Spectra XTR2: Electric Wheelchair Review -Electric wheelchairs or any type of disability aid are designed to make our lives easier and make us more independent. I would be house-bound and unable to have any kind of life outside my home without my electric wheelchair. The simple task of making a drink would be impossible. I share my review of my electric wheelchair.
I got my Spectra XTR2 electric wheelchair via the NHS, so, unfortunately, I can’t tell you about all the different specs that are available for this chair. The only thing I am aware of is the seating and backrest. I know there are a couple of options for these.
I’ve had this chair now for approx 7 months and the first thing I should mention is the fact it has a solid seat base, not a canvas seat. This makes the suspension really bad, especially for people with back issues. According to Invacare, they say “High torque motors and a unique suspension design provide a smoother, easier ride”. Rubbish, from my experience!! I feel every bump I go over. I have wooden thresholds in my home (yeah I know, doesn’t make sense for a wheelchair adapted property) and I am jolted every time I have to go over one. Only yesterday I went into a shop that had a step of bout half an inch and I felt I was gonna be thrown out of my chair because of the jolt I got. Really hurt my back and chest. With a solid seat, it is essential to have a very good cushion to protect your coccyx.
I have had my suspension springs changed for softer ones and so far this has made an improvement. There are different levels of springs:
- Orange – Normal
- White – Hard
- Black – Very hard
- Black – Xtra hard
I now have the Orange ones. I do still feel the bumps but at least they feel softer and not so jarring through my body!!
This chair also has tilt and recline. This is pretty cool, especially when watching TV or at the cinema. Most wheelchair spaces at cinemas are extremely close to the screen so watching a movie plays havoc with your neck. Having tilt & recline is a godsend for this, especially if you have the headrest, oh yes it can come with one of those too.
The arm-rests that came with my chair offered no real comfort. The padding was so low grade you can feel the wood inside. So if you’re like me and use the arm-rests to transfer, then you are going to need more padding or new arm-rests.
The battery life is not what I expected. I was told this chair is compared to the Storm. Sorry but this chair doesn’t even come close to the Storm, (yes, I had one for 4 years). So don’t be fobbed off. According to different websites, you’re supposed to be able to get 30km (18.6411 miles) out of one charge. I charge my chair all night, it came with a new type of battery charger where it shows you if it is half charged/fully charged. My charger always says it is fully charged, yet, I just don’t seem to get much out of it before needing to charge it again. I certainly don’t get 30 km, that’s for sure. My previous chair (Harrier plus) seemed to do a lot more per charge. It only needed charging approx every 2-3 days, regardless of where I went. This chair doesn’t seem to want to do much work. I know tilt/recline will use the battery but in all honesty, I use them hardly at all.
I was extremely unhappy with the battery performance and nervous of going any kind of distance, so I contacted my wheelchair service and they agreed that the distance my chair was doing, was not normal. They arranged for me to have new batteries (the heavy-duty ones) and boy, the difference is staggering! I would now say 30km is probably possible, (not put that distance to the test) but more than suitable for my needs.
The ride is now more comfortable than it was before since my springs were changed. If you look at the picture above, you will see that chair has orange springs on the side. My chair had the white ones but now I have the orange ones. Looking at the picture again, I see the two front wheels look somewhat more luxurious than the ones I have. Hmmm, I think this chair could possibly be a lot more comfortable than what I have got!!!!
When having my springs changed, it was also agreed that my front wheels/castors would also be changed. I now have the front wheels shown in the image above. This has now made most bumps a lot softer feeling. Before every bump seemed to jolt right through my body and it was like my front wheels went down with a massive thud. Not any more.
The backrest I have has adjustable straps. Meaning I can tighten or loosen them to give more or less support in my back. The chair has about 5 straps, so getting the right support in the right place is fairly easy.
In my opinion, this is a good chair and great for outdoor use. The batteries (heavy duty ones) will get you around effortlessly and give you 5-7 miles distance easily, (this I have put to the test). Tilt & Recline offer many seating positions so getting comfy should not be a problem…..Just make sure you know what specification your chair will have when ordering.
I have just found out that the Spectra is no longer being manufactured (info from my NHS wheelchair service). They say parts can still be got for the chair but for how much longer, who knows? If you own one of these chairs, it may well be worth contacting the manufacturer (Invacare) to find out more.
My advice now would be not to purchase one of these chairs if you can help it!