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Old 12-07-2014, 07:28 AM   #1
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Oct 2014
Oddometer: 132
Alaska -2 Summer Trips - One on Bike, Other in the Cloud

Iím going on two trips this year, possibly many more, but two rather long and, some would say ďadventurous.Ē Both trips will go to the same places Ė maybeóbut will be on entirely different vehicles. The first will be right here on ADVrider and hopefully, you all will come along with me, coach me and thrill in the dream of seeing places and experiencing folks along the way. The second will be putting rubber to road, or gravel as it may be, as I follow the wonderings of the first trip.

Iím going to Alaska this coming summer Ė yet, in the now, I have cabin fever here in Northern Michigan and want to start the trip without waiting till summer. ADVrider is going to allow that to happen.

As this thread develops, youíre going to find out about me and the way I like to travel, and camp. Youíre going to find out how I moto-camp now and the changes Iím going to have to make for this trip. Youíre going to help me pick my steed for the trip. And, finally, youíre going to help me with journey and destination picks.

This is my present camp kit. I love it, but I donít think the bike is the right bike for the upcoming trip.


Gentlemen Never Sail to Weather
Iíd say a bit about me and how I travel and camp would be in order. There is a saying in sailing, which, when sailing, I strictly adhere to. It is ďGentlemen Never Sail to Weather.Ē When Iím sailing, I avoid, with a vengeance, bad, or even unpleasant, weather. If I'm at the beginning of a trip, Iíll delay if in bad weather. If in port, Iíll spend a few days exploring waiting for better weather.

Thatís also my philosophy when moto-camping. If itís going to storm, I wait to go. If in camp, I explore and wait for nice weather.

Some would say that this is not adventure travel. I would agree. In fact, most ďadventureĒ travel I read as chronicled on this forum doesnít look too adventurous to me. Simply put, most adventure travels are nothing more than a series of one day local camping trips Ė albeit, some rather large localities. Looked at this way, a long camping trip to Alaska is nothing more than a lot of daily camping trips strung together. Combined with my adversity to the adverse, it seems a bet less adventurous.

The other thing is where the adventure really is. On a recent 1,000 mile ride down and back to southern Indiana, the most dangerous, read adventurous, was getting around Indianapolis. I would bet most on this forum would agree that back country roads, even those that are very remote, are less dangerous than the freeway around Indianapolis, or, in my view the worst, Nashville, TN.

Lastly, I love, no; actually, I think it is the Holy Grail of my moto-camping experience, to have the freedom to change my mind. Iím a meanderer. At any given planned turn right, I may, and often do, turn left. I think that is the essence of freedom, and I cherish it. And, I bet many on this forum would agree.

Speaking of freedom, Iím retired. This makes my philosophy, as explained before, possible. This summer Iíll have a very tentative plan on where Iím going. Iíll not have any time frame. Being retired makes this possible. After all, if I like someplace and decide to stay a few days, with my philosophy of travel, I can do that. Iíve got all summer. Hell, if I find a place that I really like, I may just stay for the winter and continue the following summer. Yes, Iím old, a bit overweight with eyesight not what it used to be, and, Iíve lost strength and quickness. However, the upside is Iím retired!!

Thanks for reading,



KKORO screwed with this post 12-07-2014 at 11:19 AM
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Old 12-09-2014, 08:14 AM   #2
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Oct 2014
Oddometer: 132
The Steed -- KLR or ??
My first decision is going to be which bike to buy.

As you saw in my first post, I ride a Burgman 400. If on good roads, I donít think there is a better camping bike. Below, youíll see the bike as packed this last summer for camping. The under seat storage is as big as a large backpack. As you see in this picture, nothing looks disheveled. I like it that way.

However, the down side is rough roads. Iíve been down some with the Burgy, but itís not as fun as it should be, so, Iím getting something else for this summer.

Iíve pretty much decided on a KLR. Iíve read about all the proís and conís of this bike, but I keep thinking about maintenance on the trip. This last summer, I lost the entire month of August waiting for a sensor that went bad on my Burgman. That was in Michigan where there are a number of dealers around. What will I do if something similar happens in the middle of the North West Territories? Reputedly, the KLR is one of the easiest bikes to work on. Thatís tops in importance to me. Performance and comfort are less important. As you might guess, Iím not going too far on any given day, and for sure, I wonít be going anywhere fast.

