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octane25

Project: Alaska Blaster

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Since buying my leftover '15 FJ-09 two years ago, I have been enjoying it in mostly stock form - commuting and taking 2-3 day long trips around the Pacific Northwest. Aside from a set of Oxford heated grips and a RAM mount X-grip I had no major complaints that required changes right away, choosing to spend my money on fuel and maintenance items instead. The has served me just fine for almost 40,000kms, however, with a trip to Alaska looming this summer it was time to start outfitting the bike. I'm of the opinion that you can go there on just about any motorcycle, but there's a lot to be said for having the right tool for the job. In this case, that means a comfortable sport touring machine with a ~300km fuel range that can tolerate long days, potholed roads, gravel highways and wilderness camping with minimal maintenance in between - and that calls for some modifications. I'll be going with two friends on KLR's, and while we don't have any serious off-roading planned I still need to keep up with them when the going gets rough.
 
I started with a cheap Amazon/Aliexpress rear rack, which came highly recommended on this forum. I made another thread about it if anyone's interested, but basically it's super solid and I'm extremely happy with it. I topped it with a Pelican Storm iM2075 case, which can swallow a 6-pack of beer, a few trays of sushi (I live on Vancouver Island, after all) or more often than not some spare tools, chain lube, bungee cords, cargo net, etc. Approximate cost $150.
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Next up is a SW Motech skid plate, which I lined with Dynamat to eliminate rattles and engine sound from resonating (I made a thread about this too). For me this is a no-brainer to protect the vulnerable oil pan from impact, which could potentially leave me stranded in a bad way. While there are more robust solutions available (Higdonion), I felt that this would be sufficient for my purposes. Being available in Canada was a big plus as well, saving me tons of money on the terrible exchange rate, shipping and import taxes. Approximate cost $180.
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KTM enduro hand guards were a great value at $80 and provided great wind and rain protection riding to work all winter long. These are a direct bolt-on and clear both my stock and aftermarket windscreens at full lock in all positions. Cheers to whoever discovered these, I'm a huge fan. 
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Speaking of windscreens, I actually didn't have any major complaints about the stock one, even at 6'3". Nonetheless, I settled on an Ermax touring screen in dark smoke after much contemplation. I think it's the best compromise between improving wind protection and not looking too ridiculous. In hindsight I should have waited for the "light smoke" version to become available, as this one is nearly opaque - but it's a minor issue. It's very solid and well-made, I'm running it in the low position and it's provided a mild upgrade over stock. I paid about $120 CAD. 
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Here you can see the aforementioned Oxford Adventure heated grips, with a custom bracket tied into my RAM mount and X-grip. I use my iPhone 6S as a GPS and for me this works just fine. I do need to order new feet for the X-grip, as you can see I have lost 3/4 already. For future reference they should be installed with a dab of super glue on each one. The main upgrade here is of course the SW Motech Evo 7 tank bag, as recommended by another forum user. I have never been a fan of tank bags, choosing to wear a small backpack instead - until I saw how nicely this one integrates with the contour of the FJ fuel tank. It's perfect for keeping my camera (Canon G7X) and GoPro Hero 5 Session safe easily accessible, along with earplugs, wallet, sunglasses, neck buff, etc. Not cheap at around $250 including the tank ring adapter but it's a very nice piece of kit. 
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I was almost set on the R&G rad guard when fortunately I stumbled across this one by Evotech for only about $20 more ($125 total). Easy to install, looks great and does what it's supposed to. 
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That brings me to my most recent addition, and a picture of the bike as it sits right now - Givi TN2122 crash bars. These should offer some protection in the event of a tipover, and give me a mounting point for a set of highway pegs I have planned. I went with Givi over SW Motech or Higdonion for that reason, as the way they are shaped give me more options in that regard. Install was a bit of a pain but they're very solid and well-made at around $200.
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That's where it stands for the moment, and unfortunately for the next couple months as I've been sent out of town for work. In the meantime I will be ordering an upgraded seat, either Seat Concepts or Sargent so that hopefully it's waiting for me when I get home. It'll be getting a set of Continental TKC-70 (or similar) tires just before I take off, along with a fresh oil change, clutch cable, brake pads, valve inspection, chain & sprockets and suspension adjusted for my weight + luggage. Aside from that, there's not much else I want to upgrade at this moment, and the rest of my to-do list is mostly personal comfort items and camping stuff. I almost impulse ordered a Black Widow exhaust this morning, but decided against it as I don't want to cause any unnecessary disturbance leaving campsites in the morning - not to mention that the header pipes will almost certainly get trashed. So, that's something to keep in mind for when I get back... any other suggestions for must-haves would be greatly appreciated. I'm going to make another post for my luggage setup and packing list. Thanks again to everyone for your feedback on everything I've already added, as you can see my equipment selection was mostly based on positive reviews by other forum users, and while some of you are a bad influence financially it's made finding this stuff so much easier. 
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The first thing I would do before the trip is get a revised clutch cable to replace your original, then I would mount some sort of off road tire.
I have spoken to many who have made the trip to Alaska and rule #1 is to expect the unexpected, sudden crazy weather, poor condition roads or mud sections, stores without supplies/fuel etc.
There are lots of great blogs with survival tips for those attempting this trip.

