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Old 07-15-2012, 10:22 AM   #1
Lokey OP
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F800GS Long Distance Report

I recently returned from a solo ride to Alaska on my F800GS. Total distance was 9014 miles in 21 days. I thought I would post a quick report on how the F8 performed and how the various pieces of equipment I used worked out.

I left the last week in June and rode north into what turned out to be one of the wettest summers in recent memory in the northwest. It rained 12 of the 14 days I was north of the Canadian border. Not a lot of fun, but it did provide me an opportunity to test the weatherproofing of my gear, but more on that later.

I rode up the Cassair Hwy, back on the Alaska Hwy and rode the Dalton, Dempster and the Top Of The World Hwy while I was up there.

The bike: 2011 F800GS with 4550 miles on it when I left. I changed over to Mobil1 10w-40 racing oil at 4K miles and during the trip it used NO oil whatsoever. Nope, not a drop despite the opinions out there that you should wait until at least there is 6-10k miles before changing over. In fact, I would have done it sooner, but when I bought the bike (with 1133 miles on it) the oil had just been changed, so I elected to wait until just before I left. When I changed the oil in Montana on the way back, it had nearly 6500 miles on that oil and It was at exactly the same level as when I started.

Let me say at this time,that the F8 was flawless. It is, of course, a new bike so I did not expect any mechanical issues. No charging system woes, no fuel system troubles (despite having to use low octane gas many times), no broken/bent parts. The only thing I had to replace was the low beam bulb in the headlight, no doubt shaken to death on the rough roads in the Yukon and elsewhere.

I decided to take the long way home and went down to New Mexico and came back across I40 through Laughlin, NV. I was forced to stop in Needles,CA due to high temperatures (it was 118 degrees F when I got there). The fan never came on and the temp gauge on the dash never showed any significant rise in engine temp.

I got excellent gas mileage on the trip. The worst I got was around 45 MPG while riding into a stout headwind during one of the many rainstorms I rode through. Many times I was getting 58-60 while on mostly downhill sections of road, but my average was usually around 55 MPG pretty regularly.

The two best mods that I did (IMO) was #1, I had a custom seat made by Bill Mayer Saddles and #2, I made a set of forward peg mounts that I welded to the SWMotec crash guards. These two items kept me comfortable and allowed me to do some long days on the bike.

I installed Jessie Panniers on it and they did not leak any moisture into the contents nor did the mounts come loose or break.

The one piece of gear that I wish I had purchased before I left is heated gear. As I was heading to Whitehorse from Dawson City it started to snow a bit at the higher elevations and I sure could have used some heated socks. Other than that I used a First Gear Ranier coat that proved to be waterproof and a set of Tourmaster pants that also remained leak free.

One last thing: Dan at Adventure Cycleworks in Fairbanks talked me into buying a set of Heidenau K60's for the the run up the Dalton. They are without a doubt one of the best tires I have ever run. They aren't real good in slimy mud, but other than that they performed flawlessly. In the dirt sections of the Dalton, Dempster and Top of the World Hwy, I was running along at speeds that I don't really want to mention and while riding on pavement I forgot totally that I had a knobby tire on the back. They have over 5500 miles on them and there is still a good bit of life in the rear and the front doesn't look worn at all.

So there it is. In my opinion, if you have a one of these fine machines certainly don't be afraid to ride it anywhere you want to go.
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Old 07-15-2012, 12:08 PM   #2
Wolfgang55
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Old 07-15-2012, 12:18 PM   #3
mtrdrms
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Good call. I have a 12gs but I just went to yellowstone with a friend who rode an f800gs. We did 5500 miles in 10 days. It ran perfectly and seemed to wake up a bit after a couple of 80mph-for-many-hours-straight days. It did develop a small water pump leak which was promptly replaced by Max BMW under warranty. Killer bike. A bit less settled around the big rigs at highway speed and would benefit from a softer seat on long days but overall I was very impressed. Wouldnt hesitate to ride it around the world.
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Old 07-15-2012, 01:53 PM   #4
Loutre
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nice overview and I think the more you're riding it the more you'll love it.

