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Alaska on a Grom

Nathan Rogers took a summer job in Alaska. Instead of flying north and getting some wheels there for the summer, he bought Honda’s newest fun bike – the Grom– and rode from his home in Oregon to his summer gig. We were curious about that ride up and Nathan kindly took some time out to tell us about it. Soon he’ll be making the return trip home.

SR! What led you to decide to ride a Grom so far?

Nathan I'm really into road tripping on motorcycles and have done a few long trips over the past couple years. The idea kind of started as a joke but the more thought I put into it, the more I wanted to actually try it. I enjoy the type of riding a small bike provides and the awareness of the environment that comes along with the slower speeds. Overall it was something different and exciting, and kinda funny.

SR! How did the Grom handle throughout the trip?

Nathan The Grom handled flawlessly. I ran into absolutely zero problems. The roads were rough at times and weather not so great, but it really did just as well as any other bike would, just a bit slower. The big hills were sometimes an issue but I fully expected that and was able to prepare for it. This trip gave me confidence in the Grom and I know it is capable of much more. Stay tuned for other big Grom adventures.

SR! How did it fit in as a bike to take to Alaska?

Nathan I was definitely the only small motorcycle on the road. There were mostly the big adventure style bikes with all the nice add-ons and such. So I guess in terms of a typical Alaska adventure bike, it didn't particularly fit in well, however...

SR! What were the reactions like by other riders?

Nathan I got nothing but love from other riders up here. Since I was a bit early in the season there weren't a whole lot of bikers, but the ones that were out really got a kick out of my trip. A few guys had to have pictures of it and asked me the usual questions of how many cc's, how fast, what's your mph, etc... The camaraderie with motorcyclists up here is very strong and I felt that I fit in perfectly even though I had a Grom.

SR! Is Honda involved?

Nathan No.

SR! Are they interested in the outcome?

Nathan I would hope so as I think this is good advertising material for them. Really shows the reliability and potential this tiny bike has.

SR! What were the advantages to riding a Grom?

Nathan I think the biggest advantage was the slow pace I was limited to. If I took my other motorcycle I know I would have flown down the roads and wouldn't have seen the awesome things I did such as wildlife or a really cool scenic turn off. You're really more in tune with your environment at 40mph, you're able to hear and see things otherwise missed at faster speeds. The other obvious advantage is gas cost. I think I spent no more than $300 in gas which is dang good considering the absurd gas prices up here. Another advantage was the attention from people up here and on the road. I was approached almost every time I stopped. This allowed me to meet so many great people, get great tips on things to see and places to stay. For a shy guy like me it really helped a lot.

SR! What were the disadvantages?

Nathan Extended riding comfort, especially on a stock Grom was pretty uncomfortable for me past the 100 mile mark. Also the stock suspension is not the best. Storage on such a small bike is also a problem but I was able to get a great rear rack and solve most of that issue. Maybe a tad more power for climbing hills would be nice. But really I knew about all the disadvantages before I left, many of them very clear, but that was factored in and didn't affect the trip.

SR! What was your most sketchy moment on the trip?

Nathan My most sketchy moment on the trip would have been my long 500 mile day. I should have camped out or got a hotel room earlier but I kept going. Fatigue had set in and I knew I wasn't riding to the best of my ability, and it wasn't a smart decision to keep going. There were also a few close calls with animals in the road, the closest was a black bear dashing across the highway right in front of me.

SR! On your trip back in a couple of months, what are you planning to do differently?

Nathan My trip back I will be taking the ferry from Whittier, AK to Bellingham, WA. It's a 4 day ferry ride and I'll be camping on the deck of the ship. I'm also planning on shipping most of my stuff home and riding a bit lighter for the remainder of my ride home.

SR! Any learning moments about being the smallest, slowest vehicle out on the road?

Nathan I learned a whole lot being the slowest and smallest on the road. You don't have the power to pass or move out of the way so you really need to plan ahead and be vigilant of other drivers. Being aware of what's happening behind you becomes very important at slow speed as all the traffic approaches you much quicker. This was somewhat difficult with the stock mirrors as they don't give you a great field of vision. Fortunately traffic was sparse most of my route so it wasn't a huge issue, but heightened situational awareness was important just like on any motorcycle.

SR! Would you do it again?

Nathan Absolutely.

SR! What do the bear and moose think?

Nathan They love it because it's nice and quiet. That's another great thing is not disturbing wildlife.

SR! Do they think it's as cool as humans do?

Nathan Of course!

SR!/July 14 

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