Saturday, August 3, 2013

So this plant heard that it's called Organic Transit and decided to climb right in.  I don't know where they want me to take them.  Maybe they just like the color.

I've been changing my commute in subtle but significant ways over the last few weeks.  One change I've made is to use the power as a true power assist.  Rather than running the motor intermittently to get up to speed and then trying to keep it there by peddling, I've taken to running the motor slowly while peddling at full strength.  This has allowed me to get a bit more exercise while not getting so tired that I need to take a break.  The end effect is that I can sustain my pedaling more like when riding a traditional bike and still get over the hills. 

The weather has been really dry and sunny for the past month so I've been able to go all solar for the recharge at work.  I ride about 10 miles to work and park in the sun for about 9 hours before riding home.  I also usually take the ELF out for a quick ride at lunch but usually only run the motor for a few minutes.    So far I haven't run out of battery power during my ride home but I have noticed quite a variation in the time it takes to recharge the battery after I plug it in at night.  Sometimes it only takes about 2 hours and other times it takes up to 4 hours. 

Last weekend I had to remove the rear wheel for the first time to replace a couple of broken spokes.  I'm not sure how they got broken but it might have been caused by the time I accidentally left the cable lock on the back wheel and tried to drive away :/  Needless to say it didn't get very far but there wasn't any apparent damage at the time.

Anyway, since the spokes had broken off inside the nipples, I had to remove the rear wheel and tire to replace the spokes.  This required loosening 3 bolts on each of the two brackets that secure the rear wheel to the frame so that the chain can be lifted off the wheel cogs.  Then I loosened the axle bolts as on a standard bike and removed the wheel. 

I forgot to mention that I had previously lifted the back of the ELF and placed a stack of bricks under the frame to hold it up off the ground.  Also, before loosening the bolts, I marked the spot on the frame where the brackets are located so that I could replace the brackets in the same location (or at least the same distance from the original markings on both sides of the frame).  I also had to remove one of the rear brake pads to get the tire past them even after releasing the quick-release on the brake.

Once I had the wheel off I didn't have too much trouble removing the tire from the rim and pulling the rim tape back to expose the spoke nipples.  I used a screwdriver to tighten the spoke nipples and replaced the tape.  Next I used the tire irons to help replace the tire on the rim.  Unfortunately I punctured the tube while prying the tire back onto the rim :(  So, I took the wheel over to the local City Bikes so they could replace the tube for me.  I've since patched the tube so now I at least have a spare tube.

Replacing the back wheel works best by reversing the steps outlined above.  First, replace the chains and tighten the axle bolts.  Then you can pull the wheel back while pushing your feet on the end of the frame to get the right amount of chain tension and align the brackets to the marks you made to indicate where they were originally located.   You might need a friend to tighten the 6 bracket bolts while you pull on the wheel.

As you can tell, this is not anywhere near a "quick release" rear wheel.  The good news is that I don't have to worry as much about someone stealing the rear wheel.  It takes a while and you have to have the right tools.


  1. When peddling does that also charge the battery? I live in a climate that does not always see sunshine and have yet not been able to confirm this. Thanks for journaling your experience with the Elf.

    1. Nope. No regenerative charge. I asked this question before I got my ELF and they indicated that it would add additional weight and cost which they were trying to avoid.

      If it's not sunny then you'll just have to plug it in. The good news is that it charges much faster when you plug it in even compared to a sunny day. Check with Organic Transit about the different chargers since apparently there are different power ratings and that effects the charge time.

  2. Thank you for your info about the brake light sensor on June 9. It helped me diagnose my recent brake light failure. I enjoy your blog. I have had my ELF one month here in Missouri, I commute about 15 miles round trip daily.

    1. Wow, Missouri. Glad it helped. Actually it was a tip from Scott at Organic Transit that pointed me in that direction about the sensor. Interestingly enough it's stopped having problems (although I do check the brake lights now before every ride). I did tighten the little strap that holds the sensor a bit so that probably did the trick.

  3. I'm in Sunny Arizona and my ELF recharges 20 miles in a day in the sun. Maybe you could get a small wind turbine to mount on top or just carry the charger and plug it in where you park. Any solar machine has a plug behind it.

    check out my site I made to trade stories and photos or your ELF , Jim

  4. Java Dude, How do you check your charge to know that the Solar panel takes longer on some days?
    There is no gauge and lithium can't be checked just by the voltage. Jim

  5. I still don't have a reliable way to measure the charge so I just keep an eye on how much sun it's getting and plug it in at 3:00 if it doesn't seem to have been a very sunny day. There was a discussion about this on the ELF owners facebook page which might help answer this question: