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StyleRide plays major role in converting compliance

StyleRide Australia is helping many customers convert old buses to motorhomes for road trips. The seating manufacturer raises key issues that the industry must consider when it comes to seating requirements.

Ever since the COVID pandemic first disrupted the industry, seating manufacturers have had to constantly pivot. In a fast-moving world emerging out of lockdowns, new requirements and ideas fill the sector. StyleRide Australia managing director Garrin Angel says he is now getting five calls per day on a new topic.

“Many people are now reaching out to StyleRide about converting buses to motorhomes,” Angel told ABC. “With the expansion of people using motorhomes and wanting to travel domestically, we’re seeing our rate of contact with customers increasing substantially.”

This motorhome move brings with it a variety of seating considerations. Angel says the growing trend of repurposing old buses means people aren’t just sourcing new seats designed for motorhomes.

Instead, many are choosing to obtain used seats and have them installed into the motorhome. In some situations, this practice is fine. However, when older seat-belted seats installed don’t comply with Australian Design Rules (ADRs) and aren’t installed or certified correctly, motorhome seats could become dangerous for passengers if an accident was to occur.

With many re-fitting motorhomes with backward facing seat-belted seats, Angel says he’s been educating the industry on what is required to do it safely.

“Most people, particularly individuals building motorhomes themselves, may not be very aware of the critical nature of compliance needs with belted seats,” Angel says. “They’ll go and fit seats in themselves and then try to get it registered.

“However, there’s a need for third-party certification and compliance checks to be completed.”

If these processes aren’t followed, Angel says accidents can become far worse. With the potential for seats to be fitted incorrectly or rear facing when they aren’t designed to do so, Angel says many seats don’t meet the strict ADR requirements to be switched around.

Out of StyleRide’s range of seating products, only the one belted seat is complied and certified for rear-facing fitment. The Orion model is energy absorbing, has successfully passed a 20G crash test and has retained the necessary rigidity and anchorage within the rearward facing guidelines of the relevant ADRs.

“It was a significant investment to specifically design the Orion seat to be rearward facing,” Angel says. “The original design of the model didn’t allow for compliance for rear facing applications.

“The evolution of the seat focused on being able to face it rearward. After passing testing, we’re happy to say the Orion seat can legally face front or backwards in a bus or motorhome.”

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There’s still more considerations when it comes to installing rearward facing seats in a converted motorhome. Alongside the ADR requirements, the floor of the vehicles must also be structured correctly.

If a customer buys a second-hand bus, the underfloor structure of the vehicle may not have been constructed in a way that would meet the current ADR68 requirements. When fitting seat-belted seats in, both the floor underneath the seat and the product have to be updated to comply with ADRs.

Angel says StyleRide is putting effort into educating customers on these strict requirements.

“We are focusing on pushing discussions out there so people are conscious that they can’t just buy a cheap set of belted seats and put a couple of them facing rearwards in an old bus,” Angel says. “If they’re involved in an accident, the risk of injury with a non-compliant product onboard significantly increases.

“Customers must also consider the legal ramifications of having seats and designs on motorhomes that don’t meet ADR requirements.”

Each day, Angel is passing this message onto both professional vehicle builders and the hobby builder looking to convert old buses to motorhomes.

When families are looking to take motorhomes onto the road for touring holidays, Angel says he is explaining what they can and can’t do without the legal jargon thrown in.

With professional vehicle builders, Angel says he is confirming that StyleRide has seating products like the Orion model that comply with ADRs.

Angel says those in the industry must know that they need third party compliance following inspections to put verified motorhomes on the road. StyleRide, with its various relationships with companies in every Australian state and territory, is offering to help vehicles be updated so they can adhere to vehicle compliance laws.

“Many think it’s cheaper to buy old seats and install them,” Angel says. “But buying newer seats that are ADR approved like our Orion model is quite a cost-effective approach.

“Even though a second-hand seat might be cheap, the cost in the long run could be expensive if they don’t use tested and reliable models.”

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