The average user of a wheelchair postpones maintenance work on the wheelchair. Among such periodic activities that are postponed, non-maintenance of optimal tire pressure ranks quite high.
But, if you have been a wheelchair user for some time, you would already know the benefits of keeping your tires inflated and the dangers of maintaining less than optimal air pressure in them. In this article, we will know about the types of wheelchair tires, discuss if we can replace a wheelchair tire with a bike tire and review some of the best wheelchair tire pumps.
Wheelchair Tire Pumps
In most cases, cycle or bike tire pumps work well with wheelchair tires. If your wheels are adequately air filled, it becomes easier for you to self-propel your wheelchair, especially on hard wood floors.
The surface of the wheel that remains in contact with the ground reduces significantly, thereby resulting in less friction and easy mobility. On the other hand, getting by on your wheelchair with a flattish tire not only increases the effort required to move your wheelchair but also puts undue pressure on the rim of the wheel and risks damaging the rim.
Also, your tire runs the risk of deflating completely or being punctured when you use them with less air.
Types of Wheelchair Tires and Do Wheelchairs Get Flat Tires?
Depending on the type of tires, your wheelchair ride may be smoother, or your tires may be candidates for becoming punctured and flat. Broadly, tires can be pneumatic or solid. Pneumatic tires, like the ones we see in automobiles and bikes, are inflated by air pressure and can get punctured or flat.
Even otherwise, they can lose air and become softer over time as the air valves lose air gradually. However, these tires will give you extra cushioning when travelling over bumpier roads.
Pneumatic tires can also be of the flat-free kind, in which case they will be filled with a semi-solid material and will result in ride quality which is bumpier than an air filled tire but smoother than a solid tire.
Solid tires, often made of urethane material, are maintenance free but will result in a bumpier ride with no cushioning of their own.
From the above, it is pretty clear to you that if your wheelchair has air-filled or pneumatic tires, you run the risk of getting flat tires. However, if you regularly check your tire for the optimal air pressure, you will end up significantly reducing the chances of a flat tire.
Can You Replace a Wheelchair Tire with a Bike Tire?
Often the standard mountain bike tire will fit your wheelchair tire rim and you can replace your existing tire with the mountain bike tire if your existing tire has worn off or you are anticipating some rough riding up ahead.
Mountain bike tires generally have deeper grooves and are thicker than normal wheelchair tires (wheelchair tire are mostly smooth with minimal grooves), so you must keep them fully inflated to avoid putting extra effort in propelling your wheelchair.
These tires are available in bike stores for 24, 25, or 26-inch rim sizes and you must pick the one which exactly fits your wheelchair rims. You can expect to find better prices in your neighborhood bike store than in a wheelchair dedicated shop.
Also, you must ensure that the thicker bike tires are not rubbing or brushing against other parts of your wheelchair.
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What to Consider Before Buying a Wheelchair Tire Pump?
- Valve type: Most wheelchair tires have Schrader valve type which is the same as those in bike and automobile tires. You must know the valve type of your tire and purchase a compatible tire pump
- Pressure gauge: It is always better that you have a pressure gauge which will indicate the current pound per square inch or psi of the tire. This is very useful in knowing when your pneumatic tire is optimally inflated
Below we will review a few of the best tire pumps and we hope these reviews will help you make a better buying decision.
#1 BV Bicycle Ergonomic Tire Floor Pump
This is a very popular tire pump with a large base and pumping handle and can pump up to 160 psi with lockable twin-valve pumping capability. The device can inflate a range of tires, sport balls and inflatable devices like pool floats, standing life size air-filled toys etc.
- Well-designed for comfortable pumping with 9 ft holding bar and 9 ft floor support
- Pressure gauge for accurate indication of psi
- Easy to switch between presta and Schrader valves
- Can pump air pressure up to 160 psi, enough for wheelchair tires
- Comes with needle to inflate footballs, basketballs as also for inflatable devices like pool floats
- The hose is long for better reach and has 360 degrees pivot for comfortable pumping
- Tire can lose some air while you try to unlock and disengage the pump from the tire valve
- The pump is very thin and may require more number of pumps to reach target pressure
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#2 Pro Bike Tool Tire Pump
This device is a compact carry-in tire inflator which can pump air pressure up to 100 psi. It comes along with a bike mount kit. The piston is extra long which helps in reaching target pressure with lesser number of pumps. The product is just 9 inches long and weighs about 4.5 ounces.
