Table of contents:
- Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250: turning trail
- 150 hp, 125 Nm and a lot of technology
- A Harley that fights off the asphalt
- Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250: Milwaukee Trail, from € 16,990
- Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 2021 - Assessment
- Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 2021 - Technical sheet
Times change, but they don't forgive either. With a history dating back to 1903, Harley-Davidson is struggling to force its defining paradigms. Harley-Davidson LiveWire came first, and today we're going to talk about the Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250.
We have already been able to test the first modern Milwaukee trail, a motorcycle that has absolutely nothing to do with the catalog that we knew so far from the firm and that fully immerses itself in one of the most competitive segments with a different bet. So different is Pan America that it is even shocking, but after having shot with her she has made us recognize that she is a model with a lot of merit.
Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250: turning trail
Having a catalog focused on the custom world ensures success, as long as you have a stable clientele. Focusing so much on one segment is putting all your eggs in the same basket, and that was causing Harley-Davidson problems that manifested themselves in the form of five years losing market share.
Staying true to the principles is even romantic, but financially it is suicide. Harley-Davidson may have reacted a little late, but it is. In 2019, the Harley-Davidson LiveWire appeared, the brand's first electric motorcycle and the first large electric motorcycle from a major brand.
With it they tried to break that brand image anchored in the past with an avant-garde coup and they surely got one of the best Harley-Davidsons in history. Today the same thing happens again and it is that the Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 It is a foray into a segment unknown to Americans, and an initiative led by the brand's CEO, Jochen Zeitz, to change course.
The Pan America 1250 is something completely different, a bomb in the brand's catalog and a daring in the maxi-rail market dominated with an iron fist by the BMW R 1250 GS. It is not the first to come to stay, just look at other heretics on trail bikes such as the Ducati Multistrada, born within a sports brand and which has also become one of the references.
Harley-Davidson wants its slice of the pie in a booming segment, but not by making a completely different motorcycle from what they were doing until now were they going to put aside their hallmarks. So, at first glance, the Pan America 1250 is a gargantuan motorcycle. It has a massive look and a size that… oh my god. It is apparently huge.
The front end is possibly the most controversial part of the bike, and it is that they have used a very personal language, which at least seems like a success to me. Entering the trail segment with another more conventional-looking, duck-billed trail would be to settle for the crumbs on the cake.
Harley-Davidson wants to win over an audience that likes Harley but doesn't have to like custom. If you it may be more or less aesthetically pleasing, but it is different, and the different sells. Especially in the United States, because it is very designed for the American taste as we are going to reel off.
The shapes of the front are heavily influenced by other models in the house, with a Road Glide 'shark nose' style front fairing, inside which hides a headlight with the shapes of the one fitted on the Fat Bob. All the lighting is full LED and can be equipped with dynamic lighting with the supplementary headlight in the Special version.
Starting from the front we see the classic horizontal line that marks the lower part of the fairing and the tank. A reservoir that extends looooong back With a very classic design and decorated in the Special version with the brand's logo discreetly.
Continuing towards the rear we have a seat on two levels with a thick fluffy, a watertight compartment under the rear seat with good capacity, a visible subframe and a small rear light that is embedded in a tail as massive as the rest of the bike. The diagonal exhaust on the right side is huge too, of course.
The people of Milwaukee are very proud of their legacy, and that is why they have left a few nods to their traditional motorcycles like the visible spark plug coils on the left side, the collectors falling down the right side or the central strip of the house brand tank.
150 hp, 125 Nm and a lot of technology
Eager to meet her, we get behind the controls of the Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250. We turn on the ignition, start and the engine starts much faster than usual for the brand with a beautiful and very round, stable sound., with the idle set at 1,500 rpm.
While we recognize the controls, we find the first surprise. Wait a minute, the suspension is lowering. The Special version of the Pan America 1250 is the first bike on the market to feature the latest from Showa in suspensions. Its about ARH system (Adaptive Seat Height).
This gadget can vary the seat height of 869 mm (its standard position, although it has two positions) when the motorcycle is or is going to be stopped. The Pan America 1250 detects if we are going to stop to trim the ground clearance and that in the case of those of us who are not too tall (170 cm) we can reach at the same time with the tips of both feet.
The system is very successful, it helps to find support easily and it will allow us to have a less stressful day to day. While we have entertained ourselves with this, we begin to notice heat in the legs. The first impression of the engine is that it is hot when stopped.
