Porcupine Wheelchair by British Polio Fellowship Trading (BTFT)

5 out of 5 stars

I bought this product initially, specifically, to use on a River Rhine cruise (scooters not allowed). It has now been on two overseas holidays, but has also proved invaluable day-to-day.

It is a lightweight power wheelchair (well, at 25kg not much more than a standard big-wheel manual chair). To be light it is compact (small?) but I have sat in it for many hours without discomfort.

Initially I was concerned about the stubby joy-stick control, but this was unfounded. It is intuitive. I quickly gained the skill and confidence to drive at various speeds (it has five speed settings adjusting its maximum from creep to fast walk), to negotiate tight spaces and, for instance, drive into and park at a dining table place.

It folds down, in literally 2 seconds, to the size of a large suitcase and luggage handlers/coach drivers/boat crew had no problems with it.

Airlines require you to remove li-ion batteries and carry them in the cabin. At the size and weight of a bag of sugar each, that is not too burdensome. They don't count against the baggage allowance.

On both occasions I was allowed to use the wheelchair all the way to the aircraft door on the air-bridge or to take it on the ambulift. The batteries were removed there and carried on board by the crew, and the wheelchair taken to be put in the hold.

Its first baptism of fire was over German cobbled streets and squares, and the climb to Heidelberg Castle. It fared very well with sufficient power and stamina. The steepest, roughest part was taken in reverse so the rear 'drive' wheels led and the freewheeling front wheels followed. (Perhaps BTFT don't want to hear this!)

(Don't be fooled into asking about any mobility device's range if you normally travel with someone - as long as it will match their ability.) I was still fresh long after my wife was whacked!

Being able to spin in its own length makes it ideal in tight situations; shops, hotel rooms, restaurants, theatre and cinema, museums and galleries etc. It is therefore much more accessible than a scooter (I have both). It fitted into every disabled loo I have tried where scooters often don't.

It is NOT as good as a large four-wheel scooter over rough terrain, loose surfaces (shingle paths etc) but its versatility makes up for that (if you need cross country transport this, and 90% of scooters, are not suitable).

Since the holidays the wheelchair lives in my car where I have in-car charging. It is virtually my sole mobility aid day-to-day. All shopping trips, dining out, hospital visits and most day excursions are undertaken on The Porcupine.

It has been on one train and tube trip to London, successfully. Any such trip needs meticulous planning to ensure step free access street to train and to book assistance for boarding and disembarking. I also recommend you have total confidence and driving skill - you don't want to have an accident or lose control on a train platform.

Similar wheelchairs seems to be sold under several names as seen at mobility shows, but The Porcupine Wheelchair from British Polio Fellowship Trading (https://www.bpftrading.co.uk) was, at the time I bought, the best value since it included three on-board batteries and free delivery, worth several hundreds £££s.

The Porcupine is their larger wheelchair (compared to The Hedgehog) which I chose for its larger wheels which I hoped would make it more robust on the (anticipated) cobbles in Cologne and Koblenz. It didn't disappoint and I do not think it's extra size and power detracts from its general performance. Driving along standard UK pavements smaller and manual wheelchairs tend to track down dropped kerbs, but the more powerful/solid Porcupine ploughs along with just slight driving adjustments to the joystick.

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5 out of 5 stars

5 out of 5 stars

5 out of 5 stars

British Polio Fellowship Trading (BTFT) Porcupine Wheelchair

Porcupine Wheelchair

At home

Porcupine Wheelchair by British Polio Fellowship Trading (BTFT)

Over £200

One handed folding and unfolding (useful if you need to use a hand to hold on to support yourself).

The armrests fold up allowing access 'by the side door'. Useful in confined spaces where ideal positioning of the wheelchair isn't possible. Also if needing to pick something up from the floor.

The wheelchair drive can be disengaged making it a heavy manual wheelchair which can be useful in some very tight situations, for parking if the occupant has got out, or recovery if the power has failed.

Given the abuse my Porcupine has had without any issues, it is reliable

There are several similar (identical?) wheelchairs but this model was especially good value including three batteries and free delivery

  • Dexterity
  • Mobility
  • Accessibility
  • Reliability
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