***2015 Candy Red FJ-09***

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The first thing I would do before the trip is get a revised clutch cable to replace your original, then I would mount some sort of off road tire. I have spoken to many who have made the trip to Alaska and rule #1 is to expect the unexpected, sudden crazy weather, poor condition roads or mud sections, stores without supplies/fuel etc.
There are lots of great blogs with survival tips for those attempting this trip.
 
Revised clutch cable is on the list for sure, and I'll be bringing the original as a spare. I have an auxiliary fuel container as well, and will be abiding to the "never pass a fuel station" rule once I get far enough north. I've been reading lots on ADVRider, we're staying mostly in the southern part of the state so we shouldn't be encountering anything too serious. Thanks for the advice.

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Awesome build! Have fun and bring back lots of stories.

'15 FJ09

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Here's my luggage setup, as promised. I wanted a good waterproof soft bag that could be transferred between different bikes with minimal hassle, as I do have an enduro bike in my future. I also live in an apartment, so it's nice to have something that can be left folded up and out of the way until I'm ready to pack it up and go camping. I don't travel with a passenger and it also makes for a great back rest if you pack it properly. There's a lot to be said for a quality set of hard bags, but at $200 vs. $1000+ as well as the aforementioned reasons it was an easy decision. It's not ideal for everyone, but for me it works just fine. It's an excellent product and a huge improvement over the improvised backpack and bungee cord packups I've done in the past.
 
I settled on the SW Motech Drybag 700 (70L). Here it is on the bike when I first got it, stuffed (overpacked) with a couple pillows and blankets just to see how it fit. Realistically I will never need to carry that much stuff, but it's nice to have some room to spare - makes packing much easier, and also convenient if you want to pick something (whiskey) up along the way. The good thing about the dry bag setup is you just roll the top down as much or as little as you want depending on how much you have packed inside. I swear it doesn't look as ridiculous in person.
 
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A more realistic picture, with the SW Motech Tentbag II attached and everything I need to go camping for 2+ weeks. I'm a big fan of lightweight/backpacking gear which lends itself very well to motorcycle travel. My camping gear selection has been refined to the point that I can bring some luxury items without paying a huge weight/space penalty. In addition to the usual necessities I also have a chair, table, tripod, Bluetooth speaker, Water Filter, hatchet, saw, pour over coffee kit, and a pretty well-equipped camp kitchen (among other stuff that I forgot to mention). Sleeping outside on the ground doesn't need to be uncomfortable... 
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MSR Elixir 2 Tent has served me well for the last couple years, and I recently picked up a gear shed which attaches to the tent and provides a nice sheltered vestibule for wet gear. I can choose to set it up or not depending on how tired I am, the weather and the amount of space we have. My friends that are coming both bought the same tent on my recommendation - there are lighter and more compact tents out there, but in my opinion this is the best value you can get. I ended up sewing the short quick-detach straps from the dry bag onto the tent bag so it's securely integrated on there. 
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I bought a set of packing cubes on Amazon to further break down my gear. I haven't actually had the chance to try it out yet, but to me it makes good sense... bring your electronics one into the tent, keep your wood processing one separated from your clothes and cache your cooking kit with your food away from bears overnight. Saves you from digging around in a big dry bag for that one particular item. 
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As as far as luggage goes that's about everything I need. I'm going to get a 1L water bottle carrier and bear spray to attach to the MOLLE webbing so it's easily accessible from the outside. I've been looking for a small cooler that can attach in the same way on the other side, but so far it has eluded me. Let me know if you know of something like that. I just need to be able to keep 6 beers cold for an hour or two. Thanks for reading.

