The bellows bungee with the roof fully extended

The bellows bungee with the roof fully extended

I recently bought a ‘bellows bungee’ for my VW California camper van and have to say that at £12.99 it’s the best insurance policy I’ve ever bought.

Let me explain.

The Cali’s electric elevating roof makes the job of setting up and packing up camp dead easy – just press a button and the roof goes up or down in a minute.  The roof tent is effectively a single-skin tent made of water resistant canvas.  VW’s design involves slightly stiffened articulated material sewn into the sides of the roof tent so that when the roof is lowered, the canvas folds in on itself and tucks under the metal roof when fully closed.

However, problems can arise.  Sometimes when windy, a sudden gust can blow the roof tent back outwards again when the roof is closing – back outwards and into the sharp metal, hinged bellows.  Sometimes, poor training and handovers means that new owners are not told precisely how to lower the roof – with the same unfortunate consequence.  (Yes, the manual does of course urge caution, and the automatic mechanism has a built-in safety feature in that the motor stops half way down and the control unit asks you to check that everything is OK.  But this hasn’t stopped many unsuspecting owners from getting the canvas torn in the bellows and having to fork out something like £800 for a new roof tent).

The new bellows bungee is extremely simple and effective.  It acts like an elastic ‘belt’, pulling the roof canvas in as you lower the roof.  A simple plastic connector allows you to tighten and secure the bungee and once fitted, the elastic bungee stays in place.

The bungee does a great job in pulling the roof canvas in tidily

The bungee does a great job in pulling the roof canvas in tidily


Plastic tie at the back of the elevating roof

Plastic tie at the back of the elevating roof


Just an excuse to show the inside of the VW California from the

Just an excuse to show the inside of the VW California from the top of the roof inside

Here’s a video of the bungee in action …

What I like:

  • couldn’t be simpler and more effective
  • stays in place permanently
  • takes the worry out of using the roof
  • for this price, why wouldn’t you ?!

What I don’t like:

  • nothing.

The Bellows Bungee is available (UK orders only) via the VW California Club accessory shop priced at £12.99.

Note:  I purchased the bungee myself.  Read more about my blog policies here.



18 Comments on “VW California Bellows Bungee

  1. Sounds like a useful bit of kit. I like the idea of an electric roof too. Ours is just manual. Can you fit two adults in your roof?

    • Yes, absolutely. But it is a workaround … these vans should have been designed right in the first place so as not to need a simple piece of elastic to prevent the roof canvas getting ripped. I’d like to think VW will have re-designed the roof on the next generation of vans, due out in 2015/16.

      • True, but sometimes simple is best. It very often seems that when manufacturers fix issues, they may create new ones in the process.

  2. Hi,

    Firstly, thanks for the great website, blog and information. We’re contemplating a California and the mix of information and experiences on your site resonate and help us as we make our decision.

    On to the bellows-bungie; it seems like a good insurance policy against a crimped roof, but what stops the cord riding up and down the roof canvas as you open and close the roof? Does it just stay there or does it need attaching somehow?

    Thanks again!


    • Hi Mark,

      Thanks very much for the good feedback. And please let me know if there are any other topics I could usefully cover that would help answer some questions about the California.

      The bungee is reasonably tight and so I guess the tension keeps it in place. But also, the roof canvas folds at about half way up, which is where I put the bungee, so it stays in place as the roof goes up/down. It’s just the simplest of solutions.

      • That makes sense. Thanks. Hopefully sign the paperwork tomorrow on an ex-demo Cali, so sounds like a bungee will be in short order 🙂

        Thanks again.

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  5. Hi, on the strength of your comprehensive review of the bellows bungee I ordered one for our newly converted VW T5 transporter. We don’t have the luxury of an electric roof and it was proving to be a bit of a fiddle to pull the roof down with one hand, hold it in the half closed position whilst using the other hand to pull the roof canvas inside before fully closing the roof. Fairly easy with two people but quite a challenge on your own. I just wanted to say how delighted we are with our £12.99 purchase. It is such as simple idea, easy to fit (with two people) and it works every time. So, thanks for the excellent review.

    • Hi Mary,

      That’s great to hear – thanks very much for your feedback ! Yes, it’s so simple a solution. I would hesitate to say it’s a 100% solution but like you, I’ve certainly not had any issues using it over the last year and it’s worked every time.

    • Thanks! No, it’s made of stretchy elastic so it won’t damage anything. Once on, it just stays in place permanently. Highly recommended.

  6. We have an automatic T5 roof, and have already had some issues with lowering our roof in wind. We need a bungee!! anyone know the best spot to order for German delivery??

    • It needs to be tight enough that it stays in the same position once the roof is lowered and raised again. It’s difficult to say but perhaps tight enough so that you hear it ‘ping’ against the roof canvas when you pull it out. Does that help?

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