Special gravel coverage

Report and photos from test ride of Organic Transit’s ELF trike

Posted by on January 30th, 2014 at 2:29 pm

ELF trike test ride-19

Organic Transit CEO and Founder Rob Cotter inside the ELF during a test ride event in Portland on Tuesday.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s not a bike and it’s not a car, but the ELF trike is quickly finding fans in Portland who are looking for something in between.

ELF trike test ride-7

The event drew a good crowd —
some who arrived by bike, others by car.

Organic Transit, the North Carolina-based company that makes the ELF solar and pedal-powered trike, just wrapped up three busy days of test rides (two days in Troutdale and one day in Portland). I dropped by the test ride event Tuesday on the eastbank of the Willamette River near the Hawthorne Bridge to take a closer look, meet the company’s founder and CEO Rob Cotter, and get people’s impressions of these interesting vehicles.

48-year old Chris Streight was one of the 50 or so people who signed up to get behind the handlebars of an ELF. With his work commute being 10 miles each way, Streight said taking his preferred vehicle — a bicycle — five days a week just isn’t doable. He was curious if the ELF would be a good way to tackle his commute on the days he doesn’t bike.

“In America, 90% of car traffic is just one person [behind the wheel] and half of all trips are two miles or less, yet bicycles are seen as toys. That’s our downfall.”
— Rob Cotter, Organic Transit CEO and founder

For David B., a 74-year old man who walks with a cane, it was the solar panel on top of the trike that brought him down for a test ride. “I’m interested in anything having to do with solar efficiency,” he told me. While David has trouble walking, he’s a frequent bike rider. He enjoyed his test ride in the ELF, but his main complaint was that it was difficult for him to get in and out of with his stiff legs. “But once you’re inside,” he added, “it’s fun and easy to drive.” “I could see this replacing my car, but not my bike,” he added.

Watching over the test riders was Organic Transit CEO and Founder Rob Cotter. Cotter has deep roots in the world of human and solar-powered vehicles. Mix in his former marketing company with clients like Mercedes Benz, IBM, Mattel, and Disney, and it becomes clear that Cotter isn’t just some garage innovator peddling a crazy idea. To him, the ELF isn’t just a new product, it’s the start of a revolution. Actually, if all goes well, it’s the start of two revolutions.

Cotter talks about saving the planet with as much fervor as he talks of saving American manufacturing.

“In America, 90% of car traffic is just one person and half of all trips are two miles or less, yet bicycles are seen as toys. That’s our downfall.” Reflecting on his relatively new company, Cotter said that the U.S. is probably the “worst place in the world” to launch a solar and pedal-powered trike. But in addition to helping cut down auto emissions, Cotter sees the ELF as something that can re-ignite America’s demand for blue-collar, industrial labor. Similar to Henry Ford, Cotter’s vision is factories across the U.S. full of wage-earners putting together ELF trikes in an assembly line.

As he showed me around the ELF, Cotter pointed out how the entire design was made to be simple so that it doesn’t take high-skilled welders and machine operators to make them. The shell (“Which acts like a helmet,” Cotter says) is made from pre-formed pieces that are easily riveted together. The trunk consists of two plastic buckets. The running boards on each side of the seat are bamboo dish-drying racks. The interior walls are made from Coroplast (corrugated plastic). The main spine of the chassis slides on pre-cut square aluminum tubes.

Michael Nover, formerly president of Kinesis USA, a frame-building company that used to be based in Portland, is now helping Cotter set up a local manufacturing and retail operation (it would be their first outside of Durham). “The majority of cost in a bicycle frame is in the welding and bending of tubes,” he shared. “Compared to what we used to do at Kinesis, the ELF is radically simpler. We can go to almost any fabrication shop to get these made.”

Cotter sees the ELF changing from one region to the next as it adapts to local topography and tastes. The business plan is also based on setting up many small building operations instead of centralized factories. This is because at 150 pounds, shipping ELFs takes away from the eco-friendly ethic Cotter believes in and adds to its $5,000 price tag.

