Thursday, February 12, 2009

What car for foldies?

As much as I want to be car free, the need for one is quite apparent especially when the weather gets too cold or too hot. While Perth is not as cold as Calgary (looking at Vik’s pics), it can get quite chilly during winters but the summers are more the ones to worry about. Today, it hit 39.8C and believe me, you do not want to cycle in that heat wave.

So is there an ideal car for foldies like us? Well, I assume one of the reasons why we ride is that we do want to make a difference to reduce greenhouse emissions, or at least minimise our impact on it. Therefore, something that is fuel efficient is non-negotiable. Many people here in Australia like SUVs for its “tough” image but only about 10% or less actually go off-road. They get anywhere from a shameful 15-20L/100km and even the smaller ones like Forester, CRV, RAV4 struggle to get 12L/100km. Confession - I used to drive a RAV4.

The other criteria is a hatch design for easy loading of our foldies. Most cars will easily swallow at least 2 foldies (kudos to the compactness of foldies), I’m looking at something that can take at least 3 foldies and 3 people. I also am a big fan of Japanese technology and craftsmanship. The quality of Shimano bike components speak for themselves and these qualities extend to their cars too.

Scouting around, I decided on a 09 Corolla 1.8 hatch with 6 speed gearbox, manual of course. While autos are the preferred choice today, I’m a stick shift guy. They drive far better for smaller engine cars and are easily 10 - 20% more economical.

You can also glide on neutral gear with the engine cut off, to take advantage of any down hills. I’ve done 4l/100km with a manual Corolla in 1990 once in the Shell Economy Rally. Flat battery is also not an issue as push start is an easy option. With a 60:40 split seat in the Corolla, 3 foldies can be carried easily with ample room for one rear passenger, or two at a squeeze.

I’m getting the new Corolla end of this month. I don’t think it will be used very much as I should be on the saddle most times. I’m hoping to make one tank of petrol last 2 weeks. Could this be my ideal car for a folding bike commuter? Stay tune…
*Update 1 - just collected the car this morning Feb 26. Pics above. I love the smell of a new car!

*Update 2 - 6 Apr 09. 1500km on the clock. Topped up 34 litres for 493km or a very impressive 14.5kml.

*Update 3 - 12 May 2012. 33900km on the clock. Car sold to Kristy, uni student. Absolutely nothing went wrong save for a flat battery. Corollas may not set your heart on fire, but they are the champions of reliable, trouble free motoring. Last fuel recorded - 14km/l. So sad to part with her!


Nat said...

Not being a purist of any sort, I fall under the category of being a utilitarian. In the case of transportation, it is important to have flexibility and utility and anything that can provide that is a useful conveyence in my book.

Bicycle has its place in urban transport. With the traffic conditions in cities coupled with parking woes, it is a lot more efficient and practical to hop on a bus / ride a bike / multi mode.

Cars on the other hand are very practical for longer distance rides and to ferry mor than a few people. They can definitely offer more convenince than public transport and do fill their own transportation niche. In my book, one should find a convenient mode of transport (that they can afford and not induce inconvnience to others) that can fulfil the journey plesantly.

I get a nice shower at my office and have a reasonably protected 'parking' area. Coupled with the fact that I get to burn fat on my commute, I like to ride as much as possible to work. If I get a Foldie, I would probably multi mode the days I do not commute fully, I guess.

Choice of conveyence is a matter of what works.

Oldyonfoldy said...

Well said Nat.

Cars are esp useful when you have a few folks together and then, it could be even cheaper than public tpt on a per pax basis.

Here in Perth, I'm heartened to see many people commute to work. You can tell by their well worn bike and gear :)

Nat said...

Kind of weird, I wanted to post the comment on your newer post but funnily enough I seemed to have chosen the wrong one to post on. Anyway, it is still relevant and I will let it stay.

ChrisW said...

Hey No 488, I guess that's the next best thing to 888 ! Was 888 sold out ??

Congrats and yes always have some keep the Brompton clean