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Harley Davidson Pan America – A new direction?

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Cast your mind back a few years, and it seemed like Harley Davidson was actually thinking of change. Two concepts were put forward; one dubbed the Pan America and the other The Bronx. One project went very cold; the other has come to fruition. Much like other brands, the new release wasn’t kept a secret very well, we knew it was coming and what it was, but now we have more information. Here we look at the new Harley Davidson Pan America, which could be Harleys best move in a long time.

2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 – Harley Davidson

So what’s the deal?

Two new models, the Pan America 1250 and the Pan America 150 Special. Harley says it’s an explore it all motorcycle, for on or off-road. With a completely new chassis, engine and electronics, could this be a rival to other dual sport bikes on the market? HD hasn’t cheaped out with this; the spec sheet is attractive, and well, it needs to be. This bike firmly aims at the BMW GS, and so, the spec has to be competitive too.

Ground-up new bike, for a new market?

This isn’t a classic Harley. There has been a focus on performance and minimal weight. The new engine is used as a stressed member within the chassis, reducing weight. The subframes bolt directly to the engine, saving weight and increasing stiffness. Geometry gives a 62.2 inch(1580mm) wheelbase that gives agile handling for touring with a pillion and luggage or off-road manoeuvrability. A 19-inch front and 17 inch rear give good tyre options if the Michelin Scorcher, specially designed for the Pan-Am, doesn’t work.

Harley-Davidson Pan America
Never seem a HD do this before – Harley Davidson

Stoppers come from Brembo, with dual 320mm front discs and a single 280mm rear. The standard Pan-Am model gets Showa suspension, whilst the Special model gains semi-active Showa suspension.

What about rider tech?

Rider tech comes in the form of a touch screen display, 6.8in TFT, with a non-reflective cover eliminating glare. The touchscreen is disabled while the bike is in motion, but handlebar controls allow navigation through menus. This system supports mobile phones’ Bluetooth compatibility, allowing the rider to take calls and use sat nav from a free Harley-Davidson app.

Pan America screens
New TFT screens for the Pan-Am features everything – Harley Davidson

With the fitment of an IMU, the 1250 Pan-Am gains chassis, braking, and engine electronics with electronically link brakes enhanced anti-lock brakes, cornering traction control, hill-start control and Drag-Torque slip control. Adjustable riders modes with four pre-programmed and one customisable on the standard and an extra customisable setting on the Special. Cruise control also comes as standard.

A brand new engine for the Pan America

Harley has developed a new generation of V-Twin engines, dubbed the Revolution Max 1250. This new engine has been brought up to modern times, featuring all-new electronics, a dual spark system, Variable Valve Timing, four valves per cylinder, very different from the old pushrod engines. Revised engine design gives a narrower profile, helping the centre of gravity for handling, and providing extra leg and foot room. The V of the engine also houses dual throttle bodies maximising airflow for better performance.

Revolution Max 1250 engine
Pan America Cut-Away-Engine – Harley Davidson

HD’s experience in flat track racing is prominent by offsetting the conrod journals by 30 degrees. This has created a 90degree firing order, producing smooth power curves, smoother up the rev range. This also gives some bonus traction when off-road riding.

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This new Rev Max engine is liquid-cooled, helping to keep oil and coolant temperatures stable in all conditions. This again gives more performance advantages, as components will maintain the fine machining tolerances whilst in use. The use of an internal coolant pump and integrated passages help with the ruggedness and extends service life.

Revolution Max 1250 engine
V profile housing throttles – Harley-Davidson

Harley has been determined to reduce weight, both on the powertrain and the motorcycle on the whole. Advanced FEA (Finite element analysis) simulations and design optimisation techniques in CAD software have reduced engine components’ material. Leaner starter gears, camshaft drive gears, single-piece aluminium cylinders with nickel carbide coating are all new features. Lightweight magnesium cam covers, rocker covers and the primary unit is also new.

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Revised cylinder geometry using four valves, two exhaust, two inlet give a large surface area. The cam profile gives an optimal performance, with strong bottom-end torque, smooth peak power, and new forged Aluminium pistons, give a larger compression ratio governed by knock sensors. More work has gone into the piston design with low friction coated lower skirt, low friction rings with cooling jets spraying oil aimed at the piston’s bottom, reducing combustion heat.

More Pan America 1250 details

Pan-America seat height ranges from 34.2 inches to 35.2 inches (870mm – 895mm), making it not for the short of leg. No doubt, aftermarket adjustments will be available. The windscreen is adjustable to four positions, and the fuel tank has a 5.6 us gallon tank (21 litres). Full LED lighting throughout, with a focus on making the lights useable without hot spots.

The Special model also gains tyre pressure monitoring systems, a centre stand, and other cosmetic options, including aluminium bash guards and a brush guard. Heated grips and wind deflectors feature, as does a steering damper and adaptive ride height lowering to 32.7inches at the lowest setting.

What is adaptive ride height?

The Pan America Special has an optional Adaptive ride height function. This feature from Harley-Davidson is an industry first, giving a low unladen seat height of 855mm. The £600 optional extra automatically adjusts between a low stopped seating position, and a higher optimal ride height whilst the bike is moving. This lower seat height, whilst stopped, is advantageous to shorter riders, giving confidence. This system does not affect the suspension travel and comes with optional modes, including full auto, long or short delay or locked. The modes adjust the time period the lowered seat is active for. Why has nobody thought of this before?!

The Special also gains the option of tubeless spoked wheels, which, as we said in the live stream, eliminates the need for a tube on a spoked wheel. This gives the advantage of less weight, added puncture resistance from pinches, and the ability to replace spokes at the road or trackside. Also, using a chain for a drive instead of a shaft or belt gives ease of use.

Colours come in either black or grey in standard, or black, grey, green, or orange on the Special. One with a £14,000 starting price, and the Special starting at £15,500, the spec really does meet the cost well. Could this be an alternative to a BMW GS?