DRZ400 or DR650 or KLR650?
I am contemplating a trip and need advice. I have a Gen 1 Fz1 and have traveled extensively on it. 69k miles. Two trips across the Usa. Its a road warrior. The trip I'm contemplating is to alaska , and I'd like to do the Dalton Hw up to Prudhoe Bay. Question is… is the bike able to do it? I have Michelin Pilot Road 4s on it now but could get dual sport tires put on in Ankorage or Fairbanks.
Should I use this bike or get something else, like a drz400 or dr650 or klr650? Are roads in Alaska mostly gravel/dirt, or mostly paved? Anyone else done Alaska on a fz1?
Answers ( No )
There are probably more Harleys that make that trip than any other bike, so you should be fine on the FZ1.
You can do it. The fat front tire is the only hang up. I rode an F800R across the Denali Hwy – 100 miles of dirt. But it was sunny that day. Half the Dalton is paved. It only gets bad when soaked by rain and in construction areas. While you can do it on the FZ1 you’ll be more comfortable on a KLR or DR. The DRZ would be a pain getting to Alaska.
I’d say yes you can. When i was in Guatemala i met a guy on a Vespa who had ridden it. I cannot remember his blog details though. Some mad German. Curious about that memory i just googled vespas and dalton and found another vespa guy claiming to have done it too. So, i’d say yes you can. Time of year would be a consideration of course 🙂 enjoy. I look forward to the ride report.
if you have gravel riding skills you’ll be fine on the fz. you can always air down the pr4s a touch for some more contact patch if needed.
You can always get tires which are 80/20, 70/30 or 50:50. I got Shinko tires which are 80/20 and I was fine on my motto guzzi Stelio NTX. I have some off-road skills, but I am not that good. Practice your off road riding skills. I had a friend who rode his 2001 Yamaha R1 to Alaska. His bike had 110k miles.
Go for it?
The FZ1 will be fine. People have done the haul road on Harley’s, GoldWings and Victory’s before. Pretty much the same rule applies for any bike, if it’s dry you won’t have a problem. If it’s wet the calcium chloride that they put on the road will turn into slick ass snot and it won’t matter what bike you are on, it’s gonna suck.
I agree with Roger. A 80/20 dual sport tire, leaning toward a thinner front would be helpful good solution. Think Conti TKC 70. You could do a full DOT knobbie, like the Conti TKC 80 if you’re really concerned about it. You should be able to switch tires in Fairbanks, if you’re not comfortable switching tires as you go. You can call the Yami dealership and get something worked out in advance so they have the tires you want/need in stock for you when you get there.
I rode to Inuvik, NT about 4 years ago on my Yamaha Super Tenere. In retrospect, there are a lot of things I would do differently next time. I thought I would camp, but I never did. I always found a room when I was ready to stop. I should have brutally stripped down my load. I only needed 3 t-shirts/socks/underwear for my daily clothes. Sleeping in hotels makes it easier to rinse everything out. If you are too tired, then you still have another set of clothes. Keep your weight low on the bike. If you need a top case, redo everything until you don’t. You can still keep the top case, but focus on getting your load very low on the bike.
My wife required a Spot GPS tracker and I rented a Sat phone. The only time I used my sat phone was calling in the crash of a Harley rider. I was the only person who had a full first aid kit and a Sat phone of everyone that stopped. This included an off-duty Mountie. Take a list of emergency phone numbers for the towns you will be passing through. I didn’t have that list which delayed how quickly I could get help to a rider laying face-down on the shoulder unable to feel his legs.
Things I did do right were things like carrying a right-sized tool kit for my bike. I never needed a tool that I didn’t have. Carrying my consumables was great. I changed out my brake pads in Inuvik during my morning ride prep. I changed out my tires and did an oil/filter change in Dawson at the NAPA dealer. I carried all of those consumables with me. I bought a small gas can a couple days before I hit the Dempster, instead of carrying it all the way from Oregon. The distances are far, but you can get most of what you might be missing in the larger towns.
