The all-new Harley-Davidson Pan America motorcycle is quite a departure from the American company’s usual fare. This is Harley-Davidson’s explore it all adventure machine for riders who see touring as detouring both on road and off. The new machine is a rugged, powerful, technologically advanced multi-purpose motorcycle which has been designed from the ground up. All the right boxes ticked so far to inspire rider confidence and fuel that all important spirit of adventure that the Motor Company has been courting for years.
The Americans have leveraged their cutting-edge design and engineering capabilities in a new and interesting direction to create the Pan America 1250 and its sister / brother the Pan America 1250 Special. Each one has been designed with premium features, outstanding performance and innovative technology. It’s just that the ‘Special’ one is a bit more special thanks to additional features.
Both models are powered by the new 150hp Revolution Max 1250 engine. This is a liquid-cooled 1,252cc, 60-degree V-Twin, which has been designed to offer a broad spread of mid-range power but “builds to a rush of high-rpm zasp.” The engine is integrated into the chassis as a stressed member. This is another first for the American giant, whose tubular frames have long been a trademark for the brand.
Three distinct elements go to make up the new component-carrying chassis: a front frame section, the mid frame and the tail section all bolt directly to the engine. This design reduces the bike’s overall weight and results in a stiff chassis that contributes to precise handling. The cast-aluminum swingarm minimises unsprung weight. Good.
Pan America models are built with tech designed to enhance the riding experience. These include electronically controlled ride modes plus cornering rider safety enhancements. This broad collection is designed to match motorcycle performance to available traction during acceleration, deceleration and braking regardless of the surface that it’s being ridden on. The ‘Special’ also is equipped with electronically adjustable semi-active front and rear suspension. So, all thoughts of again buggering-up your suspension settings can be laid to rest.
One of the very clever bits here is the Adaptive Ride Height (ARH). This is a revolutionary new suspension system. ARH automatically transitions between a low stopped position and optimal ride height when the motorcycle is in motion. Now even English PR people who stunted their own growth, by sucking the life out of at least two packs of 20 B&H a day from the tender age of seven, can happily ride the things without being afraid of hurting and/or mortifying themselves every single time they roll up to a red light.
From grab handles to integrated luggage mounts, to a horizontal headlamp configured to better illuminate an off-road trail, function defines style. Harley-Davidson dealers will offer a complete line of accessories for both models. These include three durable luggage systems, and new technical riding gear for men and women developed in collaboration with respected European motorcycle apparel specialist, REV’IT!.
Cast aluminum wheels, an off road biased 19-inch front and a 17-inch rear combination, are designed to be strong, yet light. They are intended for use on paved roads as well as gravel and fire roads. Harley-Davidson and our good friends at Michelin came together to design a new Scorcher Adventure tyre to meet the demands associated with adventure touring. Michelin Anakee Wild hoops with an aggressive “knobby” tread pattern will be offered as a dealer-fit option, providing that owners of ther 1250 Special have also purchased the optional stainless steel wire-spoked wheels.
Brembo and H-D worked on an all-new braking system that has been designed to provide the rider with outstanding braking feel and performance. Dual radial, monobloc four-piston calipers clamping 320mm diameter discs will be awesome wherever you ride. A single rear- 280mm rear disc will no doubt put up with heavy boot action. Other good news is that Harley has at last fitted an adjustable for span front brake lever that even this author’s paws can make full use of.
Front suspension on both Pan America models utilise 47mm inverted cartridge forks by Showa. Rear suspension comes from the same company The ‘Special’ features semi-active front and rear suspension with vehicle load control. The system uses data provided by sensors on the motorcycle to automatically control damping to suit the prevailing conditions and riding activity. The hardware is provided by Showa, while the software comes from Harley themselves. A vehicle loading control system senses the weight of the rider, passenger and luggage to select optimal suspension sag by automatically adjusting rear preload. Very clever indeed! Add to this the optional Adaptive Ride Height feature and, well, embarrassing tip overs at the camp site could be a thing of the past.
All of the instrumentation and infotainment functions are displayed on a tilting 6.8-inch TFT touchscreen. Its non-reflective glass cover makes it easier to view in most lighting conditions. The display supports infotainment generated by the rider’s Bluetooth-equipped mobile device, including music and calls. Navigation is supplied by a free – yes free – Harley-Davidson App for iOS or Android.
Both Pan America models are equipped with Cornering Rider Safety Enhancements, a collection of technologies designed to uplift rider confidence during unexpected situations or poor road conditions. The systems are electronic and take in the latest chassis control, electronic brake control and powertrain technology. Cornering enhanced technology uses an inertial measurement unit (IMU) for optimal intervention when the motorcycle is leaned compared to when the motorcycle is upright.
These include the following rider aids: Cornering Enhanced Electronically Linked Braking, Cornering Enhanced Antilock Braking System, Cornering Enhanced Traction Control System, Cornering Enhanced Drag-Torque Slip Control System, and Hill Hold Control. This level of safety on a bike leaves me feeling conflicted. As the former owner of several mid-90s FireBlades, the very idea of having any safety aids on a bike is abhorrent. On the other hand, as someone who has actually managed to run himself over with his own bike and is aging badly, I should appreciate all the help I can get…
Buttons and switches are a plenty and will satisfy all those who venture into bike dealerships just to flick them. With the Pan America 1250 switch clusters, five ride modes can accessed. Four of these are pre-programmed and one can be customised. The 1250 Special model has two additional modes that can be customised by the owner. Pre-programed ride modes include Road, Sport, Rain, Off-Road and Off-Road Plus. Each Ride Mode consists of a specific combination of power delivery, engine braking, Cornering Enhanced Antilock Braking System and Cornering Enhanced Traction Control System settings. The rider may use the ‘Mode’ button on the right-hand controller to change the active ride mode while riding the motorcycle or when stopped.
The lightweight exhaust system is designed to meet global emissions including Euro 5 and sound regulations. All this without compromising either the durability or the performance experienced by the rider. The catalyst is located as close to the engine as possible. This is to minimise its size and weight and also to keep the heat away from the rider. A pair of mufflers, one below the engine and the second on the right side of the motorcycle, adds volume to the exhaust system. This allows effective sound damping with minimal back pressure. This apparently improves performance. The exhaust system is designed to create clearance under the motorcycle. This is to limit potential impact damage during off-road riding, and to not compromise lean angle.
The rider portion of the seat has a high and low position which allows he/she/inbetween/someone who works in PR to achieve a better fit on the motorcycle. Seat height adjustment does not require tools. The fairing screen can be adjusted with one hand, using a lever adjacent to the display. Cruise control is standard equipment.
The new machine features all-LED lighting. This is designed to deliver signature style and outstanding performance with additional focus on rugged durability in the off-road environment. The Daymaker headlamp has been made using new photometric analysis technology. It produces outstanding “punch” down the road with a very homogenous spread of light and eliminating those distracting “hot spots.”
There is a tyre pressure monitoring system which displays current front and rear pressure on the colour display screen. It also displays an indicator to alert the rider when it’s low, and the pressure should be checked. As said, both Pan America models wear a huge array of technical goodness. This is only part of the Pan America story. With price, specification and styling that dares to be different from adventure market norm, this Harley-Davidson is already a serious competitor. Can’t wait to ride it. No seriously.
Price for Harley-Davidson Pan America starts from just over €17,995, with the ‘Special’ coming in at €20,395. Both are available to order now from either Waterford or Dublin Harley-Davidson. Finance is available from both dealerships. Both are also actively interested in trade-ins, regardless of which marque it comes from. Call Alan on 051 844 200 or Derek on 014642211 and let your adventure begin!