We’ve known about the arrival of Harley’s new Pan America for a while now, and throughout that time the world has focused on Harley’s audacity in trying to break into an established and very busy market.
Who do they think they are? How dare they!
Well, to listen to the pitch as the Pan America was launched on Monday, they dare because while it isn’t a market they’ve played in for some time, they can claim some serious off-road heritage from a time when every Harley was an off-road bike, because America had very few roads. And while they made a decision in the brave new world of the American Dream to focus on the new social aspect of an emerging motorcycle lifestyle – redefining what ‘The Great American Freedom Machine’ means – they are kicking themselves for not keeping a foot in that door, and see no reason why they shouldn’t tease it open again.
Actually, they see it as their patriotic duty to kick it off its hinges with a bike that – if it can live up to the hype – might just do that: a brand new motorcycle that will be forced to compete with the world’s best on an international stage.
Well, that’s very simple.
Because there are still massive tracts of unpaved wilderness in America that are within the reach of the adventurous types who seek them out: the same sort of people who bought Harley-Davidsons before the US Government realised that they could move their Army around more easily on a system of paved highways.
Yes, America is perfect Adventure Touring country with an incredibly diverse terrain, much of which is within reach of a customer that prefers to buy American when it is possible to do so.
The only surprise at Harley joining this sector is how long it took for them to do so – BMW effectively created the modern market forty years ago – although, to be fair, better late and with the right motorcycle than fitting long travel suspension to a Sportster, no matter how versatile a motor it is.
The right motorcycle?
A wholly new product line, this breaks from the parts bin model that has served Harley so well, and in the absence of a pre-existing engine or frame to work with, they built the bike that they needed to build. That they wanted to build! And in doing so, they’ve demonstrated that they have engineering skills equal to anyone else in the sector … which just might make some cynics look again at the underpinnings of their anachronistic, low tech bikes in a low-emissions world.
The last Pan was a big twin – did you see what we did then – and was used in off-road enduros, but this wasn’t going to be a classic heavyweight: all preconceptions were going to be left at the door. No more playing hostage to history: it was time for Harley-Davidson was going to show the world what it was capable of.
Hadn’t they tried that with the V-Rod twenty years ago?
Yes, but with the V-Rod they had tried to lead the market in a new direction and one that apparently it didn’t want to take: a Harley custom for the 21st century. They made the same mistake with the the Street: a small Harley-Davidson. This is different. This is an Adventure Sport bike built by Harley-Davidson.
The difference is subtle but critical. Function first, form second.
It needed an engine: a modern engine and a powerful one.
It made objective as well as emotional sense for it to be a v-twin – slim, compact and on-brand – and all they had to do was make sure it wasn’t written off as a big bore Revolution X and had learned the lessons of the original V-Rod.
Still committed to the Revolution tag, the new motor is the Revolution Max and if a 60° liquid-cooled 1250cc v-twin with a bore and stroke of 105x72mm, 4-valve heads and twin choke EFI sounds familiar, I’ll save you the effort of looking it up: that is the same as the later V-Rod motor, last seen in 2017.
But that is as far as its influence extends. This isn’t just an evolution of the Revolution, it is as close to the VR’s motor as a human is to a chimpanzee: a very strong case for intelligent design.
We’re going to go into much more depth in the magazine – and there is so much more depth to get into – but I’ll give you some teasers to keep you going.
The engine cases have been designed to act as the primary stressed member of the chassis, with everything bolted onto them to save weight without compromising stiffness – Harley-Davidson are pushing the ruggedness of this machine very hard. And despite the motor’s compact size they also serve as the oil tank for the motor’s semi-dry sump and are home to a crank that has a 30° offset – it fires like a 90° v-twin – for its plain bearing journals. This is Harley-Davidson like we’ve never seen before.
Add Variable Valve Timing on both inlet and exhaust cams, automatic hydraulic valve lash adjustment, twin plug heads, forged piston crowns, liquid cooling for the oil supply as well as the combustion chamber, and a 6-speed gearbox on the other side of a slipper clutch and you can see how much work has been done in building on what was already a strong motor.
The result is 150hp and 94ftlb of torque with a broad powerband, which is none too shabby for an upmarket dirt bike, but then the Pan America has been designed to be as capable on paved road as the dirt.
The chassis sub-frames that bolt to the Revolution Max comprise a forged aluminium middle section with low alloy, high strength trellis sections front and rear, which obviously opens the door to new models round this motor – which we already know will include the deferred Bronx streetfighter at some point and the Performance Custom hopefully next year – but the Pan America will have many elements all its own, including a decent sized fuel tank. It will need to because this is the most technically demanding of the three models we know about, and it is packing!
From the striking bodywork and lighting rig up front – a brave visual statement that is the least Harley-like of anything that The Motor Company has ever produced – to a selection of three styles of rugged luggage, everything about this bike is uncharted territory, but it has given the industrial design team a completely clean sheet of paper to work with, albeit within the disciplines forced upon them by the bike’s role.
