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Old 09-17-2013, 09:07 PM   #1
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Default possible full time Class B next year

Hi All,
I'm happy to have found the forum! I'm a mountain biker and often travel to race, so I'm seriously considering moving to a Class B van pretty much full time next year. My budget it extremely limited! I think realistically I'd be looking probably at like a Roadtrek Popular from the early to mid 90s.

This year I stayed in my passenger van at least 2 weeks, sometimes opting for it when I had the use of a hotel. It was just was easier than trying to load things in and out, and to be one site during various events is really preferred. I often managed to have a good time even though my only amenity was an air bed!

I just went to check out all the new Class B's at the huge RV show in Hershey. I had never been in one before, so after all the research and checking out YouTube videos it was really interesting to actually see one.

Realizing all these can be customized to varying degrees, the Winnebago Travato was particularly interesting to me because single twin bed layout in the back (as opposed to full queen or king), meant it had room for a full enclosed bath/shower, and I'd be able to store my desired two MTB bikes under the bed right through the back door.

Do do the nature and use of the bikes I don't want to tow them or have them on a rack full time.

On that note one of the things that I like about the older 90's Roadtreks is the seating looks like something I could easily customize, while ones with an automatic bed as seen in many of the newer used models would be be less so.

In perfect world I've had everything, a place for two full large 29er MTBs, full seating/full bed in the back, plenty of light from both sides, and enclosed bath/shower (as opposed to the aisle option), and seating/sleeping and entertaining for up to 4. But I'm prepared to settle for far less!

With the older Roadtreks I see an option for removing the closet/driverside rear passenger area and storing two bike frames there lengthwise, while the 4 wheels could somehow find room through the back door/floor, or simply in the passenger seat when I don't have company. Many riders are used to taking off the front wheel for travel, I'd just have to get used to taking off both wheels and installing some kind of mounting system.

I should mention though the Sportsmobile Lopes 55 as what I will be doing in a small way has been done in a big way before! Though I will want room to stash tools and folding tires, I don't need all the bike space that Brian Lopes needs for his bikes.

Anyway, I really just wanted to say "hi". I look forward to reading the various topics and discussions.
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Old 09-17-2013, 10:20 PM   #2
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

You could transport the bikes inside the vehicle, then see about some way to put stuff outside in a secure enclosure or storage tent for more space.

I am going to guess -- carbon fiber MTB frames, where putting those on most bike racks can cause chips/fractures in the CF which might cause complete frame failure later on. It is no wonder why those bikes stay inside. CF bikes probably cost $3500 minimum for decent componentry (and with full XTR, likely upwards of five grand.)

There is the option of using an enclosed cargo trailer. For security reasons, get the hockey puck locks which will function well to deter the low-lifes, and a pair of wheel boots (a hitch lock is a theft deterrent; wheel locks are decent anti-theft protection.) The trailer will go a long way in giving more space for living in a "B" and give better security for stuff than the van because it will be far harder than breaking a window for a thief to get your stuff. Of course, the trailer can be left somewhere secure and the van can be used for general purpose driving.
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Old 09-17-2013, 10:55 PM   #3
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

Welcome to the forum

I have a late 90's van and it runs well. It is very reliable and I'd have no hesitation taking on an extended journey. I think used vans offer the best bang for your buck but it sounds to me like the Travato would be ideal. You could even sleep in the front bed and have the bikes fully assembled and upright in the rear.

This post might be of interest: http://www.classbforum.com/phpBB2/vi...php?f=9&t=2743
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Old 09-18-2013, 02:26 AM   #4
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

I am a biker also and need to haul 1-2 high-end bikes that I would never want to haul on a rear rack even if it was enclosed. A enclosed cargo carrier big enough to haul 2 bikes is also huge which defeats the purpose of a small Class B.

The best Class B design for this I have seen is the Great West Vans Trifold Rear seat. This is awesome.

It allows storage under the seat but then the seat slides quite a ways forward to allow room for a couple bikes upright in the back. This would work great for me because I could haul bikes in back and still use the couch during the day. Then I could put the bikes in the front of the van at night and put the couch down for a nice bed. Unfortunately, there aren't any other of the Class B companies that have stole this great idea yet.

The problem I would have with the Travato is that the "Living Room" of the van is a very small cramped area in the front. That would be like living in a small closet for me. That front seat with the upright backrest also gives me a backache just looking at it, especially in comparison to the nice big reclining couch of the Great West Van design with a much bigger living area. Everyone has different preferences though.

The thought of hiring Great West Vans to put one of these in a smaller Roadtrek has crossed my mind.
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Old 09-18-2013, 03:59 PM   #5
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

Have you gone to the Sportsmobile website galleries for ideas? I realize the budget constraint but you may be able to have a custom van built using your van. I also suggest Colorado Camper Vans.
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Old 09-23-2013, 11:35 PM   #6
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

Thanks for all the feedback.