- Large piston design lets you reach target pressure with less effort and less number of pumps
- Compatible with both presta and schrader valve types and easy switching option between the two
- Flexible air hose design works well with awkwardly placed valve mouths
- Very compact design and lightweight device and can be effortlessly carried on your wheelchair for anywhere use
- Can pump up air pressure up to 100 psi
- No pressure gauge meter for psi indication; integrated pressure gauge may not be very accurate and is unable to provide reading if tire is flat
- May not work without air leakage with presta valves
#3 Vibrelli Mini Tire Pump
The Vibrelli tire pump comes as part of a puncture repair kit and works automatically with both presta and schrader valve types without the need for any changes in the valve.
The pump comes in 2 colors – black and silver and is very compact so that you can carry it in your wheelchair and be prepared for a flat tire anytime.
- Compact and easy to carry – just under 8 inches long
- Can be used to pump up air pressure up to 120 psi
- The telescopic design can let you quickly change between high pressure to high volume pumping
- Works with both presta and Schrader valves without any changes
- Made of aluminium alloy for durability
- Absence of a pressure leads you to guess when the optimal tire pressure is reached
- May result in air leakage and longer time to pump up to the desired air pressure
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#4 AerGun X-1000 Tire Pump
The AerGun tire pump comes with a pressure gauge and can work with both presta and schrader valves without you needing to make any changes. The product also comes with ball and bladder needles for pumping up fitness balls, footballs, and basketballs.
The device has a pressure release valve as well to reduce pressure and maintain accurate wheel pressure for different types of rides and terrain.
- Pressure gauge indicates air pressure and helps to accurately maintain wheel pressure
- Pump head is reasonably air-tight and lets you reach target pressure with lesser number of strokes
- Works seamlessly with presta and Schrader valves without any adjustments
- Lets you release excess pressure as well if you have inadvertently pumped up to more psi
- Wide base makes it convenient for you to pump in air with larger strokes
- Can pump up to air pressure of 160 psi
- Customer service can be improved
- May not work as well with presta valves
- On the expensive side
#5 Schwinn Air Sport Tire Pump
The Schwinn AirSport pump is just over a foot long and is compatible with both Schrader and presta valves. The pump is available with or without a pressure gauge and comes with a holder for fitting it onto your wheelchair.
- Presence of pressure gauge allows for maintenance of accurate air pressure
- The device has a dual head nozzle for fitting both presta and Schrader valves and easy switching option between the two
- Can pump air pressure up to 120 psi
- Comes with needle to pump into footballs or basketballs
- Good value for money
- Pump handle could have been designed better for double handed use
- Nozzle may fit too tightly on the tire valve, leading to valve damage while trying to remove device
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#6 CycloSpirit Universal Tire Pump
This is a device which can be a suitable buy if you have a wide variety of inflatable items in your house. The device can work with both presta and Schrader type valves and has an integrated pressure-relief button for easy release of excess pressure.
- Comes with pressure gauge for accurate tire inflation and preventing over filling which leads to bumpier rides
- Can pump air pressure up to 160 psi, more than sufficient for wheelchair tires
- Works automatically with both presta and Schrader valves, without the need for any adjustments
- Pressure relief button for releasing excess pressure inadvertently pumped into the tire
- You may find it difficult to get it to work with presta valves
You may think it is not an investment worth making, however, you quickly realize its worth in the unlikely event of you suffering from a flat tire, while being outside. Alternatively, your tires may be out of the air and you realize it once you are outside and having trouble propelling your wheelchair.
Moreover, most flat tires are such that you can still make your wheels work for some time by inflating them to the full, before repairing for the punctures. This bails you out of the awkward situation of having been stuck in the middle of nowhere, looking for bikers to help you with your tire.
It is like buying insurance against a stranded situation that you may find yourself in.
If you are looking for more wheelchair accessories, you can read our other articles: