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Is a ZRA worth the additional out of pocket cost over a AeroZ?

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    Is a ZRA worth the additional out of pocket cost over a AeroZ?

    I first asked about a ZRA about three years ago - would you believe I STILL have not gotten my chair yet? Long story, for another time. But, it FINALLY seems like it's about to happen. Now, the problem is, not only is my provider out of network, my insurance is also not willing to cover the ZRA, or a lot of the add-ons I wanted. But, speaking with my provider, I can have a base AeroZ (which I hear is the same as the ZRA, just, in aluminum) covered by insurance, and get the Titanium/CF parts as upgrades that I can pay for out of pocket.

    The parts that insurance is willing to cover are:

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    which breaks down to about $1780.44 after the 30% I'm responsible for, plus the possible $250 deductible, if I haven't already met it. (That disk brake price is a little wonky isn't it? I thought the Surelocks were only about $550-650) Here are the add-ons insurance won't cover:

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    Which comes out to $3585 out of my own pocket. Now, while this is super subjective, I'd like to get feedback from ya folks about whether the upgrades are actually worth it. I think all the CF and titanium parts would decrease the weight of the chair by about 2 pounds overall. Other than weight... I believe titanium is supposed to be stronger, correct? It does make it harder to repair/weld than aluminum though, based on what the guy who patched up my chair told me last time. At the very least, I'd still want the Spinergy wheels, the Schwab tires, and the Surge handrims. It's all the other stuff (which accounts for about $2k of that) that I'm more iffy about. Let's assume that doing this would not break the bank: it's just a matter of worth/value (again, subjective, I know).

    Thanks everyone!

    #2
    Why do you want to save the two pounds? If it is only for pushing the wheelchair, I'd say save the money. If you daily have to lift the chair up over your lap and then into the back seat of your car it might be worth it if you are as weak as I am. But I would never order a carbon fiber Camber Tube. I don't trust the wheel alignment or that you can use SmartDrive, ZX-1 or anything that depends on the tube with one.
    I have had periodic paralysis all my life. I lost my ability to walk in 2011 beginning with a spinal block, which was used for a hip fracture caused by periodic paralysis.

    Comment


      #3
      Mm combination of pushing the wheelchair, plus having to lift it into my car maybe... 4-8x a week? I have pretty good upper body strength, so, assuming the new chair is about as heavy as my current Quickie Revolution, it's definitely doable. It just does get a little heavy on the release, which usually means I'm dropping/slamming it into the ground as I'm taking it out, because setting it down gently is a bit more difficult. For the most part though, I was thinking lighter chair = faster speed in pushing around.

      And I had no idea about the CF camber tube limitation. I'm assuming you meant that to read as you can't* use any of those devices if you have a CF tube? Why is that though?

      Comment


        #4
        I love my AeroZ1, but it's heavy mainly because of all the extra stuff I carry on it. I can stand and walk a bit, so I load my chair into the back of my Mazda CX-5 with a Bruno lift (crane style), and walk around to get in.

        IMO If you load your chair by disassembling it and lifting into your car over yourself with your shoulders, low weight is HUGE, and worth the extra cost. If you use some kind of lift, weight is not such a big deal.

        The disc brakes are top of the line - they're the only true wheelchair brakes available, made by ADI; all others are locks (including SureLocks). (Brakes control speed and direction while you're moving; locks keep you from moving when you're stopped.) Frankly I'm quite surprised insurance approved them (BTW they're heavier than locks.)

        Regarding the add-ons insurance won't cover, here's my opinion FWIW:
        - titanium backrest provides very little weight saving, but it's color will match the frame.
        - titanium back release has no benefit.
        - CF camber tube is not durable when rubbed or impacted. If you're rough with your chair, it won't last. (It IS light.)
        - titanium forks stems are a must on a titanium frame. Not so much on an aluminum frame.
        - titanium QR axles are typically a waste: they're heavier than SS. However if you live very near saltwater (salty air), they'll last indefinitely.
        - Schwalbe MPE are the best pneumatic tire available for flat protection. They roll well. I love mine (on my 2nd set). All pneumatics require more attention than solids.
        - Users either love or hate Surges. I love mine. They provide me substantial grip when ascending hills. If you can, try them before you buy.
        - someday, consider a solid backrest.

