Author Topic: OrganicTransit ELF  (Read 1833 times)

igthebold

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OrganicTransit ELF
« on: May 15, 2013, 11:52:09 AM »
Not particularly mustachian given the price ($4K) but I figured this would be interesting to you guys: http://organictransit.com

I got a chance to ride/drive an ELF on Monday. It was a lot of fun, and seems like a neat way to have a car without having a car. They're about the size of a Smart Car, though a little shorter.

It's a (semi?) recumbent tricycle with electric assist and a solar panel. Weighs about 100lb.

I like seeing this sort of innovation, and it doesn't hurt that it's nearby me in Durham, NC.

jamccain

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Re: OrganicTransit ELF
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2013, 12:28:37 PM »
Wow!  Can't wait to see how pissed the drivers on the road are going to be when they have this thing blocking them instead of just my narrow bicycle. 

I think it's awesome...although I would like to see the truck version.  I think my wife will like it because she may thinks it's safer than a bike. 

Rachelocity

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Re: OrganicTransit ELF
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2013, 01:13:58 PM »
This would be excellent for me - I can't ride a bike because of balance issues and actually wiped out on an adult trike, resulting in a messy fractured wrist that required surgery and three months off work.  I don't have a car, live downtown and take public transit once a week or so, but I would go further more frequently if I had wheels.  This would be just the thing for shopping, recreational riding, exercise, giving myself a much-lacking "cool factor" and so on.  If the price point was $1,000, I'd be clicking on the "Buy" button, because it would pay for itself within a few years' worth of bus tickets.  But until that time, I'll admire it from afar. 

jamccain

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Re: OrganicTransit ELF
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2013, 04:58:25 PM »
This would be just the thing for shopping, recreational riding, exercise, giving myself a much-lacking "cool factor" and so on. 

We must have different definitions of "cool".  :)

Paul der Krake

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Re: OrganicTransit ELF
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2013, 05:23:32 PM »
I've seen the owner of the shop driving around Durham on this a few times, it's handling the hills of downtown just fine. Can't justify the price tag, cool stuff nonetheless.

Wow!  Can't wait to see how pissed the drivers on the road are going to be when they have this thing blocking them instead of just my narrow bicycle. 
Right now it's so bizarre and novel most drivers are just squinting to get a better look at it. I believe it mostly targets inner-city roads.
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dragoncar

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Re: OrganicTransit ELF
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2013, 06:07:29 PM »
I'm like 90% sure we discussed this before.  I also followed that link because I wanted to know about magic elves.  Was disappoints again.

frompa

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Re: OrganicTransit ELF
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2013, 06:18:52 PM »
I test rode one of these when I was in Durham last month.  Riding it was a blast, pure and simple fun.  I'm debating selling my recumbent trike and putting the cash toward one of these.  Organic Transportation seems to have a waiting list at the moment, and production is still in the fairly early stages where I assume they will work out the minor bugs, so I'm in no rush.  This would be ideal inner city transport in my book -- much more visible than my recumbent trike, offering substantial protection from weather, providing substantial carrying capacity, AND A BOATLOAD OF FUN!!

igthebold

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Re: OrganicTransit ELF
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2013, 06:46:47 AM »
I'm like 90% sure we discussed this before.  I also followed that link because I wanted to know about magic elves.  Was disappoints again.

Double whammy. I did a quick search to make sure I wasn't repeating and nothing turned up. Could very easily have missed something.

I've seen the owner of the shop driving around Durham on this a few times, it's handling the hills of downtown just fine. Can't justify the price tag, cool stuff nonetheless.

Yes, it's something I want to want to buy, but then I don't want to.. o_O I'm happy something like this exists and seems to be exciting those who have no problem shelling out the cash.

Right now it's so bizarre and novel most drivers are just squinting to get a better look at it. I believe it mostly targets inner-city roads.

I've thought through how it would work in my small town. Probably not very well.. most of the speed limits are 35 and 45 MPH except in the very downtown (2 blocks by 3 blocks total). My bicycle works fine.

dragoncar

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igthebold

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BentMike

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Re: OrganicTransit ELF
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2013, 05:54:46 PM »
Greetings,

I have been a beta tester for OT with ELF #7.  I thought some might like to ask questions about it. 

I use mine outside they envelope they market to: I commute 50 miles round trip from south of Clayton NC to NC State in Raleigh.  I manage to do it it 3 times a week if the stars align.  It works very well for this.  Disclaimer - I have been riding bikes and trikes  on the road for years.  You have to have some of the same mindset as with regular cycling - weather, flatting, willingness to adapt route to time of day, etc.  You have to get an additional battery to go 25 miles.  I get about 13 miles from the one that came with it.  The larger Chinese replacement (they are all Chinese I think) cost me $450 incl shipping and I can get all 35 miles from it with the small one that is about 38 miles of range before charging.  It is too heavy to manage much distance without a battery.

I like it I think they have done a good job designing it.  They will have to find better vendors for some things and the price will not hold at $4000.  Things will change like selection of transmission, accessories, etc.  $5000 is not too much for this, it is a great bargain really.  I bought a nice recumbent trike in 2001 for $4500 (Greenspeed GTO with some customizations).  These are nearly handmade until there are really large numbers being sold.  A nice handmade custom two wheeler will easily top $5000.  That doesn't make it any easier to take, but id you used it a lot the savings are real compared to a car.  It cost about $0.10 for the power to go 25 miles.  I can't buy enough drugs to get the same effect on my BP as the exercise gives me, so that is a savings of note.

