Newbie search for motorhome, how big is too big!

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by Cliffdale, Jul 25, 2016.

  1. Cliffdale

    Cliffdale Funster

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2016
    Messages:
    176
    Likes Received:
    156
    Location:
    Cornwall
    I have been reading magazines, visited several motorhome showrooms and watched many videos to help me/ us to decide what to buy.

    As mentioned in previous threads, I have come out of boating so am used to 'mobile' homes, albeit floating!

    Because of our background, we think the rear lounge suits us best. There are only 2 of us but occasionally 3 when daughter visits.
    We find the rear lounge restricts our choice of vehicles as many manufacturers dont offer this option

    Anyway, having narrowed down the search to rear lounge, (for now), how big is too big for first timer.

    The main use will be just touring uk and hopefully Europe next year. A mix of sites and wilding where possible.

    The rear lounge I liked most is 7.45m. Our boat was 12m so it feels like downsizing! Being realistic, touring Cornish roads seems a bit off putting in a 7.45m van.

    The next size down for similar layout but has half dinette is 6.9m. Probably a little more sensible for Devon / Cornwall touring, may be! I'm not experienced enough to make the decision!

    Swmbo says this is still too big and so we have turned our attention to a Swift 644 which is 6.3m.

    Two things on my mind at the moment, how easy is it to tour 7.5m motorhomes around Devon and Cornwall B class roads, somewhere off the main routes?

    Secondly, I think I prefer to buy big as as possible as after a year or so, I will probably want to upgrade to a larger van. (again maybe)!

    Any comments on size and touring greatly appreciated!

    I suppose the next stage is to hire an equivalent motorhome and find out for ourselves!

    OOh its so difficult choosing!!!!!
     
  2. Theonlysue

    Theonlysue Funster Life Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2009
    Messages:
    2,950
    Likes Received:
    2,819
    Location:
    Essex
    693_1.jpg
    A good starter van?
     
    • Funny Funny x 8
    • Like Like x 2
  3. Feltwell

    Feltwell Funster

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    362
    Location:
    Shropshire
    My van is 7.5m, or 8m by the time the bikes are on. Yes, it was a bit big on Cornish back roads, but that wasn't the length, it was the width that was the concern.

    I wouldn't fuss too much about if the van is 6.5 or 7.5m. I'd worry more about if it's 2.4m / 8' body width (like mine) or 2.1m / 7' like a PVC or some of the narrow bodied A class vans. I reckon that 1 foot difference in width would make all the difference to how easy they are to take down minor roads.

    American RV's definitely aren't for us! In years to come when all our kids are no longer coming with us I can see us going to a narrow-bodied A class.

    Having said that (and hopefully not tempting fate) we do like exploring and have taken our current van down many very minor roads in Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, Norfolk, Lake District etc - and we've never got stuck yet, though we have got a bit intimate with the hedge a few times getting past lorries! After all, if the bin lorry can get there..........
     
  4. Janine

    Janine Funster Life Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2007
    Messages:
    4,816
    Likes Received:
    7,736
    Location:
    Sunny Shropshire
    Our van is 5.5m and we tour Cornwall quite easily because we know we can get anywhere that a Tesco delivery van can :)

    Perhaps you could hire a 'van to see how you get on with the size?
     
  5. GeriatricWanderer

    GeriatricWanderer Funster

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2015
    Messages:
    864
    Likes Received:
    3,132
    Location:
    Now back in Sarfend for a couple of months.
    Much as has been said before me:


    For me, big isn't length or height, it's width - including mirrors.
    If the front goes through that gap the bit behind you, whatever length, will follow (mostly).

    "Too big" is when you're constantly worrying about meeting something coming the other way or nipping your buttocks as you try and squeeze through a gap.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2016
    • Like Like x 4
    • Funny Funny x 1
  6. Cliffdale

    Cliffdale Funster

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2016
    Messages:
    176
    Likes Received:
    156
    Location:
    Cornwall
    Good comment about the width!

    The 3 motorhome shortlist large to smaller
    L 7.45 by 2.412
    L 6.9 by 2.346
    L 6.3 by 2.31

    Looking at our choice, not so much in the width around 100mm / 4 inches in old money.

