The picturesque port of Geiranger, Norway!
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Hornindal, Norway!

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Exploring southwestern Norway until July 26th.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Six month review of Max... our European motorhome

Max is a 2021 Adria Matrix 520ST. He is 5.9 meters (19.5') long and has a Citroen chassis. We first met him in June, so it's been almost six months that we've had to get to know each other.

We did spend much of August and September in Canada, so really it's only been about four months of use. And in that four months, we have put 4,200 kms (2,600 miles) on the odometer. 

Let us say first of all that we're really happy with our choice. I had watched a lot of videos and read a lot of reviews about different manufacturers. So even before we met in person, we had a pretty good idea of what we were getting into.

Max.

There is no perfect RV. There is always a trade off between your own personal wants and needs, and what you are willing to give up in order to have your preferences.

As an example... for us, smaller is better. As a driver, I like the benefit of maneuverability and so Max's size is almost perfect in that regard. Yes, some people go even smaller, and there is a benefit to that but then you give up some space and some creature comforts. Like I said, everything is a trade off. You need to find the satisfactory compromise that works for you.

So, what do we love?

For such a small rig, Max has a really big kitchen, a really big bathroom, and a full size RV fridge and freezer. We don't eat in restaurants very often, and Ruth likes to cook, so having a small rig with a big kitchen and actual counterspace (sadly lacking in most motorhomes) is a big plus for us.

Ruth in Max's kitchen.

As far as small motorhome bathrooms go, Max's bathroom is spacious. When I was researching different motorhomes, one review stated that the 520ST bathroom is "roomier than it has any right to be" in such a compact motorhome.

Our living space is also larger than you would expect. For two people, we are totally comfortable.

So, what's the tradeoff? Well, Max doesn't have a separate bedroom. In some rigs without a separate bedroom, that means that you have to make up a bed each night which can get tiresome. But in Max, our bed is an electric drop down bed... and we love it!

When we are ready for bed, it takes about 30 seconds to get the space ready for the bed to drop down, and then I hit a switch that lowers the bed from the ceiling. The bed is totally made with the sheets and duvet already in place. I just get the pillows out of the cupboard above the fridge (where a TV would normally be stored) and we hop up into the bed.

When morning comes, with one of us on either side we straighten out the sheets and duvet, put the pillows in the cupboard, and hit the switch to raise the bed. It takes less than a minute. Ruth says it's the easiest bed she's ever made! 

And the original factory mattress is totally comfortable for our liking.

Of course there are some downsides with the style of bed for some people. If as a couple, you both tend to have different bedtimes, this wouldn't work so well. Fortunately Ruth and I are on the same schedule. And, you have to be somewhat nimble to actually get up and down from the bed to begin with. There is a ladder, we just find that we don't need it.

Another thing to love is the fuel mileage. Max seems to be averaging about 8.7 liters per 100 kms (about 27 miles per US gallon). Most European motorhomes get far better fuel economy than their North American counterparts so this is not specific to Max. But it is certainly one thing we love about motorhoming in Europe, especially since the fuel is pricier to begin with.

What do we not love?

As I said, there is no perfect rig, and there are some things about Max that we do not like.

Our first issue crept up not long after we got Max. At first, we really liked the sliding door that opens to the pantry shelving area. It kept things nice and neat looking for travel. But then when we had a problem with it, we ended up having it totally removed. Great in theory, but when things move around as they tend to do in a motorhome, the door can catch on stuff making it difficult (or impossible, in our case!) to open. Now that it's been removed, we are totally happy with it the way it is and plan to keep it that way.

The fold down bathroom sink is not very functional. Yes, it works to drain the water and is fine for brushing your teeth etc, but it's just not like a normal sink. Again, it's a tradeoff because having it fold away and disappear is part of what allows for such a spacious bathroom to begin with.

Up.

Down.

The bathroom roof vent is another issue. It had broken, and we haven't yet figured out exactly how or why, but when I had it out to reseal it, I noticed how cheap it was to begin with. The two roof vents in the main living space are much better quality, and I'm not really sure why they installed something different there to begin with. I belong to a couple of Adria forums, and there are several complaints about these roof vents. None that have broken like ours, but just about the cheap quality that doesn't seem to match the rest of the rig.

