Bike for an Alaska trip. - BMW Luxury Touring Community
 
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post #1 of 23 Old Sep 29th, 2008, 4:55 pm Thread Starter
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Bike for an Alaska trip.

Greeting to all, I'm new to your forum and would like your thoughts on this;
2010 trip to Alaska & the Artic circle.
Going to ride with a friend who has been there so at least one of us knows what is in store for this ride?!
5ft 8in & 55 years old and been riding since 1973,jap bikes (4).
Had the chance to ride a 09 LT this past weekend at Iowa city BMW dealer-great bike, brakes,stereo,seat,you know what I'm talking about if you own one, right !
But it's big. Don't know if this is the bike for me once the trip is over and back home.
I did'nt get to ride a GT as none available but on paper this might be a better all around choice.
Thanks for you input.
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post #2 of 23 Old Sep 29th, 2008, 5:18 pm
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

I took my LT all the way to Prudoe Bay last year in June. Not the motorcycle I would pick if I had money growing from a tree, if you know what I mean. The LT did perfect on the dirt gravel road. I enjoyed the comfort, radio, heated seat, adjustable windshield, CB all during the trip. I am hoping to go back to Alaska in couple of years and again would take a LT.

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post #3 of 23 Old Sep 29th, 2008, 5:53 pm
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

I hope to be taking mine in 2010 as well, It did not work out this year so try, try again.
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post #4 of 23 Old Sep 29th, 2008, 5:57 pm
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

You may want to look at a GS Adventure, a KTM 950, or a Kawasaki KLR, as bikes that would probably be better suited to the riding and road conditions in Alaska.

Just my 4 cents worth.

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post #5 of 23 Old Sep 29th, 2008, 6:55 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

Guess what I'm wondering is a well equiped gt more suitable than the lt for a trip up north ?
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post #6 of 23 Old Sep 29th, 2008, 7:13 pm
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 170bravo
Guess what I'm wondering is a well equiped gt more suitable than the lt for a trip up north ?
I'd say so. It weighs a couple hundred pounds less. And it will be more enjoyable to ride around on small errands with the less weight.

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post #7 of 23 Old Sep 29th, 2008, 7:20 pm
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

I'd take (and did - http://danbrew.smugmug.com/gallery/1...84757168_FR2iF) a GS when I had both a GS and an LT in the stable.

If I had a lot of time (like more than the 3 1/2 weeks I took last time - maybe double that), I'd take the Ural sidecar rig next time.
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post #8 of 23 Old Sep 29th, 2008, 7:37 pm
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

If I go next year I will take my KTM950.

05' LT Dark Grey, "Battle Star"
14' KTM 1190
03' KTM 450 EXC Dually
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post #9 of 23 Old Sep 29th, 2008, 8:53 pm
 
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

You might consider the new Triumph Tiger 1050ABS,,, terrific touring bike....

You might try the Suzuki V-Strom 1000...very good all round ride...

You might try the standard BMW R1200GS....It is the #1 bike for world travelers...

Lastly,, take a long look at the BMW R1200RT,, its the sleeper in the crowd...

For me I'd take the LT,,,I'm older than you but at 6'4" and 275 lbs its not that heavy to me............Regards Pete
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post #10 of 23 Old Sep 29th, 2008, 9:13 pm
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

Personal opinion...From somebody that lives up in Alaska a Dual Sport is what you should be thinking about. The Triumph, GS or KTM are all good choices once you get here since a number of the best riding roads are dirt or gravel. Now the trade off is getting here. Do you want luxury on the way up or a bike suitable for the roads once you get here?

Not going to say the LT or GT is not capable of touring Alaska but I can say that I have a LT and a Triumph Tiger because I don't like turning around on gravel roads.

My two cents for what it's worth.

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post #11 of 23 Old Sep 29th, 2008, 10:44 pm
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

I was thinking of a Buell Ulysses, that is if the money tree I planted ever starts to put out.

Given that I do not think that is going to happen I will ride what I have.
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post #12 of 23 Old Sep 30th, 2008, 12:41 am
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 170bravo
...2010 trip to Alaska & the Artic circle.
....5ft 8in & 55 years old and been riding since 1973,jap bikes (4).
Had the chance to ride a 09 LT this past weekend at Iowa city BMW dealer-great bike, brakes,stereo,seat,you know what I'm talking about if you own one, right !
But it's big. Don't know if this is the bike for me once the trip is over and back home.
I did'nt get to ride a GT as none available but on paper this might be a better all around choice.
Thanks for you input.
Howdy Joe,

The most important thing you said, above, is 5'8".