My current van is OK but needs work. I really don't think it's worth converting. I'm not sure what it would cost but assume it would be prohibitive. I also don't want a pop tent top (though they really have some innovative designs!). If I get lucky it seems I could get an early 90's Roadtrek for closer to $10G. Obviously an older vehicle will need love an maintenance, but it also seems these things hold up pretty good.

I know there different issues that come into play with a longer van, but I'm surprised when I see the spare wheel sticking out 18" from the back; why not just make it a longer van and enclose the wheel? Essentially the van is now that as the outside wheel anyway, so making it that long overall would be just allow for even more space inside.

That said, some of the older models look to have the spare wheel under the rear seat, and I could probably put the spare on the outside as normal and put my 4 MTB wheels in that same space inside. Then I see hanging the frames behind the driver's seat; either blowing out the driver side passenger seat wardrobe, as they are not vital. I could even possibly roll one bike in, standing, without taking the wheels off. The second bike will essentially be beater/bike used to get around locally, and could probably store outside just fine when camped.

One thing that I think would be paramont is the outside shower. I have friends who've done this at their homes just so they can avoid traipsing dirt inside! I don't often ride in muddy conditions, but that is the nature of the game and rain at least is unavoidable. Coming in clean is ideal. I can see a couple of chamois towels will come in really handy. Right now when I finish an event I just use a spray bottle and can do a field shower easy. Though cleaning the bike may take a portable power spray. That would be a must in some situations before I take the bike in, or attempt to take an inside shower.

I could see modifying the older models so that showering inside would also be easier. I've gotta say I'm surprised about the nature of the slide curtain and track. That same systems with the same little hook hangers seems to have been around for decades. The little hangers always get stuck in the track. And even when lubed it's still a cumbersome setup. So I'm surprised that I saw the same hangers on these new 100G models. When you think of all the innovation in these vehicles you'd think they'd have come up with an easier shower curtain surround.

Ideally of course I'd get a model that had a sit-down enclosed shower, and perhaps I could modify an older design with some door system similar to the pop-out options they have on the newer models.

Being frugal with the water is also paramount, and I suppose gone are the days of the long hot showers unless I have easy access to water supply and waste.

I'm a long way from pulling this off, but it still the plan!
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Old 09-23-2013, 11:37 PM   #7
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

Quote:
Originally Posted by jrobe
The best Class B design for this I have seen is the Great West Vans Trifold Rear seat. This is awesome.
That seat is a smart solution. wheel wells are an issue for me putting the full bike in there, though behind the seat would be an option.
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Old 09-23-2013, 11:41 PM   #8
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

Quote:
Originally Posted by stanw909
Have you gone to the Sportsmobile website galleries for ideas? I realize the budget constraint but you may be able to have a custom van built using your van. I also suggest Colorado Camper Vans.
Yeah I even played with their online designer. It's awesome what can be done.

I think I've seen one or two B+ with popouts, Perhaps one of these Class Bs will one day pop out into a 2-story colonial
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Old 09-24-2013, 12:53 AM   #9
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

Typically, the spare tire is removed from under the van and placed on the back of the van to make space under the van for a generator or a propane tank etc. A longer van does solve problems but when it gets too long then you run into parking problems if it doesn't fit in a 20' parking spot. There's always a compromise to be made it seems with Class B Vans.

I think you can save water by changing the interior and / or exterior shower head to a kitchen type sprayer. This link http://www.classbforum.com/phpBB2/vi....php?f=12&t=56 shows how to do it. You get a nice blast of water from it that would be handy for spraying mud off a bike.
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Old 10-01-2013, 05:34 PM   #10
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

Quote:
I think you can save water by changing the interior and / or exterior shower head to a kitchen type sprayer. This link viewtopic.php?f=12&t=56 shows how to do it. You get a nice blast of water from it that would be handy for spraying mud off a bike
There's a ton of great info throughout this forum. I'd love to build and customize my own van one day! I think the power systems and infrastructure is what I could never figure out though!

I forget which model but a couple riders showed up to the race this weekend with new Roadtrek. I just stopped by to say hi and they were on their first trip with it. Their bikes were a rack on the back. I told them my plans to go full time and how I think the bike frames could store in the passenger side seat area with the wheels in the back somewhere, which they seemed to find interesting. They are just using theirs for weekend trips and they seemed very happy with it so far!

So a couple of other thoughts I have. In Roadtrek's brochure they talk about the costs of converting a van, and that the most time consuming process is cutting out the floor and replacing it lowered, and cutting off the roof and replacing it. I have no idea how many vans they produce a year but it would seem to be enough that wouldn't a company like Mercedes or Chevy be able to produce a 100 vans already spec'd like this? No doubt it would be significant cost, but wouldn't there be enough of a market that it would save a lot of time and money for the Class B industry and potentially save the customer in the long run?

