The Differences between Front Wheel Drive, Mid Wheel Drive and Rear Wheel Drive

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a power wheelchair is the drive wheel position. The drive wheel is the larger wheel on the power wheelchair and can have an impact on the chair's performance over obstacles and maneuverability in different environments.

Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) Wheelchair

front wheel driveThe drive wheels for front-wheel drive (FWD) are at the front of the wheelchair and there are two castor wheels at the rear of the wheelchair.


  • Can easily navigate tight corners, such as 90° turns in a hallway.
  • Can get directly in front of sinks, counters, etc. It allows the user to pull up closer to counters/items.


  • The back end of the wheelchair swings during turning. Users have to learn to "turn late." Thus FWD wheelchair is more challenging for users with cognitive or perceptual difficulties.

Mid-Wheel Drive (MWD) Wheelchair

Sunrise Medical Q700 mid wheel driveThe drive wheel for mid-wheel drive (MWD) is directly under the wheelchair user, and there are two castor wheels in front of the drive wheel and two castor wheels behind the drive wheel.


  • Tightest turning radius when completing a 360° turn. 
  • Most intuitive to drive since the user’s center of gravity is directly over the drive wheel.
  • Front and rear castors help provide a stable base.


  • Castors can get stuck on uneven terrain or an obstacle, resulting the drive wheel to be suspending off the ground. 

Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD) Wheelchair

sunrise medical q200 rear wheel driveThe drive wheels of rear-wheel drive (RWD) are at the rear of the wheelchair and the two castors are at the front of the wheelchair.


  • Provides a very stable base anteriorly.
  • Designed with directional stability meaning that the wheelchair will naturally track straight.


  • Largest turning radius making it difficult to maneuver in the home and vehicles.

Need some advices or help? Contact our product specialist today at 📞+65 62544070


Permobil - What is the difference between Front Wheel Drive, Mid Wheel Drive, and Rear Wheel Drive wheelchairs?
Sunrise Medical - Power Wheelchair Drive Wheel Position

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