Few could have predicted that the most traditional of motorcycle manufacturers, Harley-Davidson, would take a violent left turn and enter the adventure bike market. While many predicted disaster, many others quietly hoped that it would be at least as good as the standard-bearers of the class, BMW and KTM. When it finally arrived, the naysayers quickly went silent and Harley-Davidson has a huge success on its hands. Here’s why we think the Pan America 1250 is able to hold its head up high in the adventure bike class.
10 The Pan America 1250 Is A Harley Like You’ve Never Seen Before
Harley Davidson Pan America 1250 riding right to left
The Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 might have a V-twin engine, like all Harleys, but that’s where the similarity stops. The 1250cc V-twin engine in the Pan America is liquid-cooled, produces 150 horsepower and 94 pound-feet of torque, and has variable valve timing and excellent flexibility. The best thing, however, is that it never feels as if there is too much power for the chassis, of which the V-twin engine is an integral part. If anything, if it wasn’t for the (extremely subtle) badging on the bike, you’d be hard-pressed to know it was a Harley-Davidson.
9 The Electronic Rider Aids On The Pan America 1250 Are Impressive
Harley Davidson Pan America 1250 throwing a rooster over a hill
Whether you like them or not, the complex electronics on modern adventure bikes are here to stay, and it can’t be argued that they don’t make riding these large and heavy bikes much easier and safer. The electronics on the Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 are a match for any other adventure bike and comprise lean-sensitive ABS and traction control, ride-by-wire throttle, slip and assist clutch, multiple riding modes for any surface or type of riding, semi-active suspension, and one unique feature: self-lowering rear suspension (on the ’S’ model) when the bike comes to a stop, meaning shorter riders can touch the ground with both feet when they need to.
8 The Pan America 1250’s Chassis Is Perfect For Its Purpose
Harley Davidson Pan America 1250 rear three quarter view
Again, Harley really went out of its comfort zone when designing the Pan America. The engine is a structural element of the chassis and three sub-frame assemblies are bolted to it. This has three benefits: firstly, it saves a lot of weight which is always a good thing. Secondly, it makes the bike extremely stiff, which gives precise handling and behavior under heavy acceleration, braking, landing off jumps, and when cornering. Thirdly, it makes the bike easier and cheaper to fix in the event of an accident as only the affected part of the chassis needs to be replaced, not the whole thing.
7 The Pan America 1250 Boasts Unique Styling
Harley Davidson Pan America 1250 right hand side view
When pictures first emerged of the Pan America, everyone was astonished at the front-end treatment, especially the headlight. The wide, slit-like light looks like nothing else on the motorcycling market, let alone adventure bikes. If it garnered adverse comments, when you see it in the flesh, it is actually not as offensive as first thought, blending into the overall design perfectly. It’s a clever headlight as well, incorporating cornering lights in its extremities, lighting the way round corners at night. Harley designers deleted the now-traditional ‘beak’ from the front styling.
6 The Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Isn’t Too Heavy
Harley Davidson Pan America 1250 standing against a mountain side
Let’s face it, no adventure bike today is what you could call light, but Harley has done an incredible job keeping the weight of the Pan America down. At 539 pounds for the base model and 559 pounds for the ‘S’ (both with full gas tanks), they sit on either side of the BMW R1250GS, while carrying slightly more fuel. Weight is not necessarily a problem, if it is worn properly by the bike. The Pan America might not be especially light but with a slim profile around the rear of the gas tank and the front of the seat, the bike feels a lot less bulky than it could do, while the weight distribution is near perfect, with a low center of gravity for nimble handling both on- and off-road.
5 Harley Has Equipped Showa Suspension On The Pan America 1250
Harley Davidson Pan America 1250 riding downhill in a pair
We mentioned it above, but the suspension deserves a closer look. The Pan America features Showa suspension front and rear which itself is a departure for the company. Then, you need to examine the Adaptive Ride Height system, which is a $1,000 option on the base model and comes as standard on the ’S’. Firstly, it automatically adjusts the front and rear spring preload to ensure. There is the correct amount of suspension sag when the rider is sitting on the bike, regardless of fuel level, luggage or pillion. Secondly, it performs the aforementioned lowering when coming to a standstill which doesn’t compromise the ground clearance when on the move. Very clever and it does make you wonder why no other manufacturer has thought of it before.
4 The Pan America 1250 Features Brembo Brakes
Harley Davidson Pan America 1250 riding towards the camera
While Harley-Davidson has used Brembo for its cruiser and tourer brakes, you’d never know as they were never branded Brembo. The Pan America also gets Brembo calipers but this time you know all about it! At the front are twin 300mm discs with four-piston monobloc calipers, while the back gets a single 280mm disc with a single-piston caliper. The braking system is linked so when you pull on the front lever or stamp on the foot brake lever, both front and rear brakes are applied, unless you are in Off-Road+ mode, which decouples the system and turns off ABS at the back. No matter which mode you are riding in, the brakes are powerful and reassuring.
3 The Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Is Competitively Priced
Harley Davidson Pan America 1250 riding through mud
The Pan America 1250 retails for $17,699, while the Pan America 1250 Special retails for $21,399. The BMW R1250GS starts at $17,995 but goes up to $20,435 for the GS Adventure model. The KTM 1290 Super Adventure S will cost you $20,299. This shows that Harley-Davidson has done its sums properly and has avoided pricing the Pan America out of the market. The proof is in the pudding and the Pan America has been the best-selling adventure motorcycle in the U.S. since its introduction in 2021.
2 The Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Is Like No Other Adventure Bike
Side profile shot of a Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 standing on a rough terrain
This is not Harley-Davidson paying mere lip-service to the adventure bike concept: the Pan America is as true an Adventure bike as any BMW GS or KTM Super Adventure model. It has all the right equipment, including some novel touches not seen on any other adventure bike, and has been designed with function as the main criteria and not form, as with so many other Harley-Davidson models. Its performance, both on- and off-road, is incredibly polished and capable and, backed by the H-D dealer network worldwide, will be just as easy to maintain.
1 The Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Deserves To Succeed
Harley Davidson Pan America 1250 riding from left to right
There are two reasons for saying this: firstly, Harley-Davidson had the nerve to enter into a market in which they had absolutely no previous experience. This took enormous guts from the management because getting it wrong would have put the company back years, if not decades, and would have stifled any future experimentation and diversification. Secondly, the Pan America deserves to succeed because Harley did an incredible job and got the Pan America right the first time, completely against all the odds. That is an incredible achievement, and it has made everyone and reassess their opinion of the company. If it can succeed with an adventure bike, who knows what else it could turn its hand to?
Q: How much will the Harley Davidson Pan America 1250 cost?
The base Pan America 1250 costs $17,699 and the ‘S’ model costs $21,399
Q: What is the difference between the Harley Davidson Pan America 1250 and the Harley Davidson Pan America 1250 Special?
The Pan America Special adds Showa semi-active suspension to the specification of the base Pan America 1250
Q: How much does the Harley Davidson Pan America 1250 weigh?
the Harley Davidson Pan America 1250 weighs in at 539 pounds for the base model and 559 pounds for the Special