Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Stoughton, MA, USA
Speaking from experience (I did the Alaska ride in summer of '04), the ride up was fun - primarily becuase of the novelty of never seeing that part of planet before. The ride back was, to put it politely, just a LOT of miles - the adrenelin just wasn't there for the return trip.
As for bikes, a GS is my choice. Not so much because of "off roading" but because it has less expensive german paint and bodywork to get gravel blasted by the construction zones. Back in the lower 48, I ride a GT - it would be comfortable for the ride to Alaska, but it would probably need a paint job on the front and lower fairing once home. Most any dual sport or naked bike would be fine - you really don't need a really fast bike or lots of wind protection - usually the scenery is such that you don't want to blast through at 80 mph anyway (and you do need to watch out for moose and other critters crossing the road).
The gravel/construction zones really aren't that bad - they are ALWAYS sign posted well in advance, and the longer construction zones will likely have a pilot vehicle. The good news is that they let bikes go to the head of the line (so you don't get sprayed by dust and gravel riding behind cars, trucks, and RV's). The bad news is you get to follow the water truck (to keep down the dust) which means you and your bike will get coated with a plaster made from water and Alaska road dust.
If I did the trip again, I think I'd buy a solid, used GS in the lower 48 - ride it up to Alaska, tour the state, and sell it up there and take the big white bird home. Alaska is a seller's market for GS's.
'03 BMW K1200GT (Orient Blue)
'00 BMW R1100SA (Mandarin/Silver)
'56 BMW R50 (for sale)
'74 R90S (Daytona Orange)
'06 Ducati Paul Smart Replica (for sale)
'81 Honda CBX SuperSport