Three old guys to Alaska - goldwings and a 300 versys

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Fuzzy74, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. Lee R

    Lee R Man in a Box

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    EEBEE684-33BC-46D6-A559-F97E0DFB5140.jpeg F6839FDB-DB3D-44BA-BAB5-F26521D8D4A2.jpeg 1B316FE9-A4B2-49BB-9B36-8E5D258B8DCA.jpeg AA32AEB4-A395-4C0E-A03D-E33E4F98003E.jpeg
    Attached an image of one I saw, I was just up there last month. Bring a long lens and look for white specks waaaaaaaaaay up on the hills. A couple bears and Moose. Didn’t mean to photobomb the thread.

    That’s my Dad’s. We rode up for 27 days in June, He rode from the mid coast of Maine and back (cheats and spends winters in Arizona now). He’s 66 and started riding a couple years ago and just did 13k miles on the NC and is looking forward to what’s next!

    NC did great, DCT is awesome for those who havn’t tried it and that thing was the pack mule of the trip with ton’s of storage and killer fuel economy although the tank could hold a bit more since the Versys and the Tenere in the pack both go over 250 miles to a tank. (211 to engine cut on the NC at highway speeds, tested)
  2. Lee R

    Lee R Man in a Box

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  3. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

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    I couldn’t agree more. I have been fortunate enough to enjoy riding through most of the US and across southern Canada and seen for myself the varied beauty of the terrain and discovered as stated by bobw “we are NOT like talking heads on tv would have us believe”.
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  4. Fuzzy74

    Fuzzy74 Been here awhile

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    Stopped by dealer in Kimball about chain issue. Problem was they substituted when what I asked for was out of stock with their supplier. Not inferior product, just missed communication so I had the wrong spare master link.

    Dealer refunded over $200 for chain and install labor for the problem it caused. I can't complain with the resolution and will continue to support them with my business..
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  5. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

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    I think the best thing any of us can do is travel and meet the people. I’m no world traveler, but I’ve been to China and Europe and people all have the same concerns...taking care of their families.
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  6. fasteddiecopeman

    fasteddiecopeman Been here awhile

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    Here's the "Dugway" from below, PLUS what the GPS shows it as. SPACTACULAR is correct, and I rode it UP in the pre-dawn darkness once, for a photo opportunity! PA272116.JPG PA272117.JPG
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  7. Fuzzy74

    Fuzzy74 Been here awhile

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    Following are some thoughts and details on the trip. If I have left anything out our you have other questions, then please post them.

    Planning – It did help that I had lived in Northern Alberta and traveled the highway once, but I was 33 years out of date. I heavily used motorcycleroads.com for finding good roads to and from British Columbia. I basically got a map and drew a straight line from home to the border crossing north of Kalispell, MT. I then looked for recommended roads on that line from the web page. It did not let us down. We had 3 hard dates. 1. Leave June 2. 2. Be in Dawson City for D2D and 3. Be home by end of August (arrived 2 weeks earlier than promised to wives. It was long enough gone.)

    Riding Gear and Clothing

    The hard part of planning what to pack / wear was the variety of weather expected. We rode in rain with temps in the 30s and rode in 90+ temps. The Versys has little weather protection. I have a Madstadd windshield, but it is narrow with loads of wind coming around and over. It stops buffeting but upper body and head still in plenty of wind. In colder weather the Goldwing riders were warmer. In warmer weather I had the advantage. My heated gear made the cold ok for me. They didn’t have fans. Pick your poison.

    Rain was an issue on trip. Not too bad for us, but many days included some. I did not want to be constantly putting on or taking off rain gear, or second guessing if I should put it on which typically results in wrong decision.

    I am a believer in high visibility gear and when I started wearing it I noticed fewer incidents of people pulling out or turning close in front of me. One New Zealand study indicated a 25% reduction in accidents just from switching from a black to white helmet.

    Helmet – HJC Symax ll. It is Hi-Vis yellow and for visibility the helmet is the most visible spot on you or your ride. It is often higher than cars around you to be seen. I will only wear a full face flip up and most brands do not come in Hi-Vis due to fading issues. Mine is nearly white on top, but I don’t need the birds to see their target better. Flip up helmets are noisier than standard full face, so I Need ear plugs for wind noise.

    Communication
    – Cardo Pack Talk Bold. Extremely valuable to communicate with Nuke while riding. Don’t know how I did without in past.
    - Garmin In Reach GPS allowed friends and family to track location. It is accurate enough to zoom in and determine what camp site we used or where we parked for lunch. Also allows text message which let family know we were safe when stopping out of cell coverage. Has an emergency help button which we did not need but was comforting to know was available.

    Jacket – First Gear Kilimanjaro Hi-Vis. 6 years old. Performed well. Only issue that it is impossible to close / open vents while riding. Must at least stop at side of road to use two hands. To close exhaust vents requires a friend or removing jacket. If all vents properly closed kept me dry with two exceptions. On 400 mile high speed day in rain got some water in around neck. Could have closed better and could have used built in hoodie. On same day with no hand guards and short wet weather gloves, rain blew up my sleeves. Jacket has pretty good ventilation with all vents open but not as cool as a mesh jacket in warm weather. Camelback blocks rear vents which significantly impacts their effectiveness. 3DO armor is comfortable in jacket. Tested a shoulder piece of armor when a truck traveling gravel at speed threw a rock at me. Pretty good smack, Armor worked.

