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Discussion Starter #1
I just received my new issue of “On Suzuki” the other day. A fellow Suzuki Burgman 650 rider wrote a short review of his round trip to Alaska last summer from San Antonio, TX. It really got me thinking about doing the big trip on my new 650 Burg. I wonder how many others have successfully made the adventure on a Burg, so I come here seeking advice.

My experience? OK, I’ve ridden to Spearfish, SD twice, toured Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico and racked up about 18,000 miles in two years. I am definitely NOT an off road adventure type rider, but I do like to see America from two wheels.

So the question is whether it is a trip that I should attempt, or am I nuts? Those who have made the Alaska trip know the pitfalls, costs, and ultimately, the glorious memories you keep forever.

The key questions I have are of course, cost, time, and equipment required. Time of year and weather comes into play, too. Plus, should I only consider riding with a buddy, or is solo reasonable?

Is camping along the way necessary due to the high cost and / or availability of motels? Would additional fuel be mandatory, or are there sufficient fuel stops readily available? 150 to 180 miles is my comfortable range on the 650.

Of course, enroute maintenance, tires, and oil changes are an important consideration. Do most riders plan on a mid trip stop at a dealer? Is the Alaska highway any harder on tires than the lower 48?

I am sure that I have probably overlooked important considerations in making a trip like this. Hopefully, those who have achieved the experience will bring it all into focus for me. Thanks in advance for all opinions.

Rich
 

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Rich, a few have done a trip up north. A member is planing a trip for next year now. http://burgmanusa.com/forums/12-general-discussion/93937-north-alaska.html

Plan out a route, ask for tag-a-longs along the way, see if anyone offers a Travel Stop where you can do maintenance and relax for a day or two. Have a set of tires drop shipped to a member that offers a stop. Or put a car tire on the rear.

I offer a *Travel Stop* to any Burgman rider. I have 1 acre to camp, a garage with tools, Wifi, a single room if needed, shower and lots of trees.
 

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Your risk is mud and construction...getting there and back on main roads is not really an issue but some of the main roads have very long construction zones.

If you are comfortable on gravel and perhaps muddy roads on the Burgman you will be fine....there are no "alternative roads.

This is a terrific video series

http://www.stromtrooper.com/photography-videos/220537-vid-series-v-strom-round-trip-tx-ak.html

The Burgman will do the run and much of it is simply wonder - certainly doing one direction of the Marine Highway would be wonderful.

Can it be done? Sure..
Should it....not the best machine in my mind for it. You may need to carry extra fuel as well and certainly you will likely need tires.

The 650 is ultra reliable tho and good weather protection.

Time of year June - July - we loved the trip but we were in an AWD and even then Top of the World was rough going in the wet.

There is also wildlife galore.....that's good for seeing, risky for driving and yes I'd say two is better than a solo rider.
 

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Not done the trip, but I've read hundreds of pages on the trip by motorcycle.

I have no doubt your Burgman will make the trip, and with care and patience, will make it easily. I have a 400 and I think the mileage may be a little better as my comfort zone is 180 to 200. That being said, the best advice seems to be to never pass up a gas stop.

I've done a lot of dirt roads on my camping trips. One time I did 6 miles in sloppy wet clay. The Burgman got through, but was a handful. I almost went down a couple of times.

I think if you are going to stay on the main roads, you'll be OK as long as you have the patience to take your time in the construction zones.

I'm the "North to Alaska" thread that MacDoc mentions. I love my Burgman 400 and the phenomenal way it handles camping. However, I've decided I want to do the Dempster Highway and the Top of the World Highway. These to highways, from what I've read, can be tough going. I don't think the Burgman is the proper bike for those rides so I'm going to get a Kawasaki KLR.

In sailing we have a saying that "Gentlemen never sail to weather." A lot of the problems with the rougher roads on this trip can be tempered by simply waiting out the bad weather. By most accounts the dirt roads are only a problem when they get wet. I'll have all summer and will be able to time my travels for better weather when needed. You may or may not be so lucky.

For me, it's the journey, not the destination.

Have fun! Maybe we'll meet up along the way.

John
 

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Back in 1986 I rode a Honda XL250R dirt bike from Fairbanks AK to Phoenix AZ when I was getting out of the Army. That was an adventure doing it all alone in April. It was actually snowing when I got got to the US boarder station. One of the US boarder guys there took pity on me and gave me a room for the night and gave me a very nice nylon rain suit to replace my cheap JC Whitney suit that tore off the leg the first time I went to get on the bike. The guy who's name I never got refused to take any money for the suit and that suit probably save my life. Wherever he is now I hope he is doing well.

Anyway, back in 2006 I took my then 14 year old son on an Alaskan road trip from Phoenix to AK and back, over a three week period. We did this on my 2003 Goldwing which was a much better bike than a dirt bike for long days on the road. The roads were much improved from what I remembered them being back in 1986. Only had a few 20 mile stretches where the pavement was completely gone and they were working on replacing it. Back in 1986 about 150 miles was unpaved.

