Showing posts with label Genny Mobility. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Genny Mobility. Show all posts

Tuesday 7 June 2022

Camino de Santiago 8 - Azofra to Villambistia (Electric wheelchair style)


Today was an easy day of good paths through open fields of mainly mixed cereals. These crops were accompanied by the cheery red poppies that dominated the verges along with the spiky teasels and odd pyramidal orchids

My wheels were proving more than capable for this journey. With the forward and backward movement of the Genny controlled by the your bodies position, distributing the weight and carrying essentials and supplies in a rucksack hooked on the back affects your centre of balance. My load is probably only about 7kg in a 26ltr rucksack with a sleeping bag hanging off the bottom, however I need to adjust the settings my move my seating position forward to counter the weight at the back

Beautiful cool Cathedral at Santo Domingo de la Calzada
The small towns of Ciruena, Santo Domingo de La Calzada, Granon, Viloria de la Rioja, Vilamayor del Rio and Belorado each have their own charm

I was travelling faster then most pilgrims on my wheels. These long easy sections make cruising comfortable and fast. I had started to cover about 40km a day which is a stretch for those on foot who would more commonly cover 20 - 30km a day. I did however meet several young men who claimed to had walked up to 75km in a day  

Many of the taller buildings have nesting cranes on their roofs

I stayed the night in a the tiny municipal Albergue San Roque in Villambistia. This was a lovely stop with friendly staff however I discovered in the morning that my wheelchair had been unplugged at some point in the night leaving me with less than full charge for the day ahead. The general etiquette on the Camino is lights out by 22:00 and vacate the place by 8:00 in the morning. Plugging my wheels back in and hanging about didn't go down to well. I wasn't actually thrown out but I only managed to stay till 8:30 before feeling less than welcome and left hoping I wouldn't run out of steam on the day ahead

Monday 6 June 2022

Camino de Santiago 7 - Logroño to Azofra (Electric wheelchair style)

Four days before leaving for the second week on the Camino, the retractable support legs on my Genny Mobility wheelchair stopped working and stuck down. I would normally attempt this sort of repair myself but with so little time and requiring parts I had no option but to make a trip to the Genny Mobility factory in Switzerland. Getting this sorted meant a 1800 mile drive from St Malo in Brittany, France to Switzerland, before driving onwards to Logroño, Spain in my VW van to commence where I left off last October

Overall my wheels have been fantastically reliable with over 8000 miles on the clock in 6 years of operation. Apart from a few relatively minor issues, most of which were down to the Segway core power unit, Genny has been just great for a wheelchair that I ask so much of

Genny Mobility headquarters are based in Sant'Antonino in the southern, Italian speaking part of Switzerland. It is just up the road from the beautiful Lake Maggiore, where clear warm water is surrounded by tall mountains. Its about 40km west of Lake Como in Italy. After a long drive Genny Mobility were able to make the repairs which were down to the linear actuator which is a device a bit like a hydraulic ram you could see on a digger arm, however powered by 12 volts through a gear drive. Taking it all to pieces myself later I was able to see it was not down to faulty gears but a crack in part of the plastic moulded frame. This was not feasibly repairable without parts. I took the opportunity to have a full service whilst in the workshop   

Lake Maggiore borders both Switzerland and Italy


After a mad onward drive from Switzerland into Italy, the Mediterranean coast of France and into northern Spain I arrived in Logroño early evening giving me opportunity to visit the city, capital of La Rioja region. As with many cities and larger towns, Logroño has a beautiful historic centre complete with the Cathedral of Santa María de la Redonda

Unfortunately most Spanish Cathedrals seem to be accessed by flights of steps
 with generally poor disabled access 
Fantastic street art at a roundabout in Logroño   

With my van securely garaged, I commenced my second week on the Camino with a late 10 o'clock morning start in good weather. Anxious but excited I set off on my wheels with my small rucksack and sleeping bag hanging off the back. Because of the late start I had booked accommodation in Azofra 34km away

Pilgrims decorate the path adjacent to the road with home made crosses

The urban parts of of the Camino are generally less memorable excepting the historic town centres. Exiting Logroño however was through a series of lovely shaded green parks, before crossing a busy road and past a reservoir. the early route was part following the road and part in mixed agricultural land of cereals and vines

Following the yellow arrows of the Camino I passed the small town of Navarrete built on a hill and Nájera

Where a footbridge with steps crossed a stream leaving Nájera I was forced to find an alternative route and found a shallow section where I could wade my wheels without issue

Stream crossings need to be carefully negotiated with 22Ah of lithium batteries to consider
Many path edges and smaller fields in June were awash with poppies and other wild flowers

Lots of the building stone seemed to be pebbles shaped by water despite there being little
obvious water in the surrounding areas

