The organic transit ELF (Electric, Light, Fun) is a highly evolved electric-assist vehicle from accomplished race car designer, Rob Cotter. With some impressive people on the team and board, a successful Kickstarter campaign, and lots of customers with millions of miles between them, the ELF has evolved into a mature and successful vehicle.
There are two basic models, but tons of optional extras. The ELF solo is the single-person version, and starts at US$7,995 (NZ$12,000). The ELF 2FR can hold an extra passenger behind the driver. That one will set you back at least US$8,495 (NZ$12,700). Those prices are about the same as a used, reasonably late model small car, such as a Suzuki Swift, so you’re looking at people stepping down (or sideways?) from a car, rather than up from a bicycle.
There is also a specialised version, called ELF tactical, that is aimed at law enforcement, security and event patrolling.
There is a lot to like about the ELF:
- Very well engineered alloy chassis
- Can carry 150kg (that’s an 80kg rider plus 70kg cargo or extra person), or 250kg for the Tactical ELF
- Room for 8 shopping bags in the cargo area
- Easy to ride and maintain
- Full auxiliary electrical system (lights, brake lights, indicators)
So with so much to like, why would I not copy the ELF blueprint for the Velopetta?
- The ELF is large. Although possible, at 1.22 meters wide it is very big for bike lanes (typical recumbent trikes and velomobiles are 0.75m – 0.8m). It’s also 1.5m tall, and it is 2.7 meters long.
- It doesn’t look great. Well, it doesn’t look bad, either, but I would describe it as ‘utilitarian’ at best.
- It is not fully enclosed. You can buy optional doors for US$250 (NZ$375), but there are still no side windows.
It would be a waste not to take any learnings from the ELF, though. I’ll be adapting a version of it’s very well designed aluminium alloy chassis for the Velopetta, and may look at in-boarding the hub motor for better sprung/un-sprung weight ratio, too (for non-techs, that means better ride comfort).
Here are some pics of the ELF. Note that with a rider in the shot you can see just how large the vehicle actually is.