In continuation with Part 1 of Harley Davidson, Pan America The One Wild Ride
The most exciting thing about Harley’s Pan America 1250 Special is its existence. So, we have a right to have our expectations running on the lower end of the spectrum. But I’m an optimistic guy, so let’s peel back that layer of cynicism and see what our test bike has to offer.
Harley-Davidson has been making motorcycles for over 120 years. They’ve had a few ups and downs but are a company steeped in tradition and quality.
When they announced they were releasing the Pan America, I had no idea what to expect — I’d never heard of such a bike before. It was almost like Harley was attempting to break into a new market with a novel product. But then I kept thinking about it, and the more sense it started to make.
The Pan America is not an attempt on Harley-Davidson’s part to steal market share from foreign companies or sales from the Japanese; it’s a different representation of what American motorcycling is all about.
Harley-Davidson has consistently released some of the most iconic American motorcycles. But those models have been limited to cruiser designs. For 2018, Harley-Davidson is breaking its mould with Pan America, which combines traditional cruiser design with the best touring motorcycles.
There is no other word to describe this bike except badass, but that doesn’t mean I liked everything about it. Harley has added touring amenities to match Pan America’s sweet-looking style, but the idea of a sporty cruiser with some bag capacity on the back sounds great and works pretty well, too.
The Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special is unlike anything else in the H-D lineup. It has a classic look, but it stands out due to some of its modern design elements, including minimal chrome and understated styling. But you’re here to read about how it rides, so let’s dig into this and talk about what makes this bike special.
I’ve always liked a big bike, and the Harley Davidson Pan America 1250 Special is most certainly that. It’s not just big in the way that everything is more significant when you compare it to a BMW R 1250 GS, but genuinely vast.
It’s reminiscent of the old US-spec Harleys from the seventies when Harley was still trying to penetrate Europe and had to fight for recognition as more than just a ‘yank’ motorbike.
The riding position is comfortable and upright, a relaxed posture emphasised by the vibration of the large Revolution™ Max 1250 engine.
You lean forward slightly, elbows bent and shoulders relaxed, to counter the front-to-rear weight shift. Your feet are flat on the large floorboards; you don’t need to stretch down like on a sports bike. There’s even a slight rearward weight bias to help the large rear tyre in at speed, but it was still possible to drag pegs when hard on the binders.
Sure, it has all the badass attitude you could ask for: the Pan America’s sweeping styling, integrated passenger seat and more aggressive riding position all scream raucous good times— but get up close, and it doesn’t have the detailing to back up that “badass” attitude.
The paint is light but well-balanced, and the switchgear is clunky. Get a little further away from Pan America, and it looks freaking amazing once it starts to catch the sunlight, however. The 6.8-inch TFT seems cool.
Harley-Davidson must have thought there was no room left in the 1250cc touring market, but they’ve just checked under their nose and found a new niche. The Pan America 1250 Special is an almost unique product.
It’s clear that the Pan America is a splendid touring platform and could be positioned as a light tourer to a BMW R 1250 GS, not too dissimilar to the Multistrada at all. It’s smooth, comfortable and powerful but sacrifices some technical sophistication of a BMW or Ducati. Though in its consolation, it makes up for it with its excellent comfort and user-friendly nature.
Large yet cool
It’s a vast, ultra-powerful literbike that can be ridden in full rain gear daily, from your house to the other side of the world. But of course, it’s not as simple as just having a big engine or a stand; Harley has built an entire range of motorcycles around these features, and there are lots of extras like hard bags, riding jackets and loud paint schemes to pile your money on.
I enjoyed spending time on the road with Pan America. It’s a revealing trip that leaves you with much to consider. Harley-Davidson’s willingness to put its name alongside Pan America is a testament to what HRD believes the machine represents.
Ultimately, it all comes back to that base question: why buy a Pan America? The answer is: for those times when you’re out on the road and you don’t want to be another rider.
One wild ride
If you want to stand out, look fabulous and feel part of an exclusive club, then it’s hard to find anything better. To some extent (Ex-showroom price starts from Rs 20.36 Lakh ), it is also affordable compared to BMW R 1250 GS.
The Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special is a big, powerful, grunty bike. It’s not brimming with tech and fancy features, but that’s not what it’s about.
Sure, there’s ABS and traction control if needed, but the Pan Am is designed to get through mud, sand and gravel with effortless ease. Remember we had Vance and Hines silencer that made 5 Horsepower and 5 ft-lb Torque increase over stock.
The bike’s ride, handling and nature are all about comfort and enjoyment – something you may have to explain to your better half, who thinks a road bike will be more practical on those long days out on the tarmac.