    The choice is quite narrow for a rear lounge, 4 berth and 4 belts.
     
  7. GeriatricWanderer

    GeriatricWanderer Funster

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2015
    Messages:
    864
    Likes Received:
    3,132
    Location:
    Now back in Sarfend for a couple of months.
    Rear lounge outfits used to be very popular but have gone out of fashion now - mostly only offered in caravans.
    I'm afraid the restricted selection is the price you'll pay for only considering rear lounge.
    Mid lounge/dinette seems to be more popular so more of those available.

    Decisions decisions. :)
     
  8. tonka

    tonka Funster Life Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2008
    Messages:
    5,324
    Likes Received:
    7,579
    Location:
    Cannock, Staffs or Benidorm, spain
    I know someone with a lovely Rear lounge, front dinette, 4 seat belts. 7.5mtrs..;)



    van2.JPG
     
    • Like Like x 4
  9. Spidey

    Spidey Funster

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2013
    Messages:
    830
    Likes Received:
    550
    Location:
    Wiltshire
    We went for originally a 5.99 m van with large front lounge. But two years ears later we now have a 6.99 m van with fixed bed and large front lounge. We were told when got our 5.99 we should go bigger as length is not that important. They were right 2 years later added a metre to the van and we dont notice the dfference. Wouldnt want to go bigger than this as we feel this is a good compromise. Would have saved quite a bit if we had done this in the beginning.
     
  10. Cliffdale

    Cliffdale Funster

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2016
    Messages:
    176
    Likes Received:
    156
    Location:
    Cornwall
    @tonka
    Very nice!

    I love the apache 700!

    Could be the choice for me! I am looking at the bailey equivalent (7.45m).

    Are you happy with touring the motorhome? Narrow cornish lanes and all that! What do you think about a first time buy?

    Cliff
     
  11. mikebeaches

    mikebeaches Funster

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Messages:
    957
    Likes Received:
    624
    Location:
    Bristol
    There will of course be lots of different views in response to the question you posed.

    As others have highlighted, width is often more important then length (though not always).

    With no offence intended to anyone who lives in Devon or Cornwall, I find they are two of the counties that are most challenging to tour in a motorhome if you want to get off the trunk roads. It is obviously a very attractive part of the world, but steep high banks on narrow lanes and MHs do not mix well.

    Yes, some will say, if the buses / milk carts / refuse wagons etc can get down the lanes, then it should be fine. BUT, coachbuilt motorhomes are surprisingly fragile, and for many owners' their 'pride and joy', especially if new or relatively new. Hence the stress.

    From our experience, travelling the many single-track roads in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland is far easier and more relaxing than the lanes of Devon and Cornwall. You can see for long distances ahead, there are regular dedicated passing places and the majority of drivers pull in when they see an approaching vehicle ahead.

    But, in general terms, over the water in France, Germany and Spain etc, it is much more motorhome-friendly than touring in the UK.

    Our last van - the one in the avatar - was only 5.99m long and 2.3m wide (excluding the wing mirrors), but still awkward driving down little lanes. We have just changed to a panel van conversion 6.4m long, but only 2.05m wide. And in just a week or so we've really noticed the difference, and how much more relaxing it is to drive.

    Reference layout - do the rear lounge variety you're considering require beds to be made up each night? If so, where will you store the bedding during the daytime? Are the seats going to be really comfortable to sleep on, compared to a proper mattress? Will it be a chore after a period of time, making the beds and packing them away on a daily basis? Will both cab seats rotate / swivel to make comfortable daytime armchairs and utilise the space at the front? When you travel on the continent, perhaps south for warmer weather, how much time during the day will be spent inside the van? Just a few points to consider...

    Again, as others have mentioned, the rear lounge layout is becoming less popular in motorhomes - although there are still plenty of enthusiasts for the layout. Probably, a little more popular in British vans than continental.

    Whatever you decide, hope you find what suits you best.

    Mike
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  12. tonka

    tonka Funster Life Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2008
    Messages:
    5,324
    Likes Received:
    7,579
    Location:
    Cannock, Staffs or Benidorm, spain
    Narrow lanes are narrow lanes where ever you go..
    Are the Bailey's not a bit wider still than an Autotrail ?
    I would worry more about your living space than the roads ... You wont be in Cornwall forever and not all roads down there are small.

