Saturday, December 03, 2016

Long Term Ownership Review: CRZ

Before I was into running, I had been a petrol head (car guy) for as long as I could remember, probably as early as when I first got my driver's license almost 2 decades ago. 
The first car I bought when a started working in 2005 was a beat up old Honda Civic EG sedan, which I got for dirt cheap (RM17K) and then proceeded to mod the hell out of it throughout my 8 years of ownership. Many of those fond car memories were detailed out a lot, in my early years of blogging. 
It wasn't until 2012 that I was finally able to afford a brand new car. Given the tax exemption on hybrid cars, the ridiculous petrol prices - RM2.80/litre at that time, and my preference for fun to drive cars with sporty handling, the Honda CR-Z hybrid was the obvious choice that ticked all my boxes. Getting it as my 2nd car meant I could still live with the practicality (or lack of) of a daily driven coupe, which literally only fits 2 adults comfortably. Mine is a 2012 pre-face lift with manual transmission.
Fast forward to December 2016, this is my take on the car after almost four and a half years of ownership.

Drive-ability: It has always been a fun to drive car, even more so with the crisp manual transmission with short-shifter especially on twisty and winding roads. The handling, decent and predictable. It corners well for a car with such short wheel base. The performance figures looks pedestrian on paper: 122bhp @ 6000rpm and 174Nm @ 1000 - 1500rpm from a 1.5L powerplant. It really does feels much faster and sharper when driven, the acceleration from standstill is quite brisk, thanks to the electric motor assist. The readily accessible torque from low revs is probably what makes the car so fun to drive, coupled with the compact handling package. Since I have a heavy right foot and can't endure sluggish engine response, keeping the car predominantly in Sports mode is a natural thing for me to do. In the Normal or Econ mode, the engine response to the throttle input is further dampened or muted to regulate the acceleration to be more gradual, supposedly to achieve better driving economy. The bucket seats, and low slung seating position enhances the sporty driving experience on most days, but on bad-back days getting in and out of the car can be quite a workout.

Fuel Economy: Consistently getting 500+ km per full tank (about 35 litres) which translates to about an average of 13.5 - 15.0km/litre fuel economy. No where close to the claims of 20.0km/litre, but then again almost all my commutes are in the city and usually very short drives of about 3.5km to work. Will probably see fuel economy figures closer to the reported claims if my commutes are further distances and more of highway driving. I run it on RON95 mostly. 

Maintainability/ Reliability: Routine and typical maintenance requirements comparable to non-hybrid cars. Just the usual periodic fluid, filters and consumables change-out. Apart from punctured tires and a jammed glove box compartment, have not encountered any mechanical or electronic issues throughout the period of ownership. There were earlier occurrences with the IMA battery draining itself flat mid-way through driving, but there were no actual impact and it usually recharges back off load. Warranty on the IMA battery has been extended to 7 years as per memo issued by Honda Malaysia, and with the maturing technology on hybrid cars, the costs of these batteries will continue to go down with the economies of scale achieved. The only time the car broke down was when I drove it to the point of fuel starvation on at least 2 occasions. Lessons learnt: When the estimated Range goes to '0' km, there is still approximately 5 litres of fuel left in the tank, potentially good to go for another 60 km.

Value for Money: With the previous tax exemption for hybrid cars in place, this is a good buy at RM112K. You get CBU build quality, 6-air bags, 6-speaker ICE setup, cruise control, auto-stop idling, 3-drive modes, solid chassis with good sound proofing, LED headlights, and a sporty looking and handling car. Of course by no means, is it a sports car. Just a fun to drive sporty looking car with decent handling, and efficient little engine with potential for upgrade.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wide Feet Problem

Have been taking it easy the past couple of days since the Saturday LSD run during which, I've inflamed extensor (top of foot) and achilles tendonitis (back of ankle) on my right foot as a result of the following combination:
1. Running too fast of a pace (5'30"), 
2. for too long a distance (30K), 
3. with a brand new shoe with narrow fit.
My 2nd pair of Hoka in less than a year. I haven't had any toe-wiggle room issues with my first pair, the Challenger ATR2, which I got a full size larger (US8.5). Had issues with my foot sliding around with too much toe box room when I ran at blistering fast paces (sub 4'30"). That is why I made the conscious  decision to go up only half a size (US8) for the Tracer. It fitted snugly when I tried it at the shop, expecting it the mesh material to loosen up with more mileage. Perhaps I was a bit too ambitious to go on to pilot the shoe on a tempo long run. That's how I ended up inflaming my right foot and had to walk the last couple of KMs back to the starting point on that long run.