I don't know what your inseam is (not a California come-on ) because with the LT, GS and GSA the inseam reach to the ground can be an issue. Inseam reach to the ground probably would not be problem with the K1200GT but, that bike is street bike, not a gravel road bike.

It sounds like you're primarily a street rider based on your above bike description. I would not recommend the GS Adventure if I didn't think it would keep your interest as a street rider.

While any bike CAN make the trip there are some bikes that are DESIGNED to make that trip, unfortunately the absolute best bike to make the trip is one that is quite tall and significantly challenges those with shorter inseams....the R1200GSA (GS Adventure). The big KTM would be a good choice but, I'm not familiar with loading one up to the level I have the GS.

The GS Adventure can be "cut-down" by a competent shop so that those of average stature can reach the ground. Not very expensive but gives you a big return on investment. What you'd be giving up in suspension travel will be more than made up for by the capabilities of the bike.

The LT starts out very heavy before you start adding the load. The GS Adventure starts out several hundred pounds lighter (close to 300 pounds) and is very capable of carrying the loads necessary for a demanding trip.

The biggest plus, among many other pluses, of the GS Adventure is the on-board gas capacity. When you don't want the weight only gas up to half but, when you want that extra reach, say from the Arctic Circle to Prudhoe Bay, fill it up and go!

Without writing a book on the subject, I would see if you can be fitted on a cut-down GS Adventure. If so, then I guarantee after 1,000 miles you'll believe it's the best "all around" motorcycle in the world.

I've had a GS, sport bike and LT in the stable and if I could only have one bike it would be a GS Adventure.

.
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post #13 of 23 Old Sep 30th, 2008, 12:46 am
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

FYI - I'm 5'9" when its humid and my hair stands up, 34" inseam, and I ride a GSA without a problem.

Tim Barstow

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post #14 of 23 Old Sep 30th, 2008, 8:48 am
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

I am very interested in an Alaska trip as well and I have given the matter a good bit of research and thought.

The above discussion is good but I want to add some personal thoughts.

The GT... no, not a good choice. I owned a K1200RS and while it is a wonderful machine it is a highway machine, not a dual sport. The GT is lighter than the LT but it is still heavy. Think about picking it up while in deep mud... its gonna happen and you might as well plan on it.

The other major factor in MY decision is that I do not want to beat up my RT. This trip will beat up a bike. Gravel chips, headlight and front/forward damage etc. Most of the time you will be on paved roads but consider that there are two seasons in Alaska. Winter and Road Repair.

Most rider reports mention the difficulty of dealing with the gravel, dirt, muck of torn up roads. You mentioned the Arctic Circle. If you go there you are going to have to navigate hundreds of miles on unpaved roads. Roads that turn to muck and goo when it rains- which it often does and will.

You are going to need something you can work on, while sitting on the side of the road. Chances are it is not an LT/RT/GT.

My current tendency is the F800GS in Short configuration, or the GS in Short which will be available next year, or a used but strong V-Strom. Something I can beat the hell out of and not worry.

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post #15 of 23 Old Sep 30th, 2008, 9:02 am
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillyOmaha
Howdy Joe,

The most important thing you said, above, is 5'8".

I don't know what your inseam is (not a California come-on ) because with the LT, GS and GSA the inseam reach to the ground can be an issue. Inseam reach to the ground probably would not be problem with the K1200GT but, that bike is street bike, not a gravel road bike.

It sounds like you're primarily a street rider based on your above bike description. I would not recommend the GS Adventure if I didn't think it would keep your interest as a street rider.

While any bike CAN make the trip there are some bikes that are DESIGNED to make that trip, unfortunately the absolute best bike to make the trip is one that is quite tall and significantly challenges those with shorter inseams....the R1200GSA (GS Adventure). The big KTM would be a good choice but, I'm not familiar with loading one up to the level I have the GS.

The GS Adventure can be "cut-down" by a competent shop so that those of average stature can reach the ground. Not very expensive but gives you a big return on investment. What you'd be giving up in suspension travel will be more than made up for by the capabilities of the bike.

