In a Nutshell:
Designed by MIT, the Freedom Chair offers performance that’s unmatched by any other mass-production manual all-terrain wheelchair on the market today. Recommended for anyone with sufficient upper body strength to properly use it.
Ease of Use
Is your mobility issue keeping you from enjoying the great outdoors the way you once did? Are you ready to take your life back? Are you looking for a masterfully-engineered, go-anywhere wheelchair to help you do that?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you’re going to love this review.
The GRIT Freedom Chair is a breed apart. Designed by the folks at MIT, this chair has it all, and even better, it can take you just about any place you’d care to go. Best of all, it’s surprisingly modestly priced!
Recently, we conducted a roundup of the best all-terrain wheelchairs on the market today, and the Freedom Chair placed a solid second in its class. The only reason it didn’t place first was the fact top honors went to a chair functionally similar to the GRIT, but hand-built.
Our first-place winner though is vastly more expensive, and the reality is that not everyone wants or needs a totally custom chair. If you don’t, then this is probably the chair you’ve been looking for.
In the sections that follow, we’ll give you the inside scoop on everything the GRIT has to offer. We’d also be happy to tell you about its weaknesses, but in our view, it doesn’t have any. If you’re intrigued, keep reading and let’s see what this model can do!
An Overview of the GRIT Freedom Chair
Ready for anything. That’s the phrase that will probably come to mind the first time you see one of these chairs.
Even at a glance, you can tell there’s something different about the GRIT. For one thing, it sports a three-wheel, trike design, with one small wheel in the front and two large wheels on either side of the seat.
The other thing you’ll notice right off the bat is the fact that it’s got levers sticking up on both sides of the seat, a thing you don’t see on conventionally designed wheelchairs, and as you’ll see, those levers are where most of the magic happens.
Before we get too far here in our GRIT Freedom Chair review, we should make mention of the fact that there are actually five variants of the chair: The 3.0 (the one we’re reviewing here), Hemi, Forward, Spartan, and Push.
The other four models are minor variations on the 3.0 theme and built with specific subsets of users in mind, in particular:
Unless those specific things apply to you, the 3.0 is the model you want. Here are the chair’s basic stats:
Adjustability & Comfort
The GRIT Freedom Wheelchair offers three means of adjustment, giving you a modest amount of flexibility to maximize your comfort. You can adjust the seat back tension, adjust the height of the headrest, and adjust the height of the footrest.
While other chairs offer more room for tweaking, our view is that this will be quite acceptable for most riders.
A Growing Number of Extras Available
When the Freedom Chair was first introduced, the number of extras on offer was quite limited. It still doesn’t offer as many extras as some other models, but the collection is growing steadily. As of now, the following options are available:
The GRIT is highly collapsible, which makes it easy to transport. You’ll have no difficulty fitting it into the trunk of most full-sized sedans. If you own a hatchback, truck, SUV, or van, it’ll be even easier.
The only point to raise here in our GRIT Wheelchair review is that the chair weighs 45 pounds. That’s not excessive and shouldn’t prove to be too daunting a challenge for most people, but it is heavier than every transport chair on the market today and marginally heavier than many conventional wheelchairs.
That said, the Freedom Chair is capable of navigating just about any terrain, making it far more versatile than “regular” wheelchairs or transport chairs, which are of minimal use even on flat terrains, outdoors. In our view, a bit of extra weight in exchange for the vast increase in functionality is a good trade.
Very Easy to Use
The Freedom Chair offers three different modes of operation:
Where you grip the levers has a great deal to do with how quickly you accelerate. Grasping them near the top allows you to accelerate rapidly and maximizes torque.
This is great in two situations: In the blink of an eye, you’ll be positively flying over flat, level terrain, moving at speeds you never imagined possible in a “regular” wheelchair. The added torque is also great for navigating over obstacles (rocks, fallen limbs, and the like).
Gripping the levers lower decreases torque and provides smoother, more gradual acceleration, making it great for cruising across flat terrains (pavement, even, dry ground, indoors).
Best of all, the levers can be detached in a matter of seconds and tucked into the seat beside you. That enables you to use the levers outdoors to get to wherever you’re going quickly, take them out and power the wheelchair like a conventional model when you get inside, then pop the levers back into place when you go back outside again.
Pros & Cons of GRIT Freedom Wheelchair
The Freedom Chair is the brainchild of some of the best and brightest engineers on the planet. The chair they produced is innovative, versatile, and built to last.
In our view, it has no weaknesses. In fact, it’s not even an overly expensive chair, making it a great fit for any and everyone who’s interested in a chair that can be used in just about any setting.
GRIT Freedom Chair Review Conclusion
We love the GRIT Freedom Chair. The only thing separating it from the mighty ORC is the fact that the ORC is a custom machine, while the GRIT is mass-produced. That difference allows you to fine-tune the ORC in ways the GRIT can’t match. Ultimately, this is why we feel the ORC deserved top honors, narrowly beating this model out in our recent roundup review.
That said, not everybody is going to want or need a totally custom all-terrain wheelchair. If you don’t, there’s no need for spending the extra money on the ORC. In terms of functionality, the Freedom Chair is every bit the equal of the more expensive ORC, and we highly recommend it.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- GRIT Freedom Chair User Manual.
- GRIT, Official Brand Website.
- Freedom Chair: the Adaptive All-Terrain Mobility Machine, Kickstarter.
- 5: Wheelchair Foot Rest, Disability Life Hacks.
- Lever Drive System for Wheelchairs, ResearchGate.
- Wheelchair Configuration for Optimal Propulsion, Agency for Clinical Innovation.