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The cheapest way to keep the beers cool is to wrap them in a few layers of cotton , then soak it liberally with water. Strap that down to the top of your tent bag and as you ride the evaporation will chill them.

Red 2015 Tracer, UK spec (well, it was until I started messing with it...)

North-West 🇬🇧 

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You may want to do a trial run with that large sw-motech bag especially considering the roads you'll be on. I did a trip with some friends up through eastern Canada's maritime provinces and one of the guys had a similar set up on his bike. When we started out he thought it was great because he had a nice backrest but after a few days on the bumpy northern roads the gear in that bag would settle and push against his back. It probably wouldn't have been as bad if it was just clothes but he had his camping gear in there as well. Anyway after two weeks of dealing with that he was glad to be off the bike and I don't know what he ever did with that bag but on the next trip we did he had a new bike with hard bags.
 

BLB

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You may want to do a trial run with that large sw-motech bag especially considering the roads you'll be on. I did a trip with some friends up through eastern Canada's maritime provinces and one of the guys had a similar set up on his bike. When we started out he thought it was great because he had a nice backrest but after a few days on the bumpy northern roads the gear in that bag would settle and push against his back. It probably wouldn't have been as bad if it was just clothes but he had his camping gear in there as well. Anyway after two weeks of dealing with that he was glad to be off the bike and I don't know what he ever did with that bag but on the next trip we did he had a new bike with hard bags.
Thats a great point that I will certainly keep in mind. Part of the reason I wanted to get the bike set up well in advance of the trip is to take it on a few overnight camping trips to refine my setup a little bit beforehand. Hopefully the packing cubes will keep things from moving around too much... from just sitting on the bike I have quite a bit of room in my normal riding position, and have to consciously push myself back on the seat to use it as a back rest. 

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You need a first aid kit and take along some Imodium AD trust me, a tire patch kit and a 12v tire pump, latex gloves, you will need them when your hands get wet and cold. Make sure you have a good rain suit and some way to keep your feet dry. A chain brake and two master links, one headlight bulb. a roll of good duck tape, a pint of snake bite or mosquito dope, I like Maker's Mark. bear bells, no food in the tent or on the bike, and rabbit foot for good luck. My first trip to Alaska was in the 70's I envy you. You might want to take the Cassiar Hwy, if you do, make a side trip to Hyder Ak. If you are tough enough you can get Hydraised, just ask around. HTH JD    https://www.google.com/search?q=hyder+ak+hydraised&rlz=1CAACAG_enUS704US712&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiTtqTPv_LaAhWC44MKHcapDn8QsAQIdw&biw=1024&bih=677
 
 

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The headlight and rear lights are LED so carrying spares is not really an option. Good point about a tyre plugging kit.

Red 2015 Tracer, UK spec (well, it was until I started messing with it...)

North-West 🇬🇧 

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I picked up one of these, they're supposed to work pretty well. Going to test it and get familiar with the plugging process on an old tire before I go.
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Also ordered a new chain and sprockets and chain tool last night... I'm pricing Gore-Tex riding gloves too and they're not cheap but probably well worth it. Good point on getting a couple extra master links, I'll make sure I get some of those too. Thanks.

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The mushroom plugs are ok but I've had better success with sticky strings. Easy to add to your kit. Snag a travel shampoo to aid in locating hard to find leaks. And if neither works the Whtehorse Walmart will sell you a can of fix a flat on a Canadian holiday. When I was done with Alaska it looked like somebody had beat my tires with a barbed wire chain.
 
Having taken an FJR to Prudhoe Bay I can say: you can get any kind of fuel you want in the hinterlands as long as it's regular. If you don't do your own cooking you'll be eating a lot of fried food and paying dearly. The Fairbanks Walmart is pretty good about a bunch of motorcyclists changing oil in the parking lot. Bug nets, 100% DEET, and neck protectors are good things.
 
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I have a friend who rode last summer up Cassiar and then around and back south on the Alaska Highway. He and his son rode a pair of V-Strom 650s. They said they enjoyed Cassiar much more and they wished they had just backtracked back down it to return south.
 
I look forward to your report and pics!

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I picked up one of these, they're supposed to work pretty well. Going to test it and get familiar with the plugging process on an old tire before I go. IMG_5160.jpg
 
Also ordered a new chain and sprockets and chain tool last night... I'm pricing Gore-Tex riding gloves too and they're not cheap but probably well worth it. Good point on getting a couple extra master links, I'll make sure I get some of those too. Thanks.
 

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