Fast-forward 17 months and here
I am interviewing Rob at their new
headquarters in Durham. It’s a beautiful
building with massive skylights, efficient
LED lighting and windows peering into
the shop area where ELFs are coming
to life. Compared to the dimly lit,
cardboard-laden warehouses of other
e-bike manufacturers I’ve visited, this
one feels cheerful and futuristic. Rob
shares his plans to add beehives and a
water garden that will provide organic
snacks and reduce runoff erosion in the
community. I ask if they’re taking job
applications and he smiles.
“We use larger 26-inch wheels
instead of 20-inch like most recumbent
trikes, because that smooths out the
ride and makes boarding the ELF much
easier; you don’t have to squat to get
in,” Rob explains. “By mounting the hub
motor directly to the frame, we keep
it away from water and debris, reduce
unsprung weight, and make wheels and
tires easier to service,” he adds. I’m
starting to realize just how thoughtful
this design really is and the value of
building everything in-house from
scratch. “And, we offer 24/7 roadside
assistance for the first year to anyone
who buys an ELF”. Rob doesn’t seem to
understand that I’m already sold.
After a few test rides and video
reviews for my website, ElectricBike-Review.com, I’m starting to realize
the potential for more than just water-jug-hauling with these things. I’ve
arrived at Organic Transit after a
month of road tripping from Colorado
to Austin, Miami and now Durham.
Near an upscale retirement community
in Florida, the adjacent McDonald’s
parking lot was chock-full of pimped-out, 600-plus-pound electric golf
carts. By comparison, the ELF weighs
150 pounds, can be serviced at any
traditional bicycle shop, charges itself
with sun power, and starts at $5495.
Inside ELF’s headquarters, there’s
a whole team at work here focused on
multi-passenger, child-ready and truck
designs led by Apoorv Agarwal. He’s a
former electric drive and global strategy
leader from Ford Motor Company.
“Where are all the hippies?” I wondered
to myself quietly.
I can’t wait to see one of these
things in the wild someday, perhaps
cruising around my hometown. I
imagine it parked next to a tiny house or
SPIN farm where other inspired hipsters
are exploring Kickstarter as a way to
help fund the next big idea to make the
planet a better place to live.
For a video tour of Organic Transit
with Rob Cotter,
visit http://youtu.be/u--dD1lGfbo. ■
The ELFs come to life in a bright factory in Durham, North
Carolina. While it doesn’t look much like a bicycle from
the outside, that feeling changes once you get inside.
There is a phone app that acts as instrumentation.