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Alcan Highway on RT or GS

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Turbozinke, Oct 1, 2018.

  1. Turbozinke

    Turbozinke Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2016
    Oddometer:
    11
    Location:
    Fort Smith, AR
    My dad is turning 65 next summer and we're going to finally go on our big dream ride from Arkansas to Alaska. I don't know if we'll go on up to Dead Horse or not. I know this is a subjective question, but which bike would be better for this particular ride R1200RTW or R1200GSW

    We are both good riders with probably 100,000 miles each.

    IMO the RT is better on the highway than the GS, and much much more of this ride will be paved highway than anything else. We're just staring the planning phase. We will want to ride to Denali National Park for sure. WHICH BIKE?????
    #1
    tarheel rider likes this.
  2. RoundTrip

    RoundTrip Unintentional deerslayer

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,344
    Location:
    Sunny Tucson AZ
    GS hands down. Great on highway, giving up just a little to the RT. Waaay better in everything else including twisties.
    #2
  3. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

    Joined:
    May 26, 2010
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    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    Even if you don’t do any or many miles of unpaced roads, you will almost certainly do sections of gravel due to construction, and these can be a good number of miles themselves. You certainly can do it on a RT and many have, but if you decide to do some of the more adventure type roads it will likely take a toll on the bodywork of an RT (this is true even if you do NOT drop it). Obviously if you have even a low speed tip over the gs will take it better.

    I’d also pick the GS without question. That said, if you really don’t enjoy the GS on the highway/slab, and that will be most of your miles...
    #3
  4. k12lts

    k12lts Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    457
    Location:
    Indiana
    I just did the trip from Indiana on a 2010 R1200RT and had no problems. We did the Arctic Circle, Top of the World, Hatcher Pass and several gravel construction spots. None of them were bad and the RT handled it all fine.

    Our trip was 9400 miles and about 250 miles of it was gravel. If you want to ride other roads like the Denali Highway or north of Coldfoot the GS would do a better job, but for the other 9000 miles I think the RT is the better bike.

    The differences for a trip like this are really so slight there is no wrong answer.
    #4
    Bigbob1 likes this.
  5. KHuddy

    KHuddy Survivor

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    Location:
    Silver City, Montana
    The RT will do just fine on the ALCAN. I rode my 2007 on the ALCAN/Cassiar three times. A few years ago several hundred people rode to Alaska on Harley baggers as part of the Hoka Hey ride.
    #5
  6. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2005
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    Location:
    Villa Maria Sanitarium, Claremont, CA. USA
    I would say its a tire question more than a bike question. The more aggressive tire you can fit the easier the non paved roads will be. The RT would be fine with aggressive tires as would the GS. We did the Trans Lab on RSL's with street tires.
    #6
    Rollin' and Meriden like this.
  7. RunninRanger

    RunninRanger Rainy day Rider

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2013
    Oddometer:
    842
    Location:
    Roaming the US in a motorhome
    Consider the GS Adventure. Best of both worlds. Better wind protection than the GS and comfy for the long miles like the RT.
    No wrong answer here. Just opinions.
    #7
  8. Guls

    Guls Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2014
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    Toledo, OH
    Both will be fine.
    #8
  9. Kay9Cop

    Kay9Cop Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2009
    Oddometer:
    78
    Location:
    Wasilla, AK
    Rode the ALCAN this summer from Alaska to Wisconsin and back on my 2017 CVO Harley Street Glide on stock tires with no problems at all. I think either bike will work just fine.
    #9
  10. ragtoplvr

    ragtoplvr Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
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    9,231
    Location:
    central USA
    Everything will be caked with calcium chloride dust. so 2 parts

    a. Which bike will hurt you less to see corroded by it.
    b. Which bike is easier to clean.