All that being said, sometime this winter Iíll be buying a bike for the trip and would welcome comments on which bike to get. As stated, Iíve pretty much decided on a KLR, but, just like making a planned right turn into a left turn, Iím open to changing my mind.

Thanks for any insight.


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Old 12-09-2014, 11:25 AM   #3
Joined: Jul 2014
Oddometer: 11
I'll be following along sounds like a nice adventure. I wanted a KLR but find like most of the others there too tall. I'm. Short 5'5" the only dual sport I found to be low enough is the BMW F700 with the factory lowering set up. Fully loaded the out the door cost was $15,900 I could set on the bike and have both feet flat on the ground and the bike felt light as a feather. I loved it, but almost $16,000. I can't see it. Maybe someday.
Anyway good luck to you and as I said I'll be following along.
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Old 12-09-2014, 05:28 PM   #4
Studly Adventurer
Joined: Mar 2013
Location: Alaska
Oddometer: 908
Originally Posted by Todd78d View Post
I'll be following along sounds like a nice adventure. I wanted a KLR but find like most of the others there too tall. I'm. Short 5'5" the only dual sport I found to be low enough is the BMW F700 with the factory lowering set up. Fully loaded the out the door cost was $15,900 I could set on the bike and have both feet flat on the ground and the bike felt light as a feather. I loved it, but almost $16,000. I can't see it. Maybe someday.
Anyway good luck to you and as I said I'll be following along.
The BMW F700 is great for shorter people. I am a bit taller than you but I really enjoyed riding it. Definitely worth the money.

@JOHNAKI: Sounds like a great adventure to be. I really like your attitude, subscribed!
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Old 12-15-2014, 01:32 PM   #5
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Oct 2014
Oddometer: 132
The Route

Initially, I thought about going across Canada on Hwy. 17 on Lake Superiorís south shore for the first part of the trip. I did this about 25 years ago and had a great time. Thought it would be fun to see how things have changed. Then, I thought again as the weather may not be real conducive for cycling in May.

Going across the Mighty Mackinaw Bridge and across the north shore of Lake Michigan is a nice ride. Iíve done it many times. However, again, the weather can be pretty iffy during May.

My last choice was to follow U.S. 12 across to Missoula, MT. I live a couple of miles away from Mi66 and that will take me south to U.S.12. I used to live on U.S.12 many years ago, so, even though the ride would not be as scenic or interesting as the first two choices, it would be good to see some of my old hangouts and the weather will be better. All that being said, the real reason is that route will put me close to the all-time best restaurant in the world Ė bar none!!

ďEmilioísĒ used to be in Battle Creek. It took me about 25 min. to get there from my home about 30 years ago riding my Harley. I ate there 4-5 times a week. When I moved up north, and after Emilio died, I was told the restaurant had closed for good. For ten years I missed Emilioís most exceptional food. Then, by chance about 10 years later, I went into ďOye AmigoísĒ in Marshall, MI. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The smells brought back a decade of memories. I found out that one of the waitresses had bought the recipes from Emilioís and started their own place in Marshall. I remember the waitress from decades ago. She and her kids now run the restaurant and it is extraordinary.

So, my first day on my Alaska trip will be a 340 mi. run down to Marshall, MI for lunch, then south to U.S. 12, then west. At some point Iíll leave U.S. 12 and detour to my hometown of South Haven, MI to visit with my sister and friends.

My second day will consist of going a bit south to get back on U.S. 12 and spend the rest of the day getting through Chicago. Not sure how thatís going to go, but given all day, I should make it.

On this second day I hope to get to the Lake Geneva, WI area and camp. Any suggestions for a campsite will be greatly appreciated. I hope to use this planning portion of the thread to scamper up some local knowledge about the places to camp along the way.


