The Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 is a great adventure touring motorcycle. The fact that this is the brand’s first real entry into the segment is impressive – no, I haven’t forgotten the Buell Ulysse, which was neither Harley-Davidson badged nor a direct competitor of other motorcycles in the segment – but Pan America’s it’s not just good for an opening volley, it’s just plain good. And the happy story begins with the motorcycle’s all-new liquid-cooled engine.
Harley’s new 60-degree V-twin engine displaces 1,252cc, features two variable-timing overhead camshafts, two spark plugs and a 13.0: 1 compression ratio. The use of hydraulic valve adjusters means that they will never need adjustment, which its main German rival cannot claim. The Revolution engine produces 150 horsepower at 9,000 rpm and 94 lb-ft of torque at 6,750 (with premium gasoline; power will be reduced with regular unleaded). It’s basically the exact opposite of most other HD V-twins, with horsepower that starts out reasonably low but increases rapidly as revs rise, never stopping before each 9,000 RPM change. of the six-speed gearbox. Unsurprisingly for a Harley-branded motorcycle, the Revolution engine also looks great.
Harley has included Road, Rain, Off-Road and Off-Road Plus modes which are selected using the buttons on the handlebars. A 6.8-inch color display shows all current settings, plus all the information you would otherwise expect from the gauge cluster. Each of these modes regulates everything from engine power to suspension and ABS brake settings. The electronic suspension that equips Pan America Special models like our test bike also offers several modes. Sport, road and comfort are all self-explanatory, and the difference between soft off-road and firm off-road is easily felt from the saddle.
Adaptive ride height, which adds an additional $ 1,000 to the cost of the Pan America Special, can reduce the seat height to just under 30 inches at low speeds, starting its adjustment at 15.5 mph. An optional low seat brings that number down to around 28 inches for smaller riders. The original Pan America vacuum saddle is 33.4 inches from the ground in the low position or 34.4 inches in the high position. This wide range of settings makes the Pan America one of the most versatile bikes in the adventure segment, accessible to riders with shorter crotches who might otherwise have trouble balancing a heavy bike below walking speed. Adaptive ride height can also be disabled to maintain maximum clearance.
The semi-active suspension system automatically adjusts to maintain a 30% suspension sag, regardless of the weight of the bike. There is 7.5 inches of suspension travel and 8.3 inches of ground clearance, and if you exceed that limit, the large, sturdy skid plate on our Pan America Special model seems durable enough to avoid damaging anything. this is important. The Pan America 1250 weighs 534 pounds in wet conditions, while the Special goes up to 559 pounds due to additional equipment including engine guards, center stand, hand guards, heated grips, pressure monitor Ohlins tires and steering damper. It’s heavy but well balanced and not so bulky that I struggled to mount it on its center stand.
A manually adjustable windshield with a pistol grip is designed to direct the oncoming wind to where the rider wants it to be, but even in its most vertical position (which is strangely at its penultimate setting) it cannot not push the bubble entirely onto the helmet of a tall rider. Most of the other controls are fairly easy to operate from the saddle. The problem is, there are so many buttons and switches on the handlebars – a problem in this segment that is not unique to Harley-Davidson – that riders will need to know them very well before taking the ride. road. And while the digital dashboard is bright, crisp, and a good size, some of the displays are too small to be seen without taking your eyes off the road for too long.
The Revolution engine, which, unlike most HD V-Twins, shares a housing with the drivetrain, is a stressed part of the frame. There is a front frame, middle frame, and rear subframe that support the rider and passenger. The end result is a rigid chassis that allows the front and rear suspension systems to operate efficiently. Handling on the road is very good, with easy left-to-right transitions and plenty of bank angles available. Riding in the accelerator provides a strong push, and in part because the traction control adjusts its sensitivity based on the lean angle, the bike instills a sense of confidence to keep exploring its limits.
I spent most of our time riding in Road mode. It never rained during our week with the Pan America, but it was obvious that the rain mode cut off the throttle power and sensitivity. The two Off-Road modes are useful, of course, off-road. Standard Off-Road Mode facilitates power delivery and amplifies traction control and linked ABS brakes. Off-Road Plus reduces traction control intervention and allows experienced drivers to lock the brakes. The traction control is fully neutralizable, allowing for tail antics on the dirt.
I rode the bike with its original Michelin Scorcher Adventure tires so I didn’t venture too far into rocks or mud. Heavy gravel and loose sand made the bike wander a bit, but its good weight distribution (although I have a backpack with 20 pounds of gear in the top case), solid ergonomics, and rational geometry. mean he’s never felt so hairy that I need to slow down. A side effect of driving at relatively low speeds is that there isn’t enough airflow to keep the hot air away from the engine, and the Pan America’s powertrain gives off a lot of heat.
Off the ground and on the highway, the first thing that becomes obvious when riding the Pan America is that it has a lot of power. Accelerating to extra-legal speeds is a flick of the wrist and a few left gear changes, and the powerful punch at high revs makes it possible to overtake all 18 wheels in the blink of an eye.
One of the best things about this class of bikes is that they can switch between on and off road adventures at the whim of the rider. Pan America is executing this transition very well, despite an obvious bias towards asphalt. All of the electronic gadgets described above do wonders in modifying the dynamics of the Pan America, from sporty tourer to capable off-roader, especially the adjustable suspension and engine mappings.
By now it should be obvious that I think Harley-Davidson made a great adventure touring bike. After all, I said it from the start. And at $ 17,319 for the base model or $ 19,999 for the special model I tested, it is even priced competitively. The point is, there are several very good adventure bikes that HD competes with, not the least of which is the segment-defining BMW R 1250 GS. Is Pan America better than its rivals? Not really. But it’s just in the stadium, and it’s a major victory for the American brand which only needs to bring new pilots into its showrooms.