We get going and knowing Harley-Davidson engines we find something completely different. The engine response is extremely sweet because Americans have surely built the best combustion engine of their life. If normally the development of an engine takes between three and four years, this may have been even longer according to the technical manager of the brand.
This is the Revolution Max, a 1,252 cc engine with two 60º vee cylinders but with the crankshaft journals out of phase by 30º to simulate the operation of a V90. This decision has been made in this way to offer an even sweeter off-road performance and to help balance its performance. A balance that is also reinforced by two balance shafts, although according to the brand they have decided not to suppress all vibrations to maintain some character.
What they have done is declare an open war on weight by cutting back on rocker covers and cams, in addition to the primary transmission in magnesium or one-piece aluminum cylinders. They have also worked to the maximum to center the masses and thus the engine is placed very forward and includes the battery in the lower front part of the engine.
It is a completely new engine that equips a technology like never before seen in the brand. In its cylinder head there are four valves managed by a system of variable distribution VVT independent between exhaust and intake, and with an actuation of up to 40º of crankshaft turn. It even allows you to replace the camshafts with more aggressive Screaming Eagles without removing the cylinder heads.
Double spark plug, dry sump, four-valve greasing, high compression ratio (thanks to VVT) … The result is a mechanics that generates 150 hp and 125 Nm of torqueBut beyond the numbers or the technology, what impressed us was its performance.
It's geared to spin very round at very low laps and can get you out in fourth gear at just 1,800 rpm without hitting a single kick. Then in the middle zone it has a lot of hook and a dynamic response that give it a happy character that begins to fade from 9,000 rpm after having offered a extremely wide range of use.
This engine is accompanied by a highly advanced electronic package commanded by a six-axis IMU inertial measurement platform. With it, a range is opened that in the case of Pan America displays traction control, ABS with cornering assistance, dynamic lighting, antiwheelie, engine response, engine brake adjustment or accelerator sensitivity.
Technically it is very well resolved. The traction control it enters only when necessary and goes unnoticed most of the time, while the antiwheelie does cut us a bit of fun depending on what cases.
Not so well resolved is the interface. Through the screen 6, 8 "from the frame We can configure all the parameters either at the push of a button or by touching the screen because it is unnecessarily tactile. The graphics are very small making them difficult to read from the driving position and an adaptation process is necessary to navigate through the menus knowing where everything is.
Besides, the screen can be configured in two views and configure the information that we want the widgets of the box to show us. A lot of information at a glance where we can even find the navigation instructions through the Harley-Davidson app, which incidentally offers us a connection with the brand's BoomBox headphones to manage voice control. With that dispenses with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Regarding the cycle part, the Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 is distributed using the engine as a structural element to which the front and rear subframes are anchored in a simple but effective way: six screws.
On the front end we have a 47 mm inverted Showa fork and a monoshock from the same brand behind. Both are managed electronically and all regulation is done through a specific control unit for suspensions that drinks from the data provided by the IMU. The entire system uses Showa hardware but both the software management and the settings for both trains have been developed by Harley-Davidson.
This switchboard is capable of change settings in real time to adjust to the use we are having and depending on the different driving modes that we can select. Regardless of the chosen mode, we notice how the settings change in real time, which has two aspects:
On the one hand, if for example we go in Sport mode and drive on the highway, it will behave in a more comfortable way than tracing mountain curves. On the other hand, in Rain mode, if necessary it can be hardened to avoid fluctuations.
At the other extreme, especially in sections of curves with constant support, potholes and changes of direction, we do perceive strange behavior because the settings change to maintain the geometry of the bike as much as possible at all times. Is a feeling to get used to but that is very effective with the passage of kilometers.
The Pan America 1250 does not come barefoot for braking either. It uses a double front disc bitten by a pair of Radial four-piston Brembo calipers that, in addition to ABS in curves, are equipped with combined braking. They work effectively but maybe too smooth, we miss a little more mordant.
We really liked that the Pan America 1250 was designed in a practical way. For example: the tank is removed with three screws, the drive kit can be removed without opening the chain on the left side by removing the stirrup (two screws), the footpegs can be replaced by removing a single Allen screw that holds them to a steel tube, the adjustment of the valves is hydraulic without the need for adjustment and checks at 60,000 km … Ah, yes, no There is trace of a toothed belt on this Harley-Davidson. They are not the most appropriate solution for a trail bike.
On the highway we have perhaps the best Harley-Davidson to travel. On the one hand we have a seat with a huge soft, with a lot of surface and a spongy touch, in addition to the screen is manually adjustable by 45 mm and the handlebars are comfortable, although in my case it was way ahead as it was configured to carry it upright on the offroad section. The adjustment of the screen by lever with trigger can be improved to manipulate it with one hand.