So. How does it ride? I stepped inside and pedaled around the Esplanade to find out.

ELF trike test ride-20

Getting to know the ELF.

It’s certainly not a bike. Or even a recumbent. It feels clunkier than either of those. But that’s to be expected when operating a vehicle that weighs 150 pounds, is fully wrapped in a plastic body, and requires you to turn two wheels at the same time. The actual pedaling motion felt very intuitive and the steering system worked smoothly and predictably. I could stop on a dime thanks to the disc brakes, and getting back up to speed was made relatively easy due to the twisting of an internal Nuvinci hub in one hand and the the throttle for the electric motor in the other.

Adding to the ELFs stature as a road-worthy vehicle (both mentally and physically) is the heavy-duty horn (operated by a button on the handlebars), right and left-side mirrors, and the car-like headlights and taillights.

During my short test ride, I tried a few very sharp turns and the ELF remained stable. I also tried to turnaround on the Esplanade path and quickly realized that the turning radius is pretty wide. This could get folks into trouble if they expect to quickly flip a u-turn like they normally would on a bike. (It’s also worth noting that the recommended method to quickly turn 180-degrees, or go in reverse for that matter, is to get out and lift up the rear end.)

My ride in the ELF left me with more questions than I arrived with: What would it be like to share a lane with other vehicles on a major arterial? How long before these hit the road will Oregon law catch up and classify them as something other than a bicycle? How easy would it be to climb up a hill to north Portland if the battery dies? Would the solar panel be a reliable source of re-charging power?

At this point, Cotter is fine with all the questions his creation raises. When I asked if he considers it more closely related to a bicycle or a car (“Is this event a test ride or a test drive,” I asked), he happily declined to pigeon-hole it.

“There’s a lot of space [in the market] between a bike and a car, and that’s where we intend to be.”

Scroll down for more photos and notes from the test ride…

ELF trike test ride-5

Making the ELFs locally is a key part of Cotter’s business plan.
ELF trike test ride-22

The designers of the ELF wanted to make its assembly and construction as simple as possible.
ELF trike test ride-23

The solar panel is a major power source — and a major selling point.
ELF trike test ride-21

The ELF is made to fit a wide range of users — all the way up to 6′ 5″.
ELF trike test ride-14

20 mm through-axle adds strength to the front wheels.
ELF trike test ride-13

The battery sits neatly under the seat.

ELF trike test ride-15

There’s an ELF app with an ever-growing list of features, including a function that will make your ELF sounds like a Jetson car as it accelerates.
ELF trike test ride-16

Placed on the dashboard, the app is also made to project a heads-up display on the windshield.
ELF trike test ride-11

The trunk is lockable and has three separate compartments — two of which are plastic buckets.
ELF trike test ride-10

Inside the cockpit.
ELF trike test ride-4

A view from the front.

— Learn more about the ELF at OrganicTransit.com

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  • jocko January 30, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Its cool, but can you ride it in a bike lane?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 30, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      Yes you can. It’s 4-feet wide and legally it’s a bicycle (but only for lack of a more accurate description in current statute).

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  • scott January 30, 2014 at 3:50 pm



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  • Patrick January 30, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    I rode one at Edgefield–it’s fun and easy to operate.

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  • Bill January 30, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    It looks very open on the bottom. How would it handle a wet, cold morning? Would you still need rain gear?

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    • Alan 1.0 January 30, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      All second-hand but I’m told that road spray inside isn’t a problem, the fenders and air flow do a good job, and the canopy does a good job keeping rain out when moving but it can drive in from the sides when stopped. Doors are an option. I’m not sure if it’s clean&dry enough for nice office clothes, I’d think about chaps or rain paints or a change of pants. I wonder about a nylon spray skirt underneath?