Do you have any pictures from that trip? (or even a proper RR?)
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Old 07-15-2012, 03:14 PM   #5
Lokey OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loutre View Post
nice overview and I think the more you're riding it the more you'll love it.

Do you have any pictures from that trip? (or even a proper RR?)
I took lots of pictures when it wasn't raining. I certainly thought of doing a ride report, but my photographic skills aren't all that great and neither is (are?) my writing abilities. I still have to retrieve my photos from my netbook and send them to Smugmug so I can post them here.

To honest, I just got back on Thursday the 12th and just haven't been all that motivated to do much of anything. Although I did manage to finally unpack my bike yesterday.
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Old 07-15-2012, 05:59 PM   #6
murdock84
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lokey View Post
The fan never came on and the temp gauge on the dash never showed any significant rise in engine temp.
I think what you are talking about was the coolant level. Sounds like a good ride and looking forward to the pictures.
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Old 07-15-2012, 07:22 PM   #7
Teep
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I also just returned from Alaska. I ride a 2011 F650GS with Jesse luggage, Madstad windscreen, Sargent seat, Rox risers, Ricochet skid plate, a Kako throttle lock, and home made Lexan headlight protectors. I started with new Michelin Anakee tires (the bike had 8200 miles on it). I rode 10059 miles and the only issue was the chain wore out. I had been using a wax based chain lube and having 20 days out of 24 with rain it allowed water into the chain but it did get me home. Actually 18000+ miles on a chain is really not too bad. Like you had, the weather was cold and wet. I had one day form Glennallen to Haines Junction (422 miles) that it rained all the way, winds, and 38 degrees. I never felt the need for heated clothes though. The coldest was 34 degrees a couple of times. Once equipped properly these bikes are outstanding for long rides. I also rode to Big Bend National Park in March and rode the back roads; 3000+ miles in 7 days as a shakedown ride to prepare for the Alaska ride.
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Old 07-15-2012, 08:28 PM   #8
Lokey OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teep View Post
I also just returned from Alaska. I ride a 2011 F650GS with Jesse luggage, Madstad windscreen, Sargent seat, Rox risers, Ricochet skid plate, a Kako throttle lock, and home made Lexan headlight protectors. I started with new Michelin Anakee tires (the bike had 8200 miles on it). I rode 10059 miles and the only issue was the chain wore out. I had been using a wax based chain lube and having 20 days out of 24 with rain it allowed water into the chain but it did get me home. Actually 18000+ miles on a chain is really not too bad. Like you had, the weather was cold and wet. I had one day form Glennallen to Haines Junction (422 miles) that it rained all the way, winds, and 38 degrees. I never felt the need for heated clothes though. The coldest was 34 degrees a couple of times. Once equipped properly these bikes are outstanding for long rides. I also rode to Big Bend National Park in March and rode the back roads; 3000+ miles in 7 days as a shakedown ride to prepare for the Alaska ride.
Wasn't the weather mostly just awful? I too, had days where I got on the bike in the rain in the morning and it rained the whole day.
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Old 07-16-2012, 02:48 AM   #9
tkent02
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Heading up soon, also on an F8GS.

Are the locals expecting it to stay wet all summer?
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Old 07-16-2012, 04:12 AM   #10
Teep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lokey View Post
Wasn't the weather mostly just awful? I too, had days where I got on the bike in the rain in the morning and it rained the whole day.
The weather really sucked on some days, no way to take photos and it stopping to get a bite to eat made me nervous walking into place wet. There were some beautiful times when the sun did shine though. I really thought the Cassiar was the prettiest part of the trip but most of British Columbia was really nice.
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Old 07-16-2012, 05:46 AM   #11
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Sounds like a great adventure and a real test of your equipment.

