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All-Terrain Adventure Bike from Harley-Davidson

With Pan American 1250 – Harley-Davidson breaks the Hog rules again

by 'Wayfarer' Ujjwal Dey

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The Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 was announced for launch in 2021 and the company’s Instagram suggests we might be able to see this breakthrough bike in dealerships in 2020. First offered for inspection at EICMA show 2019, the excitement is visible and strong. 

Harley-Davidson is taking big changes in its stride; first with its all electric LiveWire which raised a lot of eyebrows in its stronghold US market and now with Pan America adventure touring motorcycle. H-D is changing. Whether it is too late for H-D to aim for global dominance in big bikes or whether it is a wrong turn by the management for their traditional market, fans and buyers of a hog is up for debate. Either ways, Harley-Davidson is making news and getting noticed by new and younger audience.

Brad Richards, Vice President of Styling and Design of H-D mentioned in an interview that they have built a Jeep with two-wheels. The H-D powertrain is seen in the Pan America 1250. Unlike competitors who emulate BMW type of models, H-D wishes to cater to its traditional market with new options for buyers. A range that satisfies all palettes. The V-Twin engine is still there. 

Few years earlier Royal Enfield shocked its loyal market-base by launching the ‘Himalayan’ adventure tourer which looked nothing like any Enfield ever made. However, now Himalayan has grown its own fan base with many appreciating its all-terrain-no-terrain features.

The Pan America might have polarizing opinions from the regular H-D customers, but it is definitely attracting eyeballs and interest. H-D are planning to launch the Pan Am by the middle of 2020. After getting noticed with LiveWire, its first electric motorcycle, Pan America 1250 is Harley-Davidson's first leap into the adventure bike sector. Royal Enfield and BMW continue to remain popular for adventure touring in their bastions of Asia and Europe respectively. Pan America features the new liquid-cooled Revolution Max engine, designed to be used in various capacities as the company gears up for its Euro5-compliant future.

A balance shaft with 60° V-angle of the DOHC V-twin removes vibrations. This 1250cc bike is capable of delivering over 145 bhp and torque is set to be “more than” 90 ft. lbs. BMW claim 134 bhp and 105 torque for the R1250GS. Pan America offers a TFT dashboard and multi-button switchgear. It has a height-adjustable screen and cruise control. 

H-D is entering new market segments with two new middleweight models. One is the Pan America 1250 adventure and the other is a 975cc Bronx streetfighter. New Revolution Max engine will be offered in two displacement sizes. A smaller, 975cc engine will power the upcoming Bronx streetfighter, whereas a bigger 1,250cc will power the Pan America.

The promotional photo on H-D website shows Pan America leaping in the air on a forest trail, certainly establishing its own image. Photos of Pan America in off-roading settings promotes the model, creating the expectations that this bike will be a proper adventure motorcycle.

The Harley-Davidson Pan America is equal parts campfire, wanderlust, and grit. The company calls it a two-wheel multi-tool built to endure, designed to explore, and engineered for full-send. The marketing tag line goes – “H-D ADV; find your way home."

Pan America chassis design uses the engine as a stressed member. This chassis is literally built off the cylinder heads of the engine, in a way that is very similar to what was done with the 1199/1299 Panigale from Ducati. Engine cases are required to be very robust, as flexing of the engine will have very bad effects on the motor’s internals, but this has to be balanced against the need to have a supple chassis to absorb bumps and bad roads. It however produces a light motorcycle. The fins are almost absent and the gearbox is positioned far closer to the engine than normal for Harley-Davidson bikes.

Except for the radiators and cooling system, which protrude from the machine, the Pan America is very narrow in design. The low and wide radiators may be hazards when it comes to true dual-sport riding, as seen on BMW R1250GS.

Pan America features knobby tires on the prototype with modern disc brakes, tubeless tires, spoked wheels and upside-down forks. Suspension setup will be adjustable with inverted forks and monoshock at the rear. The footpegs are serrated. 

Its headlight and fairing are distinctly odd, separating it from its traditional models. A stubby front section featuring the rectangular LED headlamp flanked by a tall windscreen gives it a unique look. This prototype shows off functional looking handguards and mirrors. Featuring a gigantic exhaust can, the emissions will be tight to meet global regulations. 

Meeting adventure touring demands, there is a shaped, substantial bash-plate under the engine as well as protective tubing as seen on BMW GS series. Pan America offers a huge gas tank so you don’t have to halt your adventure to refuel often. Harley-Davidson may have found a way to make ground clearance and suspension travel sit with a reasonable seat height. 

Tank size, suspension travel, seat height, pricing and accessories are all important factors and H-D may stay competitive on these specs while offering the biggest engine in the adventure market segment. Predictions suggest a starting price of $19,000 for Pan America in USA.

The 60-degree angle provide space for dual downdraft throttle bodies. H-D is partnering with Brembo brakes and Michelin tires for Pan America. Just for Pan America and Bronx streetfighter, Brembo created a new radial Monoblock four-piston caliper. Michelin too developed co-branded tires for these two new models. 

The EICMA only gave us a glimpse into the bold new venture of American icon brand Harley-Davidson. The full declaration of features and specs are yet to be seen in 2020. While some analysts may say it is good wisdom by Harley-Davidson to venture outside its comfort zone, many die-hard loyalists see LiveWire and Pan America as betrayal of tradition and value. Meanwhile after the launch of LiveWire all-electric motorcycle, H-D is aspiring to conquer new terrains in touring motorcycle market with its quiet development of their first adventure bike. 

Whether the drastically different look is loved or hated, it is definitely talked about in motorcycling circles. Curiosity exists on the curb weight of Pan America. How heavy would it be? But considering the drastic difference from H-D’s mainstay models, Pan America will probably be lighter and compare well with BMW GS. Although this off-beat looking adventure tourer is presently in prototype stage, it does provide a lot of information on what may be expected from this upcoming model.

The Pan America will face competition from the well-established motorcycles such as BMW R 1250 GS, Triumph Tiger 1200 and Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro. Harley-Davidson Bronx will go up against the likes of the Yamaha MT-01, Kawasaki Z900 and Ducati Scrambler 1100. Keep an eye out on for more news, reviews and road tests when the Pan America is made available for all H-D community in 2020.

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