Organic Transit

Aug 12, 2014 | Healthy Living

Ladies and gentlemen, the ELF! A tricycle in a bubble, with rooftop solar panels and electric-motor assist. Naturally, my father rushed to the manufacturer in Durham to nab one of the first ones off the production line. It’s my father’s match-made-in-heaven vehicle, combining his great loves: cycling, environmentalism, super-nerd technology, and explaining things to anyone who will listen.


If you like country roads (well-paved, please!), dislike fossil fuels, and enjoy being gawked at, this is the vehicle for you. The pedals send your feet out the bottom, à la Flintstone car. Instead of old-school bike gears, you have a variable transmission that smoothly adjusts the pedals’ resistance. Engage the electric assist, and you zip along flat stretches and cruise up hills. Just watch out for potholes; if you put one between your front wheels, your rear wheel will crash—best to circumnavigate completely.


My father drove this stylin’ little buggy to his Exeter reunion, a 30-minute car trip; 45 in the ELF. “But what happens if a car comes?” you ask. Well, they just wait for a chance to go around you.


My husband and I took it for a spin in my father’s Newburyport neighborhood. One guy on the sidewalk said (much to my father’s delight), “Wow, you see some weird things.” My husband stopped at a lemonade stand staffed by a herd of children, ordered an Arnold Palmer, and showed them the ELF: a huge hit. One of the boys is all fired up to ask for one for Christmas. Dear This Boy’s Parents: You’re welcome.

Philip earned the right to drive it by wearing his socks like this.

My husband earned the right to drive it by wearing his socks like this.

At the helm!

At the helm!

Here’s a video by ELF creator Rob Cotter (who used to work at Porsche!):


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