By Design July/August 2013

Reinventing the Wheel: Here's One You Can Fold

Witness the most awesome wheelchair yet.
More
Morph Wheels

As the wheel has gotten lighter, faster, stronger, and sleeker since its invention some 7,000 years ago, it has been limited by one immutable design element—roundness. By taking a flexible approach to this quality, the designer Duncan Fitzsimmons has created a truly reenvisioned wheel: one that folds. A cycling enthusiast, Fitzsimmons wanted to improve upon the foldable bicycle, which can shrink only as small as its tires. He soon recognized a similar limitation in wheelchairs.

Today’s wheelchairs are customizable for individual needs and activities, but when they’re not in use, their large and often spoked wheels are cumbersome. In partnership with Maddak, a manufacturer that specializes in products for the disabled, Fitzsimmons designed Morph Wheels, which fold down from 24 inches wide to nearly half that size—narrow enough to fit in an airplane’s overhead bin, for example, or the back of a taxi. They are made of glass-filled nylon and fit any chair with a quick-release axle, allowing users to easily detach and swap out their wheels.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Eleanor Smith is an Atlantic senior associate editor.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In