Canadians are the most trusting folks. Every gas station in Canada was pump first then pay but gas was more than $5.00 a gallon back then and is sold by the liter. Canada and AK are very expensive. Rooms were at least $150.00 a night in Canada for a very small room. In AK they were at least $150.00 as well but the rooms were bigger. If you have military privileges, Fort Wainwright just outside of Fairbanks has a fantastic Hotel on base and back in 2006 it was only $70.00 a night.

Unless the laws have changed do not bring a handgun into Canada as those Canadians have very strict gun laws. When we got to the Canadian Boarder the Canadian Guard made me completely unpack the bike and it seemed to me he was looking for a handgun as he asked me several times if I had one on the bike. Back in 1986 I had no problem carrying a shotgun strapped to the side of the bike through Canada, but the laws may have become stricter since then.

Keep in mind that once you get into the Yukon Territory services or help if you need them can be a long ways off. Breaking down on the road up there and being unable to fix it yourself with what you brought along means you are 100% [email protected]#$%$. It is not a journey I would want to make on an old Burgman 650 with 80K miles and the original belt still on it. It would not surprise me at all if it would cost you more than $1000.00 just to get it to a repair shop.

A new Burgman 650 will have no problems doing the trip.
 

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Do some practice in mud and slick dirt as there are long stretches under repair that were treacherous even in an AWD ( careful with Top of the World if you do it ).

Distances are long. June July are best for long days.
Tons of wildlife....Alaska worth it no matter how you get there and make sure Valdez ( Lulubelle cruise ) and Kenai are on the to do list.
 

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We did Alaska as Full Time RV'ers in a 30 Ft Class A Motorhome in 1996. Did not have a MC then, I pulled a Ford Escort Tow Car. You will get everything muddied up. Most roads were OK - but as others have said, there is always construction (not paved, some good gravel for 50 plus MPH and some down to bare rock behind a Pilot Car).

We left Washington state in early June and came back into USA (MT) a week before Labor Day.

Only way to see Alaska in my opinion -- stay whereever you want for as many days as you want and move on. Would have been great if pulling a MC along - ride around at each stop place (we used the Ford Escort Wagon for that).

As far as I am concerned everyone should do Alaska at least one time for the adventure and even for the beauty. That said, as far as beauty, it is not my favorite place (stunted trees, rivers run chalky) compared to many places in lower 48 or even going thru Canada on the way.

We went up via Cashier Hwy and Back by Al-Can.

I worried about breakdowns with Motorhome and Car, would hate to think of problems if a MC broke down (Haul to someplace qualified to fix, especially a Burgman 650, and get parts, etc.).
 

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So the question is whether it is a trip that I should attempt, or am I nuts? Those who have made the Alaska trip know the pitfalls, costs, and ultimately, the glorious memories you keep forever.
I've ridden my Honda Reflex 250 from Alaska, to Mexico, to Keywest Florida, almost to Labrador and back to Alaska....15,000 miles or so. So simply riding there and back isn't nuts at all.

Plus, should I only consider riding with a buddy, or is solo reasonable?
I made the aforementioned trip by myself.

Is camping along the way necessary due to the high cost and / or availability of motels?
Depends on your budget and tastes. I prefer campgrounds.

Would additional fuel be mandatory, or are there sufficient fuel stops readily available? 150 to 180 miles is my comfortable range on the 650.
Bring food, water, fuel and front and back tires and a spare belt.

Is the Alaska highway any harder on tires than the lower 48?
Last time I drove it, which was in 2013, in my BIG BEEFY JEEP, I hit a pothole so hard that it TURNED OFF THE ENGINE! My guess is that the sensor for the fuel pump determined there was an accident and cut the fuel supply. So yes, parts of the "highway" are completely shitty.

I am sure that I have probably overlooked important considerations in making a trip like this. Hopefully, those who have achieved the experience will bring it all into focus for me. Thanks in advance for all opinions.
Take the Cassiar highway one direction, and the ALCAN all the way the other direction.
 

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As far as the bad roads, frost heaves, potholes, etc. My best suggestion is to slow down. I have watched cars, trucks and yes motorcycles drive those roads like they were a super hwy. Then wonder why they tear up their rigs. Just use some common sense and let the speeders go.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
After much consideration, instead of the long slog to Alaska, I will be doing a trip to Calgary, Canada in late June. I met a guy on the 'Rockin' the Rockies' scooter tour last summer who lives in Calgary. He will guide us to the best spots in Alberta, then we'll continue south into Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. We will end up at Spearfish, SD July 8 for the Honda NT700 / ST1300 National Gathering. Total trip (for me) will be about 4,000+ miles in 3 weeks. Should be a good trial for my new B650, and Bill (from Calgary) will be riding his new BMW C650 GT.
 
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