Tricks for a Trek

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April 1, 2009

The Safari Trek motorhome is one of the most common coaches we see in our shop. Its combination of Class A livability and relatively small size make it a favorite among RVers, and the P32 chassis is a reliable platform when used within its capacity (16,000-18,000 lbs.) It’s not the greatest handling coach, but the good news is, it responds well to some positive changes.

Trek owners are a passionate bunch that love their coaches very much. Quite often, we get a Trek owner in our shop that wants to get the best handling possible out of his coach, and this month that customer was Barry Schmidt and his wife, Kinau. That’s me on the far left.

trekownerslowresThe P32 chassis the Trek is built on really has troubles at both ends. At the back, you’ve got 2.5-inch wide leaf springs (the same width used on contemporary pick-ups) which do little to control lateral (side-to-side motion) motion of the rear axle. This contributes to that “tail wagging the dog” sensation, where excessive motion at the back of the coach tends to steer the front, and causes a very uneasy feeling when the wheel is turned back and forth quickly. This problem is easily remedied with our SuperSteer Trac Bar, which attaches at one end to the rear differential housing and the other to the frame.

The other problem at the back is sway. Remember, a motorhome is the opposite of a car in that most of the weight is carried in the back, so the handling has got to be determined by what your rear suspension is doing. As such, we normally add a larger anti-sway bar to the rear than on the front. On the Trek, the stock rear anti-sway bar is 1-3/4 inches in diameter, which is fairly large, but not large enough to adequately control sway. Unfortunately, there isn’t a larger bar available, so we replaced the rubber bushings with urethane bushings which help a bit by reducing deflection.

One of the things you have to be careful about when trying to improve the rear suspension is ride quality. You can’t remedy handling issues simply by adding more leaf springs-it does help somewhat, but not enough to really control sway. So, we turned to the E-Z Cruise product from the E-Z Ride Corporation ( This product installs between the frame and the leaf spring, and works using a compression and shear action. It’s made up of steel mounting brackets and rubber springs with steel plates inside, and comes in different rubber densities depending on the application. I think this product makes an unbelievable difference in the Trek chassis. Here’s a photo installed:

ezcruiselowresTo improve handling up front, we replaced the stock coil springs with 7/8-inch wire diameter with our SuperSteer coil springs, which have a full one-inch wire diameter. This addition cuts down on sway by increasing the spring rate. We then replaced the 1-1/4-inch front sway bar with a much thicker 1-5/8-inch unit from Roadmaster. As a rule of thumb, every 1/8-inch increase in thickness is supposed to increase roll stability by 30%–and you could really feel the difference in this coach.

Next, we’ll be installing a Safe-T-Plus steering control ( The stock 710 Saginaw steering box is heavy duty, but it does have some trouble returning to center. I like a nice, crisp return to center feel, because it cuts down on rut tracking (where the coach feels like it follows every crack in the road), wind drift and wandering. Safe-T-Plus has a variety of models to suite different applications; I like the silver model, which has 140 lbs. of centering force.

The next thing we’d like to see Gary do is add Koni FSD shock absorbers, which put the finishing touch on ride quality and handling. But as it stands, Barry’s Trek is one sweet-riding coach.

Barry tells me that the former owner sold the coach because he didn’t like the handling and wanted to downsize to a Class B. I’m betting that if this Trek handled then the way it does now, he wouldn’t have ever sold it.

Now, a couple of announcements: We’ll be in Albuquerque, New Mexico for The Rally on April 17-21, and Sedalia, Missouri for the Escapees Escapade on May 24-29. Whether you have a Trek or not, come by and say hello!

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  368. Andy Herring

    I Recentley Purchased A 91 Safara Trek (my First) it Own a Isuzu Chassi
    In Great Condition I would Like To Know Were Or What To Purchase To
    make It more Stable ( when Trucks Pass It Gets Sucked Around) I own A heavy Truck Collision Shop Tires Are New Shocks & Leaf Springs Are In Good Shape
    It Is Like Sitting Side ways Own A Rocking Horse Any Sugestion Would Be helpful
    Thanks Andy Herring/ Johnson Collision Center Biloxi Ms

  369. Right at the end you say the guy sold his Trek for a Class B. I’m actually doing the opposite. I sold my Class B (Got tired of trying to use the teeny tiny shower). A True class B is just to narrow to enjoy for anything other than weekends. My Class B an airstream was very tall and in a side wind not very easy to control. I stiffened it up as much as I could with shocks but it made very little difference.

