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Old 05-28-2007, 10:38 AM   #1
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Need Advice - 16' or 19' Bambi

Greetings,

We have a 2007 Honda Ridgeline truck for towing and want a Bambi. We are having a hard time deciding between 16' or 19'. Please share your experience, thoughts and advice.

Thanks,

Jerry
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Old 05-28-2007, 10:54 AM   #2
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How often will you be using it and for how long?
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Old 05-28-2007, 10:56 AM   #3
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The 16' would probably pull better with the Ridgeline, but make sure to check your towing capacity numbers against the Bambi's weight. The Ridgeline's relatively short wheelbase is also a factor in towing.

As to the 16' vs the 19' there are two major differences other than the size and weight, of course. The 16' has a wet bath; the 19' has a separate toilet and shower, and the sink is outside of the bath. The 16' has a single holding tank for both gray and black water; the 19' has separate gray and black water tanks. For these reasons, I would prefer the 19' over the little guy.
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Old 05-28-2007, 11:11 AM   #4
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my choice

Although we have a 25FB, we strongly considered the Bambi line for ease of towing and storage. Moosetags makes very good points, if you boondock, the 19 is the better bet, but if you are doing mostly full hook up, you won't need the tank space.

I have heard from people who have both, that the 16 actually sleeps better with the cross bed versus the corner bed in the 19, and although the 16 has a wet bath, it is further away from the bed.

There is no doubt that the Honda has a short wheel base and such the lower the tow weight and shorter the trailer the better off you are assuming you are within the specifications from Honda

Make sure you know the carrying capacity of each AS you are considering, there are some with very low capacity due to the axle ratings.

And lastly, it seems the 16 Bambi may hold its value better than the 19, maybe because it is so damn cute, especially with pano windows front and rear. More people who buy 19s trade up than ones who but 16s.

Just my opinion.

John
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Old 05-28-2007, 11:16 AM   #5
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We started with a 16' CCD and ended up with a 34' Classic. Very obvious case of Airstreamitis!

The 16 is very cute and fun. We towed ours with a Liberty CCD easily. We found the wet bath to be not very useful and preferred showering in the campground shower. Also, the refrigerator is very, very small. The freezer is hardly large enough for a few ice cubes. We had a blast in it for a few months, caught the bug and got more than we paid for it in trade for the next Airstream (a 22' CCD).

Have fun!!
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Old 05-28-2007, 11:26 AM   #6
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Will have to concur with Pecos Pete's assesment of the wet bath. We tried that years ago and weren't pleased with it...just my 2 cents worth.
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Old 05-28-2007, 01:03 PM   #7
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The very conservative rule of thumb is that you need 110" of wheelbase for a 20' trailer and 4" more wheelbase for each additional foot of trailer. Even the 19' Bambi would be within that for your 122" Ridgeline. It doesn't appear your Ridgeline's wheelbase is a problem with either trailer.

Your Ridgeline's Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is 6,050 pounds. Subtract from that the curb weight of 4491 to 4552, depending on model, and you have about 1498 to 1559 pounds (spec is 1549 to 1558) for options, fuel, people, cargo, and tongue weight. It doesn't appear your Ridgeline's carrying capacity (chassis, spring, axles, brakes, tire capacities) is a problem with either trailer, even with 600-700 pounds or more of hitch and tongue weight.

Your Ridgeline's Gross Combined Weight Rating is 10,085 and it has a towing capacity (a marketing term, not a rating) of 5,000 pounds. This assumes the Ridgeline, without tongue weight, won't weigh more than 5,085 pounds with options, fuel, people, and cargo. Your Ridgeline's pulling capacity (drivetrain power and robustness, gearing, and tire diameter) is where you may have problems with the larger Bambi. The rule of thumb is that you don't want the trailer weight to exceed 80% of your "towing capacity" to keep from constantly using it at its limit, and leaving some reserve for climbing mountains. That would be 4,000 pounds with your Ridgeline.

The 19' Bambis have historically been rated at 4,500 pounds GVWR, but as optioned up as some have been buying them, owners have found that leaves very little if any capacity for cargo, water, propane, etc. I read here that Airstream is raising the GVWR of some to 5,000 pounds.

I believe a loaded 19' Bambi might have the Ridgeline's small-displacement, high-rpm, DOHC VTEC sports car engine screaming along in its 4,500-5,750 power band more often than I'd care for, especially in mountainous terrain. With an automatic transmission, in the gears you'd use to get into those rpms, the torque converter is not locked, and hence is slipping and generating a lot of heat, often more than the towing package's additional cooling can handle. (I'm assuming it has the towing package)

That's how I see it, and why I'd choose the 16' Bambi for your tow vehicle. Its 3500 pound GVWR would give you another 500 pounds for cargo in the truck bed (think generator for an air-conditioner), while staying under the 4,000 pound 80% rule of thumb. You'd also have a larger margin for safety with the wheelbase.
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Old 05-28-2007, 01:32 PM   #8
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The one thing I overlooked in the last message is the GAWR of the Ridgeline's axles, since I didn't see them in the specs. They should be posted on a plate or sticker on the door jamb. I'd fuel it up and take it across a truck scale with the two of you in it, to see how much weight is on each axle and how much reserve you have on each for carrying capacity.
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Old 05-28-2007, 01:56 PM   #9
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Depreciation on any new Airstream will be a big hit the instant you take possession. Deciding you need bigger after the fact will be very expensive for you -- almost enough to reconsider keeping the Ridgeline or upgrading (a succession of 2 Airstreams is twice the depreciation after all...). One person in a couple has to be quite short to make the 19' corner bed work! You might even think about the 20' with the same bed as the 16' -- a touch narrow but good and long. This could be a decision to weigh for some months before you'll feel right about it.

