Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Change Of View: Our Bittersweet Xtender Wheels Experience

Okay, was hoping to not write anymore about my husband's Power assist wheels. If you've been following this blog and the coordinated YouTube videos, you too may be tired of hearing about His Quickie Xtender Wheels - the not so good part. At the same time if you are someone who is seeking power assist wheels for your manual wheelchair, you will want to know about what we have discovered since we purchased these wheels to help you know one person's experience, so far any way.
Just yesterday Craig my husband, decided to go talk to some experts about spokes. As you can see it in the last entry about these wheels, he does have a handful of spokes that the manufacturer, Sunrise medical provided. (click here to see the details) . It was then Craig received a letter we assume that came
You can see at about 12 o'clock where the broken spoke is. The head is missing. This is from a while ago. But it keeps happening, we will find out when are dealer replaces the latest broken spokes. Thankfully the technician has been marking inside the wheel where the spokes are being replaced.  Pretty sure he will confirm that the same spokes keep breaking or at least in the same vicinity. This means there is an actual reason not just general wear and tear. Again, since it has been happening since day one and all three sets of wheels, there's no way this is because of General wear and tear.
with the spokes, about how he would have to now replace his own spokes, at his own expense. We want to make sure that it is clear, that we totally understand that parts of a wheelchair wear out. Personally, spokes for both of us have never been an issue. However, there is no doubt based on researching with friends, that Power assist wheels with spokes not just made by Sunrise medical, can have have spoke break more than any regular spoked wheel.   
These where demonstrator wheels that Craig borrowed during the third set of wheels Tapping and having the same problems within a week or so. Noticing a difference in the Quality of the spokes and how they were sitting in and tight. We took a lot of pictures because for some reason, the spoke installation looked a lot neater. You can see it when you look around the hub and compare the photos about with these ones. If you're interested that is.

They also looked stronger and we're not intersecting in vending the same way because all of the other wheels. At the time we foolishly thought that they had taken the conclusions drawn from the problems he was having and fixed the wheels. We actually thought he was going to get to keep the new and improved model. That was when they returned  set number two back. Same spokes, same problems. Sigh!

These are the wheels that came with his new quickie wheelchair. The spokes do  not press against each other. Unfortunately these wheels don't have motors, so as Nice as they look-they're in a closet for emergency backup.
In this case or model, we have concluded that how the spokes are laced or installed are one of the main causes of the ongoing issue. Laced is a new word we recently learned about spokes. To thread the spokes into the appropriate holes so that they can contact and screw into the rim of the wheel, is called to lace the spokes or lacing the spokes. Cool huh!
 Oh and yes the area that the threaded part of the spokes screw into, (just look at the rim of your bike or wheelchair tire rim to see)  is called the nipple. An odd term, but the proper term. All I can think about it baby bottles, ha ha.
Spoke Quality
So Craig spoke, pardon the pun, to a bicycle shop yesterday. Initially since his wheels are no longer under warranty, we were hoping they could replace another
They really are great wheels when 

we don't have to worry about broken spokes. 
three broken spokes using the ones Sunrise provided. Turns out the bike shop can't, because of the specialty hubs and all that fun stuff. Our dealer is great but busy. We were hoping to spare them from having to do it again. The rate of breakage is about one or two month, since it is ongoing and we hate to have to keep bothering them about it. Even though it isn't my husband's fault, it isn't the dealer's either.
However, he was able to get good advice from this spoke expert. He informed Craig that the spokes he had were not good quality- that they were made in China. Apparently the best spokes come from Switzerland.
As well, this fellow and the motorcycle shop he stopped into next, (a biker who also is a spoke expert) also agreed about spokes origin and quality and about Switzerland.
And, he too agreed that it was the torque on the wheels from the motors, made by Yamaha, helping to cause the breakages. That is just one other reason. In our opinion (and we will keep investigating), the whole overlapping, with bending pressure and yes, maybe the quality are the main reasons he has had issues with spokes since month one.
 Oh and yes, I forgot to mention, since the last spoke post, whena couple were replaced, three more broken spokes! And yes, as we shared a long time ago, the same spokes in the same general area and that same outer row, keep breaking- only 2-3, never more.
Just go see this blog for that whole explanation (click here). We believe that even if Switzerland's spokes are as strong as what,  titanium? That spokes from China would be fine perhaps, if the design/ layout was better. If it was quality, then why doesn't any other spokes break?