        PS: lighter chair has no measurable effect on pushing; when a heavier chair is adjusted properly, you won't be able to tell it's heavy. When a lighter chair is adjusted improperly, it'll be hard to push.
        Last edited by chasmengr; 23 Jan 2015, 8:12 PM.
        Chas
        TiLite TR3
        Dual-Axle TR3 with RioMobility DragonFly
        I am a person with mild/moderate hexaparesis (impaired movement in 4 limbs, head, & torso) caused by RRMS w/TM C7&T7 incomplete.

        "I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but what I don't think you realize is that what you heard is not what I meant."
        <
        UNKNOWN AUTHOR>

        Comment


          #5
          Another note: I've read bad reviews of TiLite's CF side guards (tire rubbing, too flexible). Consider an aftermarket replacement for CF guards like ADI or CarboLife.
          Chas
          TiLite TR3
          Dual-Axle TR3 with RioMobility DragonFly
          I am a person with mild/moderate hexaparesis (impaired movement in 4 limbs, head, & torso) caused by RRMS w/TM C7&T7 incomplete.

          "I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but what I don't think you realize is that what you heard is not what I meant."
          <
          UNKNOWN AUTHOR>

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by faji_tama View Post
            Mm combination of pushing the wheelchair, plus having to lift it into my car maybe... 4-8x a week? I have pretty good upper body strength, so, assuming the new chair is about as heavy as my current Quickie Revolution, it's definitely doable. It just does get a little heavy on the release, which usually means I'm dropping/slamming it into the ground as I'm taking it out, because setting it down gently is a bit more difficult. For the most part though, I was thinking lighter chair = faster speed in pushing around.

            And I had no idea about the CF camber tube limitation. I'm assuming you meant that to read as you can't* use any of those devices if you have a CF tube? Why is that though?
            IMHO faster speed is obtained from perfect wheel and axle alignment, and bearing condition. Of course light weight helps. That reminds me, Those LX's have the same bearings as less expensive Spinergys. All you get is less spokes (people may say your brakes will rock because of it) and holes in the hub and a little less weight.

            Tilite has said in the past that only chairs that are reinforced for add on power, bla bla, that's not quite applicable here. I honestly do not know if Spinergy would say no to using the ZX-1 on a cf tube, but that is the ZX-1 attachment location, so it is something to give serious thought. And with SD, they had a youtube up where it was said that the guy who was running around demonstrating the SD had a broken cf tube, so they may be reluctant to recommend the practice.
            I have had periodic paralysis all my life. I lost my ability to walk in 2011 beginning with a spinal block, which was used for a hip fracture caused by periodic paralysis.

            Comment


              #7
              My opinion on weight from cf upgrades is not worth it. However, I believe titanium is worth it not only for the weight but also the strength. My aluminum chairs did not hold up to my active lifestyle and constant in and out of vehicles. It has seriously been a completely different experience now that I switched to titanium. I don't have any cf upgrades and my chair is still light and easy to take apart and place in my suv.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Kristopher View Post
                My opinion on weight from cf upgrades is not worth it. However, I believe titanium is worth it not only for the weight but also the strength. My aluminum chairs did not hold up to my active lifestyle and constant in and out of vehicles. It has seriously been a completely different experience now that I switched to titanium. I don't have any cf upgrades and my chair is still light and easy to take apart and place in my suv.
                You've got the added problem of corrosion with aluminum if they use salt. That would drain me.
                I have had periodic paralysis all my life. I lost my ability to walk in 2011 beginning with a spinal block, which was used for a hip fracture caused by periodic paralysis.

