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Thread: DrNeo's F800GS Alaska/LDR bike build

  1. #1
    Registered User drneo66's Avatar
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    DrNeo's F800GS Alaska/LDR bike build

    A few years ago I bought a 2009 BMW G650GS to attempt to accomplish the Iron Butt Association's famed “Ultimate Coast to Coast” ride, which is Key West, Florida to Prudoe Bay, Alaska. I made it from Minnesota to Key West, but the little thumper didn't make all the way


    I went back to the drawing board and decided that a 2013+ F800GS would be a better bike for me to try again with (thanks to the input of everyone here). I was able to find said bike earlier this year, so this is the story of me setting up my new (to me) bike for some long distance riding. I've been fortunate to be able to complete a long list of Iron Butt Association rides – ranging from 48 states in 10 days, to the Piston Diversity Challenge. After all these miles and challenges, I feel like I know what works well for me and what doesn't. This will be the story of setting up this "new" bike for this adventure.

    The bike was pretty well farkled already, but here's a list of things I'm going to do:
    - Add two sets of aux. Lights (one set for conspicuity and the other set tied to the high beams for better down-range throw)
    - Add a Denali CanSmart system – this will help reconfigure all of the auxiliary wiring that's on the bike as it's a mess currently
    - Add a small top box
    - Secure a way to carry extra fuel. I have a Best Rest peg packer already, but I may explore the Camel Tank
    - Install a MCCruise cruise control system – this will be a big project
    - Set up the suspension for proper sag
    - Brake fluid flush – I did one when I first got the bike (the first flush that the bike has had since it was new AFAIK), but I like to flush my brake fluid in all my bikes each year. It - doesn't take long and prevents some very, very expensive parts from having problems in the future. Also, it could reduce the likelihood of becoming a hood ornament.
    - Install Scottoiler – reduces the time I need for chain maintenance during long rides
    - Replace steering head bearings because they already have slight notches
    - Replace wheel bearings – reducing the chance for more problems
    - Repack the swing arm bearings? Haven't decided yet if this is necessary
    - Finally I'll add some reflective tape to the back bags to increase conspicuity


    Now, I fully understand that I probably don't need much of the above list to go out and ride, but I have big plans beyond just Alaska for the rest of the year and 2021


    A picture of how the bike came home:
    58717155517-0935504-A-476-D-415-C-ADF0-58-EE3-ADB0-B8-A.jpg


    Before starting:
    IMG-8688.jpg



    Here's where I'm currently at:
    IMG-8709.jpg
    Current: 2007 BMW R1200RT, 2013 F800GS
    Former: 1995 BMW K75S, 2009 BMW G650GS
    MOA Member #:150400, IBA#: 37558

  2. #2
    IBA# 5819 61996's Avatar
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    Very ambitious undertaking.
    Personally, I'd put the time and effort into your RT for such a trip.

    Good luck!

    Joe
    “Fate whispers to the warrior, 'You can not withstand the storm.'
    The warrior whispers back, 'I am the storm.'

  3. #3
    I have made two trips to greater Alaska as far as a bit north of Fairbanks. I have made a half dozen trips to Hyder. I have never gone to Prudoe Bay since 1970 in the Air Force and have zero desire to go there on a motorcycle.

    As for this thread, a person can go to Alaska on an RT, or a Goldwing, or a moped. But a dual-sport motorcycle would be my choice for sure. In 1991 I rode a R80G/S Paris Dakar. In 2008 I rode a G650 Funduro. Both were middleweight dual-sport bikes and both were very welcome on the stretches of construction going from mud to dirt to baseball size rocks to golf ball size rocks to river rock to gravel and finally again to pavement. Both times we encountered a few stretches of such construction. Sure a good rider can make it on an RT but good luck in the vicinity of Destruction Bay in the Yukon. This is the area where the road is built on a bog where they had to sink logs in the muck to build a road base when building the Alaska Highway in the 1940s. It is still a mess under construction every year. The approach is to tear it out and rebuild it, and to allow traffic to compress the new gravel roadbed. And they use copious amounts of calcium chloride to control dust, but which when wet is as slick as frost on a doorknob and which when dried on your bike is like shotcrete sticking to everything.

