The effect of wheel configuration on Wheelchair Basketball mobility performance
Using the deflection test to determine the lateral stiffness of different wheel configurations.
- Lead academic:
- Professor Vicky Tolfrey
- Additional academics:
- Dr Barry Mason
- The Peter Harrison Foundation
There are a wide variety of options currently available to athletes with regards to the type of wheels they select.
There are a wide variety of options currently available to athletes with regards to the type of wheels they select. Each wheel can differ dramatically in terms of the spoke configuration (number and orientation) and the type of tyre selected (clincher vs tubular). These subtle differences can affect both the stiffness of the wheels and the rolling resistance experienced, and may subsequently have an effect on performance, which is what the current study sought to determine.
Methods 8 able-bodied participants experienced with wheelchair propulsion performed a series of 3-min bouts on a wheelchair ergometer at 2 submaximal fixed speeds using 5 different wheel types, which differed in spoke number, orientation and tyre type and orientation. Wheels were tested in both a new and used condition. Prior to testing the lateral stiffness of each wheel configuration was analysed using a deflection test. During testing, power output and physiological measures (heart rate, oxygen uptake) were recorded in the laboratory. Follow up field-based testing with 3 wheelchair athletes took place to assess the impact of wheel configuration on maximal effort mobility performance.
- Wheels with fewer (24), thicker (4.0 mm) radially orientated spokes demonstrated the greatest stiffness/lowest deflection (Spinergy SLX)
- Wheel stiffness had no significant effect on physiological strain during steady-state wheelchair propulsion
- Physical strain was reduced in wheels configured with tubular tyres owing to the higher inflation pressures and lower resistances they encountered.
- Wheel type had little bearing on linear sprinting performance over-ground.
The deflection test was used to determine the lateral stiffness of different wheel configurations. Incremental weights were placed on the axle of each wheel type, supported at three points on the rim, with deflection measured to the nearest 0.01 mm using a dial test indicator gauge.
Mason, B. S., Lemstra, M., Vegter, R., van der Woude, L. H. V. and Goosey-Tolfrey, V. L. (2015). Influence of wheel configuration on wheelchair basketball performance: wheel stiffness, tyre type and orientation. Medical Engineering and Physics. 37(4): 392-399. DOI: 10.1016/j.medengphy.2015.02.001
This project was conducted in coordination with RGK wheelchairs, whom we would like to thank for the provision of all the wheels and their technical support throughout the project.