Black Diamond TrailRider Wheelchair Review

Black Diamond TrailRider Wheelchair Review
  • Adjustability and Customization
  • Overall Comfort Level
  • Versatility
  • Ease of Use
4.1

Summary

The TrailRider has been affectionately described as a cross between a rickshaw and a wheelbarrow. It’s fun to use and offers a “team” experience. Recommended for anyone with a severe mobility issue and friends who can help take them anywhere they want to go.

The Main Image of Black Diamond TrailRider Wheelchair for Review

Black Diamond TrailRider Wheelchair

Do you have what you’d classify as an extreme mobility issue?  One that’s severe enough that it’s impractical if not impossible to provide your own locomotion if you’re in a conventional wheelchair?  

Are you surrounded by family and friends who can help you get where you want to go?  Do you love the great outdoors?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you’re going to be intrigued by, and probably fall in love with the Black Diamond TrailRider, which placed fourth in our recent roundup review of the best manual, all-terrain wheelchairs on the market today.

This chair has a lot in common with the Joelette.  Both are “rickshaw-style” designed that aren’t commonly seen in the US, and as such, are guaranteed to get the attention of anyone who happens to see you in it.

As cool as these types of chairs are, we’ll be quick to point out that they’re not for everyone.  As you get deeper into this review, you may decide this isn’t what you’re looking for, and you’ll have to continue your search for the perfect chair.  Even if that happens though, we think you’ll agree; the TrailRider is an impressive piece of engineering!

Let’s jump right in and see what it can (and can’t) do!

An Overview of the Black Diamond TrailRider All-Terrain Wheelchair

Distinctive.  That’s the first word that springs to mind when most people see the TrailRider for the first time (in the US, at least).  It’s an innovative, great-looking design that’s an interesting mix of Old-World charm, updated with Canadian manufacturing excellence, guaranteed to be a conversation starter, any and everywhere you go.

“Small,” is the other word that springs to mind for most people, and there’s truth in that.  Its seat is only 17” wide and can support a maximum weight of just 240 pounds. 

A Side View Image of Black Diamond TrailRider Wheelchair

Given those two things, and the unusual method of conveyance, which we’ll talk more about in a later section in this Black Diamond TrailRider review, this wheelchair isn’t going to be a good fit for everyone.  We regard it as a niche product for that reason.

Niche product or not though, it’s a good-looking machine you’ll be proud to own.  Even better, it’s manufactured in Vancouver, Canada, offering rugged, durable construction that will last you a lifetime. And although it only sports a single wheel, it’s an all-terrain tire that can carry you over just about any type of terrain.

A Left View Image of Black Diamond TrailRider Wheelchair

Adjustability & Comfort

The TrailRider is ergonomically designed, top to bottom to provide a comfortable seating experience for the person sitting in the chair.  Unfortunately, the designers didn’t pay as much attention to the needs of the “Sherpas” you’ll need to have available to do the heavy lifting.

While the hand grips are comfortable, if you’re planning on taking anything but a short trip using the TrailRider, your Sherpas are going to need padded harnesses to help evenly distribute the weight of the chair and the person in it.

We’ll have more to say about the team-oriented nature of using the chair in a later section, but for the moment, it’s enough to say that in the ideal situation, you’ll want to have at least two, and possibly three Sherpas to help you move around using the chair. And at the very least, the person in the front position should have a padded harness to make doing the heavy lifting more comfortable.

Only One Extra Offered

There’s only one extra bit of equipment offered for the TrailRider, but it’s situationally useful.  You can get an optional seat insert, designed to make the chair a comfortable ride for children or anyone under five feet tall.  Other than that, what you see is what you get.

The chair does have a decently-sized cargo compartment, so you’ll be able to store water, sundries and a bit of gear for whatever adventure you’re planning to undertake.

