Thursday, August 1, 2013

Interesting Idea, Or Mega-DERP?

Not a car or bicycle, but a blend _ an ELF vehicle
RESTON, Va. (AP) — Mark Stewart turns quite a few heads as he zips through the streets on his neon green ELF bike. With each pedal, his feet take turns sticking out from the bottom while a gentle motor hums in the background.

What he's driving looks like a cross between a bicycle and a car, the closest thing yet to Fred Flintstone's footmobile, only with solar panels and a futuristic shape.
First off, here's a picture of the "ELF" bike:

My objections are several-fold. First off, "ELF"? Really? You give it the same acronym as the Earth Liberation Front, the domestic terrorist enviro-wackos that spike trees to kill loggers and destroy laboratory work in the interest of "saving" the environment? I'm assuming that you were thinking "ELF" as in cute like the Keebler elves, but then again, they never explain what ELF stands for.

Secondly, while this might be a viable option for folks in wide-open spaces, it's really not amenable to city traffic. It's far more unwieldy than a standard bicycle, yet doesn't move any faster than a traditional moped. With a top speed of 30 MPH, it's going to be an impediment to traffic loping along on the side of the road, yet it's too big to safely fit on bike trails. It's hard to see how this would work pretty much anywhere that doesn't have a dedicated bicycle lane - it's certainly not going to work in any major city.

Lastly, the electric component. While it's understandable that the motor is added to the unit to assist in hill climbing and such, it seems like a lot of additional weight and expense for not a lot of benefit. Then again, the ELF weighs 130 pounds - nearly 100 pounds more than other trikes and *far* more than a conventional bicycle - so the motor might be necessary on steep hills. Your average ~ 150 pound cyclist is going to need to power themselves *and* essentially another person in the form of the ELF.

Also, while I was tempted to comment on the price, it's actually pretty well in line with what a high end recumbent trike runs - see the GreenSpeed GTO trike (which looks flippin' AWESOME BTW). If it's your thing, the ELF might make sense in that it's covered and appears that it would offer a more enjoyable all-weather experience. There are other models that are less expensive, but when you're at this level you're looking at general > $3K. $5K for something covered and handbuilt doesn't seem all that extravagant.

I would LOVE to rent one for the day and try it out, but I think for $5K I'd be far more likely to get something like this and a decade's worth of insurance and tags...

That is all.


Dave H said...

It does look like something that'll sell well in California. I suspect it'll end up being one of those things people buy because it looks like a good idea, but then it gets buried in the garage because it's too hard to use. (Like home exercise equipment.)

People who are inclined to keep using something like that probably already have a bicycle.

Anonymous said...

What good is weather protection if you're going to end up sweating balls anyway?

Sendarius said...

@ Anonymous 9:14:
That is what makes commuting by bicycle such a ridiculous proposition - yet all the tree-huggers proclaim that we ALL should ride bicycles to work.

When I was commuting via a person-powered device, I had the luxury of employer provided shower facilities.

Without being able to shower and change after pushing pedals for 40+ minutes, my co-workers would most likely have had me de-fenestrated - from the tenth floor.

Ed said...

Mega-DERP? Weren't they a heavy metal hair band from the '80s?