Saturday, December 3, 2011

Balancing The Screed

After yesterday's post, I'm feeling kind of worried that I may come off as one of THOSE bike bloggers, the shrill, 100%-anti-car type. Not that there's anything WRONG with being anti-car, of course. Heck, good blog pal Kent P. is like the David Byrne of the Pacific Northwest, insofar as he doesn't own a car (and if reports are to be believed, when you ride with him, you may find yourself in another part of the world... and you may ask yourself, "how did I get here?")

But, for me, everything in moderation. So, to moderate myself, let me say that -- whether or not it kills my credibility as a bike blogger -- I happen to like my car. A lot. In fact, like a proud poppa, let me share a photo:
This was the day we brought him home from the pound... er, dealership. Isn't he the cutest little thing? Don'tchya just want to walk right up and hug him?

That happens to be a late-model Honda Fit with about 65k on the ticker (though 65k Honda miles is like 35k on just about anything else). I confess, when Honda brought these little buggers to the U.S. (it was sold overseas as the Jazz for years), they had me at hello. Advertising with a bike in the backseat and faux IKEA boxes in the hatch? Crap, you just drew a humiliatingly effective bullseye on my demo.

The real nail in my car-buying coffin, however, was our trip to Israel this year. There, I saw a whole world of what I like to call "shuttlecraft cars" (hey, I was a Star Trek nerd before I was a Waterloo, Wisconsin Trek nerd): baby-sized hatchbacks that sip petrol yet can swallow a payload like nobody's business. Seemed like that was the de facto auto style in Israel (from about a jillion different brands, some of which I'd never heard of), and nobody seemed to be suffering for their lack of Hummers/Escalades/Canyoneros. The bug bit hard, and the lease on our mini-Canyonero just happened to be expiring, so the next thing you know, that bundle of cuteness above was in our garage.

So, since I'm shilling (free) for Honda today, just what is it about this evil, carbon-footprinting beast that I find so appealing?
  • It is dang small, which (obviously) means more space in the garage for bicycles.
  • Fold the back seats up and my folding bike can fit like it was made to go there.
  • Fold the back seats down and my 59cm big-boy bike with fenders fits inside with room to spare.
  • The internets rumor mill says you can even get a tandem inside as long as your stoker doesn't mind sitting behind you during the car ride. Haven't tested that yet, but I plan to.
  • In terms of normal cargo, it holds as much as either of our last two mini-SUVs while absolutely DESTROYING them on gas mileage.
  • Did I mention mileage? 35mpg isn't going to win me any smugness points at a Prius convention, but it's nothing to sneeze at. I did see a handful of Jazz hybrids in Israel, so I'm crossing my fingers that a 50-plus mpg Fit could show up here someday.
  • It's stupid-reliable. I know how to fix bikes... cars, not so much.
  • Did I mention how freakin' cute it is?
Just to earn back a shred of cred, I will remind you, dear reader, that the ENTIRE staff here at The Cycle (all two of us, which -- coincidentally -- matches our readership most days) shares this one little car. So that's 0.5 cars per person (or more like 0.33, since this thing barely adds up to a whole car), which still makes us slightly suspect anti-car zealot freaks to most of the United States population.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been car shopping myself, and one criterion is that there be 42" from front to rear of the cargo area so I can toss my bike in. The bikes are 62cm c-t with about a 59cm top tube. I did measure the Fit, and it was short of the 42" mark.

I've been driving Acura Integra's since '89, and having Honda quality and the ability just remove the bike's front wheel and toss the bike in the back is really nice! The replacement might be a Toyota Matrix, a Prius, or some other hatchback-y car... a Mazda 3 even??

No question that a car can be the right tool on some days. Thunderstorms? 3" of snow and temperatures around 10 deg F? Yeah, I'll probably be in the Integra (and if it's snowing, the XC skis might be in the back!)

Steve in Peoria