A Horizontal View Image of Trail Rider Black Diamond

Highly Portable

The Black Diamond Trail Rider is delightfully portable, folding down to a footprint of 67.7” x 32.2” x 24”. That, combined with its 50-pound weight, the handy storage bag that comes with the chair means you shouldn’t have any difficulty storing it in the trunk space of any full-sized SUV or hatchback.  Storage is even easier if you have an SUV, truck or van.

An Image of Black Diamond Trailrider: Folded

Breaking it down for transport and getting it ready to ride when you get where you’re going is similarly hassle-free. Thanks to the excellent design of the machine and the use of quick-release pins.

Easy for Your Family and Friends to Use (You Have A Role to Play Too!)

Wheelchairs like this are a breed apart.  Mechanically, they’re easy to use.  Anybody who has used a wheelbarrow will pick the basics up instantly.

That said, using the Trail Rider Black Diamond is a team endeavor.  Since the person sitting in the chair cannot provide their own means of locomotion, two or more “Sherpas” are required to get the passenger from one place to another.

If you’re using a conventional, manual wheelchair, it’s pretty simple.  Your trusty assistant gets behind the chair and pushes.

An Image of Trail Rider Black Diamond: Hand Brake
An Image of Trail Rider Black Diamond: Disc Brake

Moving around in the TrailRider requires coordination.  The person in front is the “point person,” providing the primary muscle, pulling the occupant forward.  The second and optional third members of the team are behind the chair, holding the handles there, providing balance and stability.

The occupant of the seat is the director or “team captain.”  Since he or she can feel every wobble of the chair, he’s the one to provide direction to the other members of the team to keep everything on track and moving in the right direction.

Sounds pretty straightforward and it is, but there are a couple of wrinkles when moving up or down a hill. 

An Image of Trail Rider Black Diamond: Strong Welded Joints
An Image of Trail Rider Black Diamond: Rear Wheel

For uphill movement, the people in the back provide some much-needed assistance to the person on point, so that no one individual gets too much of a workout. Communication from the point man is vital, so the people behind don’t push too hard and wind up running him over.

When moving downhill, the people in the back serve as the brake (manually operating the brakes and holding the chair back to keep it from running over the person on point).  Again, communication is critical to making sure everything goes smoothly.

This part – the teamwork aspect will take practice and some getting used to, but it’s time well-spent.  Before you know it, your crew will be operating as a smoothly functional unit, capable of navigating just about any type of terrain and taking you anywhere you want to go.

Pros and Cons of the Black Diamond Trail Rider

In our view, here are the two things you’ll like best about the Black Diamond TrailRider:

  • ​It’s got an attractive, innovative design that’s sure to get you noticed, anywhere you go.  Chairs like these are relatively common in Europe, Canada, Australia, and Asia but are almost never seen in the US. If you have one, it’s going to be an attention magnet!
  • They’re genuinely fun to use.  Because they require a team effort to use well, having one of these can provide lots of great bonding opportunities for you, your family, and your friends.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a group of reliable assistants or you’d rather not have to rely on others to get you where you want to go, then you’re much better off getting a powered all-terrain wheelchair.  In that regard then, a machine like this is self-selecting.

Black Diamond TrailRider Review Conclusion

It’s a great design, but it’s not for everyone.  We recommend it, but only for people who can identify with one or more of the following statements:

  • You have a severe mobility issue that would make it difficult, if not outright impossible to power a manual wheelchair yourself anyway (since you literally can’t move yourself in the TrailRider).
  • You have at least one, and preferably three trusty assistants who are ready, willing and able to help you get from one place to another.
  • You and your assistants are willing to practice together to become a well-oiled machine when it comes to movement and navigation, using the TrailRider.

The more of these statements that apply to you, the more you’ll love this device, and we give it a hearty recommendation.  If just one, or none of the statements above describe you and your circumstance, then we can’t recommend this model, and urge you to continue your search.


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Don’t miss our review of the Black Diamond TrailRider.  While not for everyone, this might be just the wheelchair you’ve been looking for! @DisabilityFdn
  • Chair Institute
  • January 4, 2019
  • Wheelchairs
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