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    • Nate July 30, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      ELF owner here. I live in the “other” Portland (Maine).

      With an extension to the internal fenders and the addition of mudflaps, it’s reasonably dry. Not dry enough to wear work clothes, especially in a heavy windy rain since rain will blow in (and be sprayed up by passing cars if they drive through a puddle when passing), but I’ve never been terribly wet.

      There are a few modifications that the model I have (from April 2014) needs to handle the wet (and I’m still fine-tuning mine before winter comes and that rain turns into slush), but Organic is continuously tuning the design and adapting to customer feedback.

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  • Pete E January 30, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    How stealable is it? Would you be able to leave it outside?

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    • JV January 30, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      At 150 pounds and $5k, I would treat it like a cargo bike. Sure, you could leave it outside, but you probably want to put it in a garage or secure storage. No need to tempt thieves.

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      • grace March 13, 2015 at 4:13 pm

        Then it can’t solar charge!

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        • wsbob March 14, 2015 at 11:26 am

          Grace…true, can’t solar charge under cover, but riding around, or used by someone commuting to their job, parked all day on a surface level parking lot in the sun, it would have lots of time to charge. Expensive, but I think the concept is very interesting.

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  • Allan January 30, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    was this a 1-day thing or is there a place to try it out in the area longer-term?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 31, 2014 at 9:17 am

      I’ve asked them to let me do a longer test ride sometime in the future. We’ll see if they’re game. I think something like this really can’t be fully understood without living with it for a few days. I’m hoping to do a more complete review once I can do a longer test.

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    • RJHinPDX February 1, 2014 at 9:03 am

      This was just two days at Edgefield, but the company is looking for a local warehouse and assembly facility, so there may be more local opportunity in the future.

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  • resopmok January 30, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    I’m curious what the top speed or general cruising speeds are like. I’m guessing the battery operation works as an electric assist to the pedaling.. otherwise it would be hard to get around. Also, what kind of range can you expect out of a solar/battery combo, and could it be converted or adapted to also plug into an outlet for quicker charging than the solar panel might provide?

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    • WestCoastNut January 30, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      Top speed is 20 on electric only and about 30MPH if you assist with pedals, this is all on their website: http://organictransit.com/faq/

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    • Nate July 30, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      Level ground = 18-25 MPH cruise depending on how hard you mash the electric accelerator, how hard you pedal, and how much weight in cargo (including the rider) is onboard.

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  • Mark January 30, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    Where can you legally park it? Outside of a private driveway or garage, that is.

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    • WestCoastNut January 30, 2014 at 11:04 pm

      Some people park it on the planting strip between the street and sidewalk. I would think you also park it next to bike parking bars, especially the ones on the street. Also, if you know a business you can often park it along their property, as long as its off the sidewalk.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 31, 2014 at 9:18 am

      That’s a great question and it’s one of the many legal issues this vehicle raises. If I ride it downtown, could I just park in a standard parking space and pay the meter? It doesn’t seem right to lift it up onto the sidewalk to use a bike staple rack and it certainly wouldn’t fit in a bike corral.

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  • john v January 31, 2014 at 5:50 am

    There may be space in the market between bikes and cars but there is not space on the Hawthorne Bridge or the bike lane in my daily ride down Barbur for this 4 foot wide expensive gadget.

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  • Brock Dittus January 31, 2014 at 5:58 am

    I had a chance to tape some conversation with Rob Cotter and a local resident who owns one these – if you’re interested here’s the link:


    This already seems like a great option for anyone who doesn’t want to bicycle somewhere for whatever reason, and I could see them becoming even more reasonable in price as they became more available. I would also imagine many of the concerns expressed here would be improved upon over time. Does anyone know if this is the 1.0 version, or have there been previous models?

