美国是车轮上的国家。美国人深爱、热爱、挚爱公路旅行。落基山脉，纪念碑谷，六十六号公路，通往阿拉斯加的冰封之旅，跨越整个北半球温带的漫长的海岸线… … 从西部片的年代，旅行就是放荡不羁爱自由的美国人寻找财富和自己的修行。今天北美大陆壮观的自然风光和丰富的文化风俗仍然吸引着世界各地的旅行者来到美国，把长途跋涉本身作为旅行的目的。
错过了我的开天辟地知乎首答？请戳：在房车内吃饭、睡觉，甚至洗澡，是一种怎么样的体验？ - 风流成行的回答 - 知乎
Whether planning an exotic trip or joining full time nomads, the first question for anyone thinking about getting an RV is always, “do I have the money?” Living in the south of the United States, my twenty thousand purchasing budget and two thousand repairing budget put me in the category of being “price sensitive” or, poor in human language. To reduce trial and error costs, I spent quite a bit of time learning about types, features, and the characteristics of different RVs. After a long and devoted wait, I found the one on a muggy morning before hurricane hits in early fall of 2017.
What are we saying when we talk about RVs? Part 1 Motor homes
United States is a nation on wheels. Americans love, Love, LOVE traveling the roads of Rocky Mountains, Monument Valley, Route 66, journey to icy Alaska and the coastal stretch
across the entire temperate zone of the Northern Hampshire. Since the early age of western movies, wild and free Americans hit the roads to find wealth and selves. Today the spectacular nature and diverse culture attracts people from all over the world to come to America so they can make the long road trips when they arrive.
The earliest mobile homes were horse-drawn caravans containing the entire lives of the travelers. Today mobile homes are called “RVs” or “recreational vehicles,” meaning they are neither home nor means of transportation, but adult toys. Instead of small devices used in bedrooms, the term “adult toy” in this article refers to motorcycles, yachts, and private airplanes: The kind that are only fun when played outdoors.
(Picture: Ancestor of RVs, a horse drawn caravan)
The production of an RV is still old school: half industrial, half workshop. The engine and chassis of the “vehicle” side are produced on automobile product lines. However, the “houses” are almost always small-scale production, sometimes even customized. The manufactures usually need to design all plumbing and electrical systems as well as living facilities based on buyers’ highly diverse needs for traveling and living. These individualized designs are often made by hand and installed manually. This is the beauty and curse of RVs. The workshop productions process offers unlimited possibilities for living experience, however the massively complex plumbing, electrical, fuel and sewage systems add enormous burdens to the body of any vehicle. Every single aspect of design, production and functionality is put to constant test.
(Picture: RV Receiving Tender Loving Care on the Fully MANUAL Assembly Line)
To land in the ideal price range, manufactures frequently and effectively control production
costs by maximizing the capacity of engines and chassis to accommodate needs for larger and more comfortable living spaces. Ill-designed vehicles are stressed and unbalanced, putting a lot of pressure on tires and the driver. Risk and maintenance cost can be very high for RVs. Choosing the right vehicle is extremely important, especially when buying second hand. It is entirely possible to pay eight thousand dollars for a second-hand vehicle then spend ten thousand fixing it. Even for new RVs, it is not unheard of to spend eighteen months out of the first twenty-four month of warranty period in the manufacturers’ repair shops. These cannot be pleasant experiences. Living a happy RV life is all about getting the right vehicle then treating it with respect.
Enough of background, now we move on to talk about the RVs themselves. Based on drive mode RVs are either motor homes or trailers. This article will focus on motor homes.
“Motor homes” come with motors and go places on their own. Motor homes are more expensive than trailers: engine and chassis are costly parts. Motor homes can be Class A, Class B or Class C.
Class A Motor Homes
Class A motor homes sounds classy and expensive, and they usually are. Simply put, Class A motor homes are RVs built on a bus-like frame. When picturing an “RV” most people picture a Class A. Most Class As are eight to fourteen meters long, boxy, and spacious inside. The interior is usually divided into cockpit, living space, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. Sofa and dining space can often be turned into beds, accommodating to a total of four to six people. Yet a sales person may not want to mention at least two out of the six passengers should be shorter than 1.56 meters and lighter than 42 kilograms.
Because Class A motor homes are built on powerful machines, they can be luxurious. Obviously extravagant facilities include hunky resource burners like double baths, massage tubs, French door refrigerators, ice makers and washer/dryers. However, the true wonders of a luxurious Class A motor homes sometimes are invisible and do not sound sexy at all. For example, motor homes with hydraulic heating systems can maintain perfect temperatures for every person, every piece of luggage AND all parts of the machinery. Living in comfort and driving without fear of breaking down is the true definition of the luxurious RV traveling experience.
Class A motor homes are the most expensive of all RVs when buying new. Diesel engine Class A motor homes sit on the top of the RV price pyramid. Almost all those gold and glorious pictures of RV interiors are taken inside Class As. Because it is big and heavy, driving a Class A is very different from driving a van or a car. There will be a learning curve. Well-designed Class As are well proportioned and balanced. It is not difficult to drive one of those big guys.
