Wheelchair Electric Scooter: A DIY Open-Source Innovation - Erik Kondo

Updated: Jan 6

The following post explains the modifications I made to the Cycleboard Sport in order to ride it using my wheelchair. I am sure there are other methods that will work just as well or better. If you choose to follow my example, you do so at your own risk. Riding a scooter carries inherent risks of injury.

The difference between a regular two-wheel scooter and a Cycleboard

A two-wheel scooter (TWS) turns by a combination of front wheel turning and leaning. It is inherently unable and will fall over unless actively balanced. Therefore, when a wheelchair user mounts a TWS, he or she must hold the scooter’s handlebars in a balanced position at all times. A rider who lacks trunk control will have a difficult time balancing himself and the handlebars laterally while turning or on uneven terrain. Therefore, going straight or making slow wide turns is much easier to accomplish than high-speed maneuverability while bouncing around for this demographic.

The traditional solution is to secure the TWS to the wheelchair such that the wheelchair and scooter become a tricycle. This tricycle now has stable handlebars which can be used for lateral support. The disadvantage of tricycles is that they tend to flip over during high speed turning since they cannot be leaned into the turn. They also typically have a wide turning radius. But they are stable (until they flip over). Therefore, there is a tradeoff between maneuverability and stability. In addition, the connect between the scooter and wheelchair is a stress point. If the connection fails, loss of control and a crash is likely.

A Cycleboard has two joined wheels in front and a powered wheel in the rear. Therefore, it is stable on its own. The two front wheels turn in manner similar to skateboard trucks. They turn not by rotation around an axis like a TWS, but by lateral (side-to-side) pressure created by moving the handlebars. They use the same method that a skateboard turns by tilting pressure on the footboard by the rider’s feet.

The front wheels provide resistance while turning which transfers some stability and feedback to the handlebars. This stability provides needed balancing support to the rider. The Cycleboard footboard tilts under the wheelchair’s footplate during turning. For sharp turns, the Cycleboard will ride on two wheels underneath the wheelchair.

The Cycleboard is essentially a tricycle that leans-to-turn. Strong lateral pressure will put it up on two wheels. But the weight of the wheelchair footplate pressing down on the footboard will provide some stability. Therefore, the rider must develop balancing skill for this type of maneuvering.

The connection between the Cycleboard and the wheelchair’s footplate is not fixed in the same way that a standing person’s feet are not connected to the footboard. The rider must use his or her strength and skill to maintain the footplate connection and position.

The Wheelchair to Cycleboard Connection

The Cycleboard pulls the wheelchair’s footplate forward as the footplate rests in the footboard. Therefore, the footplate must sit in a pocket created on the footboard. The exact construction and dimensions of the pocket will vary with different wheelchair models and setups. I made my initial pocket out of rubber strips and gorilla tape. There are many ways to make this pocket once you understand how it works.

Remember, it is not a fixed connection due to the reasons explained previously.

The idea is to wheelie onto the footboard and drop your footplate into the pocket and go. It is that simple. Please note that the Cycle

board requires a push to get started. That means you push your wheelchair’s wheels then engage the throttle. Starting from being stopped would be more convenient.

Lowering the Handlebar

The Cycleboard is designed for a standing rider. Therefore, it is too high for a sitting rider and places the handlebar at face level which is risky for a head strike and awkward to control. I lowered the handlebar approximately one foot. But the optimum handlebar height will vary from person to person and wheelchair to wheelchair. You will have to make this determination on your own.

I used a hacksaw to cut through the entire handlebar including the inside throttle wire and brake cable. In retrospect, I should have used a pipe cutter and not harmed the inner wire and cable. The throttle wire can be disconnected at the top coupling. The brake cable can be disconnected from the brake.

Next, I used a hand drill to make holes to bolt the cut section of the handlebar to the remaining handlebar, thus lowering it to my desired height. Using a drill press is the preferred method.

Finishing up

Lastly, I soldered and spliced the throttle wire. There are six color coded inner wires. I had my local bike shop fix the brake cable.

As I have stated previously, there are other ways to make the modifications that are more elegant. My goal was quick functionality so I could test the Cycleboard’s performance.

Issues for Consideration

The Cycleboard is made rugged and as a result is heavy. But not as heavy as many powered front-wheel attachments. The fact that it

is stable when upright makes it much easier to push and move around.

I removed its exterior plastic footboard to lower it slightly leaving the thin metal under-footboard. Wheelchairs with a longer front end may not need to do this.

I consider the Cycleboard scooter to be for recreational use. If you are looking to get around easier in your neighborhood than pushing, this setup is probably not for you. But if you like playing around with powered mobility that is fast and requires some acquired skill to use effectively, I think you will enjoy the Cycleboard.

If you have kids, the lowered handlebars should work for them too.

Good luck!

© 2018 by Red Pill Innovations, LLC