- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2009

The ongoing quest for lighter-weight, more fuel-efficient RVs has produced interesting new vehicles. Sometimes a byproduct of that search is an improvement elsewhere in the RV-ing lifestyle. That’s the case with the new Bullet line of lightweight trailers from Keystone (www.keystonerv-bullet.com).

The 31-foot Bullet model 282BHS succeeds as a lightweight, tipping the scales at 5,408 pounds wet but unloaded, and that’s great for a trailer this size. It makes the trailer a good match for the light-duty Ford F-150 SuperCrew.

An RV queen-size walkaround bed up front, dual full-size bunkbeds out back, an enclosed bath and a decent-sized galley and loveseat in a streetside slideout create a highly livable interior.

It’s what’s up front and on the sides that seems to give this trailer its towing edge. First, there’s a seriously aerodynamic swept-back front fiberglass cap on each Bullet. Second, the sidewalls taper in toward the top by five inches per side, so the roof is 10 inches narrower than the floor. Viewed from the back the trailer body has an inverted keystone shape. This may not seem highly significant but, from an aerodynamic standpoint, it seems to make a difference in towing stability.

Finally, the axles are spaced farther apart than usual on a trailer of this type. In most cases the tires are separated by just a few inches, but the Bullet uses an extra-wide spring equalizing hanger that moves the axles and tires a fair distance apart. It’s generally true that a tow vehicle with a long wheelbase is more stable than one with a shorter wheelbase. The same theory applies here. All of these design features add up to a trailer that was stress-free and extra-stable to tow.

Airstream trailers have long been known for their stable towing manners largely because of their overall rounded shape. Most traditional box-type trailers present flat sail-like surfaces that catch every breeze and wind gust and transfer it to the driver. We found the Bullet an exception to the rule.

The commercial driver who towed this trailer from northern Indiana to our Eugene, Ore., location commented on its civilized towing, especially in the face of commercial truck traffic. His truck was a one-ton dually, a solid tow rig with almost any trailer, but he had enough towing experience to render a valid opinion on a specific trailer’s highway manners. His comments piqued our interest.

Our test drive covered twisting two-lane state highways and wide-open freeways. Our F-150 4x4 tow rig, powered by Ford’s 5.4L V-8, had more than enough muscle for the load.

Sharp corners, compounded by dips and rises, can kick a truck and trailer around, but this lashup felt great. No tail wagging the dog with this combination; the F-150 was always in full control of the trailer, which carved the curves with grace.

Side wind, as evidenced by tree limbs and stray leaves skittering over the road, didn’t cause any undue vehicle reactions. Usually, we need to grip the wheel and be ready to correct as we’re blown around, but very little such action was called for.

The bow wave from a passing semi-truck can cause severe push-pull reactions from an RV. First, the wind pulls the RV toward the truck, and then as it moves past, the trailer pushes away. Most drivers who tow trailers have felt this and prepare for it as the semi looms in the rearview mirror. The Bullet was a welcome relief from such effects in that it seemed to be significantly less affected by the passing semi. This was partly because of the tapered sides, which probably resulted in less dead-on wind stress, as well as the wider axle spacing and the aerodynamic front end that shrugged off the wind blasts.

Constant side winds were likewise nothing to worry about in this setup. Whatever the cause, we enjoyed much calmer towing with less driver-induced steering corrections. Part can be attributed to the Ford’s solid design and some of it had to be the Keystone trailer.

The quest for a safe, secure towing combination is ongoing. Those with smaller tow rigs pay particular attention to stability on the road. The Keystone Bullet is a new lightweight that seems to have a leg-up in the stability department. It could be the answer to some RV fans’ towing needs.

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