    For me it would be the GS, alcan dust is a badge of honor for a GS,

    Rod
    #10
  11. KHuddy

    KHuddy Survivor

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    Location:
    Silver City, Montana
    Not much, if any, calcium chloride on the ALCAN. The haul road, yes. The ALCAN was completely paved many years ago. You will encounter some lengthy construction zones, but they are nothing to worry about.
    #11
  12. Meriden

    Meriden Yea whatever

    Joined:
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    In the garden behind the dacha
    Posed this same question to the guys in the local BMW club a few years ago. The GS guys all insisted on the GS. The guys that had done it on GSs, bricks, RSs, RTs etc. seemed to think it didn't matter much. So the big question is what does he own now? Personally, I'd take a '99 RT simply because that is what I own and change the tires if need be.
    #12
    tarheel rider likes this.
  13. interiorak

    interiorak Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    201
    Location:
    Alaska
    First ride to Alaska 1971. Lived in interior alaska since 1994. Ridden all the numbered hiways many times ... some of them annually. i commuted 2-5 times annually to Coldfoot and beyond for work 1999 thru 2013. i rode and still ride both RT and GS. No clear favorite between the two ... for me. I would clearly recommend tkc kind tires over pilot kind tire on the mostly gravel, dirt, mud and major construction roads. DUH! Since retirement in 2013 ... if i'm truely in travelling mode vs. daytrip or overnite riding north from Fairbanks ... i take my DR650. When riding south to the outside (lower 48")... i take the RT. If ya got them ... ride them.

    ps. decide what you want take ... ask the most trusted experienced rider you know to cut the weight in half. Total riding weight is way more important than RT or GS. I talked with hundreds of motorcyclist riding the Alaska dream over the last 25 years. Every. single. rider. said. they. brought. too. much. stuff. No. single. rider. said. they. should. have. brought. more. stuff.
    #13
  14. Bigbob1

    Bigbob1 Rain Rider

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    320
    Location:
    Juneau Alaska
    Either bike will be fine. You have a lot of highway miles getting to Alaska, the RT might be the best.. If you want to ride the Dalton/Dempster/Denali highways take the GS.
    This year was my 29th cycle trip on the Alcan, mostly on Goldwings including back when it was mostly gravel. This year it was paved from one end to the other with just a few small construction zones. The same goes for the Cassiar, it's in great shape. I did not ride it this year but I did ride it three times last year. As long as you have a motor and some wheels your fine :-) Come on up!
    #14
  15. bluestar

    bluestar sheep shagger

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    Location:
    N.E. Louisiana
    Better off with a real bike. Save the BMW crap for Starbucks runs.
    #15
  16. H96669

    H96669 A proud pragmatist.

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Hiding off Hwy 6, B.C.
    I took my old K1200RS up there in August.Old bike....left at 250,000 kms,came back at 260.Never missed a beat!

    Starbucks? Where? :fpalmI might have popped in to use the Wifi had I seen one.:lol3

    All paved with mostly that kind of buzzy tire eating stuff:

    20180822_095313.jpg
    #16
    Bigbob1 likes this.
  17. Bigbob1

    Bigbob1 Rain Rider

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    320
    Location:
    Juneau Alaska
    Ya, fresh chips wear your tires quicker than the down south highways. That photo shows fresh chip seal that is used a lot on the Alcan after they put the oil and chips down they let the vehicles pack it down. The excess loose chips build up in the center and at the edge of the road, it will suck your bike into it. Stay in the tire tracks in your lane. Eventually they use a power sweeper to clear off the excess and you have a nice north country road.
    #17
    interiorak likes this.
  18. Tytan

    Tytan Been here awhile

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    Jan 12, 2015
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    Location:
    The Wet Left Coast
    This year my Dad and I rode the Alaska Hwy North to Whitehorse then the Cassiar South my Dad was riding a 2012 CBF1000 with Pilot Road 4s and had no problems.
    #18
  19. Rollin'

    Rollin' does it come in black?

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Construction on the Alcan Highway can be dirt, gravel or following a pilot car through rutted mud but it will be for a short distance, maybe a few miles.
    If you are going to Deadhorse the Dalton Highway should be a bigger concern, tires will matter more.

    .
    #19
    Bigbob1 likes this.
  20. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Southern Louisiana or Southern England or ...
    Agree that the RT will be more comfortable to and from Alaska. However, for construction sections the GS would be superior and if you do decide to ride to Deadhorse, it will be much better. The road is not rough enough to need the extra suspension travel but the overall lighter weight, especially on the front wheel, will make things easier. Also the GS is far more likely to be able to continue the trip after a crash/drop.
    #20
    interiorak likes this.