    I don't us vice grips to tighten head bolts. I don't use a claw hammer to test relays. And I don't ride a street bike through construction zones going to Alaska. Not when correct equipment can be available. YMVV.
    Last edited by PGlaves; 01-13-2020 at 02:49 AM.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://web.bigbend.net/~glaves/

  4. #4
    IBA# 5819 61996's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    I have made two trips to greater Alaska as far as a bit north of Fairbanks. I have made a half dozen trips to Hyder. I have never gone to Prudoe Bay since 1970 in the Air Force and have zero desire to go there on a motorcycle.

    As for this thread, a person can go to Alaska on an RT, or a Goldwing, or a moped. But a dual-sport motorcycle would be my choice for sure. In 1991 I rode a R800G/S Paris Dakar. In 2008 I rode a G650 Funduro. Both were middleweight dual-sport bikes and both were very welcome on the stretches of construction going from mud to dirt to baseball size rocks to golf ball size rocks to river rock to gravel and finally again to pavement. Both times we encountered a few stretches of such construction. Sure a good rider can make it on an RT but good luck in the vicinity of Destruction Bay in the Yukon. This is the area where the road is built on a bog where they had to sink logs in the muck to build a road base when building the Alaska Highway in the 1940s. It is still a mess under construction every year. The approach is to tear it out and rebuild it, and to allow traffic to compress the new gravel roadbed. And they use copious amounts of calcium chloride to control dust, but which when wet is as slick as frost on a doorknob and which when dried on your bike is like shotcrete sticking to everything.

    I don't us vice grips to tighten head bolts. I don't use a claw hammer to test relays. And I don't ride a street bike through construction zones going to Alaska. Not when correct equipment can be available. YMVV.

    90-95% of his route/riding will most likely be on paved roads.
    That little 800 will get old real quick.
    To paraphrase: I wouldn't ride a small dual purpose bike for over 5,500 miles on paved highway when correct equipment is available.
    YMMV

    Joe
    “Fate whispers to the warrior, 'You can not withstand the storm.'
    The warrior whispers back, 'I am the storm.'

  5. #5
    Registered User GTRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 61996 View Post
    90-95% of his route/riding will most likely be on paved roads.
    That little 800 will get old real quick.
    To paraphrase: I wouldn't ride a small dual purpose bike for over 5,500 miles on paved highway when correct equipment is available.
    YMMV
    Don’t be too quick to write off the F800GS. I flogged one for a couple thousand miles in the Balkans in 2018; never found it uncomfortable or lacking for power, and the lighter weight and crisp handling was appreciated. And I am not a small person—quite the opposite. That bike had more power than the R100GS I rode to Tuktoyaktuk in early June of 2018, a 9500-mile round trip. The two most disappointed riders I met on that trip were a couple of GSA riders I leapfrogged with going up the Dempster. They, too, were headed for Tuk but turned back to Inuvik after each had been down for the third time—wrestling that much bike in that much muck was just too much.

    Paul is absolutely correct about Destruction Bay. I came through in 2018 on the R100GS and lucked out—weather was dry and construction not yet in full swing. Last June, returning from Anchorage in our K-bike sidecar, it was raining every day so my wife and I avoided Destruction Bay and did the Top of the World Highway to spend a couple days in Dawson before heading to Whitehorse and down the Cassiar.

    Best,
    DeVern
    DGerber
    1983 R80ST — 1984 R80 G/S-PD — 2004 K1200GT w/Hannigan S/C — 2010 K1300GT — 2018 R1200GS
    BMWMOA#52184, AMA#271542, IBA#138

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by 61996 View Post
    90-95% of his route/riding will most likely be on paved roads.
    That little 800 will get old real quick.
    To paraphrase: I wouldn't ride a small dual purpose bike for over 5,500 miles on paved highway when correct equipment is available.
    YMMV

    Joe
    We will just have to disagree. In the past two summers I have put over 20,000 miles touring mostly but not entirely on two lane paved roads on a small dual purpose motorcycle. Last summer we rode from Texas to Tennessee to Virginia to British Columbia and back to Texas on our G310GS bikes. Calling an F800GS a small bike is in my opinion a complete misnomer.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://web.bigbend.net/~glaves/

  7. #7
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    Okay Paul, a F800GS is a mid size bike! But to a 1600 it is small.

  8. #8
    IBA# 5819 61996's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    We will just have to disagree.
    Fair enough.