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  • Humongous Ed January 31, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
    Yes you can. It’s 4-feet wide and legally it’s a bicycle (but only for lack of a more accurate description in current statute).
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    I feel a little nervous at the idea of sharing a bike lane with a 4 foot eide 150 pound vehicle that can go 30mph…

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  • Todd Boulanger January 31, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Quick clarification: is this a 3 wheeled ‘pedal electric’ bicycle or a 3 wheeled motorcycle with an electric motor? The difference being how the motor power is engaged…separate or with the pedalling?

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    • WestCoastNut January 31, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      It’s classified as an electric assisted bicycle since the motor is not over 1,000 WATTS and the speed is governed at 20MPH… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_bicycle_laws#Oregon

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    • Nate July 30, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      The electrics and pedals are two separate systems that meet on either side of the rear wheel. Both systems freewheel when not in use. So you have complete control over how much you want the electrics to help you, and vice versa, by what pedaling gear you choose, how hard you push your feet, and how far you push the accelerator that controls the electric motor.

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  • Todd Boulanger January 31, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    With these very city and pedestrian friendly micro vehicles I would like to see a push in WA & OR to allow younger operators as young as 13 or 14 to be able to make in town deliveries and such.

    [As an example, back in the day my dad got his day light motor vehicle license at 13 for the farm and my grand mom got hers at 11…and these electric trishaws have a lot less power than a Model T or mid century pick up truck.]

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    • Todd Boulanger January 31, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      I forgot to add…These youth operators permits would require operators training for the rules of the road and repairs.

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    • Gumby January 31, 2014 at 4:43 pm

      Yes. This is one of the issues with electric assisted bikes – you need to be eligable for a drivers license. This has caused some police officers to ticket people who have had their drivers license suspended.

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  • Mike January 31, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Really bummed I missed a chance at a test drive, since the ELF looks like a piece of our future that just fell through a wormhole into our time.

    But I can’t see buying one today. As an avid cyclist, I think I would be constantly cursing what it can’t do. And as a motorist who paid about the same $$ for my AWD wagon, likewise.

    What this reminds me of is Apple’s Newton (you have to be old enough to know what that was). It was the iPad of its day, except it wasn’t. What we really needed was high-bandwidth wifi and cellular service for the concept to make sense, or even be what we wanted it to be. Now it is.

    The bet folks are making here is that ELFs and bike share bikes will get non-cyclists interested to such an extent that pressure will mount to make the needed infrastructure materialize.

    I can’t help feeling we’ve got things the wrong way round.

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  • GlowBoy January 31, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Pretty cool idea, and I expect to see more vehicles like this. I think part of the reason that Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) like the ZENN and Zap Xebra never sold very well, even in Portland, is that they were still essentially cars — very lightweight ones with a 25mph legal maximum speed, but still cars and they had to be driven like cars.

    The advantage of the ELF is that it’s still essentially a bike — just an unusually heavy one with an enclosure and the ability to go up to 20mph without pedaling.

    Still, this wouldn’t be feasible for me unless there were a stretched version that allowed me to pick up and drop off my kids.

    As for parking, it might be difficult in central Portland, but out here in the suburbs there would be plenty of room to park this at the outdoor racks we have at my work. I actually could bring it inside here, but I’d probably want to leave it outside so the solar panel charges.

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  • Gumby January 31, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    I test rode the Elf on Tuesday as well. At 150 pounds, I doubt anyone would use this without the electric motor. It’s quite stable and handles well but is not nearly as nimble as a bicycle. The advantages I see for this over a standard bicycle is visibility, weather protection, no need for specialty clothing and people of all fitness levels can ride (drive?) it. Nobody’s going to miss you in this thing. It also removes many of the obstacles people have with riding a bicycle. As far as size, it’s pretty similar in size to the B-line trikes and the pedicabs. Some of the comments here suggest that at $5000, this is expensive. Expensive compared to a bike maybe, but not compared to a car or a velomobile. Velomobiles start at about $3400 (without motor) at http://www.itsavelomobile.com (in Cottage grove) to well over $10K. Operating costs are only pennies a day if you charge this from an outlet and free If you use the solar panel. Columbia Cycle Works has a similar vehicle (fully enclosed and with windshield wipers) – the Tripod for $7450.

