“TRIKE TO THE FUTURE“
It must be something in the water … seems everybody and their brother is getting into making electric assist motorized “velocars” (technically they are velomobiles) built upon a tadpole trike. Here are 3 of them … the ELF, the e-Fox and the Tripod. The concept is great. The problem I have with every design I have seen thus far is the fact that they make them too difficult to get in and out of. I mean, why not just put a door in the side like a regular car or truck has? Someone who is elderly, overweight and out of shape, or has various physical problems could not possibly deal with the design of these. I don’t understand the mentality here and I certainly don’t agree with it. It is flawed from the git go. If I were going to design one of these that would be one of the top priorities … easy entry and exit. I understand that the strongest body is one piece and that a door takes away from that. However, for me it is not an option. A door is essential. The designer just simply has to work with that. Well, I spun my wheels on that one. On with these 3 designs.
The ELF made by Organic Transit is probably the best known of the 3 at this point in time so I will start off with it. One might say it has an “elfin” quality (pun intended). At 160 pounds it weighs considerably less than your more common family car (if you have a family car). BTW – I have seen the weight listed as 132 and 150 also, but their website shows 160 so that is what I am going with. It has a 350 pound payload. The electric motor is 750 Watt. It has a 15 mile range on a full charge. It takes 2.5 hours to charge plugged into a 110 volt wall outlet or about 7 hours using the solar panel on a sunny day. They offer 3 models.
One thing I noticed about the ELF is that there is no floor in it. It is open to the ground. I see good and bad in this. The good is that one doesn’t have to worry about the floor being strong enough to put one’s weight on. In hot weather having air coming up thru the floor area would probably be a God-send. With no floor there is nothing to get messed up tracking all sorts of debris from one’s shoes. The bad is that one’s feet and legs could get injured if they go down and make contact with the ground while the trike is moving. Another bad aspect is that water and other “stuff” could and would come up on the rider. With no floor there is not anyway to carry stuff around that you might prefer to simply toss on the floor if there were one. In cold weather cold air would come up thru there. Hmmm, can’t seem to win for losing. No doubt being able to place one’s feet on the ground is the means of the “reverse gear” to back the velocar up.
They offer a bunch of accessories. Check them out HERE. Doors (pictured below) can be added for about $200.
I mentioned that they offer 3 models. They are the basic model which is what I have shown in pictures thus far. The second model is a 2 seater. Actually I just discovered that they have a 3 seater as well.
And the 3 rd model is … well, most of us wouldn’t qualify for it … it is for the police. Actually I am only kidding. I think anyone could buy this model. It has some extra features such as stronger motor and battery pack with higher speed and range on motor/battery only. It is even a traditonal police black and white vehicle … cute. Actually it is not just for police. Here is what they say … “community policing, events management, corporate and academic campus maintenance and grounds, and any situation where you need to all-day performance with heavy payload capabilities, comfort, visibility and more.” This model is heavier duty in most areas. It is also about 45 pounds or so heavier. Some of that extra weight is due to it having dual battery packs. We are talking a whopping 1000 watt electric motor and double battery pack enabling the trike to go 28 mph and 45 mile range on battery & motor only.
HERE are the various models and features that can be ordered.
Next let’s look at the e-Fox made by Nu Way 2 Commute out of North Carolina. It is built on a TerraTrike Rover.
Update Bulletin: I just read that the kickstarter fund raising for this e-trike was unsuccessful.
The Nu Wa y 2 Commute company website is no longer available.
So this project is dead in the water. Consequently I am not
going to spend much time and effort writing about it.
132 pounds, 36 volt 15 amp hour battery, 500 Watt hub motor, 30 miles per charge with upgrades available.
Lastly let’s look at the Tripod. It is made in Portland, Oregon by Columbia Cycle Works. The operator sits higher and more upright than most tadpole trikes. This helps not only to see better while traveling along, but it also helps others to see the operator of the vehicle and the vehicle better. It comes with a retractable battery-charging cord, lights, horn, and windshield wiper. The top part is removable. The windows open as does the sun roof. The top lifts up aided by gas filled struts so that one can get in and out of it. It has a 500 Watt hub motor which will propel the 110* (without a battery) pound vehicle up to the maximum legal speed allowed of 20 mph. Any faster than that you will probably find yourself dealing with the police. The Tripod doesn’t come with a battery so that means that the buyer has to come up with his own battery. The 110* pound weight I mentioned does not include a battery. An exterior keyed lock, locks the hatch when not in use. All 3 wheels have disc brakes. The Tripod comes in three bright colors: lime green, tangerine orange and canary yellow. The cost of a Tripod is US$7,450. Because Tripods are made to order, completion usually takes two to three weeks from the time of order. Also, because they are made to order a one-half purchase price non-refundable deposit must be received with the order. The remaining balance is due at the time of shipment. All purchases are handled by certified check or through Paypal.
Of the three of them it looks to me like the ELF would be the easiest to get in and out of although I would say even it would be a bit challenging for many folks. And the ELF is by far the cheapest base price. At least for far less money than the Tripod which doesn’t even come with a battery. Batteries are not cheap so add that onto the price of the Tripod and you are definitely talking about some money. I really don’t understand the considerable difference in the price of these two machines. The Tripod is half again as much as the ELF, and did I mention that you still need to buy a battery?
While I am at it I will mention one other brand that is out there … the HORNET. It is Canadian and is pretty much a velomobile built around a 350 Watt electric motor. It is a little bit more than the ELF in cost, but far less than the Tripod. And it comes with a battery. There is no top for it however so the rider is exposed to the weather. This is a bare bones model. Lights and turn signals are extra cost accessories. A larger motor is also available as is a 26 inch rear wheel. Overall I am not impressed with this offering although I will say that is is one of the lowest cost velomobiles I have seen and it even comes with an electric motor. It is just not in the same category of these “velocars”.
Well, that is it as far as these 3 offerings. What do you think? Are these “trikes to the future”? Hold on … next week there will probably be some other new offering. Everybody and his brother is getting into this. You knew that, right? It will be interesting to see if these trikes succeed and the companies can stay in business.
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