                Comment


                  #9
                  I've owned a Quickie Revolution, and now have a Top End Terminator. Even if the new chair and the Quickie Revolution have the same weight, the AeroZ or ZRA (or any monoframe chair) will be much easier to pick up, load, and unload than the Rev is.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Holy Jesus, am I reading that right, $2,000 plus for the brakes!

                    Wow... just... wow...

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by funklab View Post
                      Holy Jesus, am I reading that right, $2,000 plus for the brakes!

                      Wow... just... wow...
                      Yep, they're really pricey. They're bicycle brakes with custom mods & hardware to work on wheelchairs: invented and manufactured by a WC user.

                      Here's a CCC post with pics.
                      Chas
                      TiLite TR3
                      Dual-Axle TR3 with RioMobility DragonFly
                      I am a person with mild/moderate hexaparesis (impaired movement in 4 limbs, head, & torso) caused by RRMS w/TM C7&T7 incomplete.

                      "I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but what I don't think you realize is that what you heard is not what I meant."
                      <
                      UNKNOWN AUTHOR>

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Phew, that was a lot of additional feedback! Let's see...

                        Originally posted by chasmengr View Post
                        IMO If you load your chair by disassembling it and lifting into your car over yourself with your shoulders, low weight is HUGE, and worth the extra cost.
                        Originally posted by Kristopher View Post
                        I believe titanium is worth it not only for the weight but also the strength. My aluminum chairs did not hold up to my active lifestyle and constant in and out of vehicles.
                        Originally posted by nonoise View Post
                        You've got the added problem of corrosion with aluminum if they use salt. That would drain me.
                        These points all make a pretty compelling argument to go titanium... I try to minimize how many times I have to get in and out of my car in between points, simply because I find the entering/exiting process tedious. On the aluminum corrosion point, I had no idea salt/seawater had that effect on aluminum as well. I live in SF proper, so I'm surrounded by the sea on all sides: would the air/rain/fog actually carry enough of that salt to cause corrosion? I mean, I guess it happens with the Bay Bridge, so...

                        Originally posted by chasmengr View Post
                        The disc brakes are top of the line - they're the only true wheelchair brakes available, made by ADI; all others are locks (including SureLocks). (Brakes control speed and direction while you're moving; locks keep you from moving when you're stopped.) Frankly I'm quite surprised insurance approved them (BTW they're heavier than locks.)
                        Originally posted by nonoise View Post
                        Those LX's have the same bearings as less expensive Spinergys. All you get is less spokes (people may say your brakes will rock because of it) and holes in the hub and a little less weight.
                        Oh so this is actually a completely different system then! I was thinking it was the Surelocks, since that's what I had mentioned to the dealer. Is the dual level the order mentions the variable lever, or the para lever? Any idea how much heavier the ADI ones are compared to the Surelocks? And if insurance is actually covering it, is it worth getting instead? I guess at 30% it'd still be $600 vs $180 or so.

                        Also, is the rocking issue only one that happens with the LXs and the ADI system, or is it the LX and any disc brake system? By rocking I'm assuming you guys mean that, even when locked, there's still some give because of spoke flex? Do the SPOX ones not exhibit this issue since they have more spokes? That said, if the only difference between those two Spinergys is spoke count, I might as well put the extra $200 into something else!

                        Originally posted by chasmengr View Post
                        Regarding the add-ons insurance won't cover, here's my opinion FWIW:
                        - titanium backrest provides very little weight saving, but it's color will match the frame.
                        - titanium back release has no benefit.
                        - CF camber tube is not durable when rubbed or impacted. If you're rough with your chair, it won't last. (It IS light.)
                        - titanium forks stems are a must on a titanium frame. Not so much on an aluminum frame.
                        - titanium QR axles are typically a waste: they're heavier than SS. However if you live very near saltwater (salty air), they'll last indefinitely.
                        - Schwalbe MPE are the best pneumatic tire available for flat protection. They roll well. I love mine (on my 2nd set). All pneumatics require more attention than solids.
                        - Users either love or hate Surges. I love mine. They provide me substantial grip when ascending hills. If you can, try them before you buy.
                        - someday, consider a solid backrest.

