Mark E. SmithThe theory of marginal gains states that if you take any system and improve every individual aspect by just 1 percent, you can dramatically improve overall performance by stacking the small gains into one significant improvement. This approach has proved successful in arenas ranging from business to professional cycling — and, yes, even ultralight manual wheelchairs.

The very definition of an ultralight wheelchair has dramatically changed over the past four decades. In the 1970s, an aluminum manual wheelchair approached 40 pounds, but decade by decade, weights dropped. By the late 1990s, an ultralight manual wheelchair was formally defined by insurance coding as weighing 29 pounds or less in its base configuration. However, due to never-ending marginal gains in ultralight chairs on the part of manufacturers consistently pursuing lighter weights, most now see 29 pounds as heavy in a world of sub-20-pound ultralight models.

So, what makes the latest designs in ultralight models and components so astoundingly ultralight?

What’s in a Pound?

The iconic Quickie brand has never stopped pushing the envelope when it comes to reducing weight, especia