The Empulse WheelDrive consists of two wheels, each of which has motors built into them, and their own detachable lithium batteries. They can be attached to almost every active and standard wheelchair, and require no additional parts or modifications. This lets you continue to use your existing wheelchair with the WheelDrive (or choose from a wide range if getting a new wheelchair), and also allows you to quickly and easily switch back to regular wheels if desired, with no tools required.
Dual Rim Design
Unique to the WheelDrive is the dual rim design, with each rim providing different driving modes. The larger outer rim provides push assistance - each gentle push you make on the handrim is translated into a much more powerful push. This stimulates active movement while reducing the strain on muscles and joints, particularly the arms and shoulders. This lets you keep active and independent with less discomfort and energy expenditure. Roll back stop allows you to position your hands ready for the next push without worrying about rolling backwards when going up slopes.
The inner rims provide continuous drive without the need to continue to self-propel once activated. This is particularly useful for trickier hills, or when tired of pushing - ensuring you conserve your energy for the day ahead.
Both modes feature easy to program driving characteristics, with three speed settings, and a maximum speed of 6.2 mph for push assist, and 4 mph for the continuous drive mode. Particularly useful is the downhill speed limiter, which keeps you at a consistent speed when going down slopes, eliminating worries about your wheelchair accelerating beyond your control.
Each wheel features its own lightweight lithium battery, which can be detached for charging. These take just two hours to charge, and you can propel your wheelchair manually in the meantime.
If travelling by car, the wheels can be popped off quickly to lift in separately, and weigh just 11.5 kg each. The WheelDrive system is also fully crash-tested, meaning that if you use your existing wheelchair for occupied transport, you can continue to do so. The WheelDrive also meets IATA requirements for air travel, allowing you to take it with you on holidays or business trips.
The WheelDrive is a great power add-on, versatile and neatly presented. It helps you travel longer distances without exhausting yourself, and reduces strain on the body. Unlike handbikes, it keeps your wheelchair's "footprint" compact, and unlike more passive joystick-controlled add-ons, it keeps you active while operating.
Unlike some add-ons, the one cost gets you everything you need in most cases. A few chairs might require a different mounting set, at a small additional cost, but the WheelDrive fits most wheelchairs (including all Quickie ones) with the standard mounting. The only cost options are spoke guards, handrim covers, and spare batteries - which most people won't need.
The clear alternative to the WheelDrive is Alber's E-Motions, particularly the newer DuoDrive version. The WheelDrive has the advantage that it doesn't require any bracketry be affixed to your chair, and all its features come as standard - there are no paid-for unlockable features. While the WheelDrive has its continuous drive controlled by the inner handrims, the E-Motion DuoDrive does this via a hand controller attached further forward on the frame. We recommend trying both to see which works best for you.
It must be acknowledged that when first launched several years ago the WheelDrive had some reliability issues. It was subsequently withdrawn, extensively reconfigured and tested before being relaunched in the European market first - where its reliability has now been established, before the WheelDrive 2.0 was relaunched in the UK in 2022. We are confident that it now offers the reliability you would expect of it.