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Old 05-08-2009, 09:47 AM   #1
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Question about passengers

Hello,
I saw my first SMB in moab last weekend and have become obsessed with learning about them. Having grown up as a kid with first a camper and then a medium (now considered small) motorhome, I loved that our family could take off and go camping at a moments notice.

As an adult with serious GAS (Gear Aquisition Syndrome) but who doesn't want the large motorhome or camper and likes to get out to harder to reach areas the SMB looks like the perfect vehicle for us. I do have one concern though. Passengers. Specifically my two kids (now 6 and 8). How is the ride for passengers in the back of a SMB? It seems like most SMB owners are either DINKS or retired folks with few who haul their family around in it.

I know that there are a lot of different builds for SMBs but I will probably end up buying used and it seems like almost all the used SMB's are "50" builds with a few of the "1X" builds also. I would think that for travelling with a family of 4 that the 2nd and 3rd captains chairs would be key but it seems like very few folks have builds with them.

To summarize my long winded post:

Is the SMB really suitable for travelling on and off road for a family of 4?

Is there a particular buildout that is best for passengers (side benches vs rear bench) comfort?
-- yes I know that the rear bench in the "50" builds is much safer but heck as kids
we rode about facing forward in the sleeper area of the camper and motor home. At some
point life also has to be about enjoyment otherwise we would all live inside gerbil balls.

Any other advice for a family thinking about getting a SMB?

Thanks,
Mark
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Old 05-08-2009, 09:53 AM   #2
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Re: Question about passengers

The view in the 50 is bad on the driver's side from the back seat. You've got to remember not to point things out on that side.

The seat itself and size are horrible for adults, but kids don't seem to mind. You might get fights over who gets to sit on the outside as they can see much better, but I've had my 7 year old niece in there for 4 solid days of driving (although she didn't have to share the seat) and she was fine. Three pre-teens in the bench is doable for short trips, but I wouldn't count on driving all day.

There are some with 4x captains chairs and many other layouts. The one thing I wouldn't do is put kids sideways because you're asking for car sickness, which can ruin any trip (I and my nephew share this problem).
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Old 05-08-2009, 12:26 PM   #3
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Re: Question about passengers

My son likes to ride on the couch in the back. Where he can watch movies, and play video games
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Old 05-08-2009, 12:57 PM   #4
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Re: Question about passengers

Quote:
Originally Posted by beernutmark
Hello,
I saw my first SMB in moab last weekend and have become obsessed with learning about them. Having grown up as a kid with first a camper and then a medium (now considered small) motorhome, I loved that our family could take off and go camping at a moments notice.

As an adult with serious GAS (Gear Aquisition Syndrome) but who doesn't want the large motorhome or camper and likes to get out to harder to reach areas the SMB looks like the perfect vehicle for us. I do have one concern though. Passengers. Specifically my two kids (now 6 and 8). How is the ride for passengers in the back of a SMB? It seems like most SMB owners are either DINKS or retired folks with few who haul their family around in it.

I know that there are a lot of different builds for SMBs but I will probably end up buying used and it seems like almost all the used SMB's are "50" builds with a few of the "1X" builds also. I would think that for travelling with a family of 4 that the 2nd and 3rd captains chairs would be key but it seems like very few folks have builds with them.

To summarize my long winded post:

Is the SMB really suitable for travelling on and off road for a family of 4?

Is there a particular buildout that is best for passengers (side benches vs rear bench) comfort?
-- yes I know that the rear bench in the "50" builds is much safer but heck as kids
we rode about facing forward in the sleeper area of the camper and motor home. At some
point life also has to be about enjoyment otherwise we would all live inside gerbil balls.

Any other advice for a family thinking about getting a SMB?

Thanks,
Mark
We've got three kids, ages 11, 8 and 5 and travel pretty often in the SMB. To our EB51 layout (front facing bench seat) we added another captain's chair. That takes up space, but is very helpful on road trips because the seating is much less cramped for the two older kids. With a built in entertainment system, road trips with 3 kids are a piece of cake. It is like a family room on wheels with a fridge for refreshments and a porta potti always ready for #1s.

The 'problem' is obviously camping. Sleeping 5 is possible, but not recommended. Way too cramped. Gotta have a tent too. And the captain's chair takes up a lot of valuable 'living' space so that needs to be removed asap when you arrive at camp.