I share your positive feelings about the bike. Picked up my 2012 mid April, took it from Toronto to Tennessee to ride the dragon, and then for a 15 day tour to the Canadian Maritimes via New York state, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. I have a total of 16,000 km (10,000 miles) and the bike has been flawless. Wore out the original Pirelli Scorpion Trails (which I found to be not bad tire) and replaced them with Anakee 2. Rode a number of unpaved roads in the backwoods of the Maritimes, and mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire and just love the way the bike handles the dirt roads. It makes touring so much more fun that what the roadies are limited to.

I have not purchased a proper seat but my butt was saved by an Air Hawk. It would not have survived on the stock seat. My Jesse bags survived one fall and remain water tight. I was really disappointed with fogging in my Neotec helmet. Thought it would do better but have found a solution with Fogtech DX anti fog wipes. Why can't the industry make a fog free visor? My Klim Badlands suit did well, but after a few days of solid rain, some of the zippers let water in at the edges, the neck and sleeves also allowed a bit of water in. Funny though, a few hours of dry weather at speed, makes everything dry again.

Since I am from Canada, a heated vest was one of my first purchases. There is nothing nicer on a near freezing day, than turning the jacket on and basking in the warmth. Without it, I would be concerned about hypothermia after extended exposure to speed and cold.

Can you show some pictures of your front foot peg mods? I would like to see how that works.

Did highway speed and cross winds, or truck buffeting bother you at all? I find the bike a bit sensitive to those factors.

I too would love to read a ride report when you have some time.
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Old 07-16-2012, 07:59 AM   #12
Lokey OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemaycga View Post

Can you show some pictures of your front foot peg mods? I would like to see how that works.

Did highway speed and cross winds, or truck buffeting bother you at all? I find the bike a bit sensitive to those factors.

I too would love to read a ride report when you have some time.
Here is a picture of the freeway pegs and mounts. I cannot say enough how great it was to be able to move my legs around. It made those long days in the saddle much more bearable.




I too, found that the bike does dance around a bit on two lane roads when being passed by a big rig going the other way. On the freeway I get moved around some, but in both instances it seems to depend on the individual truck. What I found scarey, was some of the cross winds I encountered. On the last day of my ride, while traveling between Needles and Barstow, CA, I was pushed so hard that I distinctly felt the bike skitter sideways on the interstate a couple of times. Now that was scarey!

I might do a ride report, It just seems that so may people do the 'Solo ride to Alaska' thing nowadays, that I am afraid that I really would not have all that much to add. Also, as I mentioned,the only thing that sucks worse than my photography skills is my ability to write.
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Old 07-16-2012, 09:13 AM   #13
VikB
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Originally Posted by Lokey View Post
So there it is. In my opinion, if you have a one of these fine machines certainly don't be afraid to ride it anywhere you want to go.
I'm glad you had a fun tour...
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Old 07-16-2012, 10:33 AM   #14
JRWooden
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lokey View Post
Here is a picture of the freeway pegs and mounts. I cannot say enough how great it was to be able to move my legs around. It made those long days in the saddle much more bearable.




I too, found that the bike does dance around a bit on two lane roads when being passed by a big rig going the other way. On the freeway I get moved around some, but in both instances it seems to depend on the individual truck. What I found scarey, was some of the cross winds I encountered. On the last day of my ride, while traveling between Needles and Barstow, CA, I was pushed so hard that I distinctly felt the bike skitter sideways on the interstate a couple of times. Now that was scarey!

I might do a ride report, It just seems that so may people do the 'Solo ride to Alaska' thing nowadays, that I am afraid that I really would not have all that much to add. Also, as I mentioned,the only thing that sucks worse than my photography skills is my ability to write.
Nice pegs... adding that to my list!

If you have not done so you might want to check the preload on the headset bearings....
If they are loose it makes the "skittering" more pronounced.
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Old 07-16-2012, 04:23 PM   #15
mikemaycga
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lokey View Post
Here is a picture of the freeway pegs and mounts. I cannot say enough how great it was to be able to move my legs around. It made those long days in the saddle much more bearable.
Thanks for the pix. I need to figure out a similar set up for my bike.


PS, your writing skills are very good - don't let that stop you.
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