In contrast to the FLIZ bicycle we saw yesterday, designer Andrew Mitchell's Ultra Long Distance Wheelchair concept is an as-yet-unrealized mobility solution for exactly what it sounds like: "Touring bicycles aren't as stripped back as their race equivalent. Grand Touring cars exist to make race cars for the road. This wheelchair follows those principles, make a race wheelchair for ultra long distance use."
In order to "take advantage of the research that goes into weight reduction and performance" in the high-end bicycle category, Mitchell has incorporated components such as disc brakes and the design language of cycling. He also acknowledges this reference point imparts "highly visible cues to the performance nature of the design."
Indeed, Mitchell notes that the distinctive form has a psychological advantage in addition to the physical one: not only does the aggressive inverted teardrop shape—characterized by its hummingbird-like proboscis—extend the wheelbase for stability, it looks fast.
Much work has been done on the psychological performance that can be gained from having equipment and kit that looks like it is meant to perform. That is why many of the performance components on the design have attention drawn to them through colour and placement in a prominent position.
Of course, these features aren't just for show—Mitchell has done his homework in terms of ergonomics, and physiological considerations are paramount:
The positioning of the rider is very important to ensure maximum efficiency. By keeping the shoulders over the front edge of the driving wheels, the whole body position can be engaged by the rider to provide maximum power. The body and legs are in a more open position, giving good breathing potential, and placing less strain on the lower limbs.
The main chassis is made of two parts, the outer support and the swing arm. These are pivoted with adjustable suspension to suit the road surface. The natural compliance of carbon fiber mixed with this adjustability provides a comfortable ride.
Which brings us to the frame itself, which is covered with the telltale weave of carbon fiber:
The chassis of the wheelchair is proposed to be made from a thin shell of carbon fibre over a core of expanded foam [for] maximum rigidity and strength. The weave has been left exposed to re-enforce the performance and for visual effect... Structural areas of the frame have aluminum structures to distribute the load and prevent point fractures and localized stress in the carbon. The wheels are carbon deep dish with galvanized spokes. The support mesh is a polyester weave containing a 4mm oval spacer, suspended on a nylon webbing.
Still, Mitchell notes that "this product is a 'concept car, intended to be aspirational and question the current formats available to wheelchair users without having to get something custom made."