(Pictures: Class A Exterior, Interior and Layout)
Buyers of new Class As are enthusiasts. They want to have a good time with their toys and the cost of purchasing and owning RVs is not their primary concern. A new Class A can cost anywhere from sixty-thousand to a few million dollars. Supplies of Class As are abundant in the second-hand market, since many Class A owners simply get rid of their toys when they have had their fun. The price range of second-hand Class As is wide. A few thousand dollars is sometimes enough to get an old Class A that is still capable of hitting the road.
Class B Motor homes
Class B motor homes are vans that are loved by many Chinese. A typical Class B is no longer than six meters, equipped to accommodate two adults, sometimes able to sleep four. Class B motor homes are rarely rebuilt bumper to bumper. The original automobile factory designs are preserved to the max. They look and drive like the original vehicle, which means their safety levels and driving experiences are very close to ideal. However, since the space is limited, difficult decisions have to be made regarding what facilities are the must-haves and everything else has to go. In compact living spaces like Class B vans, kitchen, bath and sleeping spaces are reduced to skeletons. Many “campers” do not even have toilets. However, because of their small sizes, Class B motor homes are swift and easy to
maneuver, unlike other RV types. Being as short as six meters also means they are allowed in the downtown areas of most cities. Also on bumpy curvy mountain roads Class Bs can maneuver without getting stuck on soft surface or by tight turns. Being small and light saves fuel, thus saving traveling costs. A well-designed Class B cannot be easily distinguished from a next minivan. They can be parked in a regular parking lot when the drivers need breaks. Since it is not obvious that people may be resting inside the vehicle, it is safer as well. Compared to larger RV types, the Class Bs save a sizable chunk of parking expenses. For these reasons, Class B vans are popular with business people who need to travel long distances, a group of customers with significant spending power.
(Pictures: Class B Exterior, Interior and Layout)
Class B+ are buffed up Class Bs. They are taller, wider and longer than Class Bs, reaching eight meters in length. Their living facilities are rather elaborate, providing more comfort. As a result, the costs of fuel and parking also increase as well as concerns for restrictions when driving and parking in cities. RVers must strike their own balances.
Class Bs’ small sizes do not translate into lower prices. Top motor home manufacturers love to promote Class B motor homes built with Mercedes vans as high performance, low consumption vehicles with excellent safety standards. Prices vary with different makers but a Class B motor home built on a Mercedes chassis can cost as much as 150 thousand USD, which more of less defines the price ceiling for Class Bs. Easy to drive and saving money on the road, Class Bs are popular in the second-hand market and they hold their value much better than any other RV types. Naturally they are also driven more. A second-hand Class B van is either going to be older, with higher mileage, or most frequently, not available in the same price range as other types of motor homes.
Class C motor homes
Class C motor homes are built on truck chassis. They are the most popular motor homes in the US. Class Cs can be easily identified by their unique “protruding foreheads” above the cabs. The most commonly used engine and chassis for Class C motor homes are Ford E series pickup trucks. Such components are powerful, reliable and widely used, which makes them cheap and easy to maintain and repair, thus really attractive to a lot of vehicle owners in America where labor is horrifyingly expensive and logistics are painfully slow. Class Cs are
fairly large and their spacious interiors can be easily compared to Class As. However, the
unique selling point of Class Cs is also its one major difference from Class A: The “foreheads” can be turned into sleep pods. For one or two travelers, it is always nice to have extra storage or floor space. When traveling with friends and family with three or four people living in one vehicle, the extra sleeping space becomes essential. The cubbyhole above the cab and the main bedroom in the rear are in different ends of the vehicle, providing
the maximum amount of privacy in a limited space. The “forehead” can be dedicated to sleeping only, there is no need to rearrange bedding every day as needed with sleeper
sofas. Speaking of sleeper sofas, if you do not mind rearranging, Class Cs can
usually accommodate four to six people with the sofa and dinette converted into beds. For most American families with more than one child, spacious and reasonably priced Class Cs are ideal for family trips. For the same reasons, Class Cs are also rental companies’ favorites. The top of the line Class Cs are built on heavy duty trucks and popular choices of
(Pictures: Class C Exterior, Interior, Layout and a Class C for Adult Toy Lovers)
A brand-new Class C can cost between $40,000 and $500,000. Class Cs for enthusiasts are the most expensive and can cost up to $800,000. With similar configurations, Class Cs are usually somewhat cheaper than Class As. However, the price difference does reflect in performance and build quality. Just like Class As, supply of Class Cs in the second-hand market is abundant, with even lower prices. Due to cost control, lower priced Class Cs rarely age well.
In the category of motor homes, there are also all kinds of unusual remodeled vehicles created by their wonderful and wacky owners. Long or short, big or small, cargo van or passenger vehicles, school buses, ambulances, airport shuttles, even canvas caravans have all be turned into mobile homes by somebody. To be the first to renovate a never-before type of vehicle, the options might be limited to firetrucks, fuel tanker trucks, concrete mixers or actual tanks. The one VW minivan that has been out of production globally since 2013 has survived and thrived for decades, solely by being converted into extremely photogenic camper vans. Their images on social media pull the heart strings of young and old from all over the world whose butts are safely grounded at home while their minds wonder the roads.
(Pictures: School Bus RV, Ambulance RV and VW Camper Van)
Thanks for reading. In part two of “What are we saying when we talk about RVs”
we will talk about trailers. If you missed my first answer (and you read Chinese, or just want to see pictures) here it is: 风流成行：在房车内吃饭、睡觉，甚至洗澡，是一种怎么样的体验？
Meet my security system: Wanda.