Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Elf, and Lubbock, would you ride a velomobile?

Not this Elf!

Last year I sold a really cool kayak. It was a well-used Perception 10' sit-in that I had picked up from a friend. I owned it for three years, and the only time it saw any water was when the roof leaked on the shop. A kayak is very green, efficient, and exciting transportation - if you live in a place and have a life where you can enjoy it. I don't. Which is why I try not to bring home the following items any more:
skis
snowmobiles
long-distance motorcycles
dirt bikes
hang gliders
convertibles
sailboats

And to a lesser degree, velomobiles. Velomobiles, however, are growing on me - they do have wheels, after all. They are lightweight, simple, and very very efficient. They offer a degree of weather protection. And they can look very cool.

The coolest of velomobiles! See more here.

I have liked them for some time, but I just don't know about them in our local version of the real world. Our town's traffic is not terribly bike friendly, and a bike has the virtue of being skinny enough to obstruct traffic very little.

This Elf!

A velomobile (and Kickstarter campaign) I have been watching with great interest is the Elf. It's not as sleek or small as most velos, but it has quite a list of virtues. Organic Transit, the company that builds the Elf, refers to it as "...the cleanest, most efficient vehicle on the planet." (1800 MPGe  - 1800 miles for the energy equivalent of 1 gallon of gas!!!!!)

Mechanically speaking, the Elf has the same powertrain as a 750 watt electric bicycle. It has pedals, an electric motor, a lithium battery - high quality but pretty standard stuff. But it also has more comfortable seating, more carrying capacity, and a 60 watt solar panel on the roof. (And it has a roof!) And it's a turn-key production vehicle you can just jump in and cruise - unlike all the cool plans on the internet that will take you two years to build.

So, yes, Organic Transit, you have built (and successfully campaigned) a phenomenally cool and worthy vehicle, and I wish we all would switch to transportation like this for our city driving, but who in the world I live in will drive it in or near traffic?

May we all find a cooler and less polluting way to get around!