I am having little trouble with cars, but I pick and choose my routes well and am lucky to have a very nice, quiet two lane from most of the ride to work.  The main issue, now solved, was that some people will not pass on a double yellow line.  Then others start lining up behindu and get irate.  I find that if I wave them around things go much better.  They feel like I am on their side, not just an obstacle, it gives them permission they may not give themselves.  It seems to work quite well.  In general all trikes get better treatment than two wheelers.  There is less expectation that you could get out of the way if you wanted to.  They look like fun, leading to the other difficulty, people pulling beside to talk.

I also use it for errands in town during the day, visits to the doctors, plumbing store, lunch.  It is all good.

C. K.

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Re: OrganicTransit ELF
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2013, 08:42:13 AM »
Greetings,

I have been a beta tester for OT with ELF #7.  I thought some might like to ask questions about it. 



I know the battery or batteries are powered by the solar panel, but does any of the leg work also charge the battery?

BentMike

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Re: OrganicTransit ELF
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2013, 10:47:34 AM »
CKDH,

No.  It is hard enough work pedaling; charging a battery by pedal power is inefficient in comparison, so that won't happen.

And, the batteries are not powered by the solar panel  - at least not the way I use it

The ELF is a battery powered, pedal assist, potential car replacement.  A full charge from wall current for my commute costs about $.25.  That is the mode I use - I charge from the wall at both ends of my commute.

Solar...the current panels are big, and as with solar automobiles universally (excluding the very un-car-like "racing" machines) the panels can't be a primary source  of power, if you use much power. 

The sun makes roughly 1000 W/meter squared (for round numbered arguments sake) a really good panel from Sunpower is 20% efficient - 200W/meter squared.  My panel (a beta module not the standard one) is 36% of a meter squared if it was a good as a Sunpower it would make 70 Watts.   That .2 efficiency times .36 of area = .072 or 7.2% of incident light power is all the panel can make.  You don't get 1000W/m^2 a good part of the day, I think 50Watts/hour might be a reasonable estimate for the panel for a day of light.   Don't park in the shade.  YMMV.

On one leg of my commute 25 miles I use maybe 2kW/h in 2 hours.  1000W.  50 watts from the panel means a 20 hour charge time.

For some people that would be just fine.  If you drive less than 25 miles, or only drive once a week that far, you could do it all on the solar. 

The pedaling extends the range a lot.  Going slow also helps a lot.  If you stick to greenways (10mph limit here) you might get a lot out of it.  the big drain on power is air drag which is near nothing below 12mph.  I average about 24.5 mph and I get some very good exercise. 

The 1 HP motor (750W) is a lot more powerful than a human.  Most of us are not good for more than 100 to 200 Watts.  The motor consumes 6 to 8 times what we can put out if we are both working hard.

Anyway that is just to explain why no vehicle is going to do much better than this, and why a solar panel can't be expected to carry the load for many uses that the ELF is good for.

The ELF will haul a lot of gear.  It is stout and roomy.  They claim 8 bags of groceries and I am sure you can do that.  I put in a dash and floor boards on the sides and I bet I could double that.  It would be slow taking off, but you could do it.  350 lb of payload they say.

I weigh 230lb, and put an extra 100lb on it sometimes with extra batteries, laptop, food, clothes, books, tools, etc.  No problems.

I have seen their advertising and I would say it is straightforward and honest.  They don't claim it will do what I do with it.  They are talking about it more like a go to the store and the library or park sort of vehicle.  It is definitely good for that.

You may hear mention of trickle charging from the solar panel.  Trickle charging is more for lead acid batteries that lose charge just sitting.  These batteries are LFP (LiFePO4) and don't lose any power at all sitting; if you don't drain it somehow with a light or electronics it will hold all of its charge for a long time.


Hope that is useful information.  Ask more if you like.

BM

C. K.

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Re: OrganicTransit ELF
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2013, 06:57:05 AM »
Thanks, BentMike.
No more questions for now.

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C. K.

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Re: OrganicTransit ELF
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2013, 10:22:59 PM »
BentMike,

Would you know where to buy one used? Or is it too soon for pre-owned ELFs?

Pixelshot

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Re: OrganicTransit ELF
« Reply #15 on: June 24, 2014, 05:09:25 AM »
BentMike, I'm just now finding this thread having only recently met an Elf...

Any updates in the last year or so that changes your opinion of the Elf? I live in Washington DC and getting around on a bike here is very doable. My main concern, though, is that traffic is very congested and I'm often going through very tight spaces. Parking on crowded sidewalks and theft would also be a problem. Also, storing the Elf inside my row-house apartment would be impossible, so I'd have to lock it on the street somewhere, which I can't imagine would go well. Especially for $5k+

Thoughts?

Thanks.

ivyhedge

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Re: OrganicTransit ELF
« Reply #16 on: June 24, 2014, 08:16:04 AM »
Looks like it was designed for Boston (our metro system logo is similar to the "T" on the front).
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Nords

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Re: OrganicTransit ELF
« Reply #17 on: June 24, 2014, 10:14:39 AM »
This would be just the thing for shopping, recreational riding, exercise, giving myself a much-lacking "cool factor" and so on. 

We must have different definitions of "cool".  :)
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GamerGirl

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Re: OrganicTransit ELF
« Reply #18 on: June 24, 2014, 10:29:03 AM »
Interesting, but I think i'll stick with my bicycle + grocery panniers.

Sounds like a good replacement, tho, for people that want more visability on the roads.
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