Monday, March 23, 2009

To cap, or not to cap, that is the question

Actually, I already decided, to cap is the answer; I'm just trying to figure out which cap.

Yes I know, another truck thing; it won't be the last.

I've looked at the specs and pricing on A.R.E., Snugtop, and Leer; and I've decided to go with Leer. They have three models I'm interested in:

The 100xl cab height streamliner

The 180 mid height(8" over cab height)

The 122 high rise (11" over cab height)

The objective discriminating factors for me are the total interior height, the total exterior height, and the minimum door clearance. The subjective factors for me are looks, and "roominess" in the bed with the cap on.

In order to get a medium sized ATV into the bed (if I don't feel like trailering) I need 38" clearance. In order to get a large ATV in I need 43" clearance; both presuming I don't compress the suspension or air down the tires of course. If I feel like ratcheting the suspension down a bit, it's more like 34" and 39".

Basically though, I figure 38" is about the minimum clearance I want.

My truck is 20.2" to the baserail, which means my minimum door clearance is 18", and 19-20" would be preferred. The minimum to get a big ATV in without compression is 23", and 24" would be preferred.

According to the Leer spec chart, the 100xl has a 19" door clearance, with 20" inside height, and 23" outside height (to match the cab contour. The 3" is from the insulated roof).

Oh and by the by, that's why I rejected Snugtop and A.R.E. They offered less door clearance on each model than the equivalent Leer, and at a higher cost.

Anyway, the 100xl has enough room to handle a big ATV with compression, a medium sized one without.

Unfortunately, that's still only 40" of room total, with a 39" opening. That's not a heck of a lot. However, it looks very good; and in terms of streamlining is supposedly good for +1-2 MPG at 75mph.

The reason why 40" is a squeeze, is because we have an SUV type trucktent, and like to sleep in the bed with an air mattress (or we did with the Expedition, and plan to do the same with the Ram). I can JUST barely sit up straight with a 40" overhead and an air mattress.

The 180 has a 21" opening, with a 28" interior height, and 31" exterior height; 8" over cab height. That gives a 41" door clearance, a 48" interior, and an overall height of 87" (the truck is 79" high on stock tires).

So, I don't even need a tiedown to get the big atv into that, I can just put some weight on the bars and pop it under the sill from the ramp, and I'm good. Also a 48" interior is much more comfortable.

On the down side, I'm neutral on the looks of the thing, and you loose some or all of the fuel economy advantage.

I also considered the A.R.E MX series, which is very similar to the Leer 180; but it only has a 20" door clearance, and it's about $400 more than the Leer.

The 122 has a 25" door opening, with a 31" interior, and a 34" exterior height (11" above the cab); for a door clearance of 45", an interior height of 51", and an exterior height of 90".

Basically, the door will clear pretty much whatever I feel like loading; except maybe some large furniture if don't feel like laying it down on it's side. 51" will let me sit up straight, and still have a foot of headroom (though at the front of the cap, the room is basically the same as the 180); though it wont allow me to rise up on my knees fully (perils of being tall).

I'm still neutral about the looks though... and DAMN THE THING IS HUGE.

7 and a half feet tall to the top of the cap... that's a lot. I worry about taking it offroad just for the tree limb issue.

I mean look at this guys pics:

Dodge with Leer 122 - 1

Dodge with Leer 122 - 2

Dodge with Leer 122 - 3

From looks alone, I really like the 100, and I like the +2mpg. I just don't like the low door clearance. The 180 seems like it might be a good compromise, but it's sorta halfway stuck in between, and I'm not sure if half and half is worth it. With the 122, I'm just not sure if I want to strap something that big to the back of my truck.

Oh and the 100 has another advantage, in that it is by far the lightest of the three, and the easiest to handle and store when it's not on the truck. Again, the 180 is in the middle, and the 122 could be used as an emergency homeless shelter.

Physics will not be denied; if I want more room, I need a bigger cap. I'm just having a hard time figuring out if I want to make those tradeoffs.