Ready for an adventure? Blue Ridge Adventure Vehicles is based in Asheville, NC, offering customized modification packages for your van. And by van, we mean virtually any van you’ve got…or want. Ranging from $5,000 to $45,000 or more, they can make your Sprinter, Transit, Nissan NV, E-series, ProMaster or other large vehicle ready to store bikes and gear, tackle off-road terrain, or even handle full-time mobile living.
For this installment, we interviewed Thomas Coffee, owner of Blue Ridge Adventure Vehicles. Not only is he relatively local to Bikerumor’s HQ, but he’s also a mountain bike enthusiast – giving him a leg up on the competition for your cycling-specific van needs. Oh, and before we get too far along, you can buy his personal van (while it lasts), featured in the video below!
BIKERUMOR: How long has your company been in business converting vans into campers and Adventure Vans?
BLUE RIDGE ADVENTURE VEHICLES: We have been in business since 2007. I purchased the company in 2015 and changed the name from Morehead Design Lab Inc to Blue Ridge Adventure Vehicles.
BIKERUMOR: What makes a Blue Ridge Adventure Vehicles van unique from others on the market?
BRAV: We are one of the few companies on the East Coast (Asheville, NC) that builds adventure vehicles, as well as being a fully custom conversion company.
BIKERUMOR: Which types of vans or other vehicles do you convert?
BRAV: We mainly specialize in the Mercedes Sprinter, Ram ProMaster, and Ford Transit. We also do the NV 2500 from Nissan, the Mercedes Metris, Ford Transit Connect, Nissan nv200, and the ProMaster City. Really we could do any vehicle and would like to branch out into doing trucks with roof-top tents racks.
BIKERUMOR: What are two or three of your most popular INTERIOR upgrades?
BRAV: I would say custom interiors, seat swivels, and additional second/third row seating or captains chairs.
BIKERUMOR: What are two or three of your most popular EXTERIOR upgrades?
BRAV: The most popular would have to be an awning. We typically use the Fiamma awnings. [We also sell many] custom or prefab roof racks. The final one would be a toss-up between running boards/steps, or side/rear mounted ladders.
BIKERUMOR: When it comes to bikes, what’s the best way you’ve found to get them inside the van? How many can you typically fit inside?
BLUE RIDGE: Hands down, L-track. This is such a great product that can be mounted to the floors, the walls, the ceiling. There are tons of attachments for them so you could rig up just about anything. We typically can fit three bikes, but you could get more in there depending on how much room you want to take up.
BIKERUMOR: What are two or three pieces of advice you give potential customers when they’re trying to figure out what features they need?
BLUE RIDGE: We recommend spending lots of time inside your van before building it out. This would give you an opportunity to think about layout and design before you pull the trigger. Think about your budget, items that can be bolted on could always be added later. Start by roughing in your electrical, then move on to your insulation, and finally start to build out the cabinetry, bed, etc. You could always pre-wire/rough-in for a solar systems and other electrical components that could be added later.
BIKERUMOR: What’s the most basic package you offer? How much does that cost?
BLUE RIDGE: Our basic conversion consist of walls, floors, and ceiling, some type of bed system, a ventilation fan, insulation and maybe a ventilation window or two. Budget $5,000-10,000.
BIKERUMOR: What’s the most outrageous build you’ve done and how much did that cost?
BLUE RIDGE: One of our most outrageous conversions was on a Mercedes Benz 4 x 4 Sprinter 170 wheelbase High Roof. The build-out consisted of 6 C. R. Laurence windows, 300 watt solar system, Coleman air conditioning, max air fan, exterior speakers. The interior included interior shower, sleeping for two that converted into a king size bed, full kitchen with Webasto diesel cooktop, Webasto diesel dual top heater hot water heater, 400 amp hour lithium battery system with 3000 watt inverter, microwave, plus a lot more. Budget for that conversion was $80,000.
BIKERUMOR: Do you do much custom work? Or do you sell mostly stock packages?
BLUE RIDGE: We mainly specialize in custom conversions. We do have plenty of designs to choose from, but most of our build-outs are unique.
BIKERUMOR: Can someone bring their used van in for an upfit? Or do you prefer to work exclusively on new vans?
BLUE RIDGE: Most of the vans that we convert are new or like-new. We have converted older ones though, it really doesn’t matter to us. One thing to consider in building out a older van is you don’t want the conversion to outlast the life of the vehicle. I’ve seen people convert them and then shortly afterwards the motor or the transmission stops working.