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