Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Roadtrek 190 Popular

I have written about shopping for the Roadtrek, buying the Roadtrek, and why, but I have not written about what the Roadtrek will have in it - or really what a Roadtrek is in any detail.

The Roadtrek is a Class B RV. Class B's are van conversion RVs. The RV is built on a stock van chassis. There are also Class B Plus RVs which also use a van chassis but the chassis is modified a lot and generally the RV becomes longer and wider. There are also Class A RVs which are the long bus like RVs and there are Class C RVs which are built upon a pickup chassis and generally have a sleeping area that extends over the cab of the truck. Class A and Class C are larger than the Class B RVs.

So what you get with a Roadtrek is a stock van from either Chevrolet or Mercedes and the interior is removed and rebuilt into an RV. Much of the outer body of the van remains - less with the Mercedes Sprinter van models. With the Roadtrek 190 Popular the exterior of the RV is the same as the exterior of a Chevy 3500 van. The roof is raised so the appearance takes on that of the passenger conversion vans that are commonly seen on the road. The give away in appearance between the two is the vent grill for the air conditioner that is visible on the back of the Roadtrek over the rear doors built into the roof. There are a few compartments built into the outside lower body sides, as well.

The length outside is 20 and a half feet. The height is 8' 9". The width is 6' 7". There is an optional spare tire carrier that attaches to the rear of the van with a second hitch connector and that adds about an extra foot of length. Added to the side view mirrors are RV convex mirrors below the flat mirrors. It drives like any other van. We did a test drive and could feel no difference in handling from our smaller passenger Chevy Astro van. We both test drove the Roadtrek and it was comfortable to drive. If you are out looking for an RV make sure you test drive it. There can be vast handling differences from model to model even within the same manufacturer.

It is once you open the door - any door that you see the vast difference from a Roadtrek (or any Class B) to the stock van that it is built within. With the Roadtrek 190 Popular starting at the front driving end of the vehicle the standard seats have been removed and the driver's seat and the passenger seat have been replaced with seats that can swivel to face the rear of the van. Behind the passenger seat is a third seat that can be turned into a bed when bridged with the front passenger seat.

Above is a view of the layout of the RT190P in both day mode and sleeping mode (right). No. 1 is a clothes closet. No. 2 is the two burner gas stove. No. 3 is the sink. No 4 is the location of the refrigerator below the cabinet and a microwave oven in the above cabinets. No. 5 is the location of the 19" flat screen TV with both cable connection and connection to a roof antenna that can be raised and lowered by a crank inside the Roadtrek. The cabinet that the TV is attached to with a swing out arm so that it may be turned to face the front seats or the bed area holds a DVD and stereo. No. 6 is the toilet and shower. No. 7 is one of the privacy doors for the toilet. No. 8 is the area that the shower extends into the aisle - on the floor a plate lifts up to reveal a drain for the shower water to run into. Of course, there is a shower curtain around this area that slides around into the toilet area when not in use.

You can see in the right image how the inside converts to beds at night. The Roadtrek 190 Popular features a full king size bed in the rear which can also be made into two twin beds with an aisle in between. When not a bed this area has a sofa on each side with a table that can be attached in the middle. There is also a table that swings out of the closet in the front to make another work/dining area.

For comfort there is an air conditioner that also has a heat pump to supplement a gas heater that is at floor level, an intake/exhaust fan in the roof with thermostat, hot and cold running water, plenty of well cushioned, comfortable seating, and the entertainment system that I have already mentioned. There is electricity - both 110 volt and 12 volt inside. A generator can provide 110 volt power or you can hook up a 30 amp electric line to an outside electric line. There are two 12 volt AGM batteries and an inverter that will power some of the appliances inside. The AC and the microwave must have the generator or an outside line to run as they draw the most amperage of any of the electrics inside.

So many ask, how do they fit all that inside a van? Well, it is tight. There is no mistaking that once you go inside one of these - actually any one of the Class B's. The photos, the videos, and the illustrations look like there is so much room inside. There is not. Each time that I have gone into one while shopping for it, I had to remind myself that yes, it is that small. There is just enough room to settle into what you are doing, but don't plan to pace the hall. The aisle is thirty inches wide. Two thin people would have no problem passing each other but that is two thin people. That is not saying that a Class B is not something that one can live in for several days to several weeks. It provides you what you need the most - a place to sleep comfortably and a place to use the bathroom. If you are inclined to cook while you are on vacation you have the capability to do that as well. The overall space does make for the need for a close, loving relationship. And during the day you are out seeing the sites. When we travel we tend to find a 24 hour Walmart at night to walk around in - so we will be coming back to sit for awhile and watch TV and then go to sleep.

Someone asked when when I described the interior, where is the bathroom sink? There is one - in a way. A cabinet under the kitchen sink holds an insert that is put into the kitchen sink to convert it into a bathroom sink. It is possible to order a Roadtrek with a self-contained bathroom - toilet, sink, and shower in one little room, but this takes up a lot of the additional storage/cabinet space that you have toward the rear of the passenger side of the van. We saw one set up this way and it did not really offer that much of a difference.

So what happens to all of the water and where does the water come from? Below the van there are four tanks. Two hold fresh water. One of those is located within the floor so that it can be protected from the cold if using the RV in the winter. One holds the waste water from the shower and the sink. The last one holds the waste and water from the toilet. The fresh water tanks can be by-passed if you hook up to a water line at a campground with a hose that attaches to the outside of the van. So what do you do with the waste water? You dump it, of course. At the campground or at various locations - even around here at marinas. The Roadtrek features a macerator dumping system. This is a hose at the outside of the van from inside one of the compartments that has an electric pump and grinding system that pumps out the toilet tank - called the Black Tank - first and then pumps out the sink/shower tank - called the Gray Tank - which flows through the black tank to give it an extra flush through. A process I am told is nothing like Robin Williams in the movie, RV. This, however, remains to be seen.

When we first went out to look at RVs I wondered why you just don't hook up the hose outside to the sewer connection and leave it there - let it work just like the plumbing at home. Well, I have since learned that if you do this you will not only clog up your black tank with solids but you will also have wonderful odors coming up from that sewer, through your toilet, and into your RV. At home there are traps and vents to prevent this that do not exist in an RV.

The toilet in the RV is a marine toilet - one that would be used on boats - not just by Marines. The toilet has two peddles. One that lets water into the toilet bowl and the other that flushes it all away into the black tank. Unlike the toilet at home that has water in it all of the time, if you did that in an RV you would be sloshing toilet water all over the floor as you drive. Makes sense.

The interior is nicely decorated. There are real cherry wood cabinets. The kitchen counter is granite. (I still do not understand why they would add the weight of granite to everything else.) There is both carpet and vinyl tile floors. We opted for the window screen package so that windows may be opened and nothing will come flying inside.

This is what we are looking forward to. There is a link at the side of the page to the Roadtrek website and you can see photos and videos for each model. Heck, add a laser beam and machine guns and you have the urban assault vehicle from the movie, Stripes!


  1. I got an explanation of the granite when I asked about it. The granite is only 1/2 in think then it is bonded on the back to a heavy linen-like fabric. It is strong enough to take a heavy weight but is not very heavy itself. Ann

    1. I would have been happier with a Corian counter top.