The ride was worth the effort.
If you go with the FZ1 and plan to switch tires, call Adventure Cycle Works in Fairbanks so they can order them. There are a very limited number of dirt oriented tires available for that bike.
A Spot is a good idea. No cell service over much of the trip. Two great lodges in Wiseman. Gas up in Coldfoot but it’s a dump and expensive. Prudhoe Bay Hotel is one of the few places to stay in Deadhorse. Expensive, but there is no camping on the coastal plain. There is a campground at Galbraith Lake. I got over 100 skeeters with one swipe along the tent wall.
The good old days
Harley is the most common bike to make the trip you describe. Up to you if your bike can hang.
To answer you original question, all the highways in Alaska are paved, except for the Dalton, the Denali, and the Taylor. The road into McCarthy is dirt. The Parks, Richardson, and Seward Highways are all paved.
My only advice for the dalton is have a giant windscreen… The gravel from the trucks both passing and going the opposite direction is brutal.
Unless you are going to take the ferry to/fro ALaska, you need to account for the roads in Canada too.
My worst white-knuckler was on the Alaska highway, heading South, outside of Whitehorse, YT when I got stuck behind a road grader in a long construction area. It was leaving a 6" trailing off the blade that had to be crossed to stay on the main track while cars were queued behind me. The road crew thought they were doing me a favor by letting me lead. Less dust. I would have been better off being last, following the wheel tracks of a car and taking my time.
The downed rider event I meantioned above, occurred in the same general area but in the northbound direction. He crashed because he was carrying too much speed when the road surface changed from pavement to gravel with little warning. The Casiar highway has long sections of gravel from road construction too. The Dalton will not be the only challenge. You need to prepare for deep loose conditions in the construction zones. Road conditions will change very quickly.
Don’t forget the moose. I had a cow and calf run in front of my bike while on the Casiar in a mild rain. I saw the movement in the corner of my eye and slowed down long before I actually saw them. It changed a dangerous moment into an enjoyable moment.
I saw lots of black bears on the Casiar. They run the moment they see humans, but it’s another large animal that needs to be considered into your plan. That was part of why I never camped. I didn’t want to spend the time messing with bear prevention. There were grizzley bears around Kluane Lake. It lots of fun to see a small family of grizzly feeding on grass and berries less than 50 yards from your bike.
Make a solid plan to cover all the variables in road and weather conditions. It sounds like you have lots of XP riding long distances. Traveling in the far north is a bit different. Don’t take it for granted. Make a good plan, take your time and it will be a wonderful experience.
Do it. They make 17 inch knobbies. Also this, http://wanderonahonda.co.uk/
We are doin Alaska June 9th. Artic bound Bama bums. We on face book
The Al-can hwy is gravel. Thats why most travel it cold weather. Most of Alaska only has gravel roads. Paved between Anchorage & Fairbanks
No problem with proper tires. I owned two first gen FZ1’s and put on 80K combined including plenty of dirt roads. If you like the bike, ride it. Recently I rode up the Dalton and Dempster on a DR650. It was just fine but the old FZ1 would have been better and more fun for most of it.
Buy a bmw gs or a yamaha super tenere if your goin off road
People here are idiotic.
I rode my Ducati GT1000 to Prudhoe Bay. I was a novice on dirt and a pretty new rider. I was fine. Put TKC80s on in Fairbanks. http://imgur.com/gallery/J7kZJ
You can do it on your FZ1 but no dirt roads with the PR4s. Plan to switch to a good dual sport tire and get some experience on the dirt with your FZ fitted with them.
Nick Sanders set a world record for circumnavigating the globe with an R1. He took that bike through some gnarly stuff. Might be worth checking out: http://www.advpulse.com/adv-bikes/proof-you-dont-need-an-adventure-bike-to-ride-the-world/4/