The shower drains very slowly. Almost to the point of where you think it might overflow. At first I thought there might be a kink in the drain hose or something, but apparently this is another common complaint.

The size of the toilet cassette tank needs consideration. It's not really an issue when you're staying in campgrounds, but if not, you want to do whatever you can to extend the amount of time between having to empty it. It's not really even a dislike, but having come from a North American rig that had such a large black tank, it has just taken some getting used to. And of course this issue isn't specific to Max. Almost all European motorhomes have the same or similar type of cassette toilet.

The trash can that is built into the entrance door is a bit of a pain. It holds quite a lot, but if you make it too full it's impossible to get the bag out of the compartment. So we've learned to only make it half full or so before replacing the bag. And again, it's a great space saving idea, but when you have the door open and the screen closed, you can't access it from inside. Fine if you are sitting outside having a beer though!

Our trash can.

When the ground is level, we're not. This has also taken some getting used to. The design of the motorhome and chassis means that when you are parked on perfectly level ground, the front end is always low by about 2 degrees. I like the interior to be perfectly level when we're parked up, so I tend to search for a parking space that has an uphill slope. Most of the time though, I end up having to get the leveling ramps out one way or the other. I'm pretty good at figuring it out, so it's not really an issue. But it would be easier if this weren't the case.

And that's about it. As I said earlier, we're really happy with our choice and we don't think any of the dislikes are serious enough to make us try something different.

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Nice deal on these 3K Carbon Fiber Hiking Poles.

And in Canada...

Lots of Hot Wheels and Barbie stuff on sale today.

16 comments:

  1. Pretty short list of dislikes, sounds like you guys made a great choice. 👍 Our van has a front-down slope too, so we have the exact same parking challenge. We've replaced the front springs for stiffer ones (ours were 15 yrs old) which helped but it still has a lower front. It still amazes me how much manufacturers manage to squeeze into 6m rigs, really wonderful. Cheers, Jay

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    1. We definitely think that we made the right choice for us with Max, we are really do like him. You would think that the manufacturers could compensate for that lower front end, everyone knows that it is a common issue with units like yours and ours. Maybe one day they will figure it out. Yes, it really is amazing what they can squeeze into a 6 meter rig. We find that we have pretty much everything we had in our 8 meter rig back in Canada that we have in this rig except for the extra storage space.

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    1. Yes, and no. Technically it is a wet bath but they have also put in two accordion blinds in the bathroom that you pull across when you have a shower so that it doesn't make the whole bathroom wet.

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  3. As someone whose OCD carries over into RVing, I thoroughly enjoyed this review. If we've said, 'There is no perfect RV, everything is about a tradeoff,' once, we've said it a hundred times.

    We recently upgraded from a 24 to 25 ft folding TrailManor, a hugh difference in interior space in spite of only being one foot longer. However, I had to laugh at how disorganized I felt our first two to three trips because we did not yet have a system in place. Seriously, RVing is all about the systems we create to live in such tiny spaces!

    Our biggest tradeoff has been size in that our number one priority is to be able to store our travel trailer in our garage when its not in use. Here in coastal California that saves us around $5000 a year in storage fees, easily the entire cost of the rig over time. It seems madness to us to do otherwise, so we just don't.

    We have the same exact cassette toilet that you do, and are so curious about how you manage the solid items (err!) as we've been afraid to use it for anything other than liquids. We carry special bio bags to use for urgent situations, otherwise we use the RV park or campground restrooms.





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    1. Glad to hear that you like your new upgraded TrailManor, we know how much you liked your old one and that style. As you said, it saves you a ton of money being able to store it in your garage. I am sure it will take a little while to get things sorted out with this new setup, I doubt that the layout is the same so you just have to figure out what works best where and move things around until you find out what best for you.

      We just use our cassette toilet the same way we did when we had the toilet in Sherman. When we were in Australia we normally only used the cassette toilet for night time use and found public toilets during the day, so it was easy to just use if for "liquid" but public toilets aren't so easy to find here and we don't stay in campgrounds often so the toilet gets used the way it is meant to be used. Not the nicest job having to empty it but we have never had problems with clogs and such and it is easy to rinse out.

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  4. Got to love those space saving drop down beds

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  5. This is very nice- says its a review.. did you review for free and only pay the gas- like a trade off for the reviews..? The unit looks beautiful.

