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Tire choices for a CA -> AK -> CA ride

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Posted (edited)

Hello!

I am going to attempt CA (Bay Area) -> Prudhoe Bay, AK -> CA this summer (June-July). Due to the road conditions on Dalton Highway, I will have to change tires midway somewhere. I had a few questions around that:

1. Where to change tires? There are two options i have - Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada OR Fairbanks, AK right before Dalton starts. The tires (options discussed below) don't last as long so i was wondering which is a better option? Are there unpaved sections before Dalton as well? How bad are they? Will I need knobbies before Dalton?
2. Tire choices: emailed the dealership in Whitehorse, Yukon and he swore by TKC 80s. But these tires are super bad on pavement (redirect to Question 1). Especially under load, it is known to wear out quick and wobble/is loud. The other option is TKC 70. Suggestions? Either those or something else like Shinkos maybe?

3. What street tire to run? I am currently running Metzler roadtec 01. While the grip is exceptional for touring tires, under load, the tire has started squaring off in about 4k miles. I am thinking to try PR5s for the trip. Suggestions?

Any other suggestion is also welcome for the trip. Thanks!

Edited by writetome
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If you take 97 to Dawson Creek and then the Alcan to Fairbanks, that's paved the whole way except for the inevitable construction zones. I've driven this in a car and I think any street tires like PR5s would be fine for this leg. Then in Fairbanks you can switch to something more dirt oriented for the ride to Prudhoe Bay. Maybe you can find a shop in Fairbanks that will sell you some TKC80s, and then hold your street tires for you and remount them on the way back?

If you take Cassiar highway there are apparently gravel sections north of Hyder. I haven't been this way myself so I can't offer first hand advice.

Good luck and please share pics!

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Posted (edited)

Last year we did Kansas City to Alaska (around the state) and back. The FJ-09 left with a fresh set of PR4's and made it home on a single set of tires. Bike was heavily loaded for all 8,700 miles. Didn't do the Dalton. Assuming no punctures on the Dalton, I would anticipate you could do your trip on a single set of tires. If you do change them, do it in Fairbanks AFTER getting back from Prudhoe Bay.

 

Also remember that just because a tire is squared off, doesn't mean its ready to be changed. Highway miles are going to square a tire. It's still safe to ride on.

Edited by nsmiller

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Did LA to Prudhoe round trip on an FJR with PR4s in 2014. If anything more of the Dalton may be paved by now but there is the seasonal flooding that damages the road that I haven't tracked. Check the Milepost. It is your friend. As mentioned above the only other non-paved roads on the my route (Alcan) would be construction zones. The tires could have made it but I ended up with a slow leak I couldn't locate in Whitehorse on the return. It was a YT holiday and I had to catch the ferry in Skagway (a great way to do the return if you're just going to retrace route IMO) so grabbed a can of Fix a Flat at Wally, pumped it up, and made it to the ferry. Ended up replacing when I was back in Washington. If you really want to swap I'd arrange it well in advance in Fairbanks. 

Get a fuel can in Fairbanks. Remember, it's not "enough fuel to get there" it's "enough to get to the point of no return and get back to fuel". For us that was Atigun Pass. 

Enjoy :) 

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On April 13, 2019 at 11:00 PM, writetome said:

Hello!

I am going to attempt CA (Bay Area) -> Prudhoe Bay, AK -> CA this summer (June-July). Due to the road conditions on Dalton Highway, I will have to change tires midway somewhere. I had a few questions around that:

1. Where to change tires? There are two options i have - Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada OR Fairbanks, AK right before Dalton starts. The tires (options discussed below) don't last as long so i was wondering which is a better option? Are there unpaved sections before Dalton as well? How bad are they? Will I need knobbies before Dalton?
2. Tire choices: emailed the dealership in Whitehorse, Yukon and he swore by TKC 80s. But these tires are super bad on pavement (redirect to Question 1). Especially under load, it is known to wear out quick and wobble/is loud. The other option is TKC 70. Suggestions? Either those or something else like Shinkos maybe?

3. What street tire to run? I am currently running Metzler roadtec 01. While the grip is exceptional for touring tires, under load, the tire has started squaring off in about 4k miles. I am thinking to try PR5s for the trip. Suggestions?

Any other suggestion is also welcome for the trip. Thanks!

Yukon Yamaha in Whitehorse is THE place to go for tires or anything else motorcycle related. I ran Mitas E07 tires for my entire 20,000 km trip plus another 10k after I got home, but sadly not available in Tracer sizes.

Alcan and Cassiar are paved all the way but count on several areas of construction.

If you are set on getting to Prudoue Bay then by all means do it, but the ride to Tuktoyaktuk is a blast and you get to ride your front wheel into the Arctic Ocean. Can't do that from Alaska. You can then ride the Top of the World over the Chicken and explore Alaska from there!

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2019 Tracer GT,  Ontario, Canada

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@fddriver2 thank you for the references. 

@keithu i dont think we will be doing dawson. We plan to hit TOWH on our way back but only up till the US-Canada border from Alaska side. It will be like a day trip from Fairbanks where will keep our luggage so we don't want to spend time with immigration.

@nsmiller super helpful note on the tires. I think i will switch my metzlers with a fresh PR4 or PR5. 

@chitown good note about the fuel. I am going to carry two gallons with the bike. I hope it will be enough. With the load and gradient of the Dalton, i think i will barely, but, make it.

@gv550 yeah we were looking at changing tires in Whitehorse. But they would be squared off by the time we reach Dalton. For doing Dempster, like you suggest, Whitehorse is a better place for sure. Saving Dempster for some other time ;)


Current plan, reading all comments here is to ride up to Fairbanks, change tires there to TKC70s, ride Dalton up and down back to Fairbanks, ride the TOWH up to the border and get back to Fairbanks. We will switch to road tires and continue our way back home. We will be hitting Valdez-Glennallen-McCarthy though. Any idea about those roads?

Edited by writetome
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