The LT starts out very heavy before you start adding the load. The GS Adventure starts out several hundred pounds lighter (close to 300 pounds) and is very capable of carrying the loads necessary for a demanding trip.

The biggest plus, among many other pluses, of the GS Adventure is the on-board gas capacity. When you don't want the weight only gas up to half but, when you want that extra reach, say from the Arctic Circle to Prudhoe Bay, fill it up and go!

Without writing a book on the subject, I would see if you can be fitted on a cut-down GS Adventure. If so, then I guarantee after 1,000 miles you'll believe it's the best "all around" motorcycle in the world.

I've had a GS, sport bike and LT in the stable and if I could only have one bike it would be a GS Adventure.

.

You can actually buy a factory Lowered GS model now, I've seen one in Atlanta and while it would be cramped for most tall folks would be the ideal solution for long range rider for someone your size.

There are more and more of them being ordered , dealers have lost many GS sales to shorter folk.

The VStrom 650 is a popular choice but is also pretty tall allthough I managed it when I tried one out and I too am not tall.

That said I got an RT with a low seat option and that would still be my choice if your talking about going to Alaska , if for no other reason than protection from the elements. I'd have it shod with different tires than the stock Continental semi slicks that come on it if you are going to ride on dirt and gravel.

The Rt is in no way off road however and the GS could be used in that way and both the RT and GS have serious gas tanks which is another area to consider for touring a must. I don't know about the GS but my RT gets consistent fifty mpg cruising at highway speeds and worst average so far has been 48. I doubt the GS could top that.

That said , if I were going to Alaska I think Id fly up and rent a GS as I'd not want to go on long cold drives on one to get all the way up there to begin my adventure.

No matter where you go , there you are.
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post #16 of 23 Old Sep 30th, 2008, 3:11 pm
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

I just had to reply to this thread having lived and biked in AK for a few years and having ridden the road down when I moved down to the lower 48.

I'd ride what you're going to be comfortable with on and off the road. While the road can be perfectly fine for an LT 'some' of the time, at other times it can be a challenge even for GS's. I've seen it. That said, I rode my little Vstar 650, a cruise down from Anchorage and went through some rather soft mud stretches when all you can do is leave it in 2nd and keep the throttle steady.

I haven't done the haul road myself but I've been to Dead Horse which is the north end of it, (not sure why anyone would WANT to go there) but to each his own. As some have said, there are a LOT more dirt roads that go here and there and frankly, I'd want something with more travel clearance and less weight. That's my 2 cents.

Having had a DRZ for true off road and a Vstrom DL1000 and ridden the KLR's and GS's if I had the money for the LT I'd take the GS up the road myself. But that's just me. I know the state and the road in between and to really have fun (for me) I'd want a dual purpose bike that is capable and comfortable. I think the GS fits that bill. The KLR and KTM's are perfectly fine choices too, but you should be comfortable with them. I'd take my Vstrom no sweat, but I'd RATHER take a GS.

FWIW, I rode down on my 650 and you know what I kept chuckling to myself about? All the preparation and expense people put into their bikes to make that trip. I rode a well ridden cheap cruiser with zero modifications. The only thing I did was pick up some spare tubes and put a throttle lock on it.

The second half of July, first half of August is the best time to make the trip weather wise. The more 'open' cockpit of a dually will give you a much better appreciation for the 'trip' you're on.

Good luck on your adventure. It's a beautiful ride.

2000 K1200LTC (Now my Daily Ride!)
2004 Vstrom DL1000 (The Bad Boy)
2004 DRZ400 (Sad to see that one go)
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post #17 of 23 Old Sep 30th, 2008, 3:51 pm
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 170bravo
Greeting to all, I'm new to your forum and would like your thoughts on this;
2010 trip to Alaska & the Artic circle.
Going to ride with a friend who has been there so at least one of us knows what is in store for this ride?!
5ft 8in & 55 years old and been riding since 1973,jap bikes (4).
Had the chance to ride a 09 LT this past weekend at Iowa city BMW dealer-great bike, brakes,stereo,seat,you know what I'm talking about if you own one, right !
But it's big. Don't know if this is the bike for me once the trip is over and back home.
I did'nt get to ride a GT as none available but on paper this might be a better all around choice.
Thanks for you input.
A couple of thoughts on your decision:

Are you looking for a bike specifically for the Arctic Circle ride or will this bike become your main mode of bike travel for the future?

