In May, we purchased a new Riverside RV 177 Camper from our local dealer. We took it on a “proving trip” to Fall Creek Falls, after which I posted “Camper Report – Riverside RV Retro 177 White Water.”
Since then we have taken several more trips, including a 1400 mile trip into the mountains of West Virginia. It is time to update that review. While we remain happy with the camper, there are several issues of concern, plus one of my readers expressed several strong complaints about his new Riverside RV Model 177. Before posting this article, I shared my (and his) concerns with the folks from Riverside RV from whom I received a prompt, positive response.
Regarding the trip into West Virginia, our Ford F-150 XLT Triton (2004, small V-8) pulled it nicely up and down 9% grades, both on the Interstates and along local two-lane mountain roads. On some of the steepest grades, it took fewer than 3000 rpm to maintain 45 mph. At that speed the engine and transmission were not working so hard. On flat land roads, 2100 rpm maintained 60-65 mph.
Our Concerns and Observations
The camper sits very low to the ground, which makes entry easy and convenient, and the camper can be parked in most garages (make sure you measure and check before backing in!). This also explains the wall-mounted air conditioner rather than a more typical RV roof mount.
The fact that the unit is very low to the ground causes both the front jack (fully raised) and/or the rear support triangles to drag when moving over uneven ground. It seems it was designed for flat and/or paved surfaces only–not always the way it is in the camping world.
The holding tanks extend below the underside of the camper down to almost the level of the bottom of the axle–I guess that is why the rear support triangles are there, otherwise, backing over a curb or an obstacle could crush the holding tank and/or connecting pipes.
There is a shelf over the head of the bed. While this seemed like a convenience, I have bumped my head — hard — on it several times sitting up. Guess I will learn—soon, I hope.
Finally, while this is a personal preference item, the original mattress was very hard and we decided to add a four-inch thick memory foam pad.
According to a representative from the factory, Riverside RV has recognized and acknowledged these issues and has corrected them on current production RV 177s, and has developed upgrades for existing owners.
First, there is a riser kit for the axle that raises the camper, relieving many of the issues with the low profile. This also includes a modification that raises the front jack for more clearance.
The local dealer indicated that he could install wheels on or replace the rear support braces with wheels. At least this should prevent the braces from digging into the soil when they hit the ground. Of course, with the axle riser modification, this would be less of a problem.
As for the over-bed shelf, it has been moved up or modified, providing more clearance over the head of the bed. My forehead would appreciate that.
Lastly, there is a mattress upgrade (option?). Apparently we are not the only ones who thought the basic mattress was a bit stiff.
These modifications can be accomplished at the Riverside RV factory in LaGrange, Indiana. At this time, there is no set price for the upgrades.
For more information on these upgrades, or other questions about Riverside RV products, go to their website at: http://www.riversidervs.net/default.html, and look for the “Contacts” button.
Other Riverside RV owners are invited to share their experiences in their Riverside RV campers (or any others for that matter). Your comments may be used in a future blog, or you may be invited to submit a guest blog, if it is determined to be of interest to our readers.
Note: Since the planned October trip to Michigan takes us not too far from LaGrange, IN, I have requested a tour of the factory manager. If agreed, will post more information and photos of Riverside RV’s manufacturing facilities.
Text and photographs © Jeff Richmond