Maneuverability in Manual Wheelchairs: What Fork to Use

Wheelchair maneuverability is influenced by a number of factors such as overall rolling resistance, weight, caster housing position, rear wheel position in standard wheelchairs to mention a few. However, in this article I will focus on what affects turning efficiency and performance which is the fork choice in an adjustable folding custom wheelchair.

There are 2 types of forks for casters, the multi-position forks and standard forks. They both come in varying heights in order to accommodate casters of different sizes. A long fork is necessary for bigger casters, whereas a short fork provides fewer choices for caster lengths; in spite of this, a short fork gets a smaller turning radius and increased turning efficiency compared to a long fork.

Wheelchair Front Forks

The distinction between the regular and multi-position adjustable forks refers to the relative placement of the openings for affixing the casters.

In the regular fork, the openings follow the incline of the fork, however in the multi-position fork, the openings for the casters are arranged perpendicular to the floor. The fork and caster follow the system bold then the wheelchair is moving in a forward direction.

When it is reversing, the fork and casters revolve around the system bolt and are ahead in relation to the system bold. As a result, a longer fork will have a greater turning radius, for either the standard or multi-position fork.

Sizing of Wheelchair Forks

One more thing to take into account when choosing between a regular fork and a multi-adjustable fork, is the likelihood of interruption between the casters and the back tires and/or footplates. Due to the fact the trail is greater when utilizing the lowest opening in a regular fork, based upon the dimensions of the caster utilized as well as the incline of the hangers and  footplates, interruption between the caster and foot plate can happen.

With the multi-position changeable fork, the space between the caster and the back wheels and/or footplate is preserved; regardless of which opening is employed for the front floor-to-seat elevation. The multi-position fork also offers the outcome of keeping the identical wheelbase whichever realignment opening is chosen.

As mentioned at the start of this article, the personal choice of fork could very well be an easy choice; nevertheless, its effect on turning effectiveness and overall performance should not be ignored.