Choice of 3 thumpers for 6k mile Alaska trip:

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by braveheartwallace, Jan 8, 2019.


Which bike?

  1. XR600R

  2. XR650R

  3. FE 501

  1. braveheartwallace

    braveheartwallace n00b

    Jul 24, 2018
    San Antonio TX, Taos NM, Nashville TN
    In my garage sits a 1993 XR600R, a 2004 XR650R, and a 2017 Husqvarna FE 501s (fuel injected).

    Two buddies and I are planning a Prudhoe Bay trip summer 2020.

    I come with a request for some thoughts and constructive criticism; which bike would be best (in your opinion) to outfit for this trip?

    I will be purchasing some standard gear to go with this long trip (panniers or soft luggage, larger fuel tank, suitable tires, etc).

    As far as reliably goes, all three bikes have preformed excellently over the time of my owing them.

    So, which bike (if any) would you choose for this adventure?
  2. whisperquiet

    whisperquiet Motorcyclist

    Aug 24, 2007
    62298 in lovely corrupt/bankrupt Southern Illinois
    $2500.00 KLR650.......ride 6000 miles and sell for $2000.00 when you get back. It will be more comfortable....really...
  3. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    May 29, 2002
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    What are they riding?
    kojack06 and rickypanecatyl like this.
  4. timeOday

    timeOday Long timer

    Jun 20, 2008
    New Mexico
    About 7 years ago I bought an R1200GS for $10K, rode it all summer and then up to Alaska (about 6k miles total), and sold it there for $10K.
    It was the perfect bike for the trip because I had limited time and needed to make a lot of miles each day. I would not rather take a thumper unless perhaps I had about a month or more to do lots of side trips on the way.

    Although, I bought my 640 Adventure from a guy who bought it new and rode it to Alaska. But he didn't ride it much more after that, nerve damage probably :D
  5. Eldon

    Eldon 950 ADV

    Dec 24, 2004
    Olympia, WA
    I'd go with the 501 any day. Suspension, fuel range, HP, and light weight.

    4.5 gal tank
    SC seat
    Altrider Hemisphere luggage
    Upgrade the lighting and throw on a cheap universal windscreen. Or go all out with the Lynx fairing and dual Baja Designs Squadron Pros.
  6. braveheartwallace

    braveheartwallace n00b

    Jul 24, 2018
    San Antonio TX, Taos NM, Nashville TN
    Buddies are looking at KLR’s or XR650L’s.

    The three of us aspire to one day own bigger bikes such as an Africa Twin or R1200, but being the broke college kids we are, we decided to go small before going home.
    Bayner, Matthew.chizz, FR700 and 3 others like this.
  7. Eatmore Mudd

    Eatmore Mudd Mischief on wheels.

    May 28, 2012
    Wet side of WA.
    Look at what people who go RTW are not riding RTW.
    You have chosen well grasshopper.
  8. LukeOfHazard

    LukeOfHazard n00b

    Jan 8, 2019
    San Antonio, TX
    As the second part of the Trio, you stole the thoughts right outta my head. I’ve been browsing craigslist for the last month or so looking for a dust collector for a deal so far all the sellers have either chickened out or sold before I contact them.
    braveheartwallace likes this.
  9. rickypanecatyl

    rickypanecatyl SE Asia adventure tours

    Jan 21, 2008
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    Being that far out, reliability is one of the most important factors. Your question is a good one as your most reliable bike is the oldest and your least reliable is the newest and of course newer is more reliable than old! :) Without knowing the conditions of your older bikes my guess would be a 2017 501 would be more reliable than a 1993 XR600. On top of that, the Husky is the funnest!

    If all you're doing is the main road you don't need the light weight stealth of the Husky but having it allows you to do lots of other fun things. And your buddies can be your fuel tanker as their sub frames can hold more! :)
  10. Gundy

    Gundy Long timer

    Nov 6, 2010
    Philly 'burbs
    I’d say 501 with the right gearing, seat, tank, and windscreen.

    Or, what others mentioned DR/KLR. Buy/Sell.

    Or, there are some purpose built small bikes that aren’t crazy expensive: versys300x, CRF 250l Rally, cyclone RX-3 etc. they come with some of the extras already and will be reliable. Get a winter deal, maybe find 0% financing of some kind, do the trip and sell it.
    Hittman likes this.
  11. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @oneworldcycles

    Jun 24, 2008
    Sunny Northern Cuba (aka: South Florida)
    I wouldn't hesitate to take any of the three provided that they've had a thorough going over prior to the trip. Fresh tires, sprockets (steel, you're touring), repack bearings,etc.