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Old 05-06-2015, 06:30 PM   #6
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Oct 2014
Oddometer: 132
The Steed

I decided, and bought, and modded a KLR. The bike has been out of my shop a few weeks and Iím done with modifications. Iíve put on about 1,000 miles and am quite happy with the bike. Iíve averaged 54 mpg during that time. I mostly ride two lane paved roads and good dirt roads and I keep the speed between 55-60 mph.

Fork Brace
This is my first KLR, so I donít have any experience to go by. This was on the bike when I got it in February. Iíve had the bike up to 90 mph (indicated) and everything was stable. Iíll not approach that speed again, and, in fact, will rarely go over 60 mph, so I think the fork brace will do its job on the Alaska trip.

Stainless Steel Brake Lines
Again, these were on the bike when I bought it. Iíve heard all kinds of remarks about the KLR having bad brakes. With these brake lines, Iíve no complaints.

Jeff Saline Petcock Block-off Plate
I had some idling problems with the bike. I bought both the Eagle Mike replacement petcock and the Jeff Saline Block-off plate. I installed the Saline version and am quite happy with it.

Eagle Mike Doohickey
Not knowing whether the Doohicky was done or not, I tore into and found a perfectly good, and functioning stock arrangement. I chose to replace it anyway so I didnít have to worry about it. The Eagle Mike replacement is certainly an upgrade and very easy to do for an all thumbs, little experienced mechanic like myself.

Eagle Mike Low Profile Magnetic Oil Plug
Easy, peasey and cheapsy!

Eagle Mike Bar Risers
I didnít really need these until I installed the highway pegs. When my feet are on the highway pegs I tend to sit a little further back. To sit correctly on the bike for long rides I needed a little more height on the bars.

Seat Concepts Seat
Good comfort for longer rides. It was very easy to install myself. Not as comfy as my old Harley ďrat bikeĒ from many years ago, but as comfortable as my Burgman 400 scooter from last year. First ride was 137 miles without stopping. Boredom now sets in before discomfort. I like to stop and take a breather, take in the sites and talk to folks every 50-60 mile anyway.

Eagle Mike Raising Links
Before I installed these I thought I might have to go with a new suspension. I hated to do that without taking a major trip with stock. With the raising links, I think the suspension will handle my non-aggressive riding. If not, Iíll have to change out the suspension and take another long trip next year. What a shame to have to do that ☺

Twin Headlight Ernie Bigfoot Kickstand Enlarger

This may be my favourite mod so far. I use it everyday. Being old (read not limber) and being heavy (240 lbs. Ė read not limber) I needed a way to easily get on and off the bike when there was luggage on back. So, I use the left peg to mount the bike. While this worked fine when on pavement, I wasnít sure about on dirt. This kickstand enlarger has worked perfect and now this fat old man has no problems.

Knight Industries Lowering Foot Pegs
I found the cockpit ergonomics a little cramped. I installed the 1.5Ē lowering pegs and itís much more comfortable. I would still like another inch or so, but Iím going to leave it to see how it works.

Heavy Aluminum Skid Plate
This was on the bike when I bought it. Iím sure it will hold up better than plastic. I have no idea what brand it is.

Happy Trails Highway Pegs
For me, this is a necessity, even on shorter rides. Iíve had problems in the past with leg cramps and this eliminates that problem.

Eagle Mike Sub frame Bolts
Not sure if these were needed with my non-aggressive type riding, but it beats worrying about it.

New Continental TKC-70ís
I, probably, did more research on tires than any other subject. It came down to Heidenau Scouts, Avon Gripsters and the TKC-70ís. For my 80/20 non-aggressive riding, it seemed to be a wash as to which tires I got. In my mind, the only things that separated the TKCís from the other two are the reputation for quiet and, possibly, on road tire changing. If I get to everyplace I plan on this summer, Iíll go between 10,000 and 14,000 miles, so, I plan on new tires sometime on the trip Ė possible two changes.

There you have it, my steed of choice with the modifications I felt necessary. I still have to choose a windshield. The stock KLR Tall is a little noisy since all the air is directed at my head. However, itís smooth air, so not too bad. Iíve been riding with no windshield and I like that better. However, I think a long trip will be better served with some kind of windshield. Iíve got a Clearview windshield coming and Iíll see how that is.


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