    Pants – Kilimanjaro pants had started to leak in crotch so I bought new Revit Over pants for trip. Flawless in keeping me dry except if shirt got wet it would wick down to pants under over pants. Major error at gas pump in opening waist of pants to get at wallet underneath and river of water off jacket flowed inside. Operator error, not Revit issues. Can put on or take off pants over boots which for me is important in over pants. No vents so on hottest days a bit warm but less issue than jacket with vents open. Can leave cuff loose around boots and put feet on highway pegs for some ventilation. In coldest weather with only light pants underneath I was warm. My feet never got cold which is normally an issue for me and I believe pants keeping legs warmer helped feet.

    Boots – Daniese. Kept my feet dry and reasonably comfortable walking off the bike. In past have used toe warmers to keep feet warm in these boots but with Revit over pants never felt the need this trip.

    Heated – Gerbing jacket and gloves. This was the most valuable clothing on the trip. My most important gear for dealing with cooler temps. Even if wet they keep me warm. Just don’t leave the controller at home requiring a MacGyver fix to use them on the road. Zip the wiring leads inside pockets provided and it is a nice jacket to wear off the bike so no other jacket needed for trip.

    Clothing:

    Two pair of light weight hiking pants that could be washed in a sink and dry quick.

    3 wicking short sleeve shirts and 2 wicking long sleeve shirts. Pack small and dry quick.

    Light weight down vest packs small and added warmth under Gerbing Jacket when off bike.

    Light, zip up hoodie. Extra warmth layer for off bike but little used. Primary use was extra height under camping pillow. Should have left at home.

    Both medium and light weight Merino wool base layers. Wore light weight one day and wouldn’t have needed if I had worked fix for my heated gear controller sooner. Could have left at home.

    Ball cap worn a bunch and knit hat worn a couple times at campground.

    4 pair light weight, wicking underwear. Easy to wash and dries quick.

    4 pair hiking socks. Toughest thing to get dry after washing.

    Net bag that could be strapped on top box to let wet clothes dry while riding. Works if it doesn’t rain during the day. A couple times used a small dry bag as a washing machine if no sink available.

    Pair of Solomon Gortex hiking shoes. Camping prior to trip with other shoes ended up with wet feet from dew on grass around tent. Bought these to keep my socks dry until I put my boots on prior to ride. Took up more packing space than I would have liked. My phone app says I walked in them more than 150 miles during trip. I often took walks in morning or evening for exercise. Averaged just under 4 miles per day total.

    Motorcycle Farkles:

    Cyclops head light failed. Came apart. Light separated from clip that holds it in place. MacGyver fix for rest of trip.

    Admore light bar failed. Screws holding cover on pulled out the plastic post they were attached to. Now glued and held together with 2 zip ties.

    SW Motech crash bars

    Highway pegs mounted on crash bars. – Critical for longer days allowing different riding positions.

    Go Cruise Throttle Lock – Simple and inexpensive, but valuable to allow letting go with right hand to prevent cramping.

    Denali DM2 aux lights

    Mirror Extenders – conflicted with used OEM hand guards I got and did not get work-a-round prior to leaving.

    Madstadd Screen. Eliminates buffeting and some of wind off chest, but still lots of air flow on chest and helmet as screen is narrow.

    Corbin Seat – Allowed long days in saddle without problems. I would not have finished first day with horrible stock seat.

    Givi 33 ltr Trekker side cases and 52 ltr Trekker top case. Durable and ability to partially open top of side case while on bike prevents spills, but off bike can completely open like a suitcase. They had 50,000 miles of use on my NC prior to this trip and I would buy them again.

    Tutoro Chain Oiler – My second one as I have one on NC. Love the simplicity and it works. This time had a problem with the flow adjustment screw backing out making a mess on rear wheel and back of bike. Will contact Tutoro for fix. My other one has never done this. A tiny drop every few seconds using 2 oz over 1,000 miles is far superior for chain wear than once a day lube. Properly adjusted will not make a mess. Works by gravity and road vibration. Without road vibration will discharge nothing. (Good idea to close valve is trailering.)

    Garmin Nuvi 250 GPS. 10 years old and works. Can’t hold maps for all of U.S. and Canada so set up for west of Mississippi. Only issue I have is it doesn’t have blue tooth to hear directions when moving. My Tomtom Rider screen fogged up and I haven’t been able to find a replacement screen. Really like the Tomtom, but $400 for another one after this problem with screen isn’t going to happen. Updated maps just prior to trip and disappointed in how many places such as gas or restaurants were just plain wrong. A reported gas stop in 20 miles that turns out to be a pasture can be a problem.

    Dual USB outlet in dash with volt meter. Wired through relay to come on with ignition. Run GPS from it and can charge something in tank bag or run cable to Pack Talk with second outlet. Versys has a small alternator but volt meter never below 14 v with heated gear at full, extra lights and a couple items charging such as my jumper battery under seat.