Trying out an alternative lacing solution for wide feet. Managed to try out the setup for a short run around the neighborhood this evening, and it felt great! Just can't quite get over the awkward looking lacing configuration. Ah, well whatever works...

Sunday, November 27, 2016

First Impression of the Hoka One One Tracer

Got to put the Tracer through its paces on this fine Saturday morning's long run. The supposed LSD (Long, Slow Distance) run turned out to be a tempo run for most of the distance from our usual starting point at Bulatan Park to the junction to the crocodile farm in Kuala Baram with a full loop distance of approximately 33KMs. One hell of a long run with an average tempo pace of 5'30" per kilometre for the first 26KM. Fast and furious, at least by my standard, for that long of a distance.

The Tracer looks quite stunning on feet, and looks fast even when at standstill. It held quite well through its maiden run, and truly feels like a fast road shoe as it's been made out to be. Very lightweight and responsive, it has that familiar feel with my previous go-to shoes for marathon, namely the Saucony Kinvara 6 and Skechers GoRun4, with similar 4mm heel-to-toe offset. Here's my take on the shoe after a 3-hour plus break-in run:

- Lightweight (pretty unbelievably lightweight for this amount of shoe)
- Smooth transition (Meta-rocker geometry works perfectly, and no noticeable step change feel although the midsole uses 2 distinct materials with different density)
- Decent amount of cushioning (Pro2Lite uses 2 distinct midsole materials - softer for the heel, and firmer for the forefoot) 
- Very good ventilation (a lot of breath-ability with the upper mesh design, aids with cooling and feels like a quick to dry shoe  when getting into wet situations)
- Decent traction and stability (looks like a tall-ish shoe but it's got a cradling bucket seat foot frame inside)
- Comfy padded shoe tongue
- No visible sole wear after a 30+ KM run (really expecting to get more mileage out of this fast road shoe)

- Forefoot cushioning feels a bit too firm (for runs longer than half-marathon distances)
- Narrow toe-box fit (had a bit of rubbing issues on my left pinky toe, and toe splay feels restricted; looking to sort out the hot spot with proper lacing)
- Minor creases starting to appear on the toe-box area at the bending (to be expected, I guess)

This is my 5th pair of running shoe in rotation at the moment. The GoRun4 and K6 looks like they're going to be retired in the near future, given their current condition and wear rate.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Running on cloud nine

First post in more than 5 years, so I'm keeping my 2011 resolution #5 alive. A lot has happened since, priorities change, and so does my outlook on life. Running has become quite a significant part of my life as of late.
2011 was the year that I started running casually, but it was not until a year and a half ago that I began pursuing it with endeavor. Have logged 3 Half Marathons, 3 Full Marathons, 1 Spartan (Super), and a Beach Ultra (50K), since. Going forward, this ranting space of mine will be mainly revolving around running theme. You've guessed it, my first post after a 5-year hiatus is going to be about a shoe, running shoe to be exact. 

This is my 2nd pair of Hoka One One I bought this year during a short trip back to my hometown over the last weekend. A maximal - minimal shoe. Marshmallow oversized midsole with maximum cushioning, but with very low offset (heel-to-toe drop) and responsiveness of a minimal shoe, and unbelievably light weight. 
This model is the Tracer, the least maximal looking of the entire Hoka lineup and looks to be a potential racing shoe. Looking forward to try them out on my next Saturday morning run. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hello 2011

It's been ages since I last blogged, thankfully I still have my blog password jotted down somewhere. Since this will be my first post of the year & it's only 3 weeks into this brand new year, I'd like to kick off mine with a list of New Year resolutions. Here are they:
1. Save 50K this year, for my Big Day.
2. Budget efficiently, so the spillover $$ (if any) gets routed into future assets (cozy house) fund (sports car included =p)
3. Plan & prepare well for my Big Day. 300+ days & counting.
4. Get Lean, get 6-pack. Just got back to the habit of working out towards the end of last year, I believe I'm half-way there. 3.2% more body fat to shed to reach the athletic/fitness level.
5. Keep my blog alive. 6th anniversary just around the corner.
6. Get a foothold on my career (1&1/2 year-old 2nd career since I switched field), so I'll know exactly where I would be, in 3 years time.
7. Kick my stubborn old habit of procrastinating. Yes, I need to Eat That Frog!
8. Be a good husband (aligned with my new status).
9. Review this year's resolutions a year from now.