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    1. No, we did not do a trade off! We bought Max flat out and have no connection whatsoever to the company that sold him to us. We picked Max up mid June and this review is for our own benefit and to anyone else who happens to be looking at the same unit so that they know what issues we have had with it over a six month period.

      We are really enjoying Max and he suits our needs perfectly!

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    2. Thank you for that- was just wondering.. How is the covid stuff over there>? I am not happy being in Canada with them being Covid crazy...but we couldnt get away this winter as hubby and I had some health issues we had to tend to- the timing wasnt the greatest for these things to happen but no choice. We are still hoping to get out on the road at some point sooner than later. My dad also passed earlier this year, leaving us with looking after my mom.Although we do still want to get away.. half time even at best. Would feel bad for leaving her but need us time too..

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    3. Covid over here is much like Covid back in Canada, unfortunately you can't escape it! In Albania things were normal here in Greece we have to wear masks to go into stores or if you can't social distance outside and to get into most tourist attractions you have show proof of vaccination or have a negative rapid antigen test done.

      Sorry about the passing of your father, mine passed away a year ago so we were back in Canada in August/September to sell his household belongings and the house. We hope that you manage to get away to somewhere warmer if only for a little while.

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  6. Muy parents cmapervan (the one you guys saw) has the seem issue where the front is down. My geuss is fuel economy might have to do with that (streamline). Ours is a 2016 model and teh average is around 10 liters/100 km. But to keep the fuel econmy low the easiest thing is taking the weight down..and there come's the cheap plastic bits in. We have the same thing, our bathroom sliding door rail broke after 2 years. It's just a piece of cheap polyester, that costs new 120 euro's...so my dad decided to reinforce the old one and that one stil works now. Another thing that broke was a spring that's on the side bolts of the bed where it glide's up and down. Impossible to get a new spring, you have to buy the whole bolt and gliding thing but that costs 90 euro...luckily it's winter time and we have time to search for a new spring. They company said those springs never brake...wel we managed do it. As is for the toilet, yes it is a small cassette. Every 2 day / 3 days we had to search for a spot to empty it and that is just a bit anoying. But same here we really enjoy our Smallest Camper version of the Ford Challenger.

    And I'll try to stop spamming you guys now and keep the next 1,5 month that I have to catch up for another day :-).

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    1. You could be correct on the streamline idea of why the front end is slightly lower. We just adjust for it when we are trying to park somewhere so that we can be as level as can be.

      Unfortunately we don't think there is any unit out there that doesn't end up with some kind of problem along the way but yes, it seems that units aren't quite as well made as what they used to be, having said that, European units are still much better built than their North American counterparts by far!

      Our cassette toilet is a little bigger and now that we are redirecting our #1, we aren't having to dump our toilet quite as often as what we were having to and we are also looking at the possibly of converting it to a compost toilet.

      You still have a bit of reading to do to catch up to us! :-)

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    2. yes you are right, doesn't matter which one you will have, problems will come. It's a big market these days and lot's of manufactures which means big competition. Saving money on little things drops the main price and so it sells.

      When we had the Ford F-350 relocation campervan in the US we noticed the difference between our campervan. A V10 petrol engine would never work in Europe but stil you think, couldn't they put something less fuel consuming in it? Okay the fuel price is low but they can stil make it cheaper. But I suppose that's a European mind vs a North American mind and the enviroment that we grow up in. Driving a typical North American RV in Europe makes no sence but it does makes sence in North America with the long straight roads. Actually that could be one of our new trips coming up.

      El Monte RV is relocating brand new campervans from Chicago to different places in the US. Like Las Vegas and for 9 dollars a day for 14 days max it looks like a fun experience to do. I would just drive straight to Utah or Nevada and spent lot's if time there. So I'm keeping on eye on that so let's see what happens.

      And yes I stil have allot of time to catch up :-).

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    3. The majority of people in North America like big motorhomes and big trailers which need big engines or vehicles with big engines to pull them especially over the mountains and of course those those engines aren't fuel efficient like here in Europe.

      We love your idea of doing the relocation campervan. We thought about that in Australia until we ended up buying a truck and slide on camper. We love Utah and Nevada, there is definitely a lot to see and do there. :-)

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