    Jump Battery – Battery capable of jump starting but primarily used as power for phone or computer in tent. Would recharge from motorcycle while riding.

    PDM 60 power distribution module. Switched power with digital overload protection. No fuses, if circuit trips just cycle engine power and it resets. Can program trip point for each lead. Much better than standard fuse power distribution.

    Power outlet for heated gear from under seat

    Un-switched power outlet under seat for accessories like air compressor or with USB plug for charging items when bike is off. Typically charged my communicator and camera under seat overnight. Started leaving lead sticking out from under seat when riding so I didn’t have to take gear off back seat to get to it for something like air compressor. USB plug has 2 outlets and volt meter. Voltmeter switches to ammeter when charging so you can see how much current going to items being charged.

    The one thing I wish I had installed is hand guards. Many small rocks thrown by cars on gravel and they stung through gloves. Would have been warmer / dryer in bad weather.

    Of all the things I could have left behind, spare flashlight batteries was at top of list as flashlight got little use with long daylight most of trip. Did not use one spare battery.

    Camping:

    Tent – Coleman Expedition Phad 3 – Unfortunately Coleman failed to convince customers they could make higher end camping equipment and this line is no longer available in U.S. It may still be available in Europe where it was more popular. The advantage of this tent is a large vestibule. I can sit inside the vestibule in my REI low chair and make coffee in the rain. Also the fly stays attached when stored so setting it up in rain the fly is keeping the interior dry. I bought it after reading a review in ADVrider. https://advrider.com/f/threads/coleman-phad-x3-review.270297/ One of my poles was held together with duct tape but I found a source for a new one prior to trip. If you need a pole for any tent, contact tentpoletechnologies.com Gave them number of sections, total length, diameter and what type end on each end of pole. Arrived in 3 working days. Coleman was ZERO HELP

    Chair – REI Flex Lite – Major increase in camping comfort and small and light to pack. 2 issues. Small feet will sink into soft soil. Pull string opening on bag a touch too small and hard to get in bag. Walmart now sells a similar one under Ozark Trail name for fraction of cost. I have had good luck with the brand but have not tried this chair.

    Coffee – I need my morning coffee and 90% of stove use is boiling water for coffee. I have a GSI Commuter Java Press. It is a press pot and mug in one so no extra item to pack other than mug. Works well and has provided many hundreds of cups of coffee for me.

    Sleeping Bag – Nemo Disco 15 allows me to sleep on side and stay warm below freezing without being too hot if a bit warmer outside. Waterproof treated down.

    Sleeping pad – Therm-a-rest Prolite Sleeping Pad 1” thick small pack size. A little thicker would be nicer.

    Stove – I have an Optimus stove that screws on top of propane bottle. It used more than twice the gas to heat water as Nuke’s JetBoil so I am seriously considering replacing. Small propane bottles were not easy to find. The large ones for small grills were common but the backpacking sizes were not. Canadian Tire a good place to find them in Canada. With his more efficient stove it was not an issue for Nuke.

    Cot – At TOK campground a fellow inmate had an Alps Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot. I am considering purchasing one for next trip. Light, packs reasonably small, plenty long and wide, off ground and comfortable.


    Roads. Totally different than my van trip in 1986 when Alaskan highway was more than half grave. That was actually a prettier ride as highway stayed in mountains with 1940 technology not able to deal with building on Muskeg. New straight road in valleys has taken 100 miles of the route. The majority of the trip from Daswon Creek into and including what we did in Alaska is fairly straight flat roads except when crossing a mountain range. Stay off Top of World, Dempster, and Dalton and the roads were similar quality to home. In fact, 670 said mostly better roads than Illinois with good pavement and wide shoulders. Construction zones could provide a gravel challenge, a few were 10 miles of gravel. Frost heaves and other issues were well marked with orange cones on side of road. For me these largely became an issue of crying wolf as few were anything I considered worth slowing down for. Depends on your ride though as the Goldwing behind me complained of bottoming out suspension and motor homes were seen to be testing their suspensions. Be careful though as occasionally there was a real bump. Frost heaves were probably worse earlier in the season as when the 4’ deep frost if fully thawed many will go back down. One time near Dawson City there was a 100 yard patch of gravel with no warning and we hit it over 60 mph. Cassier gets a bad rap for rough surface that wears tires. Some of it is especially at north end, but most is smooth and similar rough can be on many of the roads. Northern concept of chip seal uses rock that would be suitable for rail road bed. Do not expect to get as many miles on your tires in the far north as you do at home.

    Gas - I averaged 51 mpg with individual tanks ranging from 35 mpg 5th gear at 80 mph into strong head wind to max of 62mpg. Side cases and extra weight reduced mileage about 5 mpg from normal. Not doing Dempster or Dalton gas was never a problem. Furthest between stations was 130 miles so no stretch on tank range. Do think twice on passing a gas station with half a tank of fuel. It can be just as far between stations in places like Wyoming or Montana. Lolo Pass is over 100 miles between gas stations. Garmin had many nonexistent stations in the updated data base. If you had a signal, Google Maps was pretty accurate. The credit card I intended to use required a PIN at Canadian gas stations. A guick call to USAA got a PIN added so I could use it. My other card (Sam's Club) had excessive fees for currency exchange. If your ride needs premium be aware that it is not readily available. Even some major U.S. interstate gas stations didn't have premium.