                        Another note: I've read bad reviews of TiLite's CF side guards (tire rubbing, too flexible). Consider an aftermarket replacement for CF guards like ADI or CarboLife.
                        Would it be correct to surmise that the motivation for these points is: all the points that are heavily stressed (frame, stems, camber tube) are worth the titanium upgrade, while things that aren't subject to much abuse aren't? So, as an alternative then, you'd suggest sticking with aluminum for the backrest and back release, and titanium for the camber instead? For the QR axles, as mentioned above, I'm unsure if SF saltwater is enough to wreak havoc on SS.

                        What's the motivation for a solid backrest over the fabric one? It'd be nice in the sense that it wouldn't sag as mine has from years of hanging a heavy backpack, but otherwise, I'm not sure what the more salient points are. And what would ya folks recommend?

                        And, given the fragility you guys have mentioned about CF, wouldn't it make more sense to NOT get CF sideguards, since they'll probably be subject to rubbing?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Weight differential is gigantic. Look at overall weight of chair and then compare percentage change.. You will see a FAR BIGGER number that 2 lbs. That number for chas is smaller because of the add-ons. As for insurance, my Medicare will not cover titanium frame. They do pay for aluminum. My vendor does whatever work required to breakout the upgrades I must pay for because insurance will not cover. Some vendors simply will not do this work and tell you complete chair is not covered. It is ridiculous how this works. If you are intelligent about the wheelchair and the construction of it, be sure to use this to your advantage when talking with vendor. They assume they know more than you. Show your intelligence. It will scare them. If they act like idiots, I suggest different vendor.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            We went through some similar considerations when configuring my husbands chair. About your original question about the titanium frame, the AeroZ in titanium is in effect a ZRA. They did it that way because Medicaid removed HCPCS code K0009 which is what the ZRA was previously coded as (see this article if you are interested Ultralight Update: The Demise of K0009). It's unfortunate, because the upgrade to the AeroZ is a lot more expensive than a ZRA. Sometimes you can get insurance to pickup the extra cost for titanium if you have medical justification.My husband gets seizures and spasms from vibration, and we think the titanium absorbs that better, but have no proof of that.

                            We think the titanium was worth it also because my husband beats the crap out of his chair and along with being a painter and needing to scrape paint off it, we think the titanium is much easier to keep looking decent. He also uses power add-ons (ZX-1 and RioMobility Firefly) and has a reinforced frame, which I believe is stronger than a a aluminium reinforced frame. I am not quite sure because TiLite has never answered my questions about what exactly is included with a reinforced frame.

                            We went with the folding titanium adjustable height back, because we wanted it to match the frame and not get beatup.That was mostly an aesthetic decision, because I'm not sure if the back really needs the extra strength of titanium. The weight difference is insignificant -- here is a post about that weight of Tilite alumunum Vs titanium backrest. We have the aluminum Tishaft back release bar. For the extra $65, I wish we would have gone with titanium, because it's really banged up after 1 1/2 year, but that is partially due to his ZX-1 hitting it.

                            We considered ADI disc brakes, but decided against them and got D's Locks instead, and are very happy with them. We did not want what was needed with the Camber Tube Modify or the Spline Drive Insert to the Spinergy LX's. I also felt that I would bang them up a lot trying to get the chair in/out of the car and have to do too much maintenance. The rocking issue happens with the Spinergy Spox and LXs because of the PBO spokes, and happens with ADI disc brakes, SureLocks and D's Locks. My husband does not have a big problem with the rocking, once he got used to it. My husband needed one hand ability to lock and did not really need the disc braking capability. We live in flat Holland, so I am assuming that hilly SF is your reason behind that choice.