    Joe
    “Fate whispers to the warrior, 'You can not withstand the storm.'
    The warrior whispers back, 'I am the storm.'

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by EUGENE View Post
    Okay Paul, a F800GS is a mid size bike! But to a 1600 it is small.
    Indeed it is.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://web.bigbend.net/~glaves/

  10. #10
    SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    We lived in Fairbanks for almost 17 years and made the trip between Alaska and the states several times, and also rode the Dalton half a dozen or so times (only once to Deadhorse). Four of my rides were on a 07 RT and Annie rode a F650GS single and a F650GS twin on most of her trips and two on a F800GS. My riding on the Dalton was on either a F650 Dakar or a R100GSPD; Annie’s was on her thumper. My point.... for the ride up and back just about any bike can handle the trip. Harley baggers, Goldwings and a variety of cruisers make the trip every year. Just know that you will likely encounter construction zones 30-40 miles long and could easily ride 150 total miles in construction zones. However, once you get to Alaska it will be to your advantage to have some off pavement capability. There are dirt roads to ride other than the Dalton. The Denali Hwy is a great ride of about 125 miles of dirt road. It was once the entrance to Denali NP and now connects the Richardson Hwy at Paxson with the Parks Hwy at Cantwell. Ride it from East to West if possible and you’ll have Denali Mountain in your wind screen for 40 miles. Manley Hotsprings is on the Elliot Hwy and you’ll ride about 80 miles of dirt one way. It is a trip back in time and village of less than 90 people, but has a roadhouse. Along the way you can stop at Minto and see an Anthabaskan village of around 250. You can also enter or leave Alaska on the Taylor Hwy/Top of the World Hwy; About 150 miles of mostly dirt.

    The F800GS is a very good choice for all of this. It has more than enough power and can comfortably cruise on our 80 MPH interstates yet it is quite capable off pavement. Annie still has her F800GS as well as a 2017 R1200GS. When we talk about riding back to Alaska and the Yukon she says she might take the F bike.
    Last edited by akbeemer; 01-13-2020 at 12:53 PM.
    Kevin Huddy
    The Outpost, Silver City, Montana

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    ....Calling an F800GS a small bike is in my opinion a complete misnomer.


    I am a guy looking for my next bike and beginning to feel an F700/800 is too BIG. No chance will I be looking at anything larger...

    To the OP, ignore this distraction/debate and keep your photos coming. Lots of us will be interested to see your preparations.

  12. #12
    Registered User drneo66's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for the comments and advice so far - this is exactly why I wanted to post the build!

    Like Joe brought up, I could have probably done it all on my RT, but it's such a beast and the thought of wrestling it up the Dalton Highway with ~300 miles of gravel didn't sound fun. I thought about selling the RT and purchasing a R1200GS, but that's another big bike too, so this is where I landed. Coming from the K75, the F800 is pretty similar, but has more torque and slightly more HP (10 HP difference between the two). The F800 isn't as smooth as the K75, but it's not nearly as bad as most would think. Once it's all set up, I have no doubt that I'll be able to eat some miles, both on and off road, with this bike just as easily as the K75 or RT.
    Current: 2007 BMW R1200RT, 2013 F800GS
    Former: 1995 BMW K75S, 2009 BMW G650GS
    MOA Member #:150400, IBA#: 37558

  13. #13
    Registered User drneo66's Avatar
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    Yesterday was spent fitting the BestRest Peg Packer. I'll use this as extra insurance throughout the UCC trip, but it won't live on the bike full time. The can holds a little over 1 gallon.

    IMG-0808.jpg
    IMG-0292.jpg



    I also spent time looking at where I want to mount my Caribou Top Box. There's like 200 holes drilled in the thing for various bikes, but none line up for the F800GS - That's the price you pay when you buy stuff that's used.

    IMG-2215.jpg
    Current: 2007 BMW R1200RT, 2013 F800GS
    Former: 1995 BMW K75S, 2009 BMW G650GS
    MOA Member #:150400, IBA#: 37558

  14. #14
    What is the white/silver box with the world map tucked under the right rear pannier mount?

  15. #15
    SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    Peg Packers are a great piece of kit. Annie used them on her F650GS thumper until we loaned them to Doris Wiedermann when she rode a F800GS on the UCC in February. She kept them and they were replaced by Best Rest.
    Kevin Huddy
    The Outpost, Silver City, Montana

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