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Thread: touring in Alaska

  1. #1
    desmo61
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    touring in Alaska

    My wife and I are planing a Vaction to Alaska in June and we are considering purchasing a Bmw 1200LT eather here in Florida or on the west coast and have it shipped to Anchorage or buy one in Anchorage .(makes the most sence) our trip will begin buy flying into Alaska, jump on board and discover this wounderfull State. looking to here from members that are familure with touring in Alaska. Will a 1200LT be the correct choice,Will the gravel sections of road be a problem. your responces will be welcome.

  2. #2
    charleshickman
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    Where in Alaska do you want to go?

    I was in Alaska last summer for 10 days. You can see most of the state while staying paved roads. I did not go up the Dalton to Prudoe Bay or up the Demster to Dawson or Inuvik, but those are a good part gravel and might be a handful two up on an LT.

    How are you planning on getting back? We rode up via the Cassiar Highway. Beautiful scenery and not much gravel. What is gravel might be a little snakey two up on an LT.

    I took the ferry from Haines AK to Bellingham WA. Also wonderful scenery. It was three days and four nights. The scenery was wearing a bit thin on the third day. Everyone was ready to get off when we docked.

    I guess my advice is that if you stay on paved roads, the LT will do fine. If you get on long stretches of gravel and the weather is good, you will probably make it. IF the weather is bad I wouldn't take an LT up the Dalton or Demster.

  3. #3
    Certifiable Old Fart beemerdons's Avatar
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    I'm with charleshickman, the LT will be fine for paved roads and the Alaska Highway!!

    I worked in Alaska for a number of years as a pipefitter in the 80's/90's back when my two road bikes were a 1977 Harley-Davidson Low Rider and 1983 BMW R100CS. I'd go up on the Alaska Marine Highway; and as charleshickman so well described, by the third night and fourth day you are looking to get off the ferry!

    When the termination dust would arrive (snow) I'd ride back down to the Lower 48 on one of those two bikes. Cassiar was fine if it wasn't wet, but a real bear if the surface was slippery snot. Both my machines went up the Dalton to Prudhoe Bay, but I was lucky that I didn't get caught out in rain. Very nasty when wet!

    The Motorcycle Shop in Anchorage is staffed by really great folks! It would work out perfectly if they had a new/used BMW K1200LT available for you two to buy.

    I have ordered a new BMW F800GS to ride the Dempster to Dawson and Inuvik!
    Don Stanley; aka Chuy Medina "El Burrito Ballerina"
    BMWMOA #24810; www.azbeemers.org/forum #89

  4. #4
    Loose Cannon flash412's Avatar
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    LT = Light Truck and I'm not so sure about the LIGHT part.

    This is the WRONG TOOL for extended gravel road riding. Sure, it CAN be done. A guy took an R1 sportbike all around the world. He knew and loved his bike before he started his trip.

    You will buy a brand new BMW product which may have (lots of?) problems, due to the complexity of that behemoth. You will drive it away from the dealer, FAR away, and into the wilderness, where it is the wrong tool for the sort of road on which you will probably find yourself.

    Be sure to wear little bells so that the search party knows when they have found the poop from the grizzly bear that ate you.

    Whatever happens, this WILL be your adventure of a lifetime. Best of luck!

    You might enjoy this write-up of my own little Alaska adventure. I VERY much look forward to reading about yours.
    Last edited by flash412; 12-15-2007 at 06:49 PM.

  5. #5
    Live it, or live with it
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    The GS is THE bike to ride in Alaska, but you see a lot of big touring bikes; Harleys and Gold Wings mostly. If you're moteling and not carrying a ton of gear; and not riding back to FL, I'd pick the GS. If you need more luggage capacity, your wife needs more comfort, or you're riding cross country, the LT. Ultimately, the bike you feel comfortable on and with is the one you want.
    Motor On '/,

  6. #6
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    How much time do you have? I've done the fly up, buy,ride back thing as well as the drive up fly back option. I wouldn't ship the bike (although I did that once as well). I would buy in Alaska. This makes the logistics somewhat easier. I would start calling the two dealers now. .

  7. #7
    Certifiable Old Fart beemerdons's Avatar
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    flash412 and swall have some excellent ideas; perhaps a rental or buy a cheapo/sell!

    Just for grins and giggles I went to www.themotorcycleshop.com and they have a 2004 Kawasaki Z1000 for sale at $5,500. Throw soft luggage on it like I have on my Kawasaki KLR 650 and you could ride around the Last Frontier with the wife.

    Motel it and don't carry too much gear. Then perhaps have your wife fly home from Calgary, Alberta and you burn the miles back to Florida and resell if for $5K.

    Liked the joke from flash412 about the little bells in the grizzly bear poop. Es verdad! My friend Larry in Palmer always loans me a Ruger 357 Magnum when I fly up to visit, when I worked there I packed a Dan Wesson 44 Magnum for bear.

    David A. Braun has written an excellent Alaska M/C Travel Guide in his "my own little Alaska adventure"! Particularly about www.rentalaska.com - consider rental. JKERSH1 is right about the GS being the ultimate Alaska moto!!!
    Don Stanley; aka Chuy Medina "El Burrito Ballerina"
    BMWMOA #24810; www.azbeemers.org/forum #89

  8. #8
    Loose Cannon flash412's Avatar
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    Rack rate on a Motel Six in Alaska is about $150 per night. Nothing's cheap up there.

  9. #9
    bigfoot105
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    If you are interested in a '06 K1200 GT with 1500 miles and a 49L topcase or even a '07 FLHTC with 300 miles on it, I can fix you right up!

    I'll even pick you up at the airport.

  10. #10
    bigfoot105
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    Never mind on the GT, I just read your profile.

    Unless you want a his and hers machine.

  11. #11
    Registered User richardak's Avatar
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    The last time I drove the Alaska Hwy (SUV w/ trailer) was two summers ago and the total gravel (construction) was under 30 miles. In many cases, the unpaved is much smoother than the paved sections which become frost heaved and potholed after a couple of winters. There are some unpaved routes such as through Dawson City, the Denali Hwy or the haul road but other than that it is all paved. So it depends on where you want to go.

    As others have mentioned, I would also recommend the Cassiar Hwy through BC as it is much more scenic and doesn't see as much traffic but that does have about 50 miles of unpaved (not construction).
    1983 R100RT hacked w/Cozy Rocket My blog
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