                            Another reason we did not want the modifications for ADI disc brakes is that we also were not covered for everything and we wanted backup components. We went with the standard TiLite Out-Front Shadow wheels, rims and Primo tires and ordered Spinergy LX wheels, an extra axle, Schwalbe MPE tires, and the Surge LT handrims separately online. It's much cheaper than ordering them from a dealer and through TiLite (in the US you can save about 30% buying them online, and in our case we saved about 50%). Now if my husband has a flat and if I don't have time or too lazy to fix it (like this weekend) we can swap to his Shadow wheels temporarily. There is a rather long thread about it here if you are interested Replacing TiLite Shadow wheels with Spinergy LX's. My husband likes the Surge LT's but they are getting pretty beat up in 1.5 years, and possibly we would consider titanium for the next set.

                            I agree with Nonoise and Chasmengr about the carbon fiber camber tube not being worth it. My husband uses a ZX-1, but we have a titanium camber tube, which I "think" was worth the extra money, and it looks good too. Here is a post with some comments about camber tubes with the ZX-1 Camber tube failure using ZX1 In that post the inventor pattherat of the ZX-1 suggests either a titanium or carbon fiber camber tube. I think that t8burst now has a ZX-1 that is used with a carbon fiber camber tube and can give more input.

                            We do not have titanium forks stems. I had not even realized it was an option and just went to look at it (see this link in the parts store for titanium CP104372 and this for aluminium CP104292). I'm not quite sure why Chasemgr says they are "a must on a titanium frame", because you can't even see them. However, it may help with corrosion from saltwater (salty air), and they may be stronger. I would not mind having them because the forks really take a beating when using the ZX-1 add-on, but I'm not sure they are worth $50.

                            The titanium quick release axels are a huge upcharge. If corrosion is a big concern, I would consider getting them aftermarket and go with the stainless steel when ordering the chair. This was a good post by Andy My Invacare/Top End titanium axle review (they were for a TiLite) and he got them from Bike-On and there are also some at Sportaiid Titanium Quick Release Axles for $110.00.

                            I agree with what Chasemgr said about TiLite's carbon fiber side guards and considering an aftermarket replacement like ADI or CarboLife. We have ADI carbon fiber folding sideguards that were cut to a template we provided, and I'm quite sure the CarboLife can be adjusted too. On the other hand, if you got insurance to cover them, they may be worth it, because the cost of all of them are quite high.

                            I hope I did not go on for too long. I'm putting off having to fix the slow leak on my husband's chair. I don't have any spare tubes and am trying to decide if it is worth trying to repair it or just wait to order new tubes.
                            Last edited by elarson; 24 Jan 2015, 3:58 PM.
                            Partner of an incredible stroke survivor. Limitations: hemiparesis and neglect (functional paralysis and complete lack of awareness on one side). Equipment: TiLite ZRA 2 and 2GX, Spinergy ZX-1, RioMobility Firefly. Knowledge: relative newbie for high-level equipment (2012), but willing to try to help others who are new with similar limitations (definitely not a guru, but inquisitive).

                            Comment


                              #15
                              First of i want to say i never had a ZRA or a AeroZ therefore i can't say much about the chair itself but i can share my opinion on weight and CF/Materials.
                              I have a lot of experience with my measurements (which i do myself!) in combination with material i use in my chairs i personally always go with the lightest materials available, my folding chair is just 110 grams lighter then my folder i have previously used and i tell you with both chair having the exact same measurements and parts i used to have on both of them i can tell you even with the smallest weight saving it does make an enormous difference on my shoulders before i had problems thats why i made the switch to the new one (110 grams lighter) and now with the new one no shoulder problems whatsoever! (pushing/loading it into a car) i do feel the lighter frame while pushing.
                              i do mostly agree with chasmengr post above about the titanium parts but i personally never had the chance to order titanium parts because quickie doesn't offer them but i did research on them in the past when i did consider getting a tilite so i know a little about them.
                              I find CF parts very good and worth the money (i only use CF on my side guards) but i would not use CF as a material on a camber tube just like chasmengr said it CF doesn't like rubbing or impact.
                              Current Wheelchairs: Sopur Helium aka Quickie Q7 (lightest spec) rigid frame with Spinergy Spox Wheels
                              Sopur Xenon same frame as the Q7 (lightest spec) folding frame With Spinergy LX (custom)

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