Man builds fully electric off-road wheelchair so his wife can explore the outdoors like never before

Love is one of life’s greatest motivators. That is exactly what inspired this man to design a fully electric off-road wheelchair for his girlfriend suffering from paralysis.

Like most wheelchair-users, Cambry has always been restricted to the pavement for most of her adult life. Aside from that, using a wheelchair across long distances makes her shoulders ache. Zack Nelson, her boyfriend at the time, wanted to give her the ability to explore more places conveniently, so he built her a special wheelchair that would make it possible.

Man builds electric wheelchair for wife.
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Zack began by combining two electric bikes and installing a seat in the center – it worked! Cambry experienced a whole new level of freedom using her new “ride,” and she couldn’t be more grateful to Zack for coming up with it.

Fast forward to a year later, Cambry and Zack tied the knot. They also began mass-production of the vehicle, which they call “Not-a-Wheelchair.” Throughout that time, the couple improved the original design to make it a more reliable off-roader.

Electric wheelchair that can go off-road.
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While similar vehicles already exist in the market, the couple said they’re either slow or cost as much as a car. Cambry and Zack wanted to build something quick, light, super long-range, and affordable at the same time. However, coming up with that kind of electric off-roader wasn’t easy.

“The toughest challenge when developing ‘Not-A-Wheelchair’ is the price. We wanted to create something that is affordable for everyone. Finding quality components, and a simple enough design at the cheapest price possible took quite a bit of time,” Zack said in an interview with Bored Panda.

Fully electric wheelchair.
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“But I think we have something now that everyone will be able to enjoy, at a fraction of the cost of other ‘off-road wheelchairs’ currently on the market.”

Zack noted that “Not-a-Wheelchair” isn’t an indoor machine. At home, Cambry still uses her regular wheelchair, but every time they go to the park or on a hike, she jumps in The Rig. Another great thing about the vehicle is that it’s silent; its rider will have no difficulty chatting with their companion while using it.

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The Rig has proven that it’s one capable machine during the couple’s past trips.

“We have taken The Rig to Hawaii twice for testing. The bike has to be shipped with a freight company before we go, but we ship The Rig about a week before we fly out ourselves, and it’s waiting there for us when we arrive. All this travel was before COVID was a thing. Luckily, we also live near mountains and snow with long wide flat trails to try the bike out on,” Zack said.

Devoted husband builds electric wheelchair for wife.
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Another thing to note is that the “Not-a-Wheelchair” isn’t a medical device; it’s just a bike. This means that its owner must be ready to handle the normal maintenance and issues that come with a bike. Nevertheless, Cambry and Zack are very happy with the fully-electric machine, and they hope that other wheelchair users will also benefit from it.

The Rig can go up to 12 miles per hour and has a range of 10-20 miles with one battery, and 25-35 miles with two batteries. These numbers will depend on the terrain and the combined weight of the user and the cargo. The recommended weight limit is 225 pounds. It also features a rear rack mounting system that can hold wheelchairs, camping gear, or a picnic basket.

An off-road electric wheelchair.
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It has an aluminum frame, detachable bumper, and four-inch off-road bike tires. The Rig is 5 feet long and 32 inches wide without the bumper. It can fit in short bed pickups, Jeeps, and Subaru Outbacks. As any bike would, The Rig can struggle with loose sand or snow, but it can handle most areas pretty well. You can get your own “Not-a-Wheelchair” for $3,750 with no suspension and one battery.

Watch the video below to see The Rig in action.