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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Ok guys, for those of you waiting from my previous thread I have completed my blog, updated my pics, and I am ready to share a few things.

As far as the blog, have you ever heard the expression "It's 90% done - and only 90% to go"? Another favorite expression I have used for years is "Perfect is the enemy of good enough."

First, for other readers and future Alaska researchers, this thread is a continuation of my previous thread, "Houston to Fairbanks and Return on the same set of tires!"

Quick summary - my trip was 29 days and 11,480 miles and I did not change tires (Michelin Anakee 2s)

FRONT TIRE
After discussing my rear tire Randyo asked about my front tire. As you would expect it is in better shape than the rear. However, after washing the bike the other day and taking some pics I noticed the front tire has the first signs of cupping or scalloping. I have always kept my front tires just a little overinflated (+2-4 psi) to prevent this but I traveled from hot Texas into cool Canada and only checked my tire pressures about weekly and pumped them up about twice. My front was about 36 or 37 psi once. So I think it probably went a lot of miles in a short period of time and was at spec or a little lower. So now it is cupping. Will probably ride it locally for a while and replace it before I go on any kind of trip.





CHAIN
I put a new chain and sprockets on before I left. I used PJ1 lube at the end of every day (with an exception or 2). I would put it up on the centerstand and start it up in 1st gear and spray the chain while it idled around. Note: Sometimes you need help since when you are loaded down the rear will sit heavy. Several times I asked people to help me hold the front down while I did this.

At the end of this trip the chain looks filthy, covered in grime, and I haven't cleaned it yet. The sprockets look ok and the chain looks ok from the rear (centered on the teeth, no visible wear).



Of note, I did move up to a 16 tooth front sprocket on the theory that I would save some amount of gas expense by having fewer engine rpms over that kind of distance. Of course I can't quantify that but I have to say I really do like the slightly taller gearing on the bike. I ride virtually exclusively on the road and the taller gearing fits it much more like a street bike.

One thing I did not expect was so many little rocks and stones flying up into my radiator. Look at this:





Side note: I did enter all my gas fillups into a spreadsheet and the total trip cost me right at $1000 for gas. I haven't added up food or lodging yet.

So many thoughts...

There is another thread about rough running ("Need help on the road" I think). I experienced the same thing - progressively worse skipping or cutting out at a slightly slack throttle. At lower speeds and gears it was maddening. Would come and go. Of all the things I changed and replaced I did not change the fuel filter. Bike had ~14k miles when I left, now has almost 28k. I ran a can of SeaFoam thru it in Canada and didn't see any real effect. Later I ran a can of STP Fuel Injector Cleaner and after several tanks the skipping cleared up and it ran perfectly the last several days of the trip. Still not completely sure what it was or if the STP fixed it.

There was a tip I read about not adding any farkles or changing anything right before a major trip without a good test ride. I did a long ride and a final fully loaded test ride before I left. But I never could figure out the NEP Cruise Control thingie so I ordered a Vista Cruise Control. It went on fine a few days before I left and seemed to work. Later found out it wouldn't hold the throttle firmly. Seems the tiny little allen screws weren't adjusted enough. Whatever the issue was it never did work right and was a complete waste. Even my Cramp Buster wouldn't grip tightly and hold a throttle position so I basically didn't have any throttle assistance at all. It's funny how minor little things can be such aggravations on a long trip...

Along those lines ensure your rear view mirrors are adjusted perfectly for you and are locked down. Another major pet peeve - mirrors not in the right position when you really need them.

Put some effort into your music collection. Add some "books on tape" or some podcasts you have not heard before or something. A trip to Alaska will give you LOTS of time to think and listen to stuff.

Logs/journals/blogs - Take some time and figure out how to record events of the day. Unless you routinely take long bike trips a trip to Alaska is likely a lifetime achievement ("bucket list") - figure out some way to record stuff. Your days will be so full of scenery, towns, places you ate, people you talked to - after a few days your head just spins. That's the fun of traveling, but on a trip like this you will forget tons of stuff.

I brought a little netbook and unloaded my pics from both cameras every day (so the date/time stamps were recorded correctly). And I also opened the Garmin Mapsource program and downloaded my GPS tracklog every day or so. Now I can zoom into a track and see where I stopped and what day and time it was, and compare that to the date/time of a certain photo and know EXACTLY where that photo was taken. Major convenience!

There are a couple other issues to discuss but I want them in their own thread.

