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Pan America Thoughts

Was regular contributor, Lenny Schuurmans first out of the blocks with the Harley Pan American tracker concept?

Lenny writes, 'And now we're all thinking, who will be the first to turn it into a flat tracker? Quick and dirty photosoup from today :)'

Harley made the long-awaited official presentation of the Pan America adventure bike earlier this week and made a convincing link between the history of the brand and the production of an adventure bike, that is set to compete with BMW GS family, KTM Adventures, Ducati Multistradas, Honda Africa Twin and numerous other big ADVs.

I think the bike could do well in America, but it's going to be a hard sell elsewhere, despite competitive specs and prices. There's such a snobbery about the brand in Europe, and the whole dealer network conspires to confirm people's preconceptions of the company, so bike will have to be a very engaging ride to crack Europe. Motorcyclists tend to go for the safe option, in terms of brand and design, unless the bike is head and shoulders above the competition. But it is possible to crack new sectors, look at BMW and their inline-four superbike, the S1000RR, that blew the litre superbike market wide-open and outsold the Japanese, who had created and owned the four-cylinder superbike since the late-'60s.

What's interesting?

1250cc, liquid-cooled V-twin with a claimed 150bhp and 128Nm (94lb.ft) of torque

DOHC with variable valve timing

Chain-driven cams. The drive-side camshaft bearing journal is part of the drive sprocket, a design that makes it possible to remove the camshaft for service or performance upgrade without disassembling the camshaft drive.

Forged pistons giving 13:1 compression

Magnesium primary, camshaft and rockers covers

Four valve cylinder heads

Five switchable riding modes (7 for the Pan America Special)

Grade 304 Stainless steel exhaust

Unit construction (The press release goes into some length to explain to trad Harley folk that this means the gearbox and engine are in the same casing, like, well, 95% of every other motorcycle built in the last 50 years).

Cruise control

Engine as a stressed member, so no traditional one-piece frame, it's more like the Ducati Panigale chassis than a Road King's.

Radial monobloc Brembo calipers

Touch screen TFT (thin film transistor) dash

Adjustable Showa suspension

Cornering assist, featuring, Harley say 'Elements of Cornering Rider Safety Enhancements for the Pan America 1250 model include: Cornering Enhanced Electronically Linked Braking, Cornering Enhanced Antilock Braking System, Cornering Enhanced Traction Control System, Cornering Enhanced Drag-Torque Slip Control System, and Hill Hold Control.'

Adjustable seat height

21-litre (5.6 US gallon) tank

Additionally, the 1250 Pan America Special has these extra

Semi-active front and rear suspension that automatically adjusts to the load

Tyre pressure monitoring system

Brush (crash) guards (aka engine bars)

Skid plate

Heated grips

Below are two films H-D used to present the Pan America. The first was directed, and stars, Harley's high-profile friend du jour, Jason Mamoa. The actor (who has featured in Game of Thrones, as Khal Drogo, the husband of the Mother of the Dragons if you watched it (and if you didn't, that sentence was probably enough to confirm your decision), and also DC superhero films, as Aquaman). It features the Crazy 8s/Frozen Few, whose number include the organisers, founders of The Race of Gentlemen.

If you want more depth, the second, starts with the Mamoa film, so skip past it until 2:49, until you reach the more corporate presentation that features a number of Harley employees we admire, including head of styling and design, Brad Richards, and in-house restoration expert and archivist, Bill Rodencal (whose story of riding a 100-year-old board tracker across the width of the USA, we featured in SB28).

One thing is for sure, the Pan America ploughs its own furrow, it's not a 'me too', copying the market leaders.

The price starts at: £14,000 - €17,995 - US$17,319

1 Comment

Graham Monk
Graham Monk
Feb 25, 2021

I'd be surprised if friend of Sideburn, Roland Sands, isn't already on the case and hopefully a Sideburn exclusive.

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