    Looked at Bailey when we bought this but found they had little outdoor storage. Our previous van was the same Apache 700 but a 2005 model. This is 2012 and has some great storage and 730kg of payload and thats with an awning already pre-fitted.
    Mine is up for sale, if you want more info send me a PM/Conversation..

    Either way good luck with the search..
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Lenny HB

    Lenny HB Funster

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Messages:
    5,216
    Likes Received:
    5,013
    Location:
    West Sussex
    Our last van was 6.8m 2.35m wide, current van is an A class 7.2m long 2.21m wide it is far easier in tight spots, taken a few wrong turnings and ended up in Greek & Portuguese hill top villages we would never escaped unscathed in the old van.
    Well worth considering an A Class they are much easier to drive in tight spots, nice flat sides and no big sticky out mirrors makes getting through tight spots and reversing so much easier.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. mikebeaches

    mikebeaches Funster

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Messages:
    957
    Likes Received:
    624
    Location:
    Bristol
    As I said, everybody will see things differently. But, I'm not convinced 'narrow lanes are narrow lanes wherever you go..' They often differ significantly, and in my experience, those in Devon and Cornwall are amongst the most challenging.

    Different people use their vans in different ways, which of course is fine.

    We travel extensively, and like exploring interesting places all the time, rather than be camped up. We did plenty of that in our caravanning days; now we're on the move all the time. So the driving element is just as important, if not more so, than the living space in the van. However, another priority for us is a good night's sleep - hence twin fixed beds.
     
  15. tonyidle

    tonyidle Funster

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2013
    Messages:
    2,865
    Likes Received:
    2,684
    Location:
    Kendal, Cumbria
    Also consider that a rear lounge leaves the most comfortable seats and biggest windows completely unused ................. :).
     
    • Like Like x 2
  16. Richard Birkett

    Richard Birkett Funster

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2014
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    38
    Location:
    Essex
    My van is 8ft 4in wide excluding mirrors & 28ft long and I've toured all over including Cornwall. I just apply the maxim that if a lorry/coach can get through, so can I. Just use common sense regarding small village centres and you'll be fine. There is (in my opinion) nothing worse than wishing you had a bit more space. Good luck whatever you choose.
     
  17. Theonlysue

    Theonlysue Funster Life Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2009
    Messages:
    2,950
    Likes Received:
    2,819
    Location:
    Essex
    You need to consider living area.
    Small lanes won't happen a lot, and chances are, you'll be the bigger vehicle so others will have to reverse.
    All part of the adventure lol
    8 metre van down road in Wales! 20150628_170534.jpg
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Cliffdale

    Cliffdale Funster

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2016
    Messages:
    176
    Likes Received:
    156
    Location:
    Cornwall
    What is too big?

    I did email Baileys of Bristol asking for the turning circle of their 665. I want to know if it will go in and out of our drive, there response, 'sorry we cant answer this as there are too many variables'!

    I sent them photos and dimensions, I'm not sure what varies!
     
  19. Bacchus

    Bacchus Funster

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2015
    Messages:
    423
    Likes Received:
    4,275
    Location:
    Staines
    I don't think you can compare boats and vans. I have an 11m boat and a <6m van but the van never feels cramped. The biggest difference is that people frown if you have a beer whilst driving the van but wave and raise a glass on the boat (c:

    It all depends how you use them. If you want to tour get a smaller van. If you want to spend more time in one place with lots of people get a bigger van.

    The great thing with a van is the number of places you can go isn't restricted by them being on the water so touring is much more of an option.

    If I were you I would get the smallest van you can and go bigger if you really have to. Hymer 634 has a rear lounge and I think some even smaller.

    Here's my 544 in a supermarket car-park last Friday, not sticking out any further than the blue car (and I had another 6" at the back if I'd had a better co-pilot). With a 7.5m van you just can't get away with it, with a sub 6 you can shoe-horn them into surprisingly small places.

    upload_2016-7-25_22-1-22.jpeg
     
    • Useful Useful x 1
  20. Autowbars

    Autowbars Funster

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2012
    Messages:
    499
    Likes Received:
    291
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    Should have gone to specsavers
     
Loading...

Share This Page