    If your buddies wind up on xr650L's then I'd take the xr600r so that your pace and maintenance schedules are similar. Some spares also cross models. It's an older bike so if you do take it, give it some love before the big day.
    brucifer likes this.
  12. FR700

    FR700 Heckler ™©®℗

    May 4, 2007
    Your imagination.
    The XR650R.
  13. RideFreak

    RideFreak Torque Jockey

    Apr 17, 2009
    Out in the NM Dez somewhere
    I'd be leaning toward the XRR if it's condition warrants it although none of them are bikes I'd choose to do that many street miles on. If the XR600R is in nice condition then that would be a contender also and a toss up between it and the XRR. My reasoning is the XRR & XR are heavier than the Husky and over the long haul that's going be less tiring road miles. The XRR will pull some tall gearing with a load pretty easily so that it'll be loafing along at 60mph. In comparison the Husky is a little higher strung motor in a higher state of tune and and a bit light weight for extended street use. The main reason for not picking the Husky is you're going to lop off a notable chunk of it's value doing this ride. It will pull the load of you and your gear but it's going to be much more apparent on the husky. As long as you don't damage the Hondas when you get back they'll be worth pretty much what they were when you left. No so on the Husky. I know its motor will run well past the intervals specified but if you were looking to buy a Husky 501 would you pick one that did an alaska trip , I wouldn't. To me the benefit of the Husky's newer design motor and suspension wouldn't out weight the wear and loss of value it'd put on the bike.

    Considering the mounts you have to choose from there's plenty of epic rides in the US that's more suitable to those bikes then slabbing up to Alaska.
    enduro16, brucifer, OR Trail and 2 others like this.
  14. a_ron

    a_ron Adventurer

    Aug 3, 2015
    portland, OR
    Who wants to deal with carbs
  15. gunnerbuck

    gunnerbuck Island Hopper

    Nov 19, 2005
    N.V.I, B.C.
    The XR 650 R would be out do to the kickstart only thing, it is ok for short tripping but on a long trip kicking gets old pretty quick, especially with luggage on board..
    The XR 600 out do to age...
    This leaves the Husky, not the most comfortable machine though, but with a few mods to make it travel friendly is the one of the three I would take...

    Remember though, KLRs are cheap and travel the north in high numbers..
    Bigger Al and Adanac rider like this.
  16. BMgreenmt

    BMgreenmt Long timer

    May 3, 2014
    When you set up the Husky for the trip, post up a pic!
  17. renogeorge

    renogeorge Let's ride!!

    Apr 7, 2007
    With all due respect, anyone who has actually ridden the thousands of miles to Alaska and back, wouldn't say this. Hell maybe a few would. But having done it, I wouldn't listen to them. KLR and big GS are much more on point IMO
    sprouty115, Brtp4, NJ-Bill and 5 others like this.
  18. Adanac rider

    Adanac rider HMMMM Gravel or Pavement today Supporter

    Dec 5, 2006
    If you want to enjoy the trip , ride what your buddies are riding . I would go with a KLR and compete on even ground with them . You will all be in the same comfort zone .

    DYNOBOB lucky dog

    Dec 15, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Did Deadhorse in '16 and Tuk in '18. It's really hard to describe how far it is up there and IMO comfort is key to make the experience as enjoyable as possible (at least for us old guys). Like mentioned, putting 12,000 miles on a 501 would wipe out 1/2 its value. Unless you're going to hit Telkwa Pass or seek out gnarly off-road there isn't much up there that's hard on a big adv bike anyway. If you don't have emotional attachment, I'd consider selling the 2 Hondas and grabbing a used VStrom for $4000. If it has to be one of those three, the '04 650R.

    Good luck and enjoy the trip. Don't let life get in the way of doing it when your young. :)

    PlowHand, RedEX and Eldon like this.
  20. cbig

    cbig Rift- Raft, SCooter Trash

    Sep 30, 2003
    Whittier, CA
    I've piled many a long day on the xr650r. U put a steering damper on it, tighten it up bike will feel like it has 50lbs more weight on it for fwy riding. Carry an extra countersprocket u can swap easily for ruff stuff, carry your stuff in giant loop big bags which puts weight on seat where it belongs, not metal or plastic panniers to break your leg if you go'll have a very decent do it all. The cushion rubber in the xr650r clutch is sort of like a cushion hub and will spare some drivetrain abuse the xr600 won't. I've not ridden a fe501 but spent a lot of time on a buddy's '17 ktm 450 6 days in the dez. No possible way I could ride that so many miles. .seat concepts that XR and my experience is anything above 15, 20mph the xr650r is more comfy and at least as good a handler in not too tight in stuff and much better in open.

    In the field stoppages, breakdowns of the Honda will be few and likely repairable by you. Can you fix what ails a fuel injected KTM? Out there?

    Kick start ain't a thang if you no da routine.
    PlowHand and FR700 like this.