2008 Heartland RV Cyclone Review

Toy hauler offers real functionality

By Howard J Elmer, Sep. 18, 2008
Toy hauling RVs are a trend that really caught fire in California a few years ago. Since then the number of manufacturers that offer them has skyrocketed and they are now scoring sales throughout North America. Its obvious appeal for anyone involved in some form of powersport is what’s driving these sales – that and the evolving quality and variety of the product now available.

The Cyclone, from Heartland RV, is one of the larger units on the market and it mated perfectly with the new Ford SuperDuty F450 I used as the tow vehicle for this fifth wheel. At just over 38-feet in length this unit offers a dropdown solid rear ramp that opens up a 12-foot garage space. Despite its size it doesn’t detract from the separate living space that can easily sleep six while still offering a completely private front bedroom space with full bath facilities.

The Cyclone is built to easily accommodate several days of dry camping. A feature that is probably even more important as the hobbies that take up the unit's garage space often takes campers far off the beaten path.

Firstly the Cyclone holds over a hundred gallons of fresh water and has two grey water tanks. It also has a forward compartment designed for a generator that will draw gasoline from the tank that also supplies the onboard fueling station that will keep your toys running. There is also plenty of capacity with dual 30-lb propane tanks located on either side of the unit will provide cooking, cooling and hot water for days.  

Another comfort feature that will also save on electricity is the five powered vents in the unit (two of which on my tester were optional). These effectively cut the need for A/C at least some of the time. Not to mention that any unit this tall is going to build up a layer of hot air at ceiling height and the vents will take care of that.

Keeping the heat (or cold) at bay is a feature of the Cyclone’s construction. It uses an exterior fiberglass shell, two layers of Luan backing, one and a half inches of polystyrene insulation and an interior Luan wall board. The company says this combination has been temperature tested down to 0 degrees F and up to 100 degrees F in the same 24-hour period.

The optional sound system in my unit was impressive - inside and out. It has a surround-sound capacity that works with the flatscreen TV that is mounted on a pivoting arm above the main entry door. Outside in the forward basement cargo area there is a second radio receiver that can be used independently of the inside system – here you will also find a cable outlet and power plug to accommodate an outside television.

This attention to entertainment is also seen in the sturdy roof ladder (which can be removed for storage) that leads to the roof which is a perfect view vantage point for a day at the races or a night under the stars. Also outside (part of the optional Cyclone package) are several scare lights, while inside a security monitor in the bedroom (which has a king-bed by the way) lets you keep an eye on what’s happening around the rig.

Because of its size the Cyclone doesn’t scrimp on living space vs. garage space – and that’s even with a solid wall separating the two. The main slide in the unit houses a freestanding dining table which is extendable and a hide-a-bed couch. Windows (here and elsewhere) have screened openings that foldout using a screw knob. Like Jalousie panes these can be left open in the rain.

Over the garage space is a double bunk that I sent my 17-year-old, 6’2’’ tall son Stephen to investigate. He noted the TV cable outlet, the screened window and the powered roof vent – commented on the comfort of the mattress - and then he fell asleep.

The galley is large enough with a 10-cubic-foot refrigerator/freezer a microwave and an oven under the three-burner stove. The kitchen counter can also be lengthened with an optional fold-up extender. Note that in this unit you will need a decent step-stool to reach many of the top cupboards and if you intend to use the space above them – get a step ladder – the main trailer body is that tall.

The garage area is 12-feet long and has eight tie downs, wall straps, a full row of hanging cupboards, helmet storage, six overhead lights, three 110V outlets, a screened and lockable side entrance door and a pull down rear screen to keep bugs out and let air in when the rear ramp is down.  That last item of course turns the garage into a living space when it’s empty and if you also want to sleep some more people back there optional electric beds (that rise to the ceiling when not in use) can also be ordered.

For ventilation there are two screened windows and a powervent here as well as an AC diffuser if you choose to keep all the windows closed.  This list of features in the garage also highlights another role this space plays – that of maintenance and repair centre.  The lights and power outlets offer a visible space with plenty of current for tools. There is even a fold-down stainless steel parts table for intricate work. And under it all is rugged rubber flooring nicely finished with chrome checker plate that is meant to get wet, so hosing it out after a dirty day on the trails or a long night of wrenching is just fine.

I particularly liked the outside docking centre that is lockable and has all the hook-ups for cable, phone, water and flush system in one place. There is also a soap dispenser, outside shower hook-up and a spot for satellite.  What I didn’t like is the location of the dump pipe – right under the slideout. Remember to hook it up before extending or you’ll be on your hands and knees.

Interior décor is about what you’d expect in this price range and apart from one loose light fixture I found the finishing generally looked good.