Pneumatic Wheelchair / Scooter Tires - These are the tires that have an inner tube. Inner tubes are sold separately and are generally ordered with the tire. It's best to change both the tire and tube at the same time. Most of these tires are some shade of gray and have various tread patterns. Some of the manual wheelchair tires offer color options. Air tires offer many benefits. The air pressure can be reduced for a softer ride or increased for better performance. These absorb road shocks and bumps better than any wheelchair tire. They can go flat (especially running over a sharp object) and require periodic maintenance of filling the tire with air. These tires offer the largest selection of sizes for manual wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, and mobility scooters.
Foam Filled Wheelchair / Scooter Tires- These are grey or dark grey pneumatic tires that are filled with foam during the manufacturing process. Foam filled tires are maintenance-free, flat-free, and require no air. The ride is equivalent to a fully inflated air filled tire in most cases. These tires require a two piece wheel and may or may not be more difficult to install (a link to our installation guide is at the bottom of this page). In most cases, you will need the bead width of your existing foam filled tire, or if you want to upgrade from a pneumatic air filled tire (and have a two piece rim), you may need the inside bead width of your existing rim. Ideally you want the bead width of foam filled tire to be a little wider than the inside bead of the rim so that when the tire is installed, there is enough compression to keep the tire from spinning on the rim. Each foam filled tire page will show you how to measure the bead width and at the bottom of this page is a link to installation page with a video on how to measure bead width. Foam filled tires are in sizes for many power wheelchair and mobility scooters.
Urethane Wheelchair / Scooter Tires - Made from solid urethane, these are solid tires, maintenance free, and air free. These tires wear longer than other tires, have a firm ride, and may or may not be more difficult to install. In some situations, knobby tires have been known to chunk (pieces of solid tire break away). Most of the smaller urethane tires require a two piece wheel and the larger sizes do not. Urethane tires are available in many sizes for manual and electric wheelchairs, and some of the smaller sizes for mobility scooters.
Ordering a new set of tires for your wheelchair or scooter is not as difficult as you might think. Knowing the size, tread pattern, and make and model of your wheelchair or scooter makes the process much easier, so locate that information before you begin:
Tire size? The easiest way to know what wheelchair or scooter tire size to purchase is to look on the sidewall of the existing tire. In most cases, if you match the number, you will be fine. For foam filled tires, you may need the bead with of the existing tire or the inner bead width of the rim if you are upgrading from pneumatic. The tire size number can be metric, standard or both. In some cases the numbers refer to the width of the tire for a particular sized rim (see the image below). If the tire is not available (you only have the rim) you can try to contact the manufacturer of your wheelchair or scooter to see if they know what size will fit on your rim. We do not recommend changing the size tire that came with your wheelchair or scooter even if it will fit on your rim. Your wheelchair or scooter was designed and engineered with the tire size that came with it and changing it could pose a safety risk.
Tire type? Note if it is air filled, foam filled, or solid tire. If it is a solid tire for a manual wheelchair, it is important to note whether your wheelchair rim has a hole for an inner tube valve stem. Many of our solid wheelchair tires for manual wheelchairs only fit wheelchair rims that have a hole for the valve stem. Having the valve hole means the rim is of a standard size and that tire should fit. The tires that require the hole specifically call out the necessity for the valve hole in the description.
Tread pattern? A number printed on the sidewall of the wheelchair or scooter tire indicates the tread pattern. Usually starting with a letter (but not always), it may be hard to pick out of all the numbers on the sidewall. For the tires we sell, most of the tread pattern numbers are included in the product description, so you can search for your size in one of the categories above to see what the numbers might be for confirmation. For some tires sizes, we have multiple tread patterns available so you may have to check several.
Wheel or caster type (single or two piece)? Important if you plan to upgrade your tire to a solid or foam filled tire. Most smaller foam filled or urethane tires require a two piece rim to install.
Cambered Wheels? If you have a manual wheelchair with the main (big wheels) cambered (the tops are angled toward the seat), you should choose a tire specifically designed to handle the camber angle.
Make & model of your chair or scooter? Sometimes the same size tire is available in two or three different variations for specific chairs.
Wheelchair and Scooter Tire Size Examples
Selecting the right tire type depends on what the chair is being used for and what your preferences are. If you are happy with the wheelchair / scooter tires you have and are able to properly maintain them (i.e. filling the tire with air periodically), then go with the same type you already have. If you want to change what type of tire you have, consider the following attributes: puncture resistance, ride quality, traction, rider weight, and maintenance.
Puncture resistance - If this is a primary concern, go with a solid urethane or foam filled tire (you will probably need a two piece wheel or caster to install). Also consider thorn resistant inner tubes. Some manual wheelchair tires also have a layer of puncture resistance built-in.
Ride quality - Air filled or a combination of both air and foam (or urethane) - Some people use air filled in the front and solid or foam filled in the rear) for a smoother ride. Thorn resistant inner tubes are a good option for the rears if punctures are a concern and you prefer air filled tires (if they are available in your size).
Traction - some tire sizes have several tread pattern options available. Knobby tires generally perform better in low traction situations.
Rider weight - if you have a bariatric chair, solid urethane tires or heavy duty foam filled tires may be a good option.
Maintenance - If you are unable to fill the tire with air or don't have someone you can partner with stay away from air filled tires. Natural air loss through the wall of an inner tube occurs about 25% every month (even with no use). Foam filled tires or urethane tires require no air and are completely flat free.
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