It can take a while to get used to your first active wheelchair, both finding your best seating set-up and also developing your wheelchair skills. The Life caters for this by providing a massive range of on-chair adjustments - including 6 cm of centre of gravity, 8 cm of rear seat height, and 1 - 4° wheel camber, all of which don't require new parts, and are a much higher level of adjustment than found on other chairs. This allows you to start off with maximum stability, for example with fold-down push handles and anti-tips fitted as well, and then change the configuration as you gain confidence to a more aggressive, energy efficient and active set-up.
The seating offers a similar wide range of configurations to ensure your wheelchair always provides a high level of comfort and matches your clinical needs. This includes an angle-adjustable backrest with a pivot point 6 cm above the seat to match your hip angle, and a choice of either tension adjustable backrest upholstery or the more clinical J3 range of posture-supporting backrests, plus an array of armrests and sideguards. Your choice of either a fixed or swing-away front end is also available. The fixed option provides better rigidity and thus performance, as well as a more compact footprint with the option of a 2 cm inset. Swing-away legrests enable easier forward transfers, and there is a choice of the lightweight Xenon2 legrests or cheaper Helix-style ones.
Frame and Transport
While the Life R is heavier than higher-end active wheelchairs such as the Argon or Helium, it has a range of lightweight and high-tech customisation options cascaded down from these models, such as Helium-style carbon fibre sideguards and foot platform. This weight reduction helps to minimise the energy needed for everyday activities, reducing the load on your shoulders, arms and hands.
The Life range is a popular choice in the NHS for its robust, long-established design - it is fully crash tested, and features three stabiliser bars for outstanding rigidity and to ensure it stands the test of time. While the box frame does mean the Life R is not as compact as models like the Argon2, once the wheels are popped off, it is still relatively transportable with a double-locking backrest for an easy lifting point.
If you wish to use a handbike such as the Empulse F55, the Life R is the ideal wheelchair to attach it to due to its excellent strength and robust frame. Using a handbike tends to "hammer" your wheelchair, so a box frame works well with them as it offers the highest strength.
While many first-time wheelchairs have a clunky, "medical" look to them, the Life has all the style options you'd expect of the Quickie range. This includes 32 frame colours plus a selection of accent colours to personalise your wheelchair, plus good-looking handrims and wheels, coloured components and the option for an inset "sporty" frame. Our showroom model is in Tutti Frutti Orange - with orange accents too! It certainly turns heads - though less garish colour combinations are available if you prefer a more refined style.
The Life R is a modern take on a classic frame design, an attractive yet practical wheelchair. In our view, it is the best pick for those new to active wheelchairs who want to benefit from a rigid frame. It offers the highest range of "on chair" adjustability - more than on the Argon2, letting it adapt to your changing requirements, whilst still retaining good performance. While ultimately most wheelchair users will then go on to a lighter more advanced model such as the Helium, by gaining experience with the Life you can develop your skills and work out the best set-up for your wheelchair.
We would suggest trying it alongside Invacare's Action 5 Rigid, which is their equivalent. The Action 5 is slightly cheaper, but doesn't have quite the same level of customisation, particularly of appearance.