Another thing I was wondering is why not have a fold-out bathroom. Roadtrek uses the concept of turning the alley into a shower, so why not user a similar concept and have the entire bath fold away? I really like it he feeling of space and light, and it seems to me you could put the toilet essentially inside a cabinet below a counter. Folded up you could have an open view and window. The counter could easily become the bath sides or really the whole cabinet could just unfold quickly into full bath clipping into hardware on the roof. You could utilize lightweight pvc sheeting like Sintra and potentially create a full dry bath. It just seems a shame to have the bath take up so much space when the system itself takes up very little. It's something I can definitely seeing trying to customize if I get an older Class B.
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Old 12-08-2013, 02:41 PM   #11
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

I stumbled upon this photo of a way to handle mountain bikes in a Sprinter van.



The trays make a nice platform to work on the bikes. The Sprinter doors can open wider than shown.
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File Type: jpg Allan Sutter Sprinter Mountain Bikes.jpg (156.7 KB, 2101 views)
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Old 12-08-2013, 03:23 PM   #12
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo
I stumbled upon this photo of a way to handle mountain bikes in a Sprinter van.



The trays make a nice platform to work on the bikes. The Sprinter doors can open wider than shown.
That is pretty slick. I assume they made a raised, full time, bed above the bike area?
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Old 12-08-2013, 04:07 PM   #13
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

Looks like it.

I think this is the van here: http://www.sutterfinewoodwork.ca/picture-gallery.php

Scroll down to the bottom of that page until you find "Van Conversion Cabinets".
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Old 12-14-2013, 05:55 AM   #14
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

Quote:
Originally Posted by mlts22
There is the option of using an enclosed cargo trailer. For security reasons, get the hockey puck locks which will function well to deter the low-lifes, and a pair of wheel boots (a hitch lock is a theft deterrent; wheel locks are decent anti-theft protection.)
Do you have links for the locks and wheel boots you mention above? I've been pondering how to secure an unattached trailer, myself.
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Old 12-14-2013, 09:40 AM   #15
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

Universalboot.com is a good starting place.

If you want the ultimate in wheel security, check your favorite search engine for "locking winter wheels". These are used in Europe, so expect to have to pay a shipping cost. However, what these do is allow you to remove your existing wheels, put these on, and store the normal wheels somewhere secure. The trailer is still usable. It just is not going anywhere, period, no matter how good a thief is with a grinder, hacksaw or cutting torch.

Things like trailer tongue locks are icing on the cake. However, at the minimum, a set of security chains and real padlocks (if it says "Master" on the padlock, find another brand) chaining the wheel pairs together (assuming a double axle trailer.)

(edited)

As for securing doors, there are many places to get hasps. As an alternative to the relatively large and ugly hockey puck mounts, Fiamma (they only sell awnings in the US) sell a product called the Safe Door. They provide decent security, slide into place to lock and unlock, and don't spoil the looks of the trailer.

The reason why I recommend the European solutions is how crime differs between the countries. There, criminals tend to be less dependent on drugs, so tend to be smarter and less violent. So European locks as a whole tend to be more sophisticated than on this side of the pond.
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Old 12-14-2013, 12:28 PM   #16
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

Wow! Thanks. Didn't know there were so many solutions for this.

I only need something to provide security for a little cargo trailer left behind at a site or park for the day while we maybe take our class B out exploring. If I can securely lock the door closed and also keep it from being towed away, that would give me great peace of mind.
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Old 12-15-2013, 04:02 AM   #17
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

One of the best trailer security setups I've seen was at a renaissance faire. One person has a semi-permanent spot. He sunk a couple beefy fold-down security anchors in cement. When he is not there, the anchor is flush with the ground, so it doesn't get in the way of other activities on the property. When renaissance faire season starts, he backs up his trailer over the anchors, pulls out security chains and Abus Granit padlocks and chains his trailer (axle and frame) to the anchors. The trailer was also custom designed, so there were places on the frame just for jackstands. The jackstands were put in place and the wheels taken off and stored on a rack inside. Just for a deterrent, the hitch got a lock on it.