A Harley that fights off the asphalt
And speaking of offroad, this first contact also included an off-road excursion. We rolled on wide tracks and roads full of gravel, a use that the vast majority of the units that are sold will certainly not reach, but for which the Pan America 1250 proved to be more prepared than it appears.
It's not an Enduro bike by any means, but it holds up surprisingly well for a Harley-Davidson, much better than we expected and we ride on mixed tires. Michelin Scorcher Adventure specific for the Pan America 1250. Optionally they can be fitted with Michelin Anakee.
The suspensions do a great job of containing the movements of a motorcycle that feels great but can be done as long as the situation does not get more complicated than necessary. Suspension travel with 190mm on both axles It swallows everything up and, in addition, having a pressurized fork is really difficult to make stops on the front end. If you make a sharp stop, it is that you are surely going faster than it touches.
The ARH system it also shows its usefulness again. It can be adjusted to act automatically, the suspension is lowered only when the motorcycle is stopped, or it always locks to its full extent. Thus we will have more or less free ground clearance as appropriate, to face fording, ruts or areas of loose sand.
As for the brakes, well because of the dosage that is the front end. The feel that is lacking on the road plays in its favor on the field, while the rear brake has a great handicap and that is that the ABS cannot be disconnected. What it does have is an interesting solution with a 1 cm adjustment up and down the pedal simply by turning its toe. The footrest rubbers can also be removed by hand and let the metal teeth do their job holding the boots.
Nor can we forget the electronics, which off-road returns to the fray with two driving modes: Off-road soft and Off-road firm. In both cases, the throttle feel, the ABS reaction and the traction control forgiveness are adjusted. During the entire off-road section we decided don't disable traction control, and for unpretentious use it works fine, taking full advantage of the engine's traction and not being too intrusive. In case of disconnecting it, you already have to have hands and things very clear.
Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250: Milwaukee Trail, from € 16,990
Like many other maxitrails, the Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 is not a motorcycle that stands out for its agility because it is a large, bulky and heavy motorcycle, but yes for its versatility: It is the same for you to go to work or to go out on the road for a weekend or finish a trip through Morocco and its infinite dirt tracks.
With the ARH system it is also suitable for a wider audience, which opens the door to those who want to ride a Harley-Davidson without worrying about the road conditions, or they wanted a Harley-Davidson that wasn't a custom one.
That says a lot about a brand like Harley-Davidson. They are trying to reinvent themselves by making products like they have never tried before and they are doing quite well judging by the end results. It may not be to everyone's taste, but this trail is a milestone for the brand.
There are points that can be improved, the result of an incipient project such as too small graphics on the dashboard, poorly translated menus, that the clutch cable covers the lower left corner of the frame or that if we raise the motorcycle to the center stand then it cannot be removed or put the side stand because it collides.
In any case we liked it more than we thought, and that is the Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 has broken a good handful of prejudices. The American brand has shown that they know how to make motorcycles beyond the custom without giving up their legacy and with a satisfactory result.
By the way, a detail. In the second paragraph of this article we said that the Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 is the brand's first modern trail bike. We mean by that they come from a past where Harley-Davidsons also made their first steps trail, but the last name 1250 makes us think that it will not come alone and that we will probably have a little sister in the Pan America family in the future.
The Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 is available at dealers now for a price of 16,990 euros for the standard version and 19,600 euros for the Special version. Apart from the electronic suspensions as standard on the Special, the equipment differences are the engine guards, the cornering lighting, the heated handguards or grips, as well as a number of accessories only available for the Special.
Taking into account the standard equipment it does not seem an expensive motorcycle although the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S and the BMW R 1250 GS are cheaper: 19,199 and 18,480 euros respectively. The Ducati Multistrada V4 is more expensive, starting at 20,890 euros.
Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 2021 - Assessment
Motor 8 Vibrations 7 Change 6 Stability 7 Agility 7 Front suspension 8 Rear suspension 7 Front brake 8 Back brake 6 Pilot comfort 8 Passenger comfort N / A Consumption N / A Finishes 7 Esthetic 6
- Elastic and refined motor
- Intelligent suspension operation
- Comfortable on the go
- VERY personal aesthetic
- Frame graphics too small
- Non-switchable rear ABS
- No quickshifter
- Windshield cam difficult to manipulate while underway
- Testing area
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Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 2021 - Technical sheet
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