I like small campground camping -- parks, nat'l forest, etc. I avoid commercial campgrounds if I have any choice. Boondocking is fun but you'll need tank capacity. I haven't yet hooked up to sewer at a campsite. I'll use my trailer's outside shower sometimes or prefer to use the campgrounds shower if available. I tend to do some business in the outhouse or other improved toilets at the campground. You'll produce a lot more gray water than black.

You certainly would be welcome to come to a rally and get a good idea of actual usage of either model by talking to owners who've been there. The Midwest Rally weekend after next will include a couple 16-footers. Come by ... or tent camp ... Saturday afternoon is the big Airstream tour. Talk to a lot of different owners. You might be able to get a site with the group -- or come and stay on your own. You'd be heartily welcomed to the Saturday night potluck and movie.
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Old 05-28-2007, 02:39 PM   #10
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I had to make the same decision...16 or 19..
I opted for the 16. why?

-easier ride because of lower weight, shorter length and shorter overhang.

-bigger bed in the 16!

-the 3 feet more don't offer you that much more interior space, except for the bathroom.. but

-the water tank on both is very small, and with a separate shower you consume way more of that precious water then you would in the 16 combined cell... This is not an issue if you are on full service camp sites, but if you want to boondock.. i makes a huge difference.

The only problem I have with my 16 CCD is that they made a mistake with the bathroom door.. it opens the wrong way... if they would have placed the door on the in front of the galley, you could use the bathroom with the door open and use the galley's sink as a washbasin...
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Old 05-28-2007, 03:49 PM   #11
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Thecatsandi,

Maybe 8-9 trips per year ranging from 3 days up to 2-4 week.

Thanks,

Jerry
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Old 05-28-2007, 05:57 PM   #12
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Hi Jerry,

For most people it comes down to this - do you want to use your Airstream as a bed and breakfast or do you want to actually spend time inside your trailer at your favorite campsite.

The 16' Bambi makes a better B & B - if you have visions of 'seeing the US' with an Airstream as your bedroom than the 16' is for you. It has a
nicer bed, (optional) wrap around windows over both bed and dinette, and enough kitchen stuff (stove/refer/storage) for breakfast, snacks, and the occasional meal. It is small and maneuverable - easy to pull into a kwik-e-mart and with a reasonably small tow vehicle you can park in normal supermarket/mall's double spaces. But it has almost no floorspace - it can feel claustrophobic if you need to spend all day in one. And it does have a wet bath - some people hate them, others love them.

The 19' Bambi is better to live in - if you have visions of quiet solitude (or duotude) sitting in your airstream as you tour the US than the 19' is for you. It has enough floorspace and long enough sightlines that it feels like a real living/dining room.

We chose the 16' Bambi and love it - others love their 19'er.

enjoy,
leo

PS You should check out the Bambi forums - there are a couple of threads that discuss the issues buying a 19' vs 16' Bambi.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f365/
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Old 05-28-2007, 06:28 PM   #13
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Maurice (RoadKinkMoe),

I am very impressed with your knowledge of towing technical matters. Thank you for sharing it and for doing the research you obviously did. Interestingly, for two months we had a new Basecamp (which was destroyed last week in a fire at the dealership ;-( ).

Your comments, "I believe a loaded 19' Bambi might have the Ridgeline's small-displacement, high-rpm, DOHC VTEC sports car engine screaming along in its 4,500-5,750 power band more often than I'd care for, especially in mountainous terrain. With an automatic transmission, in the gears you'd use to get into those rpms, the torque converter is not locked, and hence is slipping and generating a lot of heat, often more than the towing package's additional cooling can handle. (I'm assuming it has the towing package)" (yes it does JM) seem particularly insightful. With a 600# motorcycle inside the Basecamp plus about 100# of stuff in the truck we have learned to not carry on future trips, the Ridgeline did sometime get into the 4000 to 4900 RPM range from time to time........perhaps we should not have been driving at 70-75 mph on the level and 50-60 mph in the mountains outside of Taos, NM. Fortunately, there was never any noticable sign of overheating of any of the fluids.

Okay, if we had a 19' Bambi (say CCD or 75th Anniv., for example) and carried 700# less stuff (and took any driving speed advice you may be so kind as to to offer), how do you think the Ridgeline would perform?

Thank you, in advance, for your technical analysis, experience and judgement!!

Regards,

Jerry
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Old 05-28-2007, 06:50 PM   #14
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Hi Leo (ljmiii),

Your B & B analogy is most helpful. For total pleasure trips, we are definitely outdoor types (B & B) users. I do, however, plan to work on many of our trips for at least the next six years. All I need to do my job is my cell phone, laptop with Internet access and access to an airport once or twice monthly. Intuitively, I suspect I will be spending considerable time in the rig when I choose to work. I am fortunate in that I can pretty much juggle my schedule as desired but there are a few times when I need up to seven full-time days at the keyboard preparing a lengthy proposal.

Given the fact that we are trying to intermix pleasure with business..........what are your thoughts?

Thanks,

Jerry
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