Our Story

Welcome to The Merit Drive 
An Affordable DIY Add-On
Lever Drive for Your Existing Wheelchair!

First thing's first! Check out our TikTok! Merit Drive TikTok 

Hi! I'm Marissa Merit, and the following is written by my husband, Jude. He is the creator of the Merit Drive product, and I currently run the business for both of us while he's doing his master's degree. Here's what he has to say about the Merit Drive:

Hi folx! I'm Jude and I'm the creator of the add-on lever drive, The Merit Drive! Over the years, as an ambulatory wheelchair user, I have struggled to find the perfect add-on power assist for my chair and my life. 

Power assist wheels left me running into walls, pushing and pulling on my hand-rims erratically in crowds, and having to switch them on and off way more frequently than I expected. They ended up being more of a hassle than a help for me personally. 

I tried out an attendant power assist, attaching it to my footplate and gerry-rigging the control to be operated by my foot, but ultimately it wasn't very powerful, it was bulky, it impeded my ability to hop curbs, and it tired out my ankle to operate it - beyond that, it wouldn't work for someone with more limited leg function. 

I dreamed of trying a SmartDrive, but couldn't afford even a used one. Used SmartDrives that are for parts only can run over a thousand dollars, with new units costing over six thousand dollars! 

I tried push rim grips, wheelchair gloves, hill climbing brakes, the works. All of it made things more complicated -- and expensive! 

I've spent thousands trying to make my wheelchair work for me only to get sore joints, soggy gloves, dirty hands, and disappointment. 

The only thing that even remotely worked for me were lever drive wheelchairs like the GRIT Chair, Mountain Trike, and NuDrive Air (which I got to try out but couldn't afford for myself). 

While these are AMAZING options, they're costly, bulky, and aside from the NuDrive, you can't use them with your custom chair made just for you. Now that I finally have my perfect chair, I want a lever drive that works with it, not instead of it.

Right now, I'm studying for my master's degree, so my wonderful wife, Marissa, has taken the reigns of the business while I study. Back to her:

Our goal with this project is to make an affordable (under $100 per pair for the aluminum model) add-on lever drive that can be added to the user's existing wheelchair, without bulky parts, permanent modifications, or prohibitive costs. Jude has already made the plans open source so that others can recreate the lever drive themselves for personal use. Eventually, we would love to be able to send the levers out for a 30-day trial so that people can try them out without having to sink money into something that may not work for them. He has already built his own prototype in aluminum, which he uses on his own chair, and we're hoping to get the supplies to create various models for different users and different wheel shapes. 

The lever drive works by utilizing a hub adapter, which attaches to your existing wheel and adds zero width to your chair (assuming long tab hand rims). This is attached to the hub of the existing wheel on your chair, while a ratchet wrench, widely available to buy online or in your local hardware store, attaches to the hub to drive the wheel. This allows the use of larger muscle groups, a more upright posture, and less strain on the joints. It also allows the user to get better leverage for hills, curbs and other obstacles. It keeps the hands clean and out of the spokes of the wheel and is overall a much better experience for the user, especially in inclement weather!

Included in each purchase is a pair of hub adapters in the material of your choice, plus the nuts (8), washers (4) and bolts (4) to attach the hub to your wheel. That's all it takes! A pair of my hub adapters and a pair of ratchet wrenches, and you're off! If you have mag wheels, please message me (Marissa) personally so that I can send an adapted backing plate to attach your wheels, free of charge.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me!


Mari, Jude, BooBoo and Miss Baby (Our adorable cats! BooBoo is the gray and white and Miss Baby is the orange and white, and both LOVE to sit in Jude's chair when it's not occupied!)