And on first sight, they have risen to the challenge, from an instrument package that makes the Boom!Box look like it was from a previous century to a market leading, optional Adaptive Ride Height adjustment on the ‘Special’ that drops
the suspension when stopped, giving riders more purchase when stationary, and lifts it again when they pull away.
That is not, by the way, a lead-in to sniping at a second glance , because that’s going to come when we I see one parked up on its side-stand and I’ve got a fob in my pocket … not that I’m ever going to be able to do it justice off road, but then it’s said that its performance on the road is going to be more than enough for those who haven’t got Arizona to play in.
As it currently stands, the competitively priced “explore-it-all” Adventure Detourer comes in one of two models: the base Pan America 1250 from £14k and the Pan America 1250 Special that starts at £15,500, which as well as different finishes offers an improved electronically adjustable semi-active suspension, front and rear, which allows the Adaptive Ride Height, as well as a surprisingly inexpensive tubeless laced wheel option.
|SPECIFICATIONS||RA1250 Pan America||RA1250S Pan American Special|
|Overall Width||965 mm|
|Overall Height||1,510 mm|
|Seat Height, Laden||807 mm||789mm
(772mm with optional ARH)
|Seat Height, Unladen||869 mm||850mm
(830mm with optional ARH)
|Ground Clearance||210 mm|
|Rake / Trail||25° / 157mm|
|Front||Michelin Scorcher “Adventure” Radial 120/70R19 60V|
|Rear||Michelin Scorcher “Adventure” Radial 170/60R17 72V|
|Fuel Capacity||21.2 litres / 4.6 imperial gallons|
|Oil Capacity (w/filter)||4.5 litres|
|Coolant Capacity||2.2 litres|
|Weight, As Shipped||228 kg||239kg|
|Weight, In Running Order||242 kg||254kg|
|Gross Vehicle Weight Rating||454 kg||455kjg|
|Gross Axle Weight Rating, Front||181 kg||181kg|
|Gross Axle Weight Rating, Rear||302 kg||302kg|
|Type||Revolution® Max 1250: 1252cc 60° DOHC liquid-cooled V-Twin with 30° offset crank giving 90° firing intervals, Variable Valve Timing on inlet and exhausts, 4-valve heads and hydraulic self adjusting tappets|
|Bore / Stroke||105 x 72mm|
|Fuel System||Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)|
|Air Cleaner||Downdraft intake, tuned velocity stacks, washable filter media|
|Exhaust||2-into-1-into-1; catalyst in header|
|Lubrication System||Pressurized Wet Sump|
|Primary Drive||Gear, 49/89 ratio|
|Final Drive||Chain, 19/48 ratio|
|Clutch||Mechanical, 8-plate wet, assist & slip, 1090N|
|Gear Ratios (overall) 1st||13.11:1|
|Frame||High strength low alloy steel trellis frame using engine as a stressed member and forged aluminium mid-structure; stamped, cast, and forged junctions; MIG welded|
|Swingarm||One-piece cast aluminium|
|Front Fork||47mm fully adjustable inverted fork.||47mm inverted fork with electronically adjustable semi-active damping control and with optional ARH|
|Rear Shocks||Linkage-mounted, fully adjustable monoshock with remote reservoir||Linkage-mounted automatic electronic preload control and semi-active damping with optional ARH|
|Wheels, Front||19×3-inch aluminium cast, satin black|
|Wheels, Rear||17×4.5-inch aluminium cast, satin black|
|Wheels, Optional Style Type||N/A||Tubeless Laced|
|Brakes, Front||2 x 320mm floating rotors with 4-piston radial monoblock caliper and ABS|
|Brakes, Rear||280mm solid uniform expansion rotor with single piston floating caliper and ABS|
|Suspension Travel, Front||191mm||tbc|
|Suspension Travel, Rear||191mm||tbc|
|Engine Torque||94 ft-lb / 127 Nm @ 6,750|
|Power (Hp/kW)||150hp / 112 kW @ 9000 rpm|
|Lean Angle, L / R||42° / 42°|
|Fuel Economy||48 mpg (4.9 l/100 km)|
|Lighting||Daymaker Signature LED headlamp with signature position lighting, Signature LED tail-light low and high beam , LED indicators|
|Gauges||6.8 inch viewable area TFT display with speedometer, gear, odometer, fuel level, clock, trip, low temp alert, side stand down alert, TIP over alert, cruise, range and tachometer indication Bluetooth capable: phone pairing to access phone calls, music, navigation via H-D App|
|Electric Power Outlet||USB C-Type, Output 5V at 2.4A|
|Warranty||24 months (unlimited mileage)|
|Service Interval||First 1,000 miles (1,600 km), every 5,000 miles (8,000 km) thereafter|
|Pan America 1250||Vivid Black||£14,000|
|River Rock Grey with Medallion||£14,250|
|Pan America 1250 Special||Vivid Black||£15,500|
|Gauntlet Grey Metallic or Deadwood Green||£15,750|
|2-tone Baja Orange / Stone-Washed White Pearl||£15,950|
|Tubeless laced wheel upgrade||+ £400|
|Adaptive Ride Height||+ £600|