NY to Alaska - Kawasaki Versys Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-26-2019, 09:39 AM Thread Starter
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NY to Alaska

Hello everyone.

I've got a 30 day trip coming up starting on June 4th up to Alaska and back. For those that have made the voyage or other longer trips with your Versys I was wondering what kind of mileage you saw on your tires and any modifications you made that were well worth it. Stuff like highway pegs (I've never used them) etc.

I've ridden my V650 12 hours to see how the comfort felt compared to past bikes I've owned (VStrom, Tiger 1050, MG Stelvio) and it's similar to the Tiger 1050 I had where it gets pretty uncomfortable past about 10 hours which is what I'm limiting each days ride too. In the past I've completed Iron Butt rides on the Tiger 1050 and the Stelvio but would obviously rather avoid that and take in the scenery.

My main points of discomfort were in the knees and the seat after a long day (stock, with airhawk). I'll be stopping much more than I normally do so that'll probably help with this trip, I typically cover 500-900 miles a day on cross country trips but this time it's with my dad and a friend so limiting to 500ish.

I'm wondering how to time the tire change up there so I can possibly make it on one tire change. Right now we're looking at swapping out tires in Whitehorse. If that set doesn't make it back to NY probaby Winnipeg or Edmonton would be the next best options on the way back if the tires get smoked by the Alaskan and Yukon roads. Right now I don't know what to expect for tire life as I've only worn out the stock set that came with the bike which lasted about 4500 miles.

The current route has us going NY-Ontario-Upper Michigan-Minnesota-South Dakota-Wyoming-Montana-Albera-BC-Yukon-Alaska. Return leg is pretty much direct back through Canada for about 9 days. I'm taking 14-15 days to get to Alaska then spending 5-6 days there before heading home. We aren't going up the Dempster or Dalton on this trip and won't be on anything other than improved dirt roads.

I've got Avon Spirit ii's on for the way there with plans to swap to Continental Trail attack 3 in Whitehorse at the moment. I'm concerned they won't make it all the way back to NY though as they'll need to go about 6-7k to do that. I'm not a fan of Shinko 705 as I had a harrowing experience with them after a summer in Arizona and having almost no traction in rain on the way home to NY once the temps dropped.

The Versys isn't heavily loaded, probably 35lbs of gear in two panniers and one dry bag as I'm from a lightweight backpacking background and don't like carrying more than i need. I've got the typical layer's, one heated jacket and wear a roadcrafter R3 for outer. Camping is with a hammock with a ground cloth as I'll need to go to ground a few times I'm sure.

I'm from Maine and experienced in midwinter camping, I'm prepped for a low of 35 on the trip. (hopefully not though)

How long do the brake pads last on this bike? I'm not a heavy brake user.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-26-2019, 04:04 PM
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The brake pads should NOT be an issue, but I would suggest you raise the front of the seat which does make it work MUCH better.

Running Shinko E705s on my '15 in '16 - the front 120/70 EASILY lasted the ride from Kelowna, BC to Alaska and back [replaced after 30,169 kms], but the rear required replacing in Anchorage at 5,116 kms, because I did NOT want to be 'at-the-side-of-the-road' SOMEWHERE IN THE FAR NORTH w/ a worn-out rear tire(!!!) looking to find another one,



replaced by a TKC80 knobby which EASILY made it back to Kelowna, ultimately going 9,075 kms.



LOTS of motorcycle shops along your Canadian route once you're back in the southern part.

Ed
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Last edited by fasteddiecopeman; 05-26-2019 at 04:07 PM.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-26-2019, 04:07 PM
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I bought th bike used so I can't help with a comparison on the tires except to say that out of BS 023(or was it 021), Shinko705, Angel GT, and Dunlop RS3 tires on the bake, the RS3 went 6500 miles, but that is a lot of twisty hooligan riding. The Angles went 6k miles. Everything else 35 to 4500 miles.

Some folks on the forum run higher than than normal air pressure to get a lot of mileage and it does help. I would rather get less miles but more hook up for the tires, especially when encountering a surprise on the road. I run mine a couple of lbs over factory recommendations.

I replaced the factory front pads at 55k miles. They still had a bit of life left but I was leaving on a 4k mile trip. At 59k miles now and I still have the rears on and will likely replace them in about 5k when I'll need a fresh tire.

I would also have my doubts about that second tire getting you home. Maybe if you baby it.

Do have an adventure and if it can work for you, do the Cassiar Highway. And visit Hyder.

Yeah, if you want true ram air tuning, you better be willing to ram some air! (SteveinSunnyFlorida)

'15 KLE650LT
'99 Concours(with 234,xxx miles on it), sold
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And most of Canada too, eh?
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-26-2019, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fasteddiecopeman View Post
The brake pads should NOT be an issue, but I would suggest you raise the front of the seat which does make it work MUCH better.

