shipping bike to alaska vs. riding in vs. ferry vs. renting there?

Discussion in 'Alaska' started by TannerLdJ123, Jul 16, 2016.

  1. TannerLdJ123

    TannerLdJ123 Been here awhile

    Jul 27, 2013
    Not sure if this should go here or the trip planning forum. Looking for advice on getting to AK

    I'm thinking about a 3-4 week riding trip in alaska. I'm coming from northern california. I'd kinda like to skip to 40-50h ride to alaska, just so I could have more time in alaska. But maybe I would be missing out on something.

    Looking at the options:

    The ferry from Bellingham to Haines is $1500 w/ bike according to the reservation website.

    Shipping seems like it might be about $900 for air freight from an online calculator from Seattle, but I don't know if there are any extras. I can't find any online quotes for truck shipping. And then there are the crating hassles, etc.

    Renting a KLR looks like about $100/day + $500 supplement for the Dalton hwy, so $3500.

    Riding in assuming seattle start would take me probably 5-6 days at my pokey pace, so let's say 11 days spent just getting there.

    The ferry might be the most fun option for me. But with the extra wear and tear on my bike, maybe just flying in to ANC and renting would be well worth it, assuming there's a bike available.

    The big question for me is riding in. Is there enough to see and such that spending 11 days getting there would be worth it?

    Any other option or subtlety that I may have missed?

    Thank you.
  2. beezerjuice

    beezerjuice Adventurer

    Mar 20, 2010
    I shipped a KLR and a DR from South Bend, IN to Anchorage via Yellow Freight (now called Yellow Roadway) in 2003. Yes, had to crate the bikes. Cost was about $1/pound with a total weight of 1300 pounds. Transit time was 2 weeks and you could track the shipment just like you do with UPS. I shipped the bikes freight collect and paid with a cashiers check when I go to the terminal. I would have a hard time myself with the long ferry ride--4 hours across Lake Michigan on the Badger is about my limit.
    TannerLdJ123 likes this.
  3. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

    Jan 24, 2008
    East TN Mountains
    My wife and I rode to Alaska from Tennessee back in '13. I think the ride to Alaska (from Montana) was as good as most riding in Alaska. Sure there are spectacular portions like dropping into Skagway, riding to McCarthy, etc, but the ride up was also very nice. Since we weren't on a time constraint, it took us about a month to get up there, spent 6 weeks in Alaska, and about 3 weeks to get back.

    With limited time, I would skip the Dalton, since it is an out and back ride, and do the Top of the World into Dawson City instead. Also, try and work in the Denali Highway.

    I would ride!!
    Motohippie and TannerLdJ123 like this.
  4. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

    Apr 20, 2006
    Anchorage, Alaska
    I usually recommend riding into Prince Rupert BC and doing the 2 day ferry ride up to Haines. Those 2 roads and the one in and out of Skagway are great for curves and scenery.

    Good luck and have fun, Mark H.
  5. oneway

    oneway Long timer

    May 2, 2008
    Tehachapi, CA when I'm home
    I just got done doing the ferry up and ride back down. I considered the options you are faced with. Ultimately you'll have to decide what works for you but I wanted:
    To ride my own bike, at my own pace, not have to return by the same road I came up on, not have to return a rental to a particular place, be flexible enough to stay longer or change directions at a whim, etc.
    You get the idea.
    The ferry allowed me to meet other adventure riders as well as other travelers on their own journey. It also saved about 1500 miles of tire wear which can be significant if you plan on not buying a tire up north.
    The hell with the cost analysis. Unless you plan to do the trip every year do the thing that works for you.
    Money grows back, time does not
    TannerLdJ123, marbee40 and Alaskahack like this.
  6. marbee40

    marbee40 Some Fear is Good

    Jan 28, 2007
    Awfully close to the Marsing Cemetary
    When you calculate airfare and all those little niggling extras that come with rental, its not always worth it. I love our AMHS! Great people, great views, no tire or butt wear! Plus no one knows your bike better than you.

    PB&J: The sticky goo that makes you you
    JeepDawg and TannerLdJ123 like this.
  7. Solarmoose

    Solarmoose electric

    Sep 9, 2009
    As another Alaskan I'll rec the AMHS too, as AkDuc says getting on (or off) in Prince Rupert is half the cost of Bellingham. Northern terminus of Haines or Skagway gets to a wonderful roads. I like the Haines to Haines Jct road better but only by a little. Southeast AK can be seen from the ferry since there aren't connecting roads. Its a beautiful ride. We typically use the ferry on the way home. Its not necessarily faster than riding. Ride up, ferry back. The Cassiar hiway is a great ride, but I like the Alcan around Muncho Lake area too. The Alcan from Dawson to Fort Nelson, not as much. Too much oil field truck traffic. No best solution.
    If you ship from Seattle I've used KGM Motorcycle Transport in south Kent WA a couple times and shipped to Anchorage and Fairbanks. They crate and deliver to Tacoma, you can arrange which shipper. I think I used Carlisle in 2011. Don't remember the cost.
    marbee40 and TannerLdJ123 like this.
  8. NL7U

    NL7U Adventurer

    Oct 10, 2008
    Geritol County (Deltona, Florida)
    How about purchasing a bike (used is my preference) in AK for fly and ride?
  9. mach1mustang351

    mach1mustang351 Long timer

    May 12, 2014
    I could have a v strom available, I'm still on the fence though
  10. Dogslobber

