Bob Hall Racing Wheelchair 1986

  • Not on view

Hall, disabled at an early age by polio, pioneered wheelchair racing when he participated in the Boston Marathon in 1975. At the time, disabled athletes who wanted to achieve greater speeds had to alter their cumbersome everyday wheelchairs. In 1978 Hall designed his first racing wheelchair and founded a new company, Hall's Wheels. There he made handcrafted wheelchairs, measured to fit each customer, that weighed between fourteen and sixteen pounds—about half the weight of the wheelchair he'd used in his first marathon.

The Racing Wheelchair introduced innovations that have had an impact on users of every type of wheelchair. This example, designed in 1986, features a lightweight frame of aircraft-steel tubing, a speedometer, and a tachometer. The wheels, adapted from racing bicycles, are angled for optimal arm movement and enhanced speed. The red and black colors give it a sporty, sleek look. MoMA first showed Hall's Racing Wheelchair in the 1989 exhibition Designs for Independent Living, which presented outstanding examples of well-designed, mass-produced objects for the elderly and the physically disabled.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA HIghlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 83.
Hall's Wheels, Cambridge, MA
Aircraft steel tubing, cotton, and nylon
23 5/8 x 25 x 45" (60 x 63.5 x 114.3 cm)
Gift of the designer
Object number
Architecture and Design

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