I had made the decision on this section to stay in the smaller towns and villages where possible. I find the villages easier to navigate, they are simpler to shop and eat with a wheelchair but I was also considered the impact Covid over the last couple of years. With increasing urbanisation in the world these villages are probably only here because of the Camino. In Azofra I stayed in the Municipal Albergue which was a small and friendly hostel with a small courtyard water feature. With feet in the cool water I engaged with Camino life meeting Italians and Americans I would encounter again over the next days. How lovely to be back


Sunday 31 October 2021

Camino de Santiago Week 1 summary - Saint-Jean-Pier-de-Port to Logroño (Electric wheelchair style)

Week 1 of the Camino de Santiago was an awesome experience. I travelled about 170km from Saint-Jean-Pier-de-Port in the French Pyrenees to Logroño in northern Spain alone on my 2 wheeled electric wheelchair. It took me 7 days including a mad trip back into France to collect my VW van from a French campground. Starting in beautiful high mountain meadows I watched the scenery change to woodland, mixed arable and vineyards. I met loads of lovely people who were interesting, kind and open and discovered a beautiful historic Spain full of incredible architecture and culture that I didn't know existed

When I started I didn't know that I would be able to go the distance with my wheels, both literally with the battery capacity but also the capability of negotiating this route. It starts by going uphill for about 18km to an altitude of 1430m. This route is closed by law on the Spanish side throughout the winter months as conditions can be treacherous. Although it was a mild autumn day when I was there I encountered terrain I couldn't pass and was helped by some Spanish pilgrims who literally picked up my wheelchair and moved it past the steep rocky bit

Route markers used in many towns

In distance travelled I have probably done about 1/5th of the Camino but in terms of the challenge I am well on the way. My Genny wheelchair coped with difficult terrain and I can't imagine there will be unpassable terrain ahead although I'm sure there will be difficulties. There were bits where I took an alternative route when the going looked extremely difficult or I was advised by fellow pilgrims but in all I feel like I did my stuff

I feel like I have been on this path for many years having only just begun a few weeks back. I will continue to the end and maybe beyond...

- Buen Camino -

* To view all these posts in chronological order please scroll down or click HERE

Friday 8 October 2021

Camino de Santiago 6 - Los Arcos to Logroño (Electric wheelchair style)


This was to be my last day on the Camino so I left at dawn for a head start to the day. The countryside was similar to yesterday, arable fields, scrubby woodland and small villages connected by good footpaths

I breakfasted in in a Torres del Rio and came across this unusual 12 century church with 8 sides
12th century octagonal church

Today marked the end of Navarra and into the famous wine growing region of  La Rioja

The route was mainly on footpaths rather than agricultural tracks which was mostly ok with some exceptions. Having previously worked as a countryside ranger I have been responsible for constructing and the maintenance of many paths. Successful builds are about the management of water as erosion so easily destroys paths

Over the last few days I have discovered a method for negotiating obstacles that are either too steep, too rocky or just too narrow for my wheels. Genny wheelchairs have a riderless balance mode that is integral to the Segway core. This provides some assistance whilst not sitting on Genny and I frequently use this whilst loading my wheels up ramps into my van. It offers some drive capability but has low power when negotiating difficult terrain. Putting my wheels into slow mode (4mph, 6.5kmh), activating the seat switch so it behaves as though I'm sitting on it, and pushing from behind whilst steering gives me great power as well as control. I have become adept at this method and providing I have the energy to keep it all together, I'm overcoming all sorts of difficult terrain. If it all goes wrong I just release the seat down switch  

This magnificently built bridge offers pilgrims safety across the road, unless of course you are on a wheelchair. The addition of some planks was obviously an afterthought for cyclists. A short detour and a mad dash across the road was the final obstacle before reaching the small city of Logroño

Crossing the bridge to the city of Logroño

This was to be the end of my Camino adventure for 2021. After getting my credentials stamped at the tourist office I headed for the bus station looking for a ride back to Puente la Reina where my VW was parked

Camino credentials

Your credentials work like a Camino passport and you get them stamped along the route to demonstrate and record your progress. I understand they are inspected at Santiago before you receive your Compostela or certificate of completion. There is something uniquely satisfying about this document and I will treasure it, keeping it safe till I'm back in 2022


Wednesday 6 October 2021

Camino de Santiago 4 - Puente la Reina to Estella (Electric wheelchair style)


Many of the small Camino villages like Puente la Reina, have hung on to their formal historic departure gates and are grander than the towns where your exit is through developing urban sprawl. 

Through the gate and over the bridge starts a day of woodland into mixed agricultural landscapes and then vineyards as we approach Rioja. I enjoyed these gently sweeping hills and valleys with small villages like Cirauqui sitting on hilltops  

Hilltop village of Cirauqui

When travelling with a wheelchair there are many small obstacles in your way, even with the capability of my Genny wheelchair. This is an issue in most countries but generally its worse away from the more resourced urban centers in the west. It is easy to rail against the environment planners and builders for their lack of consideration. In the end it is down to the local building by-laws, government standards and the implementation of these mechanisms that make life accessible to those on wheels. With some diversions, my ability to get off and push and the assistance of others, the Camino de Santiago is a viable route for my 2 wheeled Genny Mobility wheelchair. 