    They are planning on opening up a retail location in Portland in the next few months, so you may start seeing a lot more of these. Anything that get’s people out of their cars gets my thumbs up!

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    • Nate July 30, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      Another ELF advantage – I can carry my laptop, clothes and lunch to work with nearly a whole plastic bin to spare. It takes a LOT of cargo, making it more practical for a grocery run (or a commute) than a bicycle if you need to bring stuff back and forth.

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  • Steve Scarich January 31, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    I saw one in Bend today, parked at the Mt. Bachelor transit parking lot on Bend’s Westside. Now I know what I was looking at.

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  • Greg January 31, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    As I only saw the Troutdale test ride, I’m sorry I missed out on the Portland test ride 🙁

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  • Opus the Poet January 31, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    This looks like the US version of the Peel P50 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peel_P50 only not as well-defined legally (the P50 is legally a moped in the US).

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    • Nate July 30, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      Definition depends on the state.

      In Maine, the ELF is an “electric assist bicycle”, which is defined as 3 or fewer wheels, 20MPH max speed from the electric motor exclusively, and max 750W motor.

      It requires some sort of driver’s license but no registration, and may be operated on bike paths and roadways under the same rights/responsibilities as a bicycle (as far to the right as is practical / consistent with safety, reflectors or lights, 3-foot separation required when passing, etc).

      In some states, it’s a moped, and some states haven’t figured out tricycle recumbents at all, much less electric-assist ones. It usually falls under some sort of bicycle or moped classification (so it needs registration in some states).

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  • Jim February 2, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Whew do you ride this thing? It’s too big for a bike lane and you obviously don’t want to take it out into the street. Sidewalks, no, beach, no, wind will be a problem, salt flats, wrong part of the country.

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    • wsbob February 2, 2014 at 11:11 pm

      Jim…doesn’t sound like you’ve read up on this thing. In a variety of situations, it’s probably going to work out for riding on the street. It’s got electric assist that likely will help boost what’s been said to be an easy exclusive pedal cruising speed of 10mph, up somewhat higher…nobody testing it here in Portland has yet said in comments to this thread…I’m thinking 15-20mph may be realistic. For short hops of 2-3 miles, mostly on neighborhood streets, that may be perfect for many people.

      I know from having seen them there myself at Seaside, Oregon, several types of three and four wheeled pedal vehicles are available for rent, and people seem to have big time fun on them. In comparison, the ELF would be more serious a pedal vehicle, more sophisticated, though more expensive, of course. Still, may be potential in such places. Golf courses and retirement communities too, perhaps.

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      • Nate July 30, 2014 at 1:30 pm

        (sorry for the double post – this was meant to be a reply to your comment)

        I ride mine on the road all the time. Works just fine. On level ground, the electric assist + pedaling = 18-22 MPH realistically, drops to about 12-15MPH going up steep hills, tops out at about 30MPH coasting downhill. Most of the road I ride in is between 25MPH and 45MPH.

        I’m far more visible than a bike and able to maintain better speed. Most drivers also understand brake lights and turn signals (both of which the ELF has) far better than hand signals.

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  • 9watts February 3, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Here’s the Austrian version –

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  • Henrietta J Davies March 3, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    How much of a hill cam the electric motor clime? I live in a very hilly town so this is vital information.

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    • Nate July 30, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      It’ll handle almost anything my car will.

      My regular commuting route is from Brunswick Maine to Freeport Maine on “Pleasant Hill Road”. There are a few pretty steep bits and I’m always cresting those hills at about 15MPH in the ELF (same hills I crest at 6-8MPH on my commuter bike if I stand on the pedals). I don’t know if I trust MapMyRide to measure grade, but it claims I peak at about 15% grade.

