Freewheelchair – Enhance your mobility, free up your wheelchair!

Freewheelchair – Enhance your mobility, free up your wheelchair!

  • Freewheelchair
  • The problem is about friction
    The problem is about friction
  • Freewheelchair is an add-on device
    Freewheelchair is an add-on device
  • That's how it works
    That's how it works
  • The wheel and the handrim are linked by a hub
    The wheel and the handrim are linked by a hub
  • Freewheelchair's specifically designed hub
    Freewheelchair's specifically designed hub
  • Mechanical analysis of the hand rim
    Mechanical analysis of the hand rim
  • Ergonomic study of the hand rim
    Ergonomic study of the hand rim
  • You just have to equip your own
    You just have to equip your own
  • Development of the prototype
    Development of the prototype
For more information about Freewheelchair, please watch the video !

Freewheelchair is about retrieving mobility to disabled persons, and more specifically their freedom in daily commuting. Unlike classic wheelchairs, Freewheelchair is eliminating any friction between the user’s hands and the wheels. No more burnt hand skin.


All over the world, millions of disabled people are using wheelchairs to keep their mobility and remain autonomous. However using a wheelchair all day long leads to other problems especially because it functions based on friction occurring between its user’s hands and the wheels hand rim.
When you want to move forward, you have to grab the hand rim as it rotates and usually quite fast. This has two consequences: hurting your hands and slowing down the wheelchair… But the worst is when you want to brake. You have to grab the hand rim and hold it firmly to slow down. Would you like to brake your bike by grabbing directly the wheels? Hell no.


Freewheelchair is not a wheelchair, it’s a couple of wheels and hand rims linked by a hub, in that way Freewheelchair is adaptable on any manual wheelchair.
The hand rim is linked to the wheel by a hub that as two functions : on one hand it’s a freewheel hub that allows the user for keeping his hands on the one hand rim even if the wheel is rotating, on the other hand it works like a coaster brake: rotating the hand rim backwards triggers the wheelchair in a back-pedal manner.
Additionally, the Freewheelchair’s hand rim has an ergonomic shape designed to be easily grabbed by users and that prevents from getting fingers caught in the process.


We started off this project by exchanging with wheelchair end-users in order to better understand what their issues were, along with getting an insight on a first wave of our project feedback streams.
From the first concept sketches to the final design through prototyping, we checked the desirability of the product by sharing our ideas, sketches and even 3D models with wheelchair users.
Moreover, we did a marketing study to analyse potential market and confirm the economic viability of the project. This study has been carried out by 5 students from our university in order to build a real business model and potentially launch a start-up.

Detailed schedule
September 2015 : Early sketches, first concept ;
September 2015 - March 2016 : Improvement of the concept; observations from and discussions with wheelchair end-users ;
February 2016 : Writing and archiving of the first Soleau envelope(industrial protection)
June 2016 : Marketing study and development of the business model
March 2016 : Realisation of the first prototype by adapting a bike coaster brake on a wheelchair ;
April 2016 : Design, mechanical study and CAD modelling of the hub ;
May 2016 : Final design/CAD modelling and rendering of Freewheelchair ;
June - July 2016 : Preparation of the Dyson contest


The wheelchair has not changed for years, and the above problems have not changed since the first patented wheelchair in 1869. Freewheelchair is a non-motorized solution that protect its user from getting his hands burnt by the friction or getting his finger caught in the spokes. The bespoke hub design being tailored to the wheelchair user’s needs, Freewheelchair is ergonomic and instinctive to use.
To design the hand rim we have optimized its topology in order to get the perfect balance between amount of material used and resistance to motion / friction strains.The hand rim has also been designed to welcome hands, unlike the wee aluminium ring used on traditional wheelchairs. Finally, Freewheelchair is not a wheelchair, but two pre-fabricated wheels, sold as two wheels (with the hubs and the hand rim pre-fitted) in order to be able to mount it on existing wheelchairs and make it accessible to as many people as possible.


The goal is to manufacture and assemble a hub in order to have a fully working prototype by the end of the year 2016. That way we will be able to test the product in its real environment and adjust it to the end-users feedback through a thoughtful design thinking process.