Painful and stiff hands can be problematic, but if you are a wheelchair user, it can be more than inconvenient.

The majority of us who have manual wheelchairs have the standard round push rims.

These are hard to grip if you have painful or weak hands and to compensate you will likely be having your thumbs on the tires to get better traction.

This works okay until it rains and then all the grit from the pavements sticks to the tires and not only make your hands dirtier but it is like sandpaper and with wet hands that are then softer because they are wet, it gets very painful.

Gloves you cry “wear gloves” and yes I have gloves, but they get wet and I always end up with hands that are dyed black from the gloves, it is a lose lose situation.

But fear not, there is a solution!

And I am replacing my pushrims with a better option.

Better Mobility

Better Mobility sells various types of push rims that are ergonomically shaped to give you better grip on the push rim and some even have a replaceable rubber strip for the thumb to provide better grip.

But this comes at a price and anything disability related is never cheap, so what is available and how much will it cost?

Surge wheelchair push rim
The Surge and Surge LT

The Surge and Surge LT is a lightweight, all-in-one oval handrim with a Gription™ Strip that improves traction on every push (not replaceable). LT Handrim is 1 1/8″ diameter as opposed to the 1 1/2″ diameter of the Surge. The Surge does not add any width to your chair.

Both the Surge and the Surge LT are the same all-in-one oval with Gription Strip. The only difference between the two is the size and weight of the oval. The surge uses a larger profile oval that is 1 1/2″ long (top to bottom) and weighs 567 grams. The Surge LT uses a smaller profile oval(a smaller gripping surface for smaller hands) of 1 1/8″ and it weighs less at 454 grams

The Surge and Surge LT cost from £119 exc Vat per rim

Natural Fit wheelchair push rim

The Out-Front Natural-Fit wheelchair push rims are ideal for improved wheelchair propulsion and less stress on hands and fingers and can be used as a stand alone handrim or incorporated with a thumb piece that sits between the handrim and the wheel rim and further reduces the amount of grip needed.

Natural Fit wheelchair push rim thumb piece

However using the thumb piece means having to install the handrims on the widest setting and therefore adding extra width to your chair.

There are two different grips available for this handrim:

  • The Standard Grip uses a powder coat on the thumb piece which provides a low friction surface to go along with the smooth braking surface on the oval.
  • The Super Grip uses an advanced copolymer coating which provides a higher friction surface on the thumb piece, this provides a grippier propulsion surface for your thumb.

The Natural Fit rims cost £91 exc VAT per rim

The Thumb Guards cost an extra £65.80 for standard grip or £89.60 for Super Grip.

Carbolife Gekko wheelchair push rims
Carbolife Gekko

The Carbolife Gekko push rims are not only ergonomic but they have an added robust replaceable rubber strip which is fully integrated into the profile and can be replaced when worn out or damaged. This offers better grip when propelling your chair and the sides have a low friction surface that prevents heat build up when braking.

The Carbolife Gekko cost from £175 exc VAT per rim

My hands have become increasingly more painful over the past few years, I have been told that this is damage caused from many years of using crutches. I thought my resistance to using a wheelchair was the right thing to do, but the fact is that if I had used a wheelchair sooner, my hands, elbows and shoulders would not be as bad as they are.

I am going to purchase the Natural-Fit pushrims for my chair but won’t purchase the thumb piece as that requires installing the pushrims on the widest setting and I don’t want to add any more width to my chair.

I have heard that the Surge push rims can be a problem as the rubber strip can cause friction burns when braking going downhill and if that strip is damaged, there is no replacement and so it is new rims needed.

The Carbolife Gekko rims have a rubber strip and you can purchase replacement rubber for them but for me the price is too high.

Spinergy sell their flexrim which get great reviews and they will flex as you go through a tight gap but whilst we all marvel at the Spinergy products, they are expensive and these rims are no different at £490 each!


I have now received the Natural Fit push rims and have them fitted and they are even better than I had hoped. It makes me wonder why we have those thin push rims on wheelchairs?

By Zechariah Richardson

Over 50, disabled, husband, father and gramps who reviews products and writes blog posts about his life, beekeeping, gardening and whatever pops into his brain!

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