      I tried a very steep local grade (Torrey Hill Range Road, Freeport, Maine) and the electric motor and I both had to work very hard with the three-speed hub. MapMyRide claims that one peaks at 27%. I don’t think it’s nearly that steep, but I know it’s steep enough that I have to lean on the handlebars of my bicycle or fall over backward. It’s scary-steep but the ELF felt secure and the three disc brakes handled the load easily.

      With the NuVinci (infinitely variable hub, almost three times the pedaling range) you could probably dial in a much lower gear and handle anything a car could.

      Recommended hill upgrades: NuVinci Hub, Rear Disc Brake.

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  • Mary F. Anderson March 7, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    How much of a hill can the electric motor climb? I live 8 miles from my job. There are two routes to it — one is by freeway (no way!) and the other involves going two miles up a hill the local bike riders call a ‘death ride’. There are a couple of stretches where the car needs to be in first gear.

    I have a friend on the hill who swore by his electric bike for going up El Toyonal — but he lived about a quarter of the way up the hill!

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  • Caleb March 12, 2014 at 7:22 am

    A good mode of transportation for city locations. If you can ride a bike to work and around the city then this a great alternative to an automobile.

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  • Roberto Rodriguez April 1, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    I’m really considering getting a Elf, my job is 3 minutes away from my house in car! Sams club, Walmart and winco are all within 3miles

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  • Nate July 30, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    I ride mine on the road all the time. Works just fine. On level ground, the electric assist + pedaling = 18-22 MPH realistically, drops to about 12-15MPH going up steep hills, tops out at about 30MPH coasting downhill. Most of the road I ride in is between 25MPH and 45MPH.

    I’m far more visible than a bike and able to maintain better speed. Most drivers also understand brake lights and turn signals (both of which the ELF has) far better than hand signals.

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  • Herb Aarlie March 8, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    I live in San Diego. What are shipping costs?

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  • Nate March 9, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Herb Aarlie
    I live in San Diego. What are shipping costs?
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    Organic used uship.com on mine. They were able to juggle the delivery of mine and a couple of other ELFs into Maine on the same day, and found someone delivering a closed trailer large enough to accommodate all three. I think my shipping costs with all that taken into account were about $700 or so.

    Shipping to California is probably going to be fairly expensive unless Organic has a bunch of them all headed your way at once, or luck into someone who has space in a trailer that they are willing to offer up fairly cheap.

    Still, shipping worked out to less than the three of us renting a U-Haul and driving them up.

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  • Nate March 9, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Questions from the article and answers from an owner, now that I’ve had mine for almost a year:

    “What would it be like to share a lane with other vehicles on a major arterial?”

    About the same as any bicycle. We don’t have bike lanes around here and where we do they are usually the Door Zone with a fancy paint job. This is 4 feet wide, true, but it takes up the whole lane no more or less effectively than my Sirrus, and is a darned sight more visible.

    It is occasionally mistaken for a small automobile, which led to some panic braking as folks caught up with me and realized I was doing 20MPH. I have since added a large “slow vehicle” triangle of the type found on tractors, and that has clarified my speed greatly to other traffic.

    “How long before these hit the road will Oregon law catch up and classify them as something other than a bicycle?”

    Not sure. In Maine, the ELF already falls under a special category, “electric assist bicycle”. Maine follows the Federal classification of something with 2-3 wheels having available pedal power and a motor of under 1000 Watts. With pedals, 3 wheels, and a 750W motor, no problem. It is different from a Bicycle classification in that I need some form of an operator’s license, but requires no registration, insurance, or inspection. Because, really, how much threat is a 150 pound vehicle to anyone?

    “How easy would it be to climb up a hill to north Portland if the battery dies?”

    You get out and push. Been there, done that.

    “Would the solar panel be a reliable source of re-charging power?”