Running Shinko E705s on my '15 in '16 - the front 120/70 EASILY lasted the ride from Kelowna, BC to Alaska and back [replaced after 30,169 kms], but the rear required replacing in Anchorage at 5,116 kms, because I did NOT want to be 'at-the-side-of-the-road' SOMEWHERE IN THE FAR NORTH w/ a worn-out rear tire(!!!) looking to find another one,



replaced by a TKC80 knobby which EASILY made it back to Kelowna, ultimately going 9,075 kms.



LOTS of motorcycle shops along your Canadian route once you're back in the southern part.

At worst I'll swap them at Whitehorse then again once i get back into southern Canada I figure if the set from Whitehorse gets smoked. I've had good luck with Shinko Raven's in the past but not the 705 unfortunately. That tire now scares the hell out of me after the last experience.

What's that flat panel you've got on the back?
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-26-2019, 07:54 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SteveJ View Post
I bought th bike used so I can't help with a comparison on the tires except to say that out of BS 023(or was it 021), Shinko705, Angel GT, and Dunlop RS3 tires on the bake, the RS3 went 6500 miles, but that is a lot of twisty hooligan riding. The Angles went 6k miles. Everything else 35 to 4500 miles.

Some folks on the forum run higher than than normal air pressure to get a lot of mileage and it does help. I would rather get less miles but more hook up for the tires, especially when encountering a surprise on the road. I run mine a couple of lbs over factory recommendations.

I replaced the factory front pads at 55k miles. They still had a bit of life left but I was leaving on a 4k mile trip. At 59k miles now and I still have the rears on and will likely replace them in about 5k when I'll need a fresh tire.

I would also have my doubts about that second tire getting you home. Maybe if you baby it.

Do have an adventure and if it can work for you, do the Cassiar Highway. And visit Hyder.
Damn those brake pads lasted a long time.

Cassiar Highway is on the route we're taking, Alaska Highway on the way back.

Your right about the rear tire probably not lasting. I think I'll probably order one for replacement for the ride home. I think I'd have to call it by winnipeg as the stretch through Ontario to where I live is pretty sparse.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-26-2019, 08:44 PM
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As long as you are in the neighbo(u)rd head over to Prince Rupert and tour the old fish canning plant. Quite interesting. Very pretty ride over there from Kitwanga. I was lucky and hit Prince Rupert on a clear day.

Yeah, if you want true ram air tuning, you better be willing to ram some air! (SteveinSunnyFlorida)

'15 KLE650LT
'99 Concours(with 234,xxx miles on it), sold
'98 KLR650


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And most of Canada too, eh?
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-27-2019, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Lee R View Post
Hello everyone.

I've got a 30 day trip coming up starting on June 4th up to Alaska and back. For those that have made the voyage or other longer trips with your Versys I was wondering what kind of mileage you saw on your tires and any modifications you made that were well worth it. Stuff like highway pegs (I've never used them) etc.

I've ridden my V650 12 hours to see how the comfort felt compared to past bikes I've owned (VStrom, Tiger 1050, MG Stelvio) and it's similar to the Tiger 1050 I had where it gets pretty uncomfortable past about 10 hours which is what I'm limiting each days ride too. In the past I've completed Iron Butt rides on the Tiger 1050 and the Stelvio but would obviously rather avoid that and take in the scenery.

My main points of discomfort were in the knees and the seat after a long day (stock, with airhawk). I'll be stopping much more than I normally do so that'll probably help with this trip, I typically cover 500-900 miles a day on cross country trips but this time it's with my dad and a friend so limiting to 500ish.

You have Iron Butt experience so you'll probably already be aware of what I'm about to suggest, but the best thing you can do for long range comfort is to get a Russell Day Long saddle. An uncomfortable saddle can add to fatigue after a while (and thus negatively affect concentration), something you don't need on a LD motorcyle trip. I have ridden with one (on another bike) and was able to ride ride from sun up to well into the night with zero butt discomfort.

As to tires, when I used to do long distance travel on my Honda ST1100's, I followed a recommended technique of using a particular kind of long mileage, bias ply rear tire, with a normal radial front tire. The rear was a Metzler ME880 and wore like iron! Normal mileage on my bike for a rear tire was about 5500 miles, but the ME880 could go well beyond 10k. This allowed me to do a lot of mileage in one trip and not have to worry about being stuck somewhere with cords showing. Not sure if the 880 is even made anymore or if they even make it in a size that would fit the Versys. Tire technology has improved since I rode LD so maybe there is a radial tire made that gets equivalent mileage to the 880 that would fit the Versys.