    Cell and Internet Service – It could be 300+ miles between cell service. Data over cell service was slow and when internet was available it was slow. 670’s carrier told him his phone would work but it didn’t. Nuke and I had Verizon and ATT and both worked.

    11,731 miles total trip for me was in 41 days for 286 miles per day average. Max was around 450 on interstate crossing plains and we had 3 down days. I highly recommend some down days to rejuvenate on a trip like this.

    We camped about half the time. Bugs were only a major nuisance at river campground in Dawson City, but deet kept them at bay. A couple of spots we chose to hotel would have been major bug problems; mosquitoes on Cassier and gnats on Mississippi in Iowa.

    Bears – We saw plenty along the highways but most of the campgrounds we stayed at had no precautions such as bear proof trash cans. One camp host told us the reason was too many people and many with dogs which bears don’t like. More remote campgrounds and government parks were more likely to have preventive measures for bears and typically had camping more spread out. We all bought bear spray and I have a can for sale if anyone interested. Shipping a problem though.

    Wildlife – I braked hard for a moose, a sheep and was too close to hitting a bear testing my antilock brakes. Be careful and not in too much of a hurry.

    Service – Some planning and flexibility will make things OK. Waiting until tire is worn out may result in a wait to have what you need shipped to the far north. I arranged ahead of time for tires at Honda dealer in Kalispell, MT. Found a replacement chain at Yamaha in Whitehorse, but failed at 3 dealers prior to them. Awesome dealer with good selection of tires and parts. To keep things going they had tent and some tools for you to do some work yourself such as removing tires. I removed old chain with their grinder and they cut new chain to length for me. People got in without appointments, but they said it had been slow this year up to that time. Cycle North in Prince George also a great dealership with lots of tires in stock. We called 2 days ahead to make sure we could get in. Brenny’s Motorcycle Clinic in Bettendorf, IA another great dealer / shop to help. No appointment but they put me at head of line to get tube in and back on road. Harley Dealership in Anchorage had free camping for any motorcycle.

    Overall is was an awesome, truly epic ride for us. It is a long way but nothing to be afraid of doing. Other than Dawson City for D2D we never had firm plan more than 24 hours ahead and frequently changed plans based on new information, road conditions (Great River Road), weather, extra time available etc. It turned out there were plenty of last minute hotel rooms available in Dawson City.

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  8. Pekes1956

    Pekes1956 Adventurer

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    Fantastic, comprehensive RR. It's been a great read and fun to imagine. Well done!
  9. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

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    Great summation of what worked and what did not. Appreciate that, as it helps shape thinking on what is important and what might not be so important.
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  10. nuke65

    nuke65 Adventurer

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    I’m late with my follow-up, but here it is.

    Lessons from a Noob About Epic Rides

    Fuzzy already posted his thoughts and I’m adding my own. I’ll try to keep this practical for future use by myself and others. I was pleasantly surprised regarding preparation for the trip because in general, I had the things I needed, and only a few things I didn’t. Many of you know these things already, but we found the inmates were such a great resource that I’d put some consolidated wisdom in one spot. So without a long introduction, here are my thoughts.

