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Missouri Bob

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I’m considering a trip to Alaska. Although my feelings for my R1200GS border on love, I would not consider it for really loose gravel roads. Particularly when carrying tools, camping gear, parts, etc.


So, several questions. First off, how far into Alaska can I go before the hard pavement ends? Assuming I get “a pair” and joust with the semis on the gravel highways, would an enduro bike be the best choice? If so, which enduro? How light can I go? How likely would it be to replace a tire in the middle of nowhere?






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GS is not a problem. I did both the "Top of The World Highway" and the "Dalton" all the way to PB and back with no issues. I did install TKC-80s in Fairbanks which I'd recommend.

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Depends on where you want to go and what the weather is on that particular day. Gold Wings and Harleys have been to Prudhoe Bay (Dalton Highway) and Inuvik (Dempster Highway), although they aren't the ideal tool for the job. The Alcan is paved all the way, although there are always sections of dirt and gravel road construction - just like Kansas in the summer. The Cassiar Highway (37) is mostly paved with a 30-50 mile stretch of gravel and potholes the last time I was there. Once in Alaska you can go down the Kenai peninsula to Homer and Seward on paved roads, and from Tok to Fairbanks to Anchorage all on paved roads. If you want to visit the Arctic Circle, you will be on a gravel road. Also, the Top of the World Highway and the road to McCarthy aren't paved. If you are just going to Alaska and visiting the usual places, you will be fine on the GS. If you want to explore old mining roads and logging trails to get into the back country, that's a different story. I saw a lot of KLR650's in AK. Although it isn't a true dirt bike, the KLR can buzz along the highway at 70 mph all day long, and handle rough dirt and gravel roads just fine. The Suzuki DL650 is also popular - more street than the KLR, but as good on a gravel road as the GS and a hundred pounds lighter. I also saw a lot of those in AK.


I've been to Alaska twice on my R1150RA in the company of an R1200RT and an R1200GS Adventure. The guy on the Adventure had been to McCarthy the previous year. Go for it - it's a beautiful state and a wonderful ride through BC to get there. Pick up a copy of The Milepost before you go.

peter '73 R75/5, '04 R1150RA, '06 Kawasaki EX-500

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All the advice given so far is right on.

The any flavor of GS is fine for the job, but almost anything in decent condition can make it through the gravel roads up here.

The problem often comes in the "unscheduled" interuption of the asphalt i.e. construction zones which, in my experience, have contained the most challenging riding conditions.

The other factor is consider is weather--generally prepare for cold wet conditions but you may encounter 90F plus in the interior.


Good luck



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Dave, 2 years?

Then 2 in 4 days!


Hope all is well on your road.




Pictures don't do it justice, or so Jacqueline and Rich have told me.

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GS Alaska? Not a problem at all.

As Whip points out you can pick your battles - and indeed you should pick your battles.

My philosophy of riding is; I am NOT interested in trophies.

In other words just because a place or road exists I don't have to ride to it or on it just to say I did. I think this is critical in a local like Alaska.


For example we arrived at the standard for the Northwest Territories on the Dempster heading north just as two guys on KLR's came from Inuvik heading south.

They stopped and told us to be prepared for 50 miles of fresh loose gravel. " It's not much fun. "


Now these guys were in their 30's I'm 62. They are on KLR's, I'm on a GSA. Although I've been riding for 47 years and even competed in trials at one point, I looked at the fellow I was riding with and said, 'I'm skipping that run and heading back to the camp ground for the night. I'm just not into trophies.'




I did this three times on my trip and don't regret it one bit.

So I cannot say I've been to Inuvik, or Prudhoe or Eagle. But it was a great ride and still very challenging.


No matter what bike you are on, you really need to pick your battles understanding and being honest with the limits of the machine and your ability.

A GS will take you everywhere you want to go within your own limits.


BE AWARE - the road surface can change really fast so ride at a speed that gives you the best options. Lots of riders die because they get comfy with the road and creep up on the speed only to round a curve and find themselves in 4" of loose gravel and no where to go.




Time of year - late May early June.

The Milepost is helpful and there is an on line edition.

Hang out in the Alaska forum on advrider, ask questions, some of the old salts there are a fount of information and they are really helpful.

TAKE their advice.

In Dawson City, The Dick, made the effort to find out the road conditions and weather forecast, the morning I was going to head out on the Dempster he gave me the nod and I headed out. If he would have said it was dicey I would have spent the night rather than think I knew more than a guy who has lived there his whole life.



As far as I am concerned, Alaska is a must do for any long distance tourer.

Fantastic trip, I even have the screws to prove it!


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