Rear, front or mid-wheel drive wheelchairs: what’s the deal?

Author: Nicholas Sutedja   Date Posted:2 October 2022 

Rear, front or mid-wheel drive wheelchairs: what’s the deal? main image Rear, front or mid-wheel drive wheelchairs: what’s the deal? image

Thinking of purchasing a power wheelchair? With so many models, configurations, colours, sizes and brands available on the market, you might be wondering which wheelchair is right for you.

One of the key elements to consider is whether you would like a rear, front or mid-wheel drive wheelchair — while all three serve the same function, they each have their own pros and cons.

Here, we explain the difference between rear, front and mid-wheel drive for power wheelchairs, so you can choose a wheelchair that’s right for you.

Rear-wheel drive wheelchairs

The rear-wheel drive configuration is known for performing well at high speeds. If your main priority is to travel from point A to B as quickly as possible, then a rear-wheel drive wheelchair would be best for you. Rear-wheel drive wheelchairs have the ability to track straight and handle aggressive terrain quite well thanks to the wheelchair’s stability.

If you are considering a rear-wheel drive wheelchair, however, it’s important to consider your living environment. Rear-wheel drive wheelchairs are ideally suited for outdoor use and the large turning radius can make them challenging to manoeuvre in tight spaces. 

So, if you spend a lot of time outdoors and want to reach your destination as fast as possible, a rear-wheel drive wheelchair is the ideal choice for you.

Here are just a few of the quality rear-wheel drive configurations we have in stock: 

Front-wheel drive wheelchairs

Front-wheel drive wheelchairs have a drive wheel in the front of the wheelchair base — this is excellent for overcoming obstacles and uneven surfaces. Plus, the turning circle on a front-wheel drive wheelchair is much smaller than a rear-wheel drive wheelchair, making them more suitable for indoor use and small spaces. 

However, there are a couple of downsides to a front-wheel drive wheelchair. When turning sharp corners, you will need to account for the back of the wheelchair and be aware of what is behind you at all times.

Speed is also not a strong point for front-wheel drive wheelchairs. Users have compared driving a front-wheel drive wheelchair to driving a forklift due to the fact that driving uphill can cause a loss of traction and reduced control… that’s not something you want in a wheelchair!

Essentially, if you spend most of your time indoors and/or live in an area without hills and steep slopes, then a front-wheel drive wheelchair would suit you. We recommend the TA iQ Front-Wheel Drive Wheelchair — this model is highly manoeuvrable, easy to use and perfect for both indoor and outdoor use.  

Mid-wheel drive wheelchairs

You might think that a mid-wheel drive wheelchair is the middle ground between front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive. Well, that’s mostly true — this configuration is ideal for both indoor and outdoor use and is excellent for maneuvering tight spaces. Most mid-wheel drive wheelchairs can even turn in a 360° circle with ease, giving them the best maneuverability out of all the other configurations. 

Typically, mid-wheel drive wheelchairs have six wheels on the ground to provide you with excellent stability while driving. They’re also great for users who are newly unable to walk because the drive characteristics are similar to a walking pattern, making them more stable than other wheelchairs.

Here are a few recommendations: 

Shop rear, front and mid-wheel drive wheelchairs online or in-store with Active Mobility Systems

Comparing power wheelchairs can be a challenge, but it all comes down to what you need. Every wheelchair user has their own set of challenges that need to be addressed and here at Active Mobility Systems, our goal is to address those problems with a wide range of power wheelchairs.

We work alongside occupational therapists and patients to ensure that all challenges can be addressed and that you’re happy with the end result. 

Browse through our collection of rear, front and mid-wheel drive wheelchairs online or book an appointment at our showroom to take one of our wheelchairs for a test drive. Our team can explain the ins and outs of your new wheelchair so you feel more confident with your purchase.