But, when you look at those wheel spokes and see how they bend ever so slightly where they intersect, no spokes should be bending at all. It is only 1, 2 or three on the outer row. And actually if you look at the hub/Spoke pictures you can see that there are overlapping spokes on each half of the wheel hub. So even the underside of the wheel (the part that faces underneath Craig's seat) has overlapping spokes as well, yet zero of them have broken ever, so far.

It is just been so frustrating that the company that makes the wheels doesn't see the design flaw or at least talk to Craig about it. It only makes sense that the problem is the way the spokes are laced. That outer row in most of the spokes, are pressing too hard on the intersecting spoke. Okay, I will stop analyzing the spokes.

Craig's Change of Heart
Again, if you have been following this saga, you will know that Craig and I have agreed to disagree on recommending these wheels. No doubt, we both concur that when the spokes are intact, they're wonderful for Craig's shoulders and mobility. They are a wonderful assistive device. He can even get up hills that he couldn't before. So of course we would recommend them wholeheartedly, Power assist wheels for anyone in need of them.
But, since Craig has patiently waited and endured this repetitive problem with no contact since last year (other than the recent letter"Cutting him off" spoke replacement last month) to try to resolve the problem, even he can now no longer recommend the Xtender wheels with a clear conscience, to anyone, at this point. Of course, if the company would address the actual issue, making the proper changes to help the spoke layout work better and perhaps even provide the strongest spokes possible if that is part of the reason, then he would happily change his mind.
Not to mention acknowledging that even though they told him, he is the only one to have ongoing spoke breakage, he is not. Why must they say that when it is not the case? Disappointing.

But for now, I thought it important to share that even Craig, one of the biggest quickie Xtender power assist wheel endorsers - even through hard times, MAINTAINING A POSITIVE attitude about it all, can no longer recommend them based on the overall experience and where things are at right now. He even recommended them so enthusiastically in the beginning, that he knows of one or two folks who actually bought them!

Wanting my husband to get better care from the manufacturer, I do what I do, which is writing letters, documenting information by keeping blogs and making videos - in attempt to provide information to the people having similar problems (as one YouTube Commenter told us), researching specific products and issues,  as well as, being a resource, providing information for the company to help them improve their products and yes, ultimately to help my husband to hopefully have the best experience he can with their product.

Below I'm attaching a letter that I'm sending to wherever I can find addresses for Sunrise, as one last attempt at trying to get the company to listen and at least consider making the needed changes so that the wheels will be all that they were meant to be and to hopefully at least take Craig's experience seriously.

He keeps getting told that spokes break and they need to be replaced. But they keep forgetting, that spokes  even breaking since month number one, not just in one pair of wheels, but in all three - is not wear and tear.
What do you do for a customer who buys a product that obviously has some issue in part of it's design based on what is happening all along, but then later after the warranties over, they tell you basically, sorry, you are on your own. What are we to do? This is the best I can come up with.

Enough venting. Thanks for stopping by. Hope this helps someone. 

The letter I'm sending is attached below. Many of the sites need the letter to be under 500 characters, so I'm sending it through this method. Feel free to read it if you want. Obviously our experience has been a very public one, hoping to help others as well as the company.

Have a great day!
The Letter 
 Hello. I am not sure where to go, so I am planning on sharing this letter with blog/video links to my husband's ongoing troubles with Quickie Xtender wheels from Sunrise Medical, to wherever I can find a contact, who hopefully can provide answers. We have known what Sunrise's mission and values are as read here: http://www.sunrisemedical.ca/about-sunrise/mission-values
We live in Canada and have appeared to have exasperated our Sunrise Medical division because in the end, my husband was not treated the way this site states.

