All the major manufacturers
proudly quote this figure! And it means practically nothing!
Here is an example from the Invacare website in blue!
(with 16" W x 16"D seat)
It relates to the amount of
"overhang" of the furthest part of the chair from the wheels
that are driven. This is from the point it actually turns on
looking from above.
Imagine a point midway between
the rear wheels on this wheelchair above. It would be just
behind the seat in this case. Now this is the point it
rotates around, so the footplates are the furthest point
away. This is the measurement that we are talking about
So "mid wheel drive"
chair always appear
to have a "better" figure! And they they
also claim "more manoeuvrable" as well And
its extremely misleading. Given badly programmed "weak" electronic
controller it can appear more manoeuvrable though due to
better control responses... Because less "power" or rather
torque is needed to turn on the spot with mid wheel drive.
The real limiting factor
in "tight" situations is the TOTAL length of the chair from corner to corner
(at the longest measurement you can make) this is all that's
important! It dictates if you can turn in a tight
space or not.
Because the thing
that stops you turning around in a tight space like a corridor or a
small toilet for example is NOT this quoted "turning
radius" figure. It is the total length of the Powerchair.
The tightest turning chairs are
ones where you can reverse up to a wall, and your head
touches it before anything else does! This is ONE of
many reasons I
moved the seat back further on my own Rear Wheel Drive
chair! This is because the furthest thing away in
front of you / me now, is your feet! The chair in this
situation is now not an issue. Your seating position is all that
So if you have well tucked
in feet as well with "short footplates" (I fitted a
shorter footplate to my own
chair) then the total length of your chair is much SHORTER
than any Front Wheel or Mid Wheel Drive chair can ever be.
Mid and front drive all have a pair of extra wheels behind you and a big
chunk of the base swinging about behind you too! This
makes the total length LONGER. So you
need a wider corridor, for example, to turn around in.
You see if your head is touching
one wall, and your feet are just touching the other then the
CHAIR is not in the way. Even though the "quoted"
"Turn Radius" figures
for my own Rear Wheel Drive chair are huge compared to those mid drive ones!
From this you can see just ONE reason
I am not a fan of mid or front drive chairs! None of them
can turn around in my hallway, or the toilet for a start!