Test Ride with the Pan America from Harley-Davidson
With the Pan America, Harley-Davidson is opening a new chapter in the company's history: off the road, onto the trail. We had this adventure bike with us at the photo shoot for ACT Pyrenees and were able to gather lots of riding impressions to be used in the development of accessories.
"More Roads to Harley-Davidson" is the name of the concept designed to make the time-honoured brand attractive to new target groups.
Fresh models are needed in order to break out of the conceptual restriction of the cruiser segment.
At the start of this model offensive is the Pan America, and it does pretty much everything differently to what we're used to when it comes to the hogs of Milwaukee. For the first time, a Harley has been designed specifically for offroad use. "I think it's great that the large adventure bike segment is being complemented by a new and very distinct motorcycle. Competition promotes innovation. And since the Pan America is not a modified copy, but a very distinct motorcycle, this is very good for customers and the motorcycle world," says Touratech COO Jochen Schanz, assessing the significance of the newcomer.
As its heartpiece, the developers have given it the brand new Revolution Max 1250 engine. With a peak performance of 152 hp at 8750 rpm, the liquid-cooled V-twin immediately claims a place in the top group of current adventure bikes. For this modern powerhouse, the option of selecting riding modes to adapt the power delivery to the respective conditions is absolutely essential.
"This engine really provides thrust in all situations and is super controllable. The different riding modes are tuned for practical use and provide the appropriate characteristics for the different conditions of use," sums up Mirko Nagler, Director Sales & Marketing, Business Development at the communication specialist SENA, who is present on all Photo Rides as an ACT board member. "The offroad modes in particular offer all the options you need to master the various challenges of the routes without any problems. The motorcycle functioned without a single problem and coped brilliantly with both the faster as well as the very technical sections we had to deal with on each day of the shooting," Elvio Andrade, Head of International Sales at Touratech seconded him.
In order to achieve a weight suitable for offroad use, the Twin has been integrated as a supporting element in a composite suspension. And this weight saving can actually be felt when riding. "I was surprised how light the motorcycle feels and how easy it is to handle," Elvio Andrade admits after a few offroad days with the Pan America.
The tubular steel rear frame is bolted on and provides the best conditions for mounting solid pannier racks. This is naturally an aspect the Touratech developers look at first when designing a new model. After a thorough study of the factory accessories, Jochen Schanz said, "I was convinced it was possible to improve the luggage system solutions – which we have, of course, already done and tested. With our special system, the centre of gravity is clearly lower and the aluminium pannier solution is better overall. Our products also offer some plus points in the area of soft luggage," says Schanz.
With the 47 mm USD fork and the Showa shock absorber, Harley has given the Pan America solid material for tackling the rocky roads ahead. On the high mountain trails of the Pyrenees, we were impressed by the durability of the standard suspension with its 191 millimetres of spring travel at front and rear. But as with any off-the-shelf suspension, there is potential for optimisation. Designed for a wide range of different rider types, purposes and riding styles, it is in the nature of things for there to be compromises. The experts at Touratech Suspension are working on a portfolio of high-quality components for Pan Am riders who want a suspension system specifically tailored to their needs.
And of course, there will also be a range of protectors so that the Pan America can survive even the toughest offroad use unscathed. Jochen Schanz provides an initial overview, "For the new Pan America, we are developing robust crash bars as well as a skid plate. I find the Defensa hand protectors with the modular aluminium bracket particularly important. These are a must for Pan America in my opinion."
One thing is clear: with the Pan America, Harley-Davidson is sure to inspire many motorcyclists who have had nothing to do with the brand until now. The PanAm, as it is already affectionately called in the scene, has an unmistakable character. This concept has what it takes to convince both the adventurous adventure rider and the more onroad-oriented touring rider.