Ok, enough thoughts for now. Bring your questions and comments and I will do my best to answer them.

Oh, and my blog is located here:

Houston to Fairbanks - A Motorcycle Adventure

I hope you find it useful.


Jerry in Houston

 

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Discussion Starter #3
Those nubs are out on the side of the tire (the "chicken strip"). On my other bike (2004 BMW K1200GT) those chicken strips are pretty narrow. :bom_devil:

But on a dual sport bike loaded with 150 lbs of gear I rarely leaned it much in the corners.

I would caution anyone about reading too much into my results with these Anakees. I have not read about anyone getting these kinds of miles on a trip to Alaska, or even more general riding - certainly for a rear tire. I can't explain it. It's just a data point.

I do downshift on hills and coming into stoplights but I try to match the throttle before I let the clutch out so there is little tension or snatch to the drive system. Up north most of the roads are chip seal for cheaper maintenance and better winter traction so from what I have read that should reduce the life of tires.

I have to comment that with the larger 16 tooth front sprocket the snatch is greatly reduced in first gear. I found it really bad before the trip - very hard to idle along in first at just above idle speeds. At 1000 to 1200 rpms any change in the throttle would severely jerk the bike. But with this larger sprocket first is much more manageable or gentle.

Comments about the chain
I used PJ1 and lubed my chain at the end of each day. I have not cleaned it yet so I can't comment on any visible wear. This is the first chain bike I have ridden since my teen dirt bike years over 30 years ago so I am not an expert at all. I kept it a little on the loose side and only adjusted it twice during the trip.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Want to go to Alaska? You only need to go halfway...

Another random thought while I am sitting here thinking.

This trip has given me a whole new appreciation for the simple words "A long way." Going to Alaska is a HUGE commitment of time and resources. Many people get caught up in the objective of saying they went to Prudhoe Bay or Inuvik, but a lot of people can't afford that kind of time (still working, limited resources, etc).

I would say, having been up there now, that it is possible to see some of the best scenery by going halfway there. Let me explain...

Going up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper will give you some of the best views of rugged snowcapped mountains that exist in North America. Want to get a taste?? Google has 'streetview' on most of the highways up there. Go to Google Maps on the Icefields Parkway and drag the little streetview man down and look around at the mountains!

Jasper, AB, Canada - Google Maps

Then you can run west thru Prince George and over to Stewart and Hyder to say you have been to Alaska (MUST see the Salmon Glacier!). Come back down and ride the "Sea to Sky Highway" (hwy 99) into Vancouver BC - an incredible ride just in itself.

If you look at Google Maps in terrain view and back waaaaay out you will see that British Columbia and Yukon Territory are HUGE!!! I mean you will ride for friggin days thru flat featureless pine forests. It is mind-numbing!

I just mention this because I get the feeling that some people might put off a trip because of the size of the effort, and it is substantial. But if you can take a couple of weeks to travel during the summer around the US you can make it to Hyder, Alaska and back and get a taste of The Great North.

Just my humble opinion...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Whoa! Nice shot, Reid! I didn't know you got that shot! I would love to have that in my photo book, I'll pm you.
 

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Another random thought while I am sitting here thinking.

This trip has given me a whole new appreciation for the simple words "A long way." Going to Alaska is a HUGE commitment of time and resources. Many people get caught up in the objective of saying they went to Prudhoe Bay or Inuvik, but a lot of people can't afford that kind of time (still working, limited resources, etc).

I would say, having been up there now, that it is possible to see some of the best scenery by going halfway there. Let me explain...

If you look at Google Maps in terrain view and back waaaaay out you will see that British Columbia and Yukon Territory are HUGE!!! I mean you will ride for friggin days thru flat featureless pine forests. It is mind-numbing!

I just mention this because I get the feeling that some people might put off a trip because of the size of the effort, and it is substantial. But if you can take a couple of weeks to travel during the summer around the US you can make it to Hyder, Alaska and back and get a taste of The Great North.

Just my humble opinion...
Thank you for this observation, it's rather interesting and not one I've read before. I can see that if one intends to ride to Anchorage etc. then you really need to set aside the time and money, otherwise revise the trip expectations to suit your time and resources. It is hard to set aside that much time for the average working Joe.

I did Alaska by cruise ship and would very much like to go back by bike, but..... I can see that I may have to wait for some time before I can devote that much time to such a trip. In the mean time the greater Vancouver BC area (which I've been to before but not by bike) seems much more attainable given my time constraints.
 
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