The Great Ride Comfort Chase

Those who haven’t shopped for or owned a class A RV might be completely unaware of the unspoken divide that some say exists. There are diesel RVs and there are gas RVs. Gassers often feel as though their diesel brethren look down on them from their lofty perches. Whether true or not, it can’t be argued that there’s not a great deal of incorrect or misleading information about the feasibility of living with gas RVs. From “just don’t ever take it into the mountains” to “they’ve got all the road manners of a haywagon”, there’s no limit to the opinions on our chosen coaches. Us gassers will usually defend the honor of our able workhorses (they do just fine in mountains and, well, let’s talk about that ride thing) while pointing out that for the often $100,000 delta between a comparable gasser and diesel, we could pay for an awful lot of additional travel, thankyouverymuch.

Qubie is a gas model. Ford V10, 360HP and 450 ftlb. for ~23k pounds plus Subie being pulled along behind. She does pretty fine for power to my mind. No, I can’t blaze up mountains at 70MPH, but neither do I want to. I’d love a bit better gas mileage, which the diesels do seem to provide. Aside from that, I can’t complain about the engine.

The ride is a different story. From the factory I had the stock spring suspension, Bilstein shocks, “Sumo springs” dampeners, and the stock anti-roll bars. She’s always had what I would charitably characterize as a “lively” ride. Lot of push from trucks on the highway, wind would shove us around, expansion joints were punishing. I’d never had any experience with any other large vehicle, but it certainly was a bit of a surprise just how different it felt from a car.

I’ve done many things over the two years I’ve had her to improve things in various ways.

  • Even before I picked her up I had a Blue Ox TruCenter installed. I don’t know how poorly she steered and tracked before that, but I get a bit of an idea when I briefly press the button that activates the adjustment solenoid. I do feel it helps, and is also supposed to help in the event of a blowout. I actually reinstalled it myself after determining that it hadn’t been installed correctly by the dealer.
  • The next one I did was a SuperSteer rear track bar. This was to help with the wind and large truck “push”. It helped to a noticeable extent.
  • Finally, before my most recent trip I swapped the stock Bilstein shocks for Koni FSD shocks front and rear. I’d heard that this was a big, night-and-day difference. On my first trip out with them I noticed a difference but honestly couldn’t call it night-and-day. To me, the most noticeable improvement was the dampening of the follow-on motions I’d get from whatever road conditions threw at me. The initial impacts were reduced, too, but it was the absence of “bounce” that made it better.

We’re supposed to travel this weekend to Carolina Beach, where Cat will have her first ride in Qubie post shock installation. Hopefully she’ll find an improvement too.

It’ll never be as good — I assume! — as the diesel air-ride systems. Honestly, I don’t even know what that’s like. I have an assumption in mind, especially given the “advice” I’ve heard in the past to not ride in a diesel because then you’ll never want to go back to a gasser, but I don’t know what it’s like. I imagine floating along comfortably over every surface, hardly feeling anything. Unfortunately, I’d built up the Koni shocks to be the same… which it wasn’t. But after further reflection I acknowledged my misassumptions and realized that they did deliver a realistic improvement.

I think someday we’ll likely upgrade. Once Julia is no longer traveling with us (don’t want to think about that yet) and our needs shift a bit. I’d like to make that upgrade a diesel, for many reasons including the air-ride. I think we have many years of Qubie enjoyment left though, and I think I’ve done just about all I can to get her to be the best she can be on the road.

One Comment on “The Great Ride Comfort Chase

  1. Pingback: Previewing Qubie’s future? – Shallow Roots

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