What’s the Difference Between Front-Wheel Drive, Rear-Wheel Drive and Mid-Wheel Drive on My Power Wheelchair?

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

Power wheelchairs get their go from one of three places: the front wheels, the rear wheels or the middle wheels.

New riders often wonder which configuration is best for them. Let’s unpack the benefits of each drive wheel type and talk about why you might choose one over the other two.

Just remember, your Pride dealer and physician should help you decide based on your specific needs. Every rider is different!

A quick note on drive wheels in power wheelchairs

Before we get too far, we should note that all power wheelchairs have independent drive wheels. That means each drive wheel has its own motor so each one can move separately from the other. This technology makes it easier to take tighter turns because one wheel can slow down, remain stationary or even roll backward, while the other goes forward. It makes taking turns significantly tighter than if the rear wheels stay locked while the front wheels rotate.

That said, some drive-wheel types have a tighter turning radius than others, which we’re about to discuss next.

Mid-Wheel Drive

Photo of a white Jazzy Air 2 electric wheelchair

This modern configuration is the latest in the history of power wheelchair engineering. Middle wheels keep the center of gravity directly under the rider, offering superior traction and maneuverability. Mid-wheel drive wheelchairs have the tightest turning capabilities. With large casters in front and back, mid-wheel drive wheelchairs are incredibly stable.

In fact, they’re  so stable, they can support scooters like the Jazzy Air 2, which lifts the rider 12 inches to put them face-to-face with others during conversations or to reach high shelves and cabinets.

Pride Mobility calls its exclusive configuration “Mid-Wheel 6,” and couples it with Active-Trac Suspension. The suspension system on these wheelchairs responds to the environment and adjusts while overtaking obstacles and uneven terrain.

Some of the greatest innovation at Pride is happening with the Mid-Wheel 6 lineup. For example, the Jazzy Evo 613Li comes with powerful lithium ion batteries that last longer and charge faster. The Evo is also one of the sleekest looking power wheelchairs on the market today.

Active-Trac Suspension solves an early problem that plagued mid-wheel drive wheelchairs. Front or rear casters would strike an obstacle and suspend the drive wheels, leaving the rider stuck.

For obvious reasons, we needed a way to fix that. Enter Active-Trac Suspension!

Who should ride a mid-wheel drive power wheelchair? Riders who are looking for speed and a high level of maneuverability. Mid-wheel scooters are easy to learn how to use and have responsive rider controls.

Front-Wheel Drive

Don’t let those forward anti-tip wheels fool you. Unlike mid-wheel drive front casters, the small wheels in front simply prevent you from leaning too far forward. In popular models like the Jazzy Elite ES, the drive wheels sit in front of the center of gravity, and weight disperses between the front and rear wheels.

The front drive wheels pull the whole wheelchair from the front, just like a trusty Toyota Camry or Honda Civic. Since the drive wheels are first to reach obstacles, front-wheel drive wheelchairs offer some of the smoothest rides and most responsive handling.

Who should ride a front-wheel drive power wheelchair? Riders who want excellent traction and tight responsiveness at the joystick.

Rear-Wheel Drive

Photo of a folding Jazzy Passport electric wheelchair

Rear-wheel drive wheelchairs were the original. The first power wheelchairs were essentially traditional manual wheelchairs with big battery packs and motors.

When propelled from behind, rear-wheel drive wheelchairs tend to feel more stable. They offer some advantages outdoors because they’re less likely than rear wheels will get hung up on obstacles, which front- and mid-wheel drive scooters are more susceptible to.

While many Pride mid- and front-wheel drive scooters may be disassembled easily with feather touch disassembly, Pride’s most portable wheelchair is a rear-wheel drive design.

The Jazzy Passport folds down and, without batteries, weighs just under 60 pounds. It’s one of the most portable power wheelchairs on the market, while also providing lasting comfort and durability for sustained use.

Who should ride a rear-wheel drive power wheelchair? Riders who prioritize stability over maneuverability. Rear-wheel drive wheelchairs have the widest turning radius, and will be more difficult to maneuver in homes with tight spaces.

Published by Pride Mobility

Welcome to Pride Mobility! We are a leading manufacturer of mobility products, including power chairs, scooters, lift chairs, and more. Our goal is to help people with mobility challenges live their best lives by providing innovative, high-quality, and reliable products that enhance their independence and comfort. Our company was founded in 1986 with a mission to improve the quality of life for people with mobility limitations. Since then, we have grown to become a global leader in the industry, with a wide range of products designed to meet the unique needs of individuals with varying levels of mobility. At Pride Mobility, we are committed to delivering exceptional customer service and support. Our team of knowledgeable and experienced professionals is dedicated to helping our customers find the right products to meet their specific needs, and we are always here to answer any questions or concerns. We take pride in our products and stand behind them with a comprehensive warranty and service program. Whether you are looking for a power chair to help you navigate your home or a scooter to explore the outdoors, you can trust Pride Mobility to provide the quality, comfort, and reliability you deserve. Thank you for choosing Pride Mobility as your partner in mobility. We look forward to helping you live your best life!

6 thoughts on “What’s the Difference Between Front-Wheel Drive, Rear-Wheel Drive and Mid-Wheel Drive on My Power Wheelchair?

  1. I need someone to contact me soon as possible I got hurt on my wheelchair the tires are all damaged they fell apart and that’s how I got hurt if you can please contact me at I’d appreciate if somebody can contact me so I can get some new wheels on my wheelchair I just got it about 4 or 5 months ago and the tires are already tore up and I did not do it I’m wheelchair-bound and I can’t get help fixing it I don’t have no transportation I use my wheelchair in my home and outside my name is Patricia stringer please contact me thank you

    1. Hello Patricia, we are very sorry to hear about this, a member of our support team will be reaching out to you soon. To reach a member of our support team during business hours please also feel free to use our live chat feature or call 800-800-4258.

  2. My pride wheelchair stopped working, only the right wheel will go. The left wheel won’t turn. I go around in circles. What can be the cause of this

  3. hello there I have a jazzy electric wheel chair elite 14. When I got the chair in 2021 at the end of CIVIT-19. I has a one year warranty on all repair. So a month before the warranty was to end I call the repair company and told them I’m having problem with the chair? The repair company loss the request for repair so I call again to remind them and they said ok we will be there next week. . The repair man show up I month later after the WARRANTY EXPIRED . So I call the repair company and they said we forgot you repair so you have to PAY? I’m disable and I need my chair to get a round I’m on a fix budget. I need a right front tire it fell of the 3 week I got the chair, my chair is very slow. and i have NO BRAKES! PLEASE HELP ME WHAT SHOULD I DO?

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