There are probably a good proportion of the population right now who are stuck in their homes, unable to wage battle with the physical, practical and often economic difficulties that life with a disability can present. It isn't fair and its a tragic waste of humanity and we all suffer because of it. Our world is designed to work for the able bodied. The chances are that access or other sorts of issues will impact on us all sooner or later. I am very lucky in that my MS has not taken away my capacity and I can still maintain a good life, through work, relationships and activities and I have the means, motivation and ability to take on challenges like the Camino de Santiago  

As we enter the Estella the vineyards increase

Much of the architecture on the Camino is 12th centaury or even earlier. There are many instances of roman roads that still form part of the Camino route
Tourist Information office in Estella

Tuesday 28 September 2021

Genny Mobility Factory

Genny is based in Sant'Antonino in southern Switzerland just north of the Italian border. I took the opportunity to visit and to meet the team and whilst there, to have my wheels professionally serviced for the first time ever. I have obviously done an amount of upkeep on my wheels but my joy is in riding Genny, not maintaining it.

Genny Mobility showroom

I understand that Genny is currently very busy as the other self-balanced wheelchair producers can no longer get the Segway powerbases. Genny is the one self-balanced wheelchair producer with an agreement with Segway for the production of medical devices for the next period. Genny also has an independent R&D department working on future Genny Mobility products. I'm really interested to see the future outcomes and wish Genny a bright and profitable future

Based over 2 floors Genny HQ is a clean and modern building. There is a central display area showcasing Genny in production colors, a development facility, the office and a workshop. Downstairs is storage and production 

This is my wheels undergoing service and update with a modification to the Segway actuation sensors that detect when a rider is present. I was very aware that my wheels have had significant use, often in wet salty conditions but was delighted to see it so well maintained

Whilst there I was introduced to both the electronic and mechanical designers working on future Genny Mobility products and took the opportunity to highlight some of my ideas particularly about being able to isolate power for air transport along with other issues like making Genny compatible with UK legal requirements

One of the first prototypes made 10 years ago. You can see the fundamental design is all there and I love the shape of the bold side handles

This visit was great - the team is young and keen and there is obviously vision and creativity for the future. 

I was also delighted the headquarters are adjacent to another beautiful lake that proved to be clear, warm water and a great place to stay and to swim

Monday 7 June 2021

7000 on the clock

Today I made 7000 on the clock with my Genny. It's actually probably more like 8000 as I had a long time with another Segway base unit installed but using the same batteries whilst my gearboxes were being restored.

I'm definitely getting less miles per battery charge but that is to be expected. Its not a lot less but I have a target that I would always meet on a familiar route where the first bar on the battery indicator would go. Nowadays that indicator bar falls about 400m short

Genny at 7000 miles

Having purchased a backup Segway I have a spare set of batteries, however they are older and less capable of holding a charge despite having minimal mileage. My plan is to get a new set of non- standard custom batteries when Europe is open for business again after Covid.


Monday 24 August 2020

Wanted / For Sale

Are you wanting to sell or buy a second hand Genny Mobility wheelchair? Check out my new page: HERE

Sunday 17 May 2020


Traveling across the beach on wet and salty sand inevitable leads to corrosion of metal parts. The most vulnerable bits on a Segway are the gearbox drive shafts. The shafts emerge from the aluminium gearbox case through rubber seals. Corrosion on the shafts make for leaking seals so with a replacement core Segway fitted to my Genny (see previous post) I have sent my old leaking gearboxes off for repair

I have found a company who specialise in all things Segway. The company is called PT Pro and they are based in Amburg Germany. They have been great at supplying various parts over the last year and I am starting to build a relationship with one of the engineers. Isn't it amazing that many Europeans speak fantastic English - puts us all to shame

PT Pro have a great website where they have many resources and are able to offer services that aren't available in the UK. Things cost a lot and postage from Germany seems to be expensive but they are quick to process your orders and parts arrive when they are due. There are many simple repairs and modifications that can be made by someone with very limited knowledge and simple tools. I have highlighted some modifications in my Genny Mods page
A small and easy modification I wish I had made 5000 miles back was to change the type of oil and add magnetic drain plugs to the gearboxes. These easy to change items have a small magnet that collects the tiny metal particles that get suspended in the Segway gearbox oil bath. These items are available through PT Pro and are likely to extend the life of your gearbox. The parts required are: magnetic drain plug and gearbox oil. You will need one magnetic drain plug and 70 - 80ml of oil for each gearbox of which there are two on your Genny

PT Pro have have great information about the care and repair of Segways particularly in relation to GEARBOXES and BATTERIES, They can also sell new wheels and tyres as well as being able to repair those delicate buttons on you Infokey

Here is a picture of the corrosion on my Segway driveshaft after being sandblasted to remove the rust. The pitting will stop any effective seal leading to a loss of oil which is not a good outcome for a metal gearbox.