Rob
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Old 05-08-2009, 07:26 PM   #5
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Re: Question about passengers

Great question, I was wondering the same thing although I don't have any little ones yet... I like planning ahead!
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Old 05-10-2009, 05:31 AM   #6
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Re: Question about passengers

Just built an RB21 for our family of four. Works great! I remove one of the captains chairs for trips with 3 or less people. Hung a hammock in it for "guy trips" of three so everyone has their own bed. I Chose this design because I believe it is the most safe and comfortable for passengers in the back. Important point - I used the captains chairs that SMB traditionally uses in their sprinter vans (with integrated seat belts) rather than the standard van captains chairs.... very plush. See my gallery or http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/vie...hp?f=15&t=2936 photos.
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Old 05-10-2009, 11:41 AM   #7
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Re: Question about passengers

That may have been me. I just wrapped up a 9 day guys trip to Canyon Lands, Moab, Gooseberry Mesa and Mammoth for mtn biking, beer, 4wheeling, wine, hiking, tequila, photography, etc.. I'm beat, but it was fun. After driving all night from SF Bay Area, we pulled into Moab about 7:30AM on Saturday to a breakfast at the Moab Diner.



Anyway, back to the van. I have the EB50 layout and have done multiple trips with my family of 4 (two teenage boys 13 and 14). We did 6 weeks to Alaska last summer and had a blast. I won't kid you that 6 weeks can start to get a little close, especially in rainy weather, but we seem to do quite well. The trip I just took had three adult (well technically anyway) guys and way too much gear and we did OK, but it was a very different environment than traveling with the family. I also recently did a family trip with the BBD (Big Black Dog) included to Death Valley with a fair amount of 4wheeling and all did well.

Jage brings up a very important point with the 50 style. The kid sitting on the drivers side of the bench will get quite upset that they can't see anything that is pointed out on that side of the van. I had SMB add the "Bubba window" for my youngest son that has made claim to that side of the couch. He can now see out of that side of the van. You can see it in the picture above. It is directly above the sink inside.

Happy hunting!

Phil
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Old 05-14-2009, 05:22 PM   #8
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Re: Question about passengers

You might consider the "Traveler" set up in a window van. My 12 pass van came with 3 rear bench seats. I intended to remove them all and go with 2 captains chairs. I ended up moving the 3 passenger (small)bench to the middle and removing the other 2 benches. I have plenty of room for 3 passengers with factory belts belts, a big bunk behind the bench and lots of open floor space between the bench and the front seats. Visibility is superior to the converted cargo vans even if you install multiple windows. Since you are looking to buy a used van you might consider a passenger van and convert it yourself. If your kids are like mine were, they are much happier when they can see out. My grandaughter travels with us now and she likes all the room. The penthouse is perfect for kids.You can see pics of my van in my gallery.
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Old 05-14-2009, 07:45 PM   #9
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Re: Question about passengers

That actually is my current plan. I have decided that a full converted SMB is currently out of budget and I have the woodworking abililty to build a set of cabinets for the van (already built a complete kitchen cabnet set for our current house).

So as of now I am patiently waiting to find a good V10 E350 EB Passenger Van, preferably 2005-2007 year with resonably low miles. I am going to have Advanced Four Wheel Drive Systems in SLC (local to me) do a 4x4 conversion on it. I am going to have SMB West put in a penthouse (and maybe a bunch of aluminess stuff) and I will add the cabinets down the road.

One of the things I love most about my kids is how engaged they are on road trips. They (ages 6 and 8) notice all sorts of cool things out the windows. I refuse to have a vehicle with video even though I do have to deal with the regular fights about bugging each other. I really want to have them keep full visibility of their surroundings. So my current idea is to put a gaucho type couch in the back (probably pick that up at SMB also when they do the top) and put the kids right behind us on the 2nd row or remove that and put them in the third row. Either way I will start with a very basic "Transformer" or "Traveller" setup with a sink, a bit of counter space and perhaps a fridge. Definately a cabin heater of some sort.

Then I can add cabinets as I figure out what we need.

Although, all this could change if I find a 2005-2007 4x4 SMB with 20-30K miles for $40,000 :-)

Mark
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Old 05-15-2009, 07:17 AM   #10
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Re: Question about passengers

Hey pjpvi, that was you in Moab on Thursday afternoon, May 7th as I drove by headed to the KOA south of town. I recognized your Pacific Ventures text on the van. I thought you might be joining us on the 4WD training.

Sorry for going off thread. Now returning to our regular programming...
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