Wednesday, June 06, 2018


The tires on my new wheelchair are air filled. This is new for me. My old reliable chair, which I'm sitting in now as I type, had solid rubber tires. I was wary of the new tires because I could just picture what a flat would mean, the trouble it would cause, and the idea makes me sweaty with anxiety. Nonetheless, this is my new reality. The chair is, increasingly, wonderful to push and ride in as I adjust to it, but I now need to adjust to the tires.

I noticed that I would probably need to put air in soon. We headed over to buy a bicycle pump and were greeted by a young man who simply had no idea about pumps for either bikes or chairs but did know who to ask. Another fellow came and I explained that I needed a portable pump because we travel a lot and I needed to be able to pump up the tires on my chair.

It was so weird because, firstly, the guy had trouble talking to me and looked mostly at Joe (well, that's not so weird) but secondly, he couldn't bring himself to mention my chair. He kept talking about bikes and pumping bike tires, talked about being an avid bicycler himself and the situations he'd gotten into with his bike. I wanted to be sure, absolutely sure, that this pump would fit my chair wheels. I was told they would by the folks I bought it from but I wanted the store guy to confirm.

He heard my question and said that the pump would work with any bike tires, I told him that I wasn't sitting on a bike I was sitting in a chair and I wanted to know if I'd been properly advised about the tires. Nope, couldn't do it, it was back to bikes and bike tires and the whole shebang.

We bought it.

I know that we should have gone elsewhere but we've been traveling a lot, and we're feeling a bit old and frail, and we have to fly again in a couple of days, so we just bought it.

Sometimes we don't feel like protesting.

Sometimes we just put up with less than the best because we don't have time to search for the even barely decent let alone the best.

We have a pump.

And are working up the courage to try it.

On my bike wheelchair.


Ron Arnold said...

I would talk to the folks you got the chair from and see what their take on using Slime is to prevent flats. (It won't prevent air slowly draining out over time like you're describing though.) I suppose it would depend on if the tires were tubeless or not. (Maybe not though - Slime is sort of like Fix-A-Flat for cars.) Another thing that might work other than a standard bike pump is a little CO2 cartridge pump. Would be easy to travel with, you just have to make sure you have the right kind of valve fitting. (Standard or Presta valve on the tire.) They cost a little more, but would fit well in a travel pack / suitcase. Keep the standard pump at your apartment for everyday use. You may have to check your tire pressure more often in the winter months. When it's cold, I suggest doing it daily. (Speaking as an regular cyclist, but knowing you're in a wheelchair. =) )

Moz said...

That was poor service all right. I've worked in bike shops and while prams are more common, wheelchairs also featured regularly. One advantage for chair users is that most bike shops make their doorways so you can roll a bicycle right in... or, say, a wheelchair :)

The picture here is possibly the most helpful:

In Oz we see a lot of Woods/Dunlop valves on wheelchairs, but very rarely see them on bicycles any more. The good news is that a bike pump that fits Presta valves will almost always fit Dunlop ones. But if you can/when you need new tubes, Schrader (car type) valves are generally better. Plus you can easily pump them up at service stations.

Also, the bike shop should have lessons in how to fix punctures and as a manual chair user you probably have the grip strength to change tyres and tubes easily. There is a bit of technique to it, so it's worth the lesson if you can find one. Or spend some time on youtube. And be grateful that chair wheels attach on one side only, so the whole "get the wheel off the bicycle" step isn't necessary.

Lisa said...

Do you have 'schwalbe marathon plus' tyres? My wheelchair-using (& cycling) partner recommends them, they are very puncture resistant.