Closer look at Harley-Davidson’s new Pan America 1250 adventure bike

A new player in a field of legends, does Harley's new 2021 Pan America sport the right specs to compete?

Built to tackle the unpaved roads, Harley-Davidson’s first adventure motorcycle officially breaks cover. Unlike the road cruisers and baggers we’re used to from the iconic brand, the 2021 Pan America 1250 is a true off-road explorer with impressive specs, sporting a more premium look, high-level of performance, and new technology.

But as impressive as the new Pan America is (led by a glossy endorsement by actor Jason Momoa) , it’s going up against some stiff competition like the legendary Honda Africa Twin, KTM 790 Adventure R, and BMW R1250 GS Adventure.

Here’s a look at 7 other dual-purpose adventure bikes that top our list.

Power: a 150-hp 1250cc V-Twin engine

We got our first glimpse of Harley’s touring bike in concept form just over a year ago — and from the initial limited specs and photos, not a whole lot has changed from what we’re seeing.

Initial reports mentioned a new liquid-cooled Revolution Max 1250cc V-Twin engine to make over 145-hp while putting down more than 90 ft-lb. of peak torque. This seems bang on with a confirmed Revolution Max 1250 engine, a liquid-cooled 1,250cc-displacement V-Twin making exactly 150-hp, with bump in torque to 94 ft-lb, for the 2021 production model.

2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250
2021 Pan America 1250. Photo: Harley-Davidson

Key power specs:

  • Engine: Revolution Max 1250
  • Transmission: 6-Speed
  • Displacement: 76.3 cu in (1,252 cc)
  • Power: 150 HP / 112 kW @ 9000 rpm
  • Torque: 94 ft-lb
  • Valves: Chain-driven, DOHC, hydraulic self-adjusting lifters, intake & exhaust VVT; four valves per cylinder
  • Bore: 4.13 in. (105 mm)
  • Stroke: 2.84 in. (72 mm)
  • Primary Drivetrain: Gear, 49/89 ratio
  • Final Drive: Chain, 19/48 ratio
  • Clutch: Mechanical, 8 plate wet, assist & slip

Performance and handling

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For a stiffer chassis and ideal power-to-weight ratio, Harley bolted the Pan America’s front frame, the mid frame and the tail section directly to the powertrain, while maintaining a 62.2-inch wheelbase better suited for off-road maneuverability. Keeping the bike’s weight down while focusing on performance was top of mind here, providing direction to the bike’s engine architecture and design optimization.

Chassis specs:

  • Frame: Stressed-member, high strength low alloy steel trellis frame; stamped, cast, and forged junctions; MIG welded; aluminum forged mid-structure
  • Swingarm: One-piece cast aluminum
  • Front Fork: 47mm inverted fork with compression, rebound and spring preload adjustability.  Aluminum fork triple clamps.
  • Rear Shocks: Linkage-mounted, piggyback monoshock with compression, rebound and hydraulic spring preload adjustability
2021 Pan America 1250
2021 Pan America 1250. Photo: Harley-Davidson

Suite of safety features

On the safety front, each model comes with what HD calls Cornering Rider Safety Enhancements — essentially, an electronic system that intervenes when poor conditions are at play. This suite includes:

  • Cornering Enhanced Electronically Linked Braking
  • Cornering Enhanced Antilock Braking System
  • Cornering Enhanced Traction Control System
  • Cornering Enhanced Drag-Torque Slip Control System
  • Hill Hold Control

Lightweight wheels and Brembo braking assembly 

Riding on lightweight 19-inch front and 17-inch rear cast aluminum wheels wrapped in Michelin rubber, riders can opt for more aggressive Michelin Anakee Wild tires designed specially for this tourer.

As for stopping power, ABS comes standard and the bike builder teamed up with the best in the game, collaborating with Brembo on an all-new braking system specifically for the Pan America. With dual front brake rotors at 320mm in diameter and the single rear-brake rotor at 280mm, coupled with a new 30 mm radial monoblock four-piston caliper, the Pan America seeks to increase stiffness while reducing overall weight. 

2021 Pan America 1250
2021 Pan America 1250. Photo: Harley-Davidson

Wheel and brake specs:

  • Wheels, Front Width: 3 in. (76 mm)
  • Wheels, Front Height: 19 in. (483 mm)
  • Wheels, Rear Type: Aluminum cast, satin black
  • Wheels, Rear Width: 4.5 in. (114 mm)
  • Wheels, Rear Height: 17 in. (432 mm)
  • Brakes, Caliper Type: Front: radially mounted, monoblock, 4-piston caliper; Rear: floating, single piston caliper
  • Brakes, Rotor Type: Front: dual rotor, floating, tower- mounted; Rear: solid uniform expansion rotor
  • Brakes, Front Diameter: 12.6 in. (320 mm)
  • Brakes, Front Thickness: 0.17 in. (4.5 mm)
  • Brakes, Front is dual Yes
  • Brakes, Rear Diameter: 11 in. (280 mm)
  • Brakes, Rear Thickness: 0.2 in. (5 mm)
  • ABS braking: standard

This all works with a passive front and rear adjustable suspension system:

  • Front suspension: SHOWA 1 by 1 47mm inverted cartridge fork
  • Rear suspension: SHOWA Piggyback reservoir shock with adjustable hydraulic preload
  • Suspension travel front and rear: 7.48 inches (190mm)

5 Ride Modes

To tweak the riding characteristics, five modes are available on the base model which includes one customizable setting (the Pan America 1250 Special model will offer two additional custom modes). These include:

  • Road
  • Sport
  • Rain
  • Off-Road
  • Off-Road Plus

6.8-inch Touchscreen

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Working with the riders’ Bluetooth-equipped mobile device, the Pan America sports a large 6.8-inch TFT touchscreen that automatically turns off when on the road, but still accessible when in motion via hand controls. Navigation duties are handled by Android or Harley-Davidson’s free app (sorry, no Apple connectivity for 2021).