    Preparations
    1. Start a preparation list early. I found that I was thinking about items to take or things to prepare for throughout the months before we left. I started making a list as I thought of things and I’m glad I did. There were things on the list that I had forgotten about. Others, that I realized I didn’t need to take, but spurred thoughts on other items that needed to replace the original.
    2. I’m an all the gear all the time type of rider. I’m not trying to start any debates or discussion on this, so please don’t flame this thread about riding gear (I won’t answer). However, the conditions will be different no matter where you go. From rougher roads to harsher weather conditions to lots of dust. Whatever you wear, be prepared by looking at the conditions you will be in. We knew we were going to be in temperatures from low 30s to the mid 90s.
    3. Test everything. I bought a pair of heated gloves from one vendor and assumed that they would work with my Gerber controller. Nope. Nada. So I had packed useless gear. Had I tested it before I left, I would have realized my error and could have returned the gear. By the time I got back, the return period was over. I have a custom set of ear plugs for riding. Only these were new and I hadn’t ridden with them. If I had, I would have realized that the new plugs rubbed in my ear when I put the helmet on. Nothing worse than riding with your ears in pain. Same thing with tents, sleeping bags, camping stoves. Fuzzy and I went out on a preparation camping trip in the colder weather. That helped a lot with my perceived list. Ended up switching many things in my camping lineup. I didn’t test the cover on my sleeping pad. Turns out rain gets in the opening at the end of the pad cover. My duffle bag came with a rain cover. Guess what. It wasn’t water proof. Nowhere near. The first rain soaked everything. Why do the make motorcycle gear that is not water proof? Also, while you may not actually test this, double check any spare parts to make sure they are the right ones. Don’t rely on what you think you know, verify it. It won’t help if you find you need that part in the middle of nowhere and the one you have won’t fit.
    4. I made extensive use of packing cubes in my duffle bag. This allowed me to put a day’s outfit in each cube so I didn’t have to fish everything out of my pack. Often, I only needed two cubes: sleepwear and next day’s clothes. That made repacking to leave very easy. I even put all cooking gear in one cube and the loose repair parts (e.g., oil filter and crush washers) in another cube. That way if I needed it, I knew where it was.
    5. The first few days I found myself forgetting where I put something. From keys to ear plugs. Get into a habit to always put the often used items in the same pocket, or spot on the bike. Anything repetitive. You’ll quickly figure out the most efficient way to do it. Then stick with it. You’ll avoid many delays hunting the basic things you need to get going.
    6. I had four main packing areas with the GW. The left saddle bag had my tools primarily. The right saddle bag had my camping equipment with the exception of sleeping bag and pillow. It also held my rain gear because it was easy to get to. The top case had additional camping gear and food items and a few miscellaneous things that didn’t fit anywhere else. Oh, and I had the first aid kit in the top case. That way if the bike was on it’s side, I could still get to the first aid kit. Then I had a duffle bag that I strapped on my back seat. I had a back rest with my GW seat, but I could have left that behind and leaned against the duffle bag. Either way, my back sure appreciated it. My tent and sleeping pad were secured on top of the duffle bag, which made opening my top case a little pain, but I was ready for that. Another thing. I had some cheap straps from Walmart that turned out useless. Get Rok straps. They work wonders and held everything in place.
    7. Insurance needs. I called my insurance company (USAA) to ensure that my motorcycle insurance was valid in Canada. They told me it was, and sent me an insurance card specifically for Canada. I also checked on medical insurance and emergency evacuation insurance. Medicare and my supplemental insurance does not cover out-of-country medical expenses. So I opted for emergency insurance via Allianz. This gave me $50,000 in medical and $250,000 in emergency evacuation or travel. The cost was about $250 for the two month time period and covered my entire trip.
    8. I had maintenance performed to start ready. All fluids were changed, new air filter, new battery (it was due), new tires. You may be able to wait on tires and have them changed just before or after you enter Canada. Just be sure to call ahead and so they can have the tires for you. That way, if you have tires that can get you to Canada, you can use the remaining life of the tire then start new. Be aware that the Canadian and Alaskan roads are very rough. When you have your bike loaded down, your tire wear is significant. I had to change the Dunlop E4 tires prior to coming home because I wasn’t sure that my originals would make it. I had a large windshield on the GW that was difficult to see over. In preparation for the trip, I installed a Madstad windshield to allow me to look over the top. The Madstad worked great and there were often times where the windshield was covered in dirt or bugs. I also noticed that at highway speeds, I was getting buffeting around the helmet. Turns out the buffeting was coming around the fairing. When I opened up the wind deflectors under my mirrors (to block wind), the buffeting stopped.
    9. I called my cell phone provider (Verizon) to make sure that cell and data would work in Canada. It did where cell phone coverage was. The place I had the most trouble was in Alaska. Who would have thought? I also got the Garmin In-reach mini emergency transponder. This would allow me to send preset and custom messages via satellite to home and vice versa. So any emergencies could be communicated. The transponder also has an SOS button to arrange for medical assistance based on the GPS location, which turned out to be very accurate. I chose this model because Garmin has 66 satellites in the system and SPOT has 22. Also the subscription plans worked out so that the total cost was less. The system worked flawlessly. Just be sure to carry the transponder on your person. If you have it in or on the bike, you may not be able to reach it in an emergency.
    10. Passport, global entry card, and National Park Pass – A passport was needed for entry into Canada. I have the global entry card, but it is only good for entry into the US via driving or a cruise port. The global entry card did save me some time re-entering the continental US by allowing me to go into the NEXUS lane. Other than that, it wasn’t of much use. The national park pass allowed us entry into a few of the parks we went, and did save the cost of some entry fees.


    My Packing List

    Here is my list of things that I took along with some annotated notes. They are not in any particular order.

    Bike Stuff
    Satellite tracker – I bought the Garmin InReach Mini. After much research, I settled on the InReach because of more satellite connections than the SPOT tracker. The mini worked flawlessly and tracked our movements throughout the journey. I kept it in the upper outer chest pocket on my gear, though it would have been more appropriate to hook it on the outside of my gear. It is small, unobtrusive, and the battery lasts for a couple of days.

    Cable lock – I had some cable locks for gear. Never used them. On the wing, I could lock up the storage areas so it was unnecessary for most stuff. People tend to leave riding gear alone.

    Pump – I have the BestRest air pump. Great pump, though I don’t like the clamp on connection. I sometimes have to hold it in place. However, if you ever needed to go to a high pressure, this pump would do it. Used it frequently to keep air pressure constant due to changing temperatures and it was necessary when I had to repair my rear tire. Don’t go on a long trip without a pump.

    Tire pressure gage

    First aid kit – I have the Surviveware first aid kits (large and small). The kits are well designed with excellent labeling inside to quickly find what you need. Be aware that most first aid kits are just that, simple first aid. They don’t tend to have trauma items. I took the large one with me because I could fit a fit some trauma supplies in it like an Israeli bandage for a major wound. The downside of the kit is the size. I would prefer to have two small kits: one for everyday little needs and one with just trauma items in it (splints, pressure bandages, etc.). The small Surviveware kit would work fine for the first aid kit. Fortunately, we didn’t need the kit.