Are you planning on doing any back road exploring in AK or just main highways (if you want to call AK roads highways)?

Where will you be starting your trip?

If the bike is to be your main riding bike then don't worry about the AK trip and get what you will enjoy riding as much as possible. I took my LT from Key West to Prudhoe this June, the LT was the best possible bike for me for 95% of the ride. The remaining 5% the LT did damn good, but would not have been the "best" choice in the whale snot. Since you are riding with a buddy you'll have help picking up any bike you decide to ride.

Remember "Novices have made it to Prudhoe on Goldwings"

-Chuck-

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post #18 of 23 Old Sep 30th, 2008, 4:19 pm
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

Go ride the new 650 and 800GS. You will be impressed. They are great for going to Alaska and an incredible everyday bike.

Brian Ley
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post #19 of 23 Old Sep 30th, 2008, 5:37 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

First off thanks for some great feedback.
My trip is going to start in Iowa so I'll have a few thousand miles of roading just to get to Alaska.
I'm leaning more towards a bike that offers a somewhat upright riding position account of a lower back issue that's aggravated by bending over for periods of time.

Second I'll be using the bike for street & road stuff when I get back and will be doing that 2up.(wife staying home on the Alaska deal.)

I'm really trying to approach this with an open mind and appreciate all your input,thanks!!!!
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post #20 of 23 Old Sep 30th, 2008, 9:39 pm
 
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 170bravo
Don't know if this is the bike for me once the trip is over and back home.
If you're buying a bike for the trip just buy the one you want to ride when you get back home, at least if money is any object. I went a few years ago aboard a '99 Triumph Tiger but along the Alcan I saw folks on Goldwings, Harleys, sport bikes, and even some nut on what appeared to be a really ratty mid-50s (-ish) Guzzi that belched so much black smoke that I suspected it of being a diesel. The Guzzi rider said he'd ride it 'til it died then sign the title and leave it along the road for the next lucky owner. For an experienced rider like yourself literally anything will work.
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post #21 of 23 Old Sep 30th, 2008, 9:52 pm
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

Well , I have ridden a motorcycle to Alaska three times now . In 1987 I road a '63 R60 parts mobile ( '63 R60/2 with a '74 R60 motor / transmission ) . It did good . The guy that I roar up with wasn't very good on the gravel at all . So I would have to stop and see if he was coming along OK . He was on a '80 R100RT ,... I would go 50 or so , & he would go like 15 . We had one stretch on the Alcan that was like 190 miles of gravel ,... that took that guy forever . The only problem I had with the /2 was I had to take the front fender off to clean out the mud so the wheel would turn better .

In 1994 I road a '91 R100GS/PD up there , it worked great ... If that thing had better brakes I would sill be riding it ....But then again ... when I test drove the '95 R1100GS it was like going from a lawnmower to a motorcycle .

then in 2007 I road a '95 R1100GS up the Dempster to Inuvik , then over the Top of the World Hwy . to Alaska . Then up the Taylor Hwy to Eagle . It work quite well also .

All things considered , If you & your gear fit on a bike you like , & you think it will make it . Then go for it .

Patric Blackman
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2010 R1200GSA ...1987 Helix...
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post #22 of 23 Old Sep 30th, 2008, 10:09 pm
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

I have both a plain GS and an LT. Am 5'6" 165 lbs.

The LT is a fantastic bike - a must - for two up riding, and a great long-distance hauler on pavement.

On iffy surface, though, it is quite a handful; if you are going to be on gravel, you will have very difficult time.

The GS is the ticket. Great on pavement and on gravel. I don't have any problems with the height. Keep in mind that the GS is quite deceiving: it is an excellent long-distance cruiser in addition to being able to handle bad roads.

That goes both for the 1150 and the 1200.

Robert in Northern NJ

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post #23 of 23 Old Oct 1st, 2008, 7:28 am
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Re: Bike for an Alaska trip.

If your one up my vote would be the 650 V Strom. More then capable of the trip very reasonable to purchase new, very easy to lower if you have too, and when you get back if you want something else that's more appropriate for your normal riding you can sell it for just about what you paid for it.
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