08 July 2024
2024 Harley-Davidson Pan America Special Review – Ace Of Spades

Pan America finally reviewed after three years, and boy was it worth the wait.

‘Twas 2021 when this writer first wrote about the Harley-Davidson Pan America at its Singapore launch.

With only a Class 2A motorcycle licence in hand, I had to tearfully observe from the sidelines as the others at the event got to tear around Sarimbun Camp and Bahtera Track on the Class 2 licence-requiring brand new adventure bike from H-D.

When one thinks adventure bikes, one wouldn’t usually be thinking “Harley-Davidson.” However, the American motorcycle brand wanted to change this while still keeping the H-D DNA very much alive.

That’s exactly what they’ve done with Pan America.

The Machine

This visage is unmistakably Harley-Davidson. Daymaker Signature LED headlights with adaptive cornering lights mark out the front end of the Pan America. The two bullet-style