    Depends on what you need for range. The Maine sun in the summer can give me about 5-7Ah of power leaving it in the sun for 6 hours based on my experience (I have the 60W panel, the new ones have a 100W panel, so adjust accordingly). That’s about 10-14 miles of range on ONLY solar if you put some reasonable but not strenuous effort into pedaling in moderate hills. More if you crank it hard or ride on the flats, less if you use electric-only.

    If you can leave it in more southern sun for 12 hours, you could probably expect 20 to 30 daily miles of range from pure solar.

    But the 10Ah 48V battery I carry is 480W of power. That’s under a half-kilowatt. So even if you had to use plug-in power like I do, you’re getting 20 miles of range for (with recharging losses) about 10-12 cents worth of power.

    My commute is 28 miles a day round-trip. I use the solar panel as much as I can, but the plug on the wall in my living room is really my primary recharging source.

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    • Nate March 9, 2015 at 12:18 pm

      Adding: If I had the 100W panel, I’d have few concerns about having the battery topped back off for the ride home after work daily. However, I’d still plug it in overnight for the next morning’s commute (solar panel don’t workie at night).

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    • wsbob March 11, 2015 at 11:35 am

      Nate…your comments as an experienced, knowledgeable user of the ELF, to this discussion, are great, very helpful towards giving some sense of what the rig can do in actual use. Main winters get cold. The ELF’s shell must be nice, considering.

      The local Performance store in Beaverton has one on display. With the ‘works’, they’re expensive, like 10,000. Certainly seems to have potential for a lot of people’s situations’ though. Start of winter, I hinted to the manager that it may be something to bring up for display and rides, to the Saturday Farmer’s Market, starting in spring. Lots of people there, some from adjoining neighborhoods.

      Interesting that you mention suspecting your ELF was mistaken for a car. Not too surprising since it’s not too different in size from say, a Smart car. Even bikes and a lightweight pedaled vehicle such as the ELF, operated poorly could be the cause of collisions. I suppose that’s a ‘wait and see’ type thing. Probably more than anything else, it’s an adjustment for people driving, to a different looking somewhat slower vehicle.

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  • Mike March 9, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    I’m interested in the gearing combinations on the ELF. What is the chainring and cog set up. Also the three choices on the hub? Would like to look at a gear inch chart. Thanks.

    Mike Knack

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    • Nate March 9, 2015 at 3:48 pm

      You’d probably need to email or call Organic for the chainring setup. I have the SRAM iMotion 3-speed on mine. The other option available when I got mine was a NuVinci 360. I understand they have added the iMotion 9-speed since, which I really wish had been available. The NuVinci was over my budget, but I’m finding a 3-speed hub is somewhat limited in hilly terrain.

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  • chip March 10, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    What type of motor does it use?
    I hear a standard brushless dc motor

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  • ESpring March 15, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    Can you just carry a spare charged battery with you for longer trips?

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    • Nate March 16, 2015 at 9:18 am

      The stock frame of the ELF is designed to hold two batteries. Batteries go under the seat. Get the stock 15Ah and a spare 15Ah and you’ll have somewhere over 50 miles of range. They use a standard Anderson 50A connector so you can either get a 48VDC capable switch, build a Y cable with a pair of diodes so they can run in parallel without trying to charge each other, or just unplug one battery and plug the spare in as needed.

      Several owners have purchased 20 or 30Ah batteries and installed them next to the seat as well. You’d have to build your own bracket for that, but the bamboo “floor panels” include a structure that should be rugged enough to hold some pretty substantial weight. It wouldn’t be THAT hard to put enough battery in it to get 100 miles of range, though at a top speed of 20MPH realistically, 5 hours a day in the saddle is a lot.

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      • MB May 19, 2015 at 2:53 pm

        Nate can you comment on the ELF’s performance in strong winds? Does it handle OK or are crosswinds a problem? Thanks. Very much appreciate the practical info you have provided above.

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  • Darren Bush October 19, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    Its an amazing alternative to any automobile.

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