    Tank bag – At first I wasn’t going to take a tank bag, but I’m glad I did. I was frequently needing to get small items and that bag came in very handy. However, it wasn’t water proof and often I forgot to put the cover on it.

    Hydration bladder – I put a 2L hydration bladder in my tank bag so I could easily reach the hose. Used it every day to keep hydrated while riding.

    Tool roll – I took many tools, several that were unnecessary. For example, I had torque wrenches in the saddle bag. A simple breaker bar would have sufficed for roadside repairs. Would have saved weight. The tool roll had the usual items (sockets, screwdriver, pliers, etc.) I also carried spare fuses, an extendable magnet (which came in handy in one repair), an extendable mirror, and cable ties. A small roll of duct tape would have been useful.

    Oil filter and wrench and crush washer – I planned on having to change my oil along the way so I had the tools to do it in the parking lot. Ended up having a shop do it when they changed my tires. However, be aware that many stores in the small towns do not carry motorcycle oil. So plan accordingly.

    Jump start battery – I have a small rechargeable battery that can jump start the motorcycle battery. I didn’t use it on this trip, but I carried it for insurance. It also doubled as a charging device for my other electrical items such as phone, communication device, etc.

    Electrical tape

    Ear plugs – I have custom ear plugs. The GW provides a lot of wind protection so wind noise in the helmet is minimal. Still, protecting hearing is important to me. The foam plugs don’t quite provide enough noise reduction, but they are better than nothing. On a long trip, the constant noise will impact hearing. Enuff preaching.

    Heated gloves – I didn’t need these and they took up space. My heated grips kept my hands warm. If you don’t have heated grips, then heated gloves may be needed at times.

    Cardo PacTalk – We used helmet-to-helmet communications constantly. It was invaluable on this trip. Just being able to tell others that you needed a butt break made the trip enjoyable. The system at times had connection problems that were easily resolved with rebooting the communicator. This particular model allows for many to be connected at once, but be aware that the buttons are hard to feel with gloves on. Still, it was worth every penny.

    Buffs – Used my buffs for everything from cleaning screens, glasses, and wearing under my helmet. A useful multipurpose item.

    Alaska map out of milepost – I took the Alaska map with me. In hindsight, I would have stopped at welcome centers and gotten state maps along the way. GPS devices are great for route information, but nothing beats being able to see a map of the overall area to plan where you are going.

    Garmin Zumo 690 – The GPS connected to my Cardo system so I could get turning alerts. I also used it to look ahead for gas stops or food stops. There were times when the database said there was a stop and it wasn’t there anymore. So I learned to look for places with multiple gas stations or restaurants.

    Gerbing Heated jacket – I used this quite often. I normally wore multiple layers but the heated jacket saved time in donning or shedding layers. It is bulky though, so it takes up a lot of space. Don’t forget the controller.

    Baklava – I used this to keep my neck warm. I probably could have left it at home because the buffs would have done the same thing. I just didn’t think that far in advance.

    Cool rag – During the first week it was hot going across the states and the heat impacted my ability to ride. Since the GW has so much air protection, there wasn’t much to cool me off. I forgot I had brought a cool rag that when wetted, would keep my temperature down. Later in the trip I realized I had it and it did make a significant difference for me.

    Rain gear – definitely needed. My rain pants were not completely water proof. If you sit in water, the water would eventually seep through. Also doubled for wind protection and warmth when riding in cold weather.

    Camping Gear (*edited to add obvious stuff I left out)
    *Marmot 3P tent - I like having extra room inside to put my gear and the packing dimensions are not that much bigger.
    *Nemo sleeping bag - 15 degree
    *Jet Boil stove - great for heating up water fast with minimal fuel use
    Thermarest sleeping pad
    Headlamp – not used much. Only in the CONUS. It was light most of the time up north.
    Camp towel
    Flip flops – Brought these for showers, etc. Never used them. Took up space. I would have pitched them except these were expensive flip flops.
    Camping food – I kept a small amount of food on the bike. Some freeze-dried meals, peanut butter, bagels, fruit. Came in handy for those days where you just wanted to set up and not go out again.
    Shovel – typical backpacking item, but never used. A small hatchet would have been better for kindling and as a hammer.
    Water – I had two, 2L bottles for water. Made it easier during camping and if we ever got stranded anywhere, I’d have water. Others took a collapsible bladder and filled it when we got to the campsite. Again, the bottles take up space, filled or not.
    Camping chair – I have a helinox camping chair. Definitely a luxury item, but used everyday we went camping. Packs up small for carrying. REI also sells great camping chairs.
    Eating utensils
    Bear spray – didn’t need it (fortunately).
    Fire starter
    Wine bottle opener – an essential in some people’s mind.
    Food bag – this was for storage of food in bear country. Everywhere we stopped had bear lockers so this wasn’t necessary.
    Camp soap – a multipurpose soap for everything from clothes detergent or dishwashing.
    Wet wipes – I took packs of biodegradable wipes from Surviveware. Came in handy for general cleaning.
    Hand sanitizer
    Spare Dry bag – used for everything from storying food, to working as a washing machine (insert clothes, water, and soap and shake)
    Benchmade knife
    Collapseable bowl
    Contigo cup – I have a great insulated cup. Never used it. Took up too much space. Instead, I bought a 12 oz Ozark coffee cup with lid at Walmart. Smaller and kept everything cold or hot.


