Over-Treads: DIY Knobby Wheelchair Wheels


If you are a wheelchair user, you have doubtless come across situations when a knobby wheelchair wheel would have been very helpful. It could have been in the snow, on the beach, or on outdoor trail. But buying an extra set of knobby wheelchair wheels cost a few hundred dollars. That is a lot to spend if you only use the them few times per year. As a result, most wheelchair users settle being less functional and active on snowy days and soft terrain using their regular wheels.12391302_10153789218869518_3616017826922208211_n

Knobby wheelchair wheels are most useful when put on as needed and then taken off. This method keeps the mud and snow out of the house. It also requires having two complete sets of wheels.

When I was injured many years ago, I put chains on my tires to deal with going to college in Maine. That didn’t work so well. A few years later, I started skiing and took a wheelchair hub and spoked it into a wide bike tire (mountain biking was not really a thing back then). Years later, I was able to buy a pair of knobby wheelchair wheels which I still use to this day.

123In the meantime, I collected a lot of old wheelchair wheels. I also know a number of people who are mountain bikers. It was not until recently, that I realized that these two could be combined to create a no cost solution for knobby wheelchair wheels. If you don’t have knobby tires lying around, the chances are that you know someone who does. You should be able to get two for free. They don’t need to be perfect or even match, just have decent tread.

Here are the steps:
Obtain old wheelchair wheels with existing tubes and tires. (the tires can be worn out)

Obtain mountain biking knobby tires of the same or larger wheel diameter.

Buy a bag of plastic zip ties.

Cut the tires completely through with a single radial cut. You might need a hacksaw.






Put them over the existing wheelchair tires (Makes the wheelchair tires are filled with air).

Zip tie the knobby tire to secure it with lots of zip ties.






Put an old wheelchair axle into the Over-Tread hub.

Test it to make sure the axle is long enough to provide wheel to wheelchair clearance. (The axle may need to be adjusted)

You may need an axle spacer (thick plastic or metal washer) to create room next to the wheelchair sideguard since the Over-Tread is fatter than your regular wheel.

You are now the proud owner of a no-cost Over-Tread wheelchair wheel.

If all goes well, you should have a wheel that is easy to grip when in the snow and mud and that also provides plenty of traction. The Over-Tread will not roll well on regular surfaces, but it is only intended for poor rolling terrain anyway.

By Guest Blogger Erik Kondo


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