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Old 07-02-2009, 10:00 AM   #1
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Owners - Buying an SMB for paved use only??

I really like the SMB's and am visiting the factory in Indiana next week, I've observed though that many SMB owners seem to buy them for use in remote areas, lots of times as 4x4's so they can go almost anywhere.

I was wondering, if you were buying a small RV for use mainly in campgrounds, on paved roads, and visiting State and National parks with hookups...would you have bought an SMB or would you have gone for something like a Roadtrek??

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Old 07-02-2009, 10:57 AM   #2
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Re: Owners - Buying an SMB for paved use only??

Personally I bought mine to get out of campgrounds and go offroad (mine is a 4x4). I think the SMB is perfect for that.

For campgrounds I am sure many would say the SMB is also great.

But I have been in a couple of Roadtreks and they seem to be equipped with more amenities like a larger motorhome might have.

I would compare the Roadtreks, Pleasureways etc. to the SMB Sprinter. Some of the Sprinters are really decked out too but most of the ones i have seen are equipped like the Ford (not many "amenities").

Figure out what works best for you.


'05 Ford V-10 4x4 SMB "50" White
'00 Jeep Cherokee 4x4 Highly Modified
'04 Jeep Grand Cherokee- wife won't let me modify it. :-(
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Old 07-02-2009, 12:44 PM   #3
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Re: Owners - Buying an SMB for paved use only??

The SMB should be great for doing what you want, and if you skip the 4x4 system, you'll save money, the rig will be lighter and less complex, and you'll get better mileage.

As Steve mentioned, something like a Roadtrek will likely have more amenities, and roomier inside. The SMB "can be" a little less conspicuous, and easier to drive, park and store. We also wanted the ability to carry a fairly large number of people, so the Transformer (no, not like the movie Transformers) configuration from SMB was great solution for us. It gives us more legitimate uses for our rig.

There's no right or wrong answer. Decide how you really plan on using your rig and let that guide you. Then make a decision and don't look back.

SMB-less as of 02/04/2012. Our savings account is richer, but our adventures are poorer.
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Old 07-02-2009, 02:06 PM   #4
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Re: Owners - Buying an SMB for paved use only??

Thanks for the input folks.

If money were no object I'd be getting a 4x4 SMB just so those rare Western States trips could include a bunch of boondocking! Since that won't be happening ($$ wise) I want to make sure I get the best rig I can for the type of trips I'll be doing. I do love the "stealth" factor of the SMB, since it will double as our second vehicle that appeals greatly.
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Old 07-02-2009, 05:46 PM   #5
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Re: Owners - Buying an SMB for paved use only??

They both could make great campervans. And, it's true, the Roadtrek is arguably more amenity laden. But, it also may be just so complicated that there's that much more to go wrong. I originally was planning to get a 4x2 SMB and only switched to 4x4 at the last minute to make sure it could double as my second car and handle the dirt roads and snows where I live. Well, there was only 1 day this past winter where I actually had to put in 4 wheel drive. And that was to get out of my driveway. These vans are so heavy that I think they fare well in snow or dirt roads regardless of whether 4x4 or 4x2. I looked at several Roadtreks at RV shows and thought, this would be a great van if my partner and I were less than 5'7. ...and a little skinnier :-)

The SMB's are just more roomy, and you get exactly what you want and leave the rest behind. I think that's pretty practical.

But, you gotta see what works for ya'll.
Mike W
Pueblo Gold Ford EB 350 v10 with EB 50 floor plan & Quigley 4x4 from Huntington (aka: Minerva)
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Old 07-02-2009, 06:20 PM   #6
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Re: Owners - Buying an SMB for paved use only??

Well one huge advantage of Sportsmobile over RoadTrek is Ford.

RoadTrek only builds on the Chevy platform, which means you only get a 4-speed trans, and the biggest motor is the 6.0 gasser vs the Ford with the 5-speed and the V10 or Diesel as options. Some of the other camper van companies use Ford however, just not Roadtrek
2000 E450 dually V10 wagon
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Old 07-02-2009, 06:28 PM   #7
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Re: Owners - Buying an SMB for paved use only??

You can get a roadtrek on a sprinter chasis with diesel. I had seen that vehicle and wondered if they had a 4x4 version. Thats how I first discovered a SMB. I liked the SMB for both the transforming from a people mover to a camper, and the 4x4. I use it for every day driving and it will be our touring vehicle. I am a firm believer in being prepared, thus the 4x4. You never know what you will run into and I want to know I can get out. 4x4 will hurt the mileage, but opens up when and where you can go.
2001 7.3 4x4 "Land Orca"
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Old 07-02-2009, 07:39 PM   #8
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Re: Owners - Buying an SMB for paved use only??

We bought our third-hand SMB for mainly on-road use. So far it's taken us to lots of Washington state's really good state parks and has served as a base of operations for my spouse, who is a plein-air painter. It's a 1993 with close to 90k miles; the top is what used to be called the "camper" - an earlier version of today's cruiser. It's built on an E-350 SB Econoline, standard 2WD. We love it! Would we occasionally like more amenities? Sure! But do we want to give up all the cabinets and the marine toilet and the shower and being able to park in most regular parking places and all that head room? No way! Our pride and joy runs great, has no mechanical problems, handles well, and has everything you'd need for an extended stay. It will probably run forever, with proper care. Oh - did I mention it's a Ford? That's one of the reasons we bought it and did not have to put $$$ into the chassis, even after 16 years of use.
1993 E350 SMB, 15M, 84k miles - a cheap date
2006 Toyota Prius because we like clean air
2002 Honda Odyssey - can haul lots of stuff
1972 Mercedes 350SL with 4.5l V-8, just because
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Old 07-02-2009, 08:31 PM   #9
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Re: Owners - Buying an SMB for paved use only??

Bought our SMB for road use only. We never even looked at or thought about any other B. We saw the SMB and feel in love with the idea of making it the way we wanted it. Very happy with our choice.
Dick and Anne

DABEE a 2006 Ford EB250 with penthouse top.
Life Is Good.
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Old 07-03-2009, 07:11 AM   #10
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Re: Owners - Buying an SMB for paved use only??

When you visit SMB in Indiana next week I hope you will see mine being built (Ford E-250 4X2). It was scheduled to be started last week but was delayed because SMB said they have had a lot of repair work this week.

This is our second SMB. WE loved our first one so much that we decided to invest in a new one. WE hope to wear it out in our retirement years. We have either had or looked at a lot of rigs over the years. None have come close to meeting our needs like the SMB. We like the openness and ventilation of the penthouse top and the uncluttered look inside. (Model EB10). A friend of mine has a Roadtrek with bath, etc. Yes, he has more amenities but I always feel so closed in when I am inside whereas ours will be so bright and airy.

WE are keeping ours simple, no propane, water heater, generator, etc., to minimize weight and maximize storage which will hopefully help with the mpg. That is the great thing about SMB, you can configure it the way you want. Nancy at Indiana has been so cooperative and knowledgeable.

One last point, being able to close the penthouse top really helps with driveability and the effects of crosswinds.

Good luck with your decision.

Not all who wander are lost.
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