Originally Posted by GSF1200S
Argh. The back and forth of these threads just has my brain hurting. I did not know about the KLX or the WR when I bought my DR650. I am not a harescrambler but a slow trail explorer who wants to go places. Problem is, I have no experience, and im going to Alaska next May. I have read so many of these threads it makes my head spin.
Around here, the offroad is nothing like some of the places I will be going. I WILL be woefully unprepared. Im young and strong and all that, but I kind of wish I had gotten a KLX351 or WR- Id prolly be less apt to break something going with a lighter bike.
Im considering swapping out my DR for something lighter even though the DR will probably be infinitely more fun when im back from the trip. Thing is, I will have to carry lots of crap with me (about 60lbs), and considering im riding at a slow pace, I wonder if a big thumper isnt better for me anyways. My biggest mistake was assuming the 250s wouldnt be enough on the roads..
Horses for courses. Where do YOUR preferences lie?
The big DR would be my bike of choice for riding to AK, riding around AK, and riding home. It's better on the slab than most thumpers, and can be generally easier to fix/maintain in the middle of nowhere with limited tools/parts/support than the few thumpers that ARE (allegedly) better on the slab. A 250 may be enough on the road, but factor in luggage weight, luggage aerodynamics, hills, and altitude...You'd better have one strong 250 if you want to burn some miles on hilly slab to make time, and the heavier bikes tend to get blown around a bit less. You can also set up your DR for 400 miles of fuel-range, from the main tank alone. (Carry a spare bottle or 2 though).
Having a light bike is nice offroad, but it had also better have some torque if you're climbing long sandy/muddy hills with ruts/rocks. Even around flat FL, I'd rather have the torque of at least a DR-Z for our deep sand. A WR250R isn't much lighter. The low-rev torque of a geared-down DR with a pumper carb is almost silly, by comparison.
Ride Ocala NF, Eglin, Croom, and/or Black Water quite a bit before you go. If you can handle the DR in silt/sand and the mud around here without issue, you won't have much issue with gravel/chipseal roads out west. I'd prepare yourself more (mentally and gear-wise) for being out in the middle of nowhere with no quick-N-easy medical/mechanical support, being in grizzly/elk/moose country, fending off AK mosquitoes and flies, and being cold/wet like you don't get in FL. It's still surprising to me how easily long-time Floridians get chilled, especially once they get wet. High-altitude summer nights out west are often colder than Jan/Feb lows in FL, so prepare accordingly.