    Clothing
    Shorts – I wore shorts under my motorcycle overpants.
    Sleeping clothes – I kept a wicking t-shirt and light weight shorts and a dedicated pair of socks to sleep in. Kept them in their own packing cube so it was easy to pull out and pack. The dedicated pair of socks ensured I always had a dry pair to wear at night if it was cold.
    Three sets of underwear and socks – The underwear was wicking, quick dry synthetics. The t-shirts were long sleeve. I find that wicking long sleeve t-shirts keep me cooler when riding in heat and provide sun protection when stopped. No cotton. The socks were made by “Darn Tough” (guaranteed for life) and are wool. Three sets seemed to work well for me. More would have been wasted space lost. I kept each set in a packing cube so all I had to do was pull out one cube when unpacking.
    Knit cap – came in handy for cool mornings and nights.
    Hat – sun protection
    Two pairs of light weight, synthetic pants. One set had zip off legs to double as shorts. I had two pair so I could wash one and wear one.
    Altra Trail Runners – after a long day wearing motorcycle boots, I would change into these trail runners. Wide, mesh-top shoes that were versatile for walks around town or on camp sites. If they got wet, they would easily dry out.
    One set of Marino wool long underwear. I didn’t wear these often, but when I needed them they were great to have.

    Other Gear
    Spare glasses – in case I broke my current pair
    Sunglasses
    Sunscreen
    360 camera, stick, cables, and memory card
    Bug repellent
    Spare Batteries – Most items I had were rechargeable. So the only thing spare batteries were for was the head lamp. I didn’t need but one spare set.



    Riding Observations
    1. Gas - many stations only had regular gas, no premium. That was fine with the GW. Not sure how other bikes ride with regular gas. We had ranges of 220+ miles so we made it a policy to keep the tanks half full. Worked out fine and didn’t need any spare gas cans. If you don’t have that range, a spare gas can would be good to have.
    2. Riding - Speed limit in canada - no apparent enforcement, but most follow it. I found the limits suitable for road conditions, which were ever changing. No sense in going too fast when reaction time was necessary for the roads. A couple of dips in the road had me suddenly standing on the pegs.
    3. Wildlife hazards – these do present a hazard and you need to keep an eye out. Many roads with no cut back of vegetation. I’m not talking rabbits here. Bears, moose, elk. Animals that would ruin your day if you hit one.
    4. Road conditions – often changing. The roads are rougher than CONUS roads so your tires wear faster, particularly if the bike is loaded down. Roads buckle under the weather conditions so watch out. Many bad road locations are marked by small red flags on the side of the road. Don’t get complacent if the road is fine where marked with a red flag. You’ll get surprised. There are also many transitions from pavement to gravel due to road maintenance. Expect mud at times. When in long gravel sections, watch out for oncoming vehicles kicking up dust and rocks. They don’t slow down. We stopped several times and pulled off the side of the road because of visibility issues and flying debris.
    5. Follow distance - I found I was keeping my follow distance bigger because of the need to for longer reaction time, rocks being kicked up in front of me, and cages tailgating me on roads where traction wasn’t as good.
    6. Rain - expect it. It is part of the ride. I found many things that weren’t waterproof despite the claims. So if you haven’t tested your gear, expect somethings to get wet.
    7. The type of bike you take and your riding experience should be considered when choosing routes. For me, the GW and my riding background made long gravel roads less desirable than it should have been. A different bike and the experience would have been better.
    8. On the road maintenance – for many small towns, motorcycle products weren’t available. Do some planning to find out where motorcycle shops are located so if you need tires or oil changes you have that scheduled. Be aware that environmental laws may keep you from changing your oil in a store parking lot.

    Lodging and Miscellaneous
    1. Camping - Good way to travel. This save cost and actually made for a better experience for me. There were times when a hotel was a good respite so mixing it up was ideal. We rarely felt like we needed to make advance reservations. I even found hotel rooms available during the Dust to Dawson event.
    2. Electrical charging – You may not always have enough electrical connections to recharge your electrical devices. I took two charging batteries with me that served me well.
    3. Ferries and hazardous materials – we took a few ferries which was a great set of side trips. Be aware that the Alaskan ferries have you remove your hazardous materials so they can store them in a fire locker. We made a reservation on one ferry and didn’t on another. In the latter case, we were put on a waiting list, but it is easy to fit a motorcycle in the empty spaces. So if you don’t have a reservation, don’t let that keep you from a ferry trip. The only time I would make sure I had a reservation is if I was going on an overnight ferry. They have limited transportation times and you could end up waiting days.