    Anyways in the photo above their is a toad vehicle. The upgrades you did in the article, were they to improve towing or just handling overall. What would you do to specifically upgrade the towing handling. I’m considering a 16′ cargo trailer and an equalizer hitch.

    I’m specifically looking for a Safari Trek because I like the bathroom design and figure the bed takes up too much space in most RV’s, I like the idea of having it drop down and freeing up space. I haven’t seen any other class A’s in the 30 foot range that appear as spacious.

    You obviously have a lot of experience with motor home suspension. What in the 30′ range would you consider a better alternative?

    Do you think it’s worth looking for a Diesel Version vs the Gasoline Version of Trek’s? I’m not in the market for brand new… maybe a 1998 to 2004.

    Please advise at your convenience.


  370. Randy Jackola

    I would like to say that I read your article with great interest. I bought a Fleetwood Discovery 36 w/230 Cummins “B” engine in 2009. I could go on several pages about my dissappointment in deciding to choose Fleetwood over Winnebago (Vectra) of same year model and price… but my Discovery handles terible.

    I’m a retired diesel mechanic and while checking out the source of bad handling, and wondering. I found the problem. It is worn and deteriorated trac bar bushings. Both front and rear. These are the plastic type and appear to have some type of permanent lube. Whether the lube is factory or was injected in at some time, I don’t know. I tried to talk to a Freightlilner tech rep. and was very dissapointed in his lack of interest. I only wanted to know if there has been improvements in the design before I replace them. He said there there had not and take it to the dealer.

    Well…. I called the dealer to purchase new trac bars and the quoted price was 800.00 plus for front and rear. That’s just the parts price. I ain’t even going to buy more junk, so I was watching a truck show and saw a company that manufactures suspension parts for off road and on road monster trucks. The company is Balistic, and they have all the stuff the permanently fix this problem. The average person could not do this at home but I can. I’m very impressed with their products, and the ball ends are rebuildable with parts they supply.

    One problem with air ride suspension and leveling jacks is that it exceeds the the movement of plastic or rubber bushings that do not float. When traveling to the suspensions limits, premature wear is caused by stretching and twisting of the bushing material.

  371. Daniel Davis

    I read your comments about the safari trek suspension changes and found them interesting. Are you saying all years of the trek are bulit on the P32 chassis? I just got a 03 model 2610 and am moving from a class C. Bringing it home I noticed all the comments you made about their ride. Certianely not like my 25 foot class C with slide. How much did your changes to the suspension end up costing and was the ride that much enhanced?

  372. I’m looking into new Motor Homes also! There’s some great deals right now….bank repo’s and such. Wish me luck!

  373. Peter


    I want to modify my 4 bag air ride suspension system on my 2005 Holiday Rambler Neptune 34 SKD to be able to adjust the ride height on the go.

    Can you help me?



  374. Hello Folks,
    My preference for motorhome shocks is the Koni FSD or Road King shock. You can read about them on our “Porpoising” story ran a few weeks ago on If your Fleetwood is on a Ford or Workhorse chassis and you are having sway problems we usually recommend upgrading the sway bars. If you are low in the rear due to overload or excess overhang we may recommend several other options such as EZ springs or extra leafs. It all depends on the individual situation. We always like to look at things from a systematic approach. We are located in Grants Pass, OR. 541-479-2882. You may also find us at many of the Rallies across the nation.
    As far as prices go that is hard because it depends on your particular application. The EZ Springs for the Trek sell for 795.00 + 35.00 S&H and about 350.00 to 400.00 labor approximately.
    Thank you and best wishes,

  375. TXBrad

    Robert: Good stuff. But, like many articles, you all leave us hanging out.
    It would sure help us if what this stuff will cost someone. ( Labor & parts)
    Not looking for the exact cost, but + – approx. cost. This 500$, 1000$,
    5000$ ????? thanks

    TX Brda

  376. Hi,
    Would you recommend any after-market shocks or springs for a 2008 Fleetwood Southwind?

    Where is your shop located?


  377. We have chosen a fifth-wheel trailer and love it. Motor homes are great for those who want them.