Wheelbase Length Ratio Importance in Handling?

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chugman

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Joined
Aug 13, 2005
Posts
6
Location
Suburban Chicago
We are trying to do our homework before we purchase our first motorhome and not make a big mistake. In reading the "Green Book" by the RV Consumer Group they make a very big deal about the wheelbase length ratio effecting handling characteristics and highway driving safety. We were getting very close to making a decision to purchase a used 2003 Holiday Rambler Vacationer 32ft MH when we learned that it's ratio was 53%. They recommend 55% or higher to prevent fatigue or owrse by fighting the steering wheel in high winds and being buffeted by passing trucks and etc.

Is this really a big deal? Or are they and we just being too careful? In both Holiday Rambler and Damon, two brands that we have been considering, it is hard to get close to 55% without going to at least a 37ft model. On these they increase the wheelbase to 242" from 228".

Please help try and put this into perspective for me.
 

Jim Dick

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Feb 11, 2005
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7,651
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Titusville, FL
Hi Art,

I personally have some problems with things that the RV consumer group do but that doesn't mean everything they say iis wrong. The wheelbase to length ratio will have an effect on the handling of a motorhome especially in windy conditions. A large overhang should be avoided if possible but you will find that many motorhomes, especially gas models, will have quite a bit of overhang. I would suggest test driving your choices on a highway with some truck traffic. See if the passing trucks tend to push you around. If so I'd look at another model. I had a 34' gas Bounder with a 13' overhang and trucks passing was a white knuckle experience until I got used to it. I think the wheelbase was around 205" but I don't remember for sure. We now have a 40' American Dream diesel pusher with almost the same overhang and I never feel the trucks. The wheelbase on the Dream is 266". The simple answer to your question is yes, it makes a difference. :)


 

Karl

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Mar 3, 2005
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5,154
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Elkhart Lake, WI for the summer. Work at Road Amer
Art,

My older ('96) gas Bounder is 38+' long with a 274" wheelbase and 12' overhang. That comes out to about a 60% ratio, and passing a big truck is no problem at all. Surprisingly, I feel a smaller class "C" or small truck much more than a semi, probably because the air disturbance is more evenly applied along the entire length by a semi. Of course that's just a guess.
 

Terry A. Brewer

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 4, 2005
Posts
1,446
Art

>>Is this really a big deal? <<


I don't think it is a big of deal as the consumer group makes it out to be.? Where it is important is highway ride...the longer wheel base gives you a superior ride as opposed to the shorter ones, think luxury sedan ride as opposed to lightly loaded high sprung pickup truck.?

It's just another RV trade off, do you want a smaller vehicle to get into? smaller campgrounds or a larger vehicle that rides better but campground limited...the choice is yours.


Terry
At Clark Fork, ID
281" wheelbase
 

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