Upon first reading the title, many of you are probably thinking either 1) What is an ELF? or 2) It's not even Thanksgiving yet, and they are writing about Christmas. Well, my loyal readers, prepare yourselves for a treat... Drover Rideshare is excited to feature Nashville ELF.
What is an ELF?
An ELF is an electric bicycle hybrid. These innovative vehicles combine the energy generated from pedaling with a powerful electric battery to deliver a truly unique riding experience.
Riders can still pedal like on a normal bicycle or tricycle, however, in an ELF, riders can also utilize the battery's power via a throttle. Using only the battery power, you can travel for about 20 miles at 20 miles an hour. With combined pedaling and battery power, riders can achieve speeds of over 25 mph. The best part is: ELFs are equipped with a solar panel array on the top of the enclosure to charge the internal battery. This means that if you only use the solar panels to recharge the battery, ELFs drive 100% emission free. You can also plug the battery into a standard outlet to recharge the battery faster, at which point you would be indirectly consuming fossil fuels as most of the USA's electricity is generated from non-renewable energy sources. :(
As you can see from the picture, an ELF is designed as follows: two front wheels provide steering capability via a steering column that finishes in a traditional handlebar design inside the cockpit (as visible in the photo). The handlebar has brakes, just like a normal bike, but also a throttle to engage the electric battery, and also a parking break. The ELF even has side mirrors <3. I assume the back wheel is the one powered by the battery, as the battery is located in the back of the bike. The driver's seat is situated inside the plastic enclosure. The enclosure itself provides structural support, protection from the elements (eg rain), and houses the solar panel array on the top. The enclosure also has a windshield to keep the wind out of your face and protect from bugs.
How do we know so much about the ELF?
ELF did an exposition on Vandy's campus where I encountered ELF for the first time! I ran to my dorm as fast as I could to get my ID and then took one for a test ride around the lawn... it was such a fun experience! I own a normal, fixed gear bike and really enjoy riding it. I wouldn't call myself a bicycle enthusiast, however, I am quite a good rider and know the mechanics of how they operate pretty well.
The ELF vehicle, in my opinion, is the perfect combination of a bicycle and a lightweight "buggy" concept. The seat was comfortable and had plenty of room for someone much taller than me (you can slide it back/forward as needed like in a car). Also, ELF is legally considered a bicycle, so you can ride them in the streets where that is legal (it's legal in Nashville) or on the sidewalks wherever bikes are allowed there. They even come with trunk space.
Also, they go pretty fast. I know that 20mph doesn't feel fast, however, once you're inside, you are content with that velocity. Moreover, they can take turns really well. I may or may not have tried to take an irresponsible, tight turn, as in a 'manual specifically, says not to' turn, and may or may not have flipped it over. However, if this happened to me, hypothetically, I could (maybe) tell you that it handled such a flip amazingly well, I was completely unharmed, and the structure/enclosure/side mirror etc were all also unharmed. Also, if you are alarmed by the idea of flipping over in one of these, wake up to the fact that if you fall over on a normal bike anywhere, especially a road with cars, you are not in for a fun time. I can personally assure you that the ELF's three-wheel design and enclosure make it much more stable and easy to ride than a traditional bicycle... aka safer.
Really, ZERO Emissions?
Yes. Again, ELF vehicles can be used with ZERO emissions and complete independence from fossil fuels, provided you charge the battery using the built-in solar panels on the top of the enclosure. The ELF's electric motor operates at 750 Watts, able to carry you at 20 MPH. If you use the solar panel array to charge the battery, recharging takes 7 hours. If you plug an ELF into a standard electrical outlet, it takes 2.5 hours to charge.
The ELF comes in two passenger capacities: the ELF SOLO, which seats one, and the ELF 2FR, which seats a passenger in the back. You can customize ELF vehicles to include luxurious features such as speakers and phone docks.
Drover's Praise for ELF
We here at Drover are super stoked about ELF vehicles for a few reasons. For one, they are an innovative combination of electric motors and bicycles, making them a cool transportation technology. Additionally, they are ZERO emission vehicles, which Drover supports as part of our environmental focus and Green Culture. Moreover, they are just plain fun to drive. On their website, it states that most city riders are under a couple of miles and only contain 1 passenger. Using Nashville as an example, I'd say 95% of my destinations within Nashville are under 2 miles away from Vanderbilt's campus. Given this, an ELF would be an awesome way for me to get around. ELF's solve the problem of having to get sweaty while pedaling a bike and also make it less fatiguing to travel longer distances or uphill. Also, let's not forget that ELF's enclosure protects the rider from things like rain which, on a normal bike, make trips extremely unenjoyable.
Suffice it to say I really want one. You should too. If you live in Nashville, hourly, monthly, and yearly rental rates are available, as well as purchase options.
Patrizio Murdocca is Chief Web Architect at Drover Rideshare, a student at Vanderbilt University, and President of Interfaced Ministries.