For a thief to take that trailer, it would require going under with power tools to cut the chains (Sold Secure Gold actually means something in Europe, as it is a security standard), finding some type of wheels to attach to the axles, then getting the trailer off the jackstands, and attaching a hitch. For securing the doors, he uses Mul-T-Lock hasp/locks which function identically to hockey puck locks, but have a higher security key.
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Old 01-25-2014, 09:22 PM   #18
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

Greetings Kelly, best wishes on your ponderings and possible van conversion project. I wanted to share a few thoughts as i read through the thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kellyllek
...I'm not sure what it would cost but assume it would be prohibitive. I also don't want a pop tent top (though they really have some innovative designs!)...
My wife and i did about 3 years of research before deciding we would purchase a new cargo van to convert the way we wanted for our needs. In October 2010 we purchased a chevy 1500 awd cargo van in a year end "sale" with a 60 month zero % loan. We chose this due to our desire to go light-off-road and also our wet road conditions on the Oregon coast. By the end of November we had a local shop install a 24" fiberine fiberglass top and fiama awning & roof vent on the rig. By the end of December we had personally insulated and carpeted the van walls/ceiling and had a froli-sleep system bed platform and usable storage solutions in place. When we purchased our new van we had the roof/etc upfits included (shown in this Dec 2010 pic) as a package with the dealer. This is easily done as part of the purchase if you go to the fleet manager. We also had a savings account we'd begun three years prior to dig into for purchasing our part of the upfit so we paid cash.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kellyllek
...Ideally of course I'd get a model that had a sit-down enclosed shower, and perhaps I could modify an older design with some door system similar to the pop-out options they have on the newer models. Being frugal with the water is also paramount, and I suppose gone are the days of the long hot showers unless I have easy access to water supply and waste...
I am fortunate in that i married a MacGirlver...she is amazing in her ability to think outside the box and come up with workable solutions. In the case of our rig (which is also my wife's daily driver) she and I designed a fold out shower & potty room. When underway it actually looks like a closet. It has no plumbing per se because we use a composting/separating toilet setup. The shower is again my MacGirlver's solution! She found an electric 1.3 gallon garden sprayer that we fill with one tea kettle of room temp & one of boiling water. We can get a lesurly shower out of this arrangement. There is a contractors tub (~2x3ft) and a shower curtain for the wet stuff that folds up into the closet when not needed.

During spring of 2013 we had a custom shop (same folks that did the roof install back in 2010) do an interior face lift, some fancy wheels, and a 3" lift kit. Fun stuff and now looks pretty cool ! The rig gets peeps flashing lights, honking & waving on a regular basis. And when we stop it is not unusual for ppl to stop and ask for a tour.

Bottom line for my wife & I? We enjoyed the project even though there were some times we'd rather be camping than doing the physical labor ourselves But hey, we have ~$40K total even with all the custom work on the van and that, in our opinion, is a bargain for a new custom AWD van conversion!

Happy Trails,
Thom
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Old 03-12-2014, 04:42 AM   #19
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

Thanks Marco, that bike storage is awesome!

So I had some setbacks to my plans and had to walk away from the Class B idea for a bit. Then my current van died! I didn't want to just get another car so I searched again for a Class B, and by luck I found one on RVTrader and I'm heading down to TX next week to get it.

It's a 1991 Roadtrek Versatile, the model I was after. It's a bit older, but only has 92,000 on it. I want to run the Carfax but trying to figure a cheap way to do that. It belonged to a fellow who passed away a couple years ago and his son is just getting around to selling it. I think he said it was just one owner, but I'm not sure. It passed inspection in TX till next October and he thinks it'll be road worthy enough to get it up to PA. (I hope so!)

The Versatile has such an open plan and that's why I really like it, and I hope I can store my bikes, or a large portion of them, where the drivers rear passenger seat is.

The van has no working radio and the gas gauge does not work. Other than that he thinks it all works but no doubt there may be a lot of issues.

I have a lot of questions and I wonder if you all have any answers?

1. Do you think the gas gauge an easy fix? I can easily estimate my usage and play it safe, at least for the drive home.
2. My current insurance Allstate has RV insurance, but should I consider switching to Good Sam as many RVers do?
3. If I join the Good Sam Club and/or Good Sam Roadside Assistance program will that get me a discount on the Good Sam Insurance?
4. The one thing this 1991 Versatile is missing is the inside shower. Is it something I can retrofit? I can imagine it would not be easy but I also imagine it to be doable.
5. I think there is some links to what to look for buying an RV, but I forget. If you know of a post about it that comes to mind please let me know.
6. Any other thoughts or comments?

Everything is a risk, but I'm cautiously optimistic. Most all the Roadtreks I've looked at online seem to have stood the test of time and retain a good value. Even though this is pretty old I hope I can get some good use out of it.

Please let me know your thoughts and any other things I need to consider last minute. Tks!!

P.S. The photos of the actual one I'm getting are limited but all look OK. It just like it's been sitting a while is all. But RVTrader has another of the same year and model that looks very much the same with a lot more photos, albeit a bit cleaner: http://www.rvtrader.com/listing/1990-Ro ... -111520849
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Old 03-12-2014, 07:31 AM   #20
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Default Re: possible full time Class B next year

Is that the correct ad?. Van is in Illinois not Texas.$10k seems high for a 90 with no genny. I would insist on underside pics to check for rust.
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