I drive a hybrid car, and I can tell you that while the mileage is excellent, the trunk space sucks. When heading for the golf course, if it's more than just me playing, it's going to be a tough fit. I can get two carry bags in the trunk and possibly wedge in a push cart. If two of us have carts, one bag is going to wind up on the backseat, maybe both.
So when I got the opportunity to try out the Big Max Autofold FF, I jumped at the chance. If any cart could fold as flat as the Autofold promised, it would go a long way toward solving to my trunk dilemma.
The Autofold FF is a sharp looking three-wheeled cart. The one I demoed is white with cobalt blue wheels. The straps coordinate with the wheels and most other details are black. It looks good by itself and goes well with both my lime green hybrid bag and my red carry bag (should I opt to push a pound or two less around one day).
The cart features a large netted cargo holder with a hard plastic lid that doubles as a scorecard holder. It's a good compromise between carrying capacity, weight and aesthetics. It doesn't take away from the cart's good looks, and it holds about anything I could hope it would. Any larger and it would just encourage me to over pack.
Folding and Unfolding
When a cart is called the Autofold, you tend to have high expectations for the ease of going from transport mode to ready-for-the-course mode, and the Autofold FF does not disappoint.
I can easily take it out of the trunk with one hand, set it on the ground, and with the other release the strap that holds the cart closed. That allows the base to fold away from the riser. Then one only needs to release the CAM lock to let the handle swing up from the riser. The golf bag fits onto adjustable holders and secures with double bungee cords that hook around the bag. Very easy.
A little less easy is attaching the cup holder to the Quick Lok grommet on the side of the handle. When new, at least, it can be a tight fit. I felt like I was exerting enough pressure to risk breaking the plastic, but it finally clicked into place.
Attaching the included umbrella holder is an easier process. Just push one of the two GPS/umbrella holder buttons and pop out the plug. Then insert the umbrella holder while still holding the button, and you are good to go.
Folding the cart after a round is no biggie. Reverse the entire process, and you can be headed home to mow the yard in no time. Again, the drink holder is the only stubborn piece, and surely it will loosen up over time.
Despite being made by an Austrian company, hills can be a challenge for the Autofold FF. The user needs to take care on uneven terrain. This is the trade off for the cart's small footprint. A wider wheelbase would take care of this instability, but it would also mean less trunk space for my clubs and shoes.
With my previous cart, I had a habit of letting it run down hills on its own. This is not advisable with the Autofold FF. Because the cart holds the bag and clubs fairly upright, all those iron heads poking out the top of the bag raise the center of gravity substantially. That puts the narrow wheelbase of the Autofold in a precarious position.
A sudden dip under one wheel can shift the balance significantly. And once it starts, it goes over fast. On its maiden voyage around my home course, the Autofold FF fell over after rolling slowly down a slightly uneven slope near a green, breaking off the Quick Lok grommet that had been holding the drink holder.
While I have had a few more tipping occasions, it's something that I can usually avoid by just paying a little more attention to where the cart is rolling. This is good advice anyway, because a cart suddenly going over sideways could twist your wrists. In such cases it might be better to just let it go and not risk injury.
Getting Around the Course
The Autofold rolls well, even with a smaller front wheel than many carts sport. When rolling through long rough or gravel this front wheel can bog down a little, but merely tilting the cart up on its two larger rear wheels, like a two-wheeled dolly, lets it roll easily again.
The small front wheel can come out of alignment after some use, either from getting bounced around during multiple rounds or jostled on its way in and out of the car trunk. The subsequent pull left or right can be easily addressed by turning one of the two truing screws on the front wheel assembly with an allen wrench. While that's the only tool you're supposed to need, I found that a set of pliers or small wrench to hold the bolt on top of the assembly made the process much easier.
Perfectly aligning the wheel is slightly more art than science but it's easy to get in the vicinity of straight. And even if you don't have tools during a round, the cart generally tracks straight enough (and that dolly trick works well in this situation, as well).
The elements were not an issue for the Autofold. Even without the optional rain hood for the cart, my gear stayed reasonably dry through moderate showers. The included Umbrella Holder Lite functions well, provided your umbrella handle fits. This is essentially just a sleeve into which you slide the umbrella handle. No further anchoring available or necessary, though a narrow handled umbrella may wobble in the holder a bit. Also note that the weight of an umbrella will raise the center of gravity on the cart, so you need to be extra vigilant for uneven lies under the cart when using the holder.
As previously mentioned, the cart's first tipping incident resulted in a broken grommet on one of the two beverage holders. At that point, I worried that the Autofold might be rough shape by the end of the season. But after several months of use, the only other damage to the cart has been the loss of a largely cosmetic cap that covers a screw on the frame.
The brake lever seems lightly built, but I've had no issues with it breaking or failing in any way. The brake sometimes gets set coming out of the car, but that's about the only complaint I can make about it.
The Big Max Autofold FF weighs about 17.5 pounds (8 kg), so it's easy to push around the course and lift into the car. Folded, the cart is roughly 31 inches long, 24 inches wide, and a little more than 10 inches in depth, making it an easy fit in most trunks.
The Autofold lists for $299, but you can find it $165.
There is a wide range of the accessories to the Autofold that easily lock into one of two Quick Fix receptors on the top of the cart handle or to the two Quick Lok grommets at the sides of the handle.
Accessories available from Big Max include:
- Wheel cover ? Keep your car clean(er)
- Quick Fix Umbrella Holder Pro? An adjustable and lockable holder for your umbrella.
- Quick Fix Lite Umbrella Holder ? The simple, no frills holder that also comes with the cart
- Quick Lok Range Finder Case
- Quick Lok Glove Holder
- Quick Lok Towel
- iDry Rainsystem ? A "hoodie" covers your clubs and the storage compartment
- Storage Hook ? Hang it in your garage
- Mesh bag ? More storage
- Cooler bag ? Keep your refreshments cold
- Quick Lok Beverage Holder ? One comes with the cart
What is your priority for a cart? Carrying capacity? Stability? Or the ability to go quickly from the course to the car and vice versa?
The Big Max Autofold FF handles the first two adequately, but really shines in how fast it comes out of the trunk and is ready to play to golf. It's not only easy to transition, it's fast. Open the main body, adjust and secure the handle, and it's ready for you to load your clubs and get to the first tee. It literally takes longer for me to put on and tie my shoes than to get the Autofold unfolded and my clubs loaded and secured.
On the course, the Autofold is a hands-on cart. Left to its own devices, the Autofold will be on its side on the ground before long, but a little conscious effort on the users part will keep it rubber side down.
For me, the Autofold provides a great solution for my hybrid's small trunk, but it's the speed of going from car to course that really impressed me after a few months with the cart. The Autofold FF will schlep your sticks around the course with minimal effort and keep you from spending more time than necessary in the parking lot.