Leary about contacting our country's division, based on the not so great overall experience we had when being contacted last year by their representative and how it has concluded, I am trying everywhere I can. (Please know our vendor has done the best they can- it is out of their hands) In fact, it took a lot to finally get that someone from Sunrise Canada to reach us last year.

I am hoping and praying that there is someone, somewhere at Quickie or Sunrise somewhere, who can contact us about the bittersweet experience my husband has had regarding his Xtender wheels and help my husband instead of Canada's Sunrise putting a proverbially bandaid on a big wound - by just sending and now- no longer sending, replacement spokes. If this is not the place to send this, then please pass this on to anyone who may help.

Yes, his wheels are no longer under warranty, but since month one, he has never been without the broken spoke issue. A very specific issue. Of course we are aware that spokes and such wear and we must cover the cost, but what about if the trouble was never dealt with at all - other than sending some spare spokes (that just keep breaking). Now leaving him with no solutions at all and now not even spoke replacement coverage.  What is the story?....

We know why they are breaking, but nothing has ever been listened to or changed to correct the problem. Now having  Sunrise recently send a letter to him via our vendor, with no concern for this never ending issue,  inform him, that they will no longer provide the spoke replacements and offering no answers or solutions to the very original problem that began from basically month one, he can no longer, with a clear conscience, recommend these wheels. Personally, it is as if they just sent a package of spokes to appease him, and after enough time lapsed, they ceased all "care" for his situation. Maybe not true, but that is how it feels after all this time.

Here are more details about all that has happened from the beginning: http://walkingwayoverrated.blogspot.ca/2017/03/quickieyamaha-xtender-power-assist.html

We documented everything and  later trusted they would fix the reason.  It has never been his fault so why has he been stuck with a product that just does not work right - but could if the company would see what is really happening and correct it?
Why did Sunrise replace his wheels three times in the beginning (only after we publicly shared information ) and then return the second set, with no changes to stop the ongoing problem? It was never the motors, it has always been the spokes. The outer row of spokes to be specific. NO OTHER ONES ever break! We covered all that in our videos and blogs to help them see.

As stated in the collection of blogs and videos we made to initially document, what was happening- we were hoping to record the sounds and details to make information available to Sunrise and Quickie to hopefully help solve the problem, the issue has not been satisfactorily dealt with.

Why is Sunrise not providing the best spoke layout possible or redesigning the layout so the out spokes are no longer bending where they intersect? Why isn't Sunrise getting the best quality spokes from Switzerland instead of China. Desperate to seek out experts on spokes, now that he is no longer under warranty- he consulted with two spoke experts not our dealer. Both men told him that the spokes he has are made in China and are substandard to the best kind, made in Switzerland.  They can not help my husband anyway because of the hub on his wheels.
But it was an eye opener to confirm what we already feared. Not just a spoke layout that needs to be redesigned to help avoid so much breakage, but spokes (like our dealer said a year or so ago, the spokes just kept breaking)

So without changing the spoke quality and the way they are laced/installed - replacing spokes or not, does not solve the problem anyway.

Final note: We do not understand why my husband was told that no one else has had breaking spoke issues from basically day one, when that is not true. We were told by a technician that he is not the only person with this issue. As well, on one of our videos on YouTube about the issue we were told by an Xtender customer that their wheels were replaced because of the spokes! Clearly he is not the only one with this issue.
And the reasons make sense!

Things have not improved and the spoke design/layout and or quality remains unchanged.

I am sorry, but I am disheartened by what appears to be a lack of concern for my for my husband's wheels. He deserves to be taken care of like the rep told us he would be last year. Not to mention, I too trusted that Sunrise would take care of him...

Thank you for your time.
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