly more responsive than my trusty Helium but I am disappointed with the carbon fibre side guards which are too small in my opinion. Larger ones are available but they cover the wheel a bit which can be a finger trap if you push too enthusiastically .

Two years on would I recommend the Krypton or the cheaper Helium? Well I have to say the Helium is still my favorite due to the better sideguards and backrest. Also for some reason the Helium just feels better to use despite now being 10 years old and a bit creaky.

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The original PDQ Powertrike was invented by my friend Vinny Ross and won the very last BBC Tomorrow World Prize.

It was a breakthrough in mobility for wheelchair users and turned our wheelchairs into powered trikes.

I had one of the original batch and later the more powerful Powertrike Plus.

I still have the Powertrike Plus and use it off road as it has good ground clearance.

The only issue I ever had with my Powertrike was wrestling it on and off, which required considerable strength.

Taking on this issue Spanish manufacturer Batec introduced a clip-on trike with its built in stand to make the process easier.

Since 2015 I have a Batec Hybrid electric bike that I can peddle along and choose to have some help from the battery and motor.

I was so impressed with it I went mad and bought the smaller more compact battery version with no pedals.


The PDQ Powertrike is no longer available but similar models are produced by Davinci Mobility.

My Powertrike Extra is a superb on AND off road machine but the one thing I don't like about it is the faff to take it on and off.  This is mainly due to my back problem that prevents me bending forwards comfortably. Batec bikes have a built in stand which I find so much easier.

The downside is that the Batec is not so good off road as the integral stand has a low ground clearance and can bottom out and even tip you out if you are not careful. So I use my Powertrike off road and my Batecs on the pavements, promenades and around the shops.

Batec have now addressed this problem by bringing out a Batec Scrambler model that has a sprung integral stand that moves to give more ground clearance.


I have a Batec 36v powered trike and a Batec Hybrid 7 speed pedal with battery assist.

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Fred's recommended wheelchair accessories

Over time I shall feature some of the best equipment that I use in this section.


This is my favourite tool ever! If I had one 30 years ago it would have saved me so much time, swearing and pinched inner tubes



Always keep your tyres pumped up hard

Don't waste energy pushing around on soft tyres

Keep a spare inner tube, pump and tyre levers in your car

Use links below for best pump with built in pressure gauge

The Schwalbe tyre levers are a new design and being plastic can be taken through airports without causing problems in security.

They are also very strong and less likely to pinch the tube than metal levers.

They clip together nicely and are superlight and compact.

Topeak Mountain Morph Pump

Schwalbe (3-Piece Set) Tyre Levers

 Schwalbe AV9A 24 x 1 inch Inner Tube with Schrader Valve




This Makita 12 cordless air pump is super and can pump up your wheelchair tyres in seconds. It's gauge is very accurate and I also use it on my car.

The battery can be used a superb powerdrill, and a saw.

It is so easy to use as you set the pressure you want by pressing the + or - buttons.

Then press go and it will pump your tyre to the set pressure and automatically stop.


Makita MP100DZ Inflator 12V


Covid 19 News- Freds Recommended Tools For Better Respiratory Health

 Medisure Steam Inhaler Cup

 Medisure Steam Inhaler Cup  With Menthol Crystals (5g)

 Tiger Balm Red Ointment 30 g -

 Menthol Crystals 100g

For the last 5 years to keep winter colds and flu at bay I have been using the blue face steaming mug.

Every morning and evening I breath in the fumes of Tiger balm, Vicks or more recently menthol crystals

This totally clears my respiratory system and I believe it helps destroy bugs in m y nose, mouth and throat

I am not a doctor but this method was recommended to me by a very experienced pharmacist and has been great for me

As well as the steam mug I use vitamin c with zinc tablets to flavour my water, eat a lot of garlic and drink apple cider vinegar.


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