Given the time of year that you'll be making this trip, another thing to seriously think about is hydration (forgive me if you already know this stuff but it might help others). The IBA has an excellent article on hot weather riding. Even in the northern most states of the US, it can get seriously hot during the summer. HERE is a cheap, home-made solution to the hydration problem I came up with that served me well. I only got to use it a couple of times before I had to give up LD riding but it worked great.

2016 Versys 650 LT, Orange


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-27-2019, 03:28 PM
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...Cassiar Highway is on the route we're taking, Alaska Highway on the way back....
Be AWARE that you WILL be traveling thru a herd of bison on the Alcan, and they can lay a WORLD OF HURT on you in a VERY short period of time, so BE CAREFUL! They are in the vicinity of Ft Nelson to Muncho Lake, and tend to be ON the highway. [I did NOT take pics while riding thru the herd, and EVERY time I've ridden the southern part of the Alcan they've been ON the hwy!]







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...What's that flat panel you've got on the back?
It's something I 'fabbed' to attach to the small Kawi rack I put on, and that is its sole purpose! You can see the Kawi rack behind my seat in this pic.



And here it is w/ the aluminum rack attached (that's 24" x 20".) Works VG to attach my camping gear to.




Ed
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Last edited by fasteddiecopeman; 05-27-2019 at 03:31 PM.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-28-2019, 11:17 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfcamp View Post
You have Iron Butt experience so you'll probably already be aware of what I'm about to suggest, but the best thing you can do for long range comfort is to get a Russell Day Long saddle. An uncomfortable saddle can add to fatigue after a while (and thus negatively affect concentration), something you don't need on a LD motorcyle trip. I have ridden with one (on another bike) and was able to ride ride from sun up to well into the night with zero butt discomfort.

As to tires, when I used to do long distance travel on my Honda ST1100's, I followed a recommended technique of using a particular kind of long mileage, bias ply rear tire, with a normal radial front tire. The rear was a Metzler ME880 and wore like iron! Normal mileage on my bike for a rear tire was about 5500 miles, but the ME880 could go well beyond 10k. This allowed me to do a lot of mileage in one trip and not have to worry about being stuck somewhere with cords showing. Not sure if the 880 is even made anymore or if they even make it in a size that would fit the Versys. Tire technology has improved since I rode LD so maybe there is a radial tire made that gets equivalent mileage to the 880 that would fit the Versys.

Given the time of year that you'll be making this trip, another thing to seriously think about is hydration (forgive me if you already know this stuff but it might help others). The IBA has an excellent article on hot weather riding. Even in the northern most states of the US, it can get seriously hot during the summer. HERE is a cheap, home-made solution to the hydration problem I came up with that served me well. I only got to use it a couple of times before I had to give up LD riding but it worked great.
I'd love a custom seat someday. For now I've had good success with just an airhawk on the stock seat. It's worked for me on all the stock seated bikes I've had. Saves a ton of money!

I don't know that they make the ME880 any more. Todays sport tourers go a long way though and are like glue in the rain.

Hydration is definitely important. I drink plenty of water and limit caffeine to my morning cup of coffee. I've been too a few deserts recently
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-28-2019, 11:34 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by fasteddiecopeman View Post
Be AWARE that you WILL be traveling thru a herd of bison on the Alcan, and they can lay a WORLD OF HURT on you in a VERY short period of time, so BE CAREFUL! They are in the vicinity of Ft Nelson to Muncho Lake, and tend to be ON the highway. [I did NOT take pics while riding thru the herd, and EVERY time I've ridden the southern part of the Alcan they've been ON the hwy!]
I'm not messing with those Bison!

I remember going through introductory training for being a Park ranger (worked at Acadia Nat. Park when I was younger) and we were shown all kinds of video's of those things mauling people. Bears are not what you should be worried about, it's getting to close to a Bison or between a calf and mom. Obviously don't play with the bear cubs
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-28-2019, 05:11 PM
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I recently replaced the rear brake pads on my 2015 V650. Only about 8k miles on them but the old pads lost their grip. Holy crap the new pads are far better than OEM ever were! When I get the time I'll be replacing the front pads too.

EBC HH sintered pads.

It is a super simple and quick job to replace the pads. While you're at it, lube up the caliper slider pins and flush/bleed the fluid.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-28-2019, 05:22 PM Thread Starter
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I recently replaced the rear brake pads on my 2015 V650. Only about 8k miles on them but the old pads lost their grip. Holy crap the new pads are far better than OEM ever were! When I get the time I'll be replacing the front pads too.

EBC HH sintered pads.

It is a super simple and quick job to replace the pads. While you're at it, lube up the caliper slider pins and flush/bleed the fluid.
I've used EBC HH on a few bikes, good bite in them. Those hanger pins get all kinds of corroded over time. I usually just change the hanger pins when I do the pads since they're around 15 bucks for the front and rear.
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