Originally Posted by Kommando
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.
The torque is the biggest thing holding me back. The KLXs dont have the subframes for the gear im hauling in the conditions im hauling them in, and short of a 351 kit, i dont think it would have enough power. The WR is a miracle considering all it can do, but you are right- it has very little torque and needs to be spun to make power. Being a noob I can only imagine that would make for very difficult riding in uphill rocks and loose sand, etc.
I do love the DR, and ive been considering financing a WR and keeping both! Of course, one still has to choose which to take on the trip. I have really wanted to take as many dirt roads to Alaska as possible, while still enjoying some slab here and there. I could see some single track from time to time if it got me somewhere I wanted to see, but I see more challenging Colorado stuff as the biggest issue.
Around here, I agree- the DR would be way more fun. Easy to ride on the street, torque for all kinds of things, plenty capable in the offroad available here.
Not moaning here- im lucky to have a great DR and to even be considering a WR. I know a DR would make it- I guess the hardest problem im having is trying to figure out what mix of road/singletrack/dirt id be doing in an area I know nothing about and trying to get the right tool for the job.
At this point, I think the biggest thing that concerns me about the DR is me being inexperienced and having some trip ending injury due to its weight- THAT is cause to look at lighter bikes.
I got a PM from a knowledgeable fellow who gave some wise advice that im trying to follow- "Dont overthink things- take the bike you got, point the front wheel where you want to go, and go there"; its good advice but hard to follow with purdy WRs sitting in local showrooms