Referring to them by class, I'm told by those Ive been meeting in the industry, implies an elitism that just isn't accurate anymore.Besides, its offensive.
OK. Got it. Now just tell that to those snooty campgrounds that only accept rigs over 30 feet.
As I'm learning the RV culture and lingo, I'm getting ready for the first really long trip we'll soon take in our 22-foot long gently used Roadtrek 2006 RS-Adventurous – a Type B motorhome. I'll be chronicling it here and for the Family Motor Coach Association as par of my Open Mike series on their website, as well as in Family Motor Coaching magazine. We're heading west from Michigan to Yellowstone National Park, back to the Midwest and then on to New England before leisurely following the snowbird routes south to Florida and the Southwest come winter.
But my question is… is a Type B… well… big enough for such extended travel?
The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association deftly tiptoes around the size distinctions of motorhomes, simply noting that “Type A motorhomes are generally the largest; Type B motorhomes or van campers are the smallest and Type C motorhomes generally fall in between.”
Search around a little more, though, and you'll find more info that indicate Type As usually range in weight from 15,000 to 30,000 pounds and stretch from 30 to 40 feet in length. Type Bs are often referred to as van conversions, weigh 6,000 to 11,000 pounds and are 17 to 24 feet in length. Type Cs are scaled down versions of an A, weigh 11,000 to 15,000 pounds and go 22 or so feet to 31 feet in length
Type Bs are typically on a Cheverolet, Ford or the Sprinter van body, modified and converted into a motorhome.
When it comes to Type B motorhome manufacturers, there's the Big Six. And its dominated by Canadian companies.
The big thing Type Bs have in common with the Type A and Type C is steep prices. Most Type Bs sell at prices that could also buy a Type A or Type C. Prices start at around $80,000 for a bare bones model to up to $135,000 and more for one fully equipped.
The reason is pretty obvious when you see the way they are built. The best explanation I've found comes from an FAQ I found on the Pleasure Way website that notes that its units (and most Type Bs) are built on:
“…the Ford , Chevrolet and Mercedes chassis's. The existing body of the completed chassis is then stripped, prepped and modified to create our van motorhomes. In the manufacturing process, the side walls of the van are curved to allow for greater interior space. As a result of this curvature, each interior piece of the van motorhome must be hand-crafted and custom-installed to ensure a quality fit and a rattle-free drive. This process is substantially more time-consuming and costly than building Class A and C motorhomes, which are usually built with square interiors and standard-size components. In addition, Class A and C motorhomes are built on cut-away chassis, which means that when the Class A and C motorhome manufacturers purchase the chassis, it only consists of the front cab and the chassis frame. Therefore, the cut-away chassis purchased by Class A and C motorhome manufacturers is less expensive than purchasing a completed vehicle.”
So, with little price difference between the three types of motorhomes, choosing one comes down to one basic question. How will you be using your motorhome?
The B is geared for the very highly mobile RVer. Type A motorhomes are lumbering giants, and packing up and moving a lot is a bit more cumbersome. Most Type As also need a “toad,” or a towed vehicle, another car that you can use to sightsee and get groceries. You don't want to whip in a Wendys, say, in a Type B or C to pick up a Frosty. Type Bs fit easily in most parking spaces.
My 2006 Roadtrek Adventurous gets 21-23 miles per gallon (diesel), depending on whether I'm fully loaded and running the air full blast as I have had to do all summer with the heat the nation has been experiencing. A's are lucky to get 9 miles a gallon. C's are not that much better.
On the other hand, living in a B can be challenging, to say the least. There is not a lot of room. Two people will bump into each other. Guaranteed. Add a dog and it gets even more confrontational.
As I begin my on-the-road RV adventures, something we're hoping to do for years, I'm starting out in a B. I'm hearing predictions from others that we will grow tired of the lack of space. One reader has even offered me a bet.
“A free dinner at restaurant of your choice in Indianapolis (where we'll be attending the 2012 FMCA convention in late August) if you haven't had it with your Roadtrek and long for something bigger by then,” wagered Randy L, who emailed me recently.
Randy's trying to rattle me, in a good natured way. But the longest I've lived in our Roadtrek so far has been four nights in a row. As we look at our first long trip, setting off the week after next, we're looking at weeks on the road.
We plan to do lots of bike riding, hiking, photography and more. So the mobility of our Roadtrek will be a plus, getting us to places where an A or C couldn't. Besides, if we tire of the confinement, we can also motel it occasionally. I hope not, but that's what I've told Jennifer.
But just what can we expect, being in a Type B for such an extended trip?
Do you think Randy is right? Or will I get a free dinner in Indy?
I'd love your advice. Use comments below. And follow my posts here. l'll share it all.
Getaway day is August 10.