    Dogslobber Been here awhile

    Aug 28, 2014
    I just had a guy purchase my Aprilia for this very thing. He is flying in and riding the bike from my house, then shipping it back to TX when he leaves.
    Alaskajeff likes this.
  11. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

    Jan 29, 2008
    Fairbanks, AK
    Ride up, ride the state, take the ferry home. It's a nice 3-4 day rest after being in the saddle for a couple weeks, and a very pretty cruise. I'm biased though as it's how I moved to Alaska in 2012 after riding up from the lower 48.
  12. JeepDawg

    JeepDawg Long timer

    May 3, 2014
    Famous Potatoes
    We did the ferry a number of years ago and would do it again in a heartbeat. Pricey, ya, a little. But it was a great ride with great scenery.
  13. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer

    Oct 26, 2004
    Anchorage, formerly Spenard (hub of the universe)
    whats your time line?
  14. legion

    legion Ancient Chinese Stir Fry Tool

    Jan 12, 2003
    I'd ride the Alcan one way. Either ship in or ship out but not both. The easiest way would be to ship in as trying to sort out the crating thing on your own would be a hassle. If you just want it handled you can always contact Classic Motion in Anchorage and have them crate and ship your bike home but if you're looking for the most cost effective route it's crating at your house and ditching the crate here at the forwarder's facility.
  15. rickj

    rickj Been here awhile

    Sep 11, 2007
    I've ridden to Alaska one-way on two occasions, shipping the bike back from Anchorage each time. I think each trip was about 18 or 19 days from SoCal. Next year we plan on shipping our bikes to Seattle and riding up and back from there.

    The point I want to make is that we always refer to these rides with the focus being on Alaska, as if the ride up to Alaska is just incidental. However, riding up through BC and the Yukon Territory is much of the attraction for me. (We usually blow through CA, WA, and OR as quickly as possible.) BC and YT have incredible natural beauty, great roads, and great places to discover and experience along the way.

    There's always the decision of riding the AlCan versus the Cassiar if you're only riding one way, but 4 weeks is definitely enough time for you to ride up and back from NorCal. Granted, you may not be able to see all of the top attractions in one visit but, after riding up there once, you will want to come back again and again.

    Our ride next year will be 5500 - 6000 miles and about three weeks, which will allow us to ride a leisurely pace and to have a couple of days of down-time to explore an area. Definitely Dawson City and Stewart / Hyder to ride up to the Salmon Glacier. Unlike previous trips where we had most of the route pre-planned, we have a general idea of the overall route, but are going to decide on most of the exact routes and overnight stops on the fly.

    Consider riding up the AlCan and back the Cassiar (or vice versa), and figure out which places are must-see for this trip that you can fit into your timeline.

    My $0.02 worth...

  16. 4951tomm

    4951tomm Adventurer

    May 1, 2017
    Fairbanks Alaska
    In 1990 i had a sportster sent up to Fairbanks without a crate on Alaska air for $350, took 3 days. In 2010 i had an uncrated 550 lbs chopper shipped up to Fairbanks the same way for $1550, took about 3 days. Having to pay someone to build a crate and ship to Alaska is a deal breaker from all the research I have done over the years (unless you are set up where you can build and deliver your own crate). When shipping an uncrated bike on Ak air, you would need a commercial type shipping license from Ak Air and a background check......I think that was about $100....Then there is a hazmat inspection....Another $100 or so.......Gotta drain the gas and pull the battery too.....The only other somewhat cost effective way to ship a bike in or out of Ak. that I have found, without having to crate it, is to rent a connex with some friends..........I did a price check for a party of 4 with the rented 20 ft connex, from Anchorage to Fife Washington ........Four BMW K1600GTL's at 750lbs apiece was about $2800.....Or, $700 per bike......Ad more bikes, save more money......You would be responsible for securing them......For more info call Lynden Transport in Fife Washington, they can direct you to their subsidiary that rents the containers.....
  17. Puma0530

    Puma0530 Adventurer

    Jan 13, 2016
    Do you know how he is going to ship the bike to Texas?
  18. Dogslobber

    Dogslobber Been here awhile

    Aug 28, 2014
    Not a clue,sorry.
  19. ToothDocJay

    ToothDocJay Been here awhile

    Feb 18, 2015
    Cobble Hill, Vancouver island, BC ("wet coast")
    Don't know if this guys gone already, but if you skip the ride north through BC you are missing some pretty nice scenery on the way.

    Also, depending on where you live (California I see) the ferry ride is full of very nice scenery, IF you live inland and don't see the west coast much. By that I don't mean it's not awesome but that I live on the west coast and see it all the time. If it's new to you the scenery is great. Note that the view of the coast of BC is basically the same as you see in Alaska.

    The Ferry is small and you are on it for 4-5 days, so bring a good book or two. I did it the opposite way a few years ago, and while it was interesting I wouldn't do it again. It was fun watching the people who live inland goggle at the scenery though!

    I'd tell you to consider riding one way and using the ferry to go back. That way you get the scenery on the bike and on the ferry.
  20. KHuddy

    KHuddy Survivor

    Jun 24, 2008
    Silver City, Montana
    Nothing out performs a rental.