What are Flat-Free Tires?

Close up of wheelchair tires and base on a sunny deck outside

Why do mobility devices have different kinds of tires?

Pneumatic tires vs. Flat-free tires

Looking at a lineup of Pride Mobility devices, the different sizes, shapes and tire configurations are sure to stand out. Closer inspection reveals that some tires are filled with air while others are solid. Some are filled with foam and others are perforated.

First, we’ll describe the two styles of tires. Then, we’ll explain why different models require different tires and setups.

Pneumatic

Regular pneumatic tires are rubber tires filled with air. Pneumatic tires provide better traction and a smoother ride than flat-free tires. Pneumatic tires are comparatively more efficient — allowing the vehicle to maximize speed and mileage. They also slip less and stop faster. Because they are filled with air, these tires require more maintenance than a flat-free tire. Users have to monitor air pressure and, yes, sometimes tend to flats.

Within this category, tires can have a tube like a bicycle tire or be tubeless like a car tire. When a tire with a tube is punctured, the tube can typically be replaced and the rubber tire reused. However, a punctured tubeless pneumatic tire may need to be replaced.

Flat-free

Flat-free tires are airless. They can be solid or filled with material like polyurethane or foam. The majority of Prime Mobility devices use flat-free tires. As the name suggests, these tires won’t go flat. There is no tire gauge or air compressor needed. The lack of maintenance makes solid tires the best choice for daily-use wheelchairs or scooters. While flat-free tires have less cushioning than air-filled tires, the design of our devices often make up for that with sturdy suspension or additional wheels.

Mobility devices and their tires

Now that we’ve got the tire basics, let’s take a closer look at the scooters and power chairs in our fleet. Devices designed to travel on unsteady surfaces and long distances have pneumatic tires. Flat-free tires are ideal for riders who desire less maintenance.

Pneumatic tires

The Pride Mobility scooters that come standard with pneumatic tires are made for adventure.

The Wrangler is our most rugged scooter. It has a 350-pound weight capacity and 7.7 peak horsepower twin motors. This heavy-duty ride sits tall on 14.5-inch tubeless pneumatic tires. Confidently take on uneven terrain and be rewarded with great traction and a smooth ride.

With its large tiller-mounted headlight and seven available colors, the moped-like design of the Raptor 3-Wheel makes a stylish choice. All three tubeless pneumatic tires are 3 inches by 16 inches. The larger than average, air-filled tires mean less bumping and bouncing. The Raptor can cruise up to 31 miles on a single charge and comes with regenerative braking.

Flat-free tires

Our flat-free tires are non-marking, which makes them ideal for travel from the house to the store and back again. These devices have a range of tire configurations and sizes.

The Zero Turn 10 4-Wheel scooter gets you where you want to be. It has a max speed of 7.2 mph and an ultra-tight turning radius of just 43 inches. The superior maneuverability of the Zero Turn 10 comes from Pride’s patent-pending iTurn Technology. The individual rotating tires provide the best control available in the midsize mobility scooter class.

The 4-wheel model has 10.75-inch solid rear tires with 9-inch solid front tires. The Zero Turn 10 moves like a 3-wheel scooter with the stability of four wheels.

Another popular scooter model with flat-free tires is the Victory 10.2, available in 4-wheel and 3-wheel models. The Victory has exclusive, low-profile tires. These solid, non-scuff wheels are 3-inch by 10-inch.

When it comes to Jazzy power wheelchairs, the tire sizes are even more varied. This is because wheelchairs often use casters — small mounted wheels that swivel in all directions — to maximize maneuverability.

The Jazzy Air 2 features an elevating seat that can position the rider at eye-level with others. The captain’s chair sits on a 25.25-inch by 33.21-inch base and travels on six solid wheels. The 10-inch drive wheels are positioned toward the front of the base. The Jazzy Air 2 also has 6-inch casters on the front and back.

The Jazzy Elite ES is designed to absorb the bumps and uneven surfaces of everyday life. Its wide 9-inch solid drive wheels are also situated at the front of the base, rather than centered. At the rear of the base are 6-inch solid casters.

 In front of the drive wheels — alongside the flip-up foot platform — are 3-inch solid anti-tips. Anti-tippers — as they’re also called — increase stability like training wheels. Anti-tips are often on the back of a wheelchair to prevent backward falls. On the Jazzy Elite ES, the anti-tippers are on the front, protecting the rider from too much forward-leaning force.

Another six-wheel model with a unique configuration is the Jazzy 600 ES. It has 14-inch foam-filled drive wheels. In front and behind the center-mounted drive wheels are 6-inch solid OMNI-Casters. OMNI-Casters are nylon, spherical casters that prevent wheel hang-ups.

The Jazzy Passport is the ultimate travel chair, weighing around 60 pounds and folding down to a manageable 31-inch by 23.5-inch by 16-inch package.  The travel-friendly Passport uses a lighter version of the flat-free tire. The 11.25-inch perforated drive wheels are lighter than solid tires, but don’t require the maintenance of pneumatics. They offer more cushioning because of the air pockets. In front of the Jazzy Passport’s drive wheels are 8-inch caster wheels.

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