Cheers! =D

Monday, September 06, 2010

New Crib

For those of you wondering where yours truly have disappeared to after declaring that "This blog is still alive" almost 2 full moons ago ~ Well, I've been busy packing, moving & settling in a new place, a more cozy & spacious crib & closer to my love one =)
A place to call home, that has all the basic furnishing & creature comforts! *that includes a fully functional/loaded kitchen & an auto gate! i've always dreaded getting caught in the rain opening the gate when it pours... & ample shaded parking space that's not in a single flank!* =p Technically, I'm still renting the place, albeit on a longer term contract (housemoving is a tiring affair!), at least for the near future til I'm more certain about where to settle down permanently; at least as far as my career is concerned. Nothing beats the excitement & thrill of moving into a brand new house with brand new everything... =)
This is definitely one of the nicer / more affluent gated neighborhood in town, and conveniently close to my workplace, but a bit far from town (if one would consider 14km far *at least by Miri's standard, it is).
Now i'm very contented just to stay at home ~ cozy with good company... nowadays free time spent doing chores, playing with my pup, keeping my ride(s) clean, gunpla-ing of course, save for the occasional grocery shopping, as we prefer to make full use of the complete kitchen. The only thing to dislike is the internet connection... this place is like the blackhole of communication signals/reception. No 3G, no phoneline/streamyx.... yet.
My only connection to world-wide-web now is a crappy celcom broadband + very mediocre wimax. Probably have to wait another couple of months before streamyx comes on stream here.
Hence, the lack of updates as uploading speed is crawl-like slow... =(
Say hello to my pup Daisy~! We adopted her just barely a month ago & she's really growing up beautifully, & very fast (how come puppies always seem to grow up so fast?)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Business as usual...

Yes, this blog of mine is still alive. The novelty of blogging has worn out a bit on me, at least by quite a bit. I haven't been updating with the utmost diligence unlike the past year, for the past couple of months. Hit rates had been declining steadily, has saturated to a low, but did not gone all down to nil; it's good to know that my rants are still being read, although by very few. In fact i'm spending less time on FB as well. I already spend long hours in front of the monitor at work, so I figured I better spend less time on my PC at home, read some books, exercise, get my hands busy on some gunpla project, or some chores instead... & I felt like I actually had more time, like that. In between the hiatus since the last post, I've completed a couple of Gunpla projects i.e MG Figure-Rise Super Saiyan Son Goku & the MG RX-78-3 One Year War version, which I'll update when I have time (more like when I feel like it)... & speaking of which, my camera gears have been collecting dust since my last graphic post many moons ago... I find it a lot more convenient just to flick my I-phone & shoot. That's another cool piece of gadget I have in my possession for a good few months, which I never got to update about. Since, my project Civic has hit a mysterious glitch rendering it a VTEC-less lame duck for a terrible 2 months before I managed to find some credible tuner here in Miri who can fix her. She's been re-tuned since (I seriously have no idea what went nuts with the previous tuning ~ it was running perfect one day, gone crazy the next)... now I have good reasons to suspect that suffocating piece of exhaust silencer. Getting the exhaust work sorted out at the moment ~ can't live without the unadulterated VTEC. On the other hand, the law won't let me have my way with that obscenely loud un-muffled Skunk2 Megapower exhaust for long. Got to strike balance & keep within the acceptable decibels. Work load at this time of the year is going full steam too, & I'll be moving into a bigger place of my own sometime soon, will be eager to update about it, only if I get to doing it, hehe. Especially difficult when I have another distraction in hand, in the form of a PG 00 Raiser... Funding from the sale of my extra car parts here definitely helps. Every thing's got to go! =)