    The last thing I’ll mention is that at some point you need to go. Plan well, but don’t wait until everything is 100% lined up. Allow flexibility to change plans as conditions or desires dictate. And have fun.
    boristhebold, DavidM1, laokai and 9 others like this.
  11. Pekes1956

    Pekes1956 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2019
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    Victoria
    Thanks Nuke for your comprehensive summation. I've been very interested in this RR since I have a bike like Fuzzy's and would like to do this type of, as you say, epic ride.
    I'm curious, though since you said this was not ideal GW territory, if you were to do this type of northern trip again (you know - northern roads, long distances, reliability) what bike would want to be riding...(KLR or Versys 650, Tracer or Tenere, NC or Africa Twin, VStrom, BMW GS etc.)??
    I would like to hear your musings - thanks.
  12. dancingweasel

    dancingweasel Virtual Tourist

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
    480
    Location:
    Devon, UK
    What hazardous materials are these? They're not expecting you to drain your fuel tank are they !?!
  13. nuke65

    nuke65 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2019
    Oddometer:
    69
    Location:
    Georgia
    No. But if you have gas in a separate gas can or even bear spray, these would have to be stored in the locker.
  14. nuke65

    nuke65 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2019
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    69
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    Georgia
    I actually started a thread on this: https://advrider.com/f/threads/downsizing-advice-sought.1395844/

    Any of the bikes you mentioned would work. Some may not make the Dalton Highway, but that is a more advanced off road. If you are off road experienced, I think all the above would work though I may have reservations about the V-strom. In my serious looks the past couple of weeks, I ruled out the BMW GS series because of either price or because my 200 mile test ride on a F750 ended up hurting my rear and knees. I think the R1200/1250 GS could have fit me, but the price tag caused me to look elsewhere. Right now, I like the Tenere for me. Seems to fit well. I know that bike has been described in some reviews as boring, but I’m a boring type of rider. Besides fit and handling (top 2 in my evaluation criteria) I’m looking at reliability, maintenance friendly, availability of parts and accessories, and of course cost. Many have provided reasons in the other thread on why a particular bike is best and I have looked at every recommendation.
    Rapturee2, Amphib and Ken in Regina like this.
  15. Ken in Regina

    Ken in Regina Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,679
    Location:
    Regina, SK, Canada
    Just as a side comment, based on your and @Fuzzy74 's description of the trip, I wouldn't - personally - hesitate to put the Vstrom 650 (Weestrom) near the top of my list. I have a friend with one and it will go anywhere my Versys-X 300 (same as Fuzzy's) goes just as easily.

    It will carry as much as my Versys-X and more comfortably because of the larger motor.

    It gets very slightly better gas mileage than mine - highway or otherwise; fast or slow.

    It's a bit tall for me so I would likely lower it. My friend is 6ft and finds it just a wee bit tight for longer runs. Easily remedied by butt breaks every 200-250km.

    I've been following the other ["downsizing"] thread so I understand completely why you would not put it near the top of your list. But for others, like me, it might be a great solution. @Bullwinkle was commenting just today that if he was looking for a direct replacement for his BMW F650GS he would seriously consider a Weestrom. Bullwinkle is about 5'10", I think, and has ridden many many miles in front of and behind the Weestrom, out here on day rides on the Prairies and two trips in and through the Rockies. So he is quite familiar with it. And he's picky. :-)

    ...ken...
  16. Murph1

    Murph1 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2018
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    Mobile Alabama
    I have a Weestrom and Goldwing and took the Wing to Alaska last year, I like them both for different reasons. The Weestrom is lighter and would have been better for the few gravel roads we found ourselves on but the Wing ate up mileage and was for me the best bike for the trip. The Wing is a beast there is no doubt about that and you will see very few riding to Alaska or at least we didn't only seeing one other in Dawson. It's 4,000 miles to Dawson City from Mobile Alabama of mostly good roads so the comfort of the Goldwing was worth the few miles of dirt roads we rode. Great ride report thank you for sharing, I would love to go back with a light weight bike of 250-300 cc and ride the Dalton and maybe up to Tuk but that bike will arrive in Canada in a pickup truck.
    wingtraveler and Rapturee2 like this.
  17. Pekes1956

    Pekes1956 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2019
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    Victoria
    Thanks Nuke - appreciate your learned input. You're right, that are many good bikes out there and it often comes down to which one best fits your frame - will check out your thread.

    And Murph - yes that's 4,000 miles one way. Your GW makes sense given that fact.
  18. nuke65

    nuke65 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2019
    Oddometer:
    69
    Location:
    Georgia
    After much research and searching, I ended up getting the Wee-Strom. If I had my ultimate wish, I would have kept the GW and just added the Wee to the nest. However, I not only downsized the bike, I downsized the house so there is no room at the inn. I’m grateful that I even get a choice like that. Now on to some mods and accessories.
    Sal Pairadice, slimy, Bigbob1 and 7 others like this.
  19. Pekes1956

    Pekes1956 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2019
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    Victoria
    Oh you crazy fool!
    :jack
  20. nuke65

    nuke65 Adventurer

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    Location:
    Georgia
    There is no doubt that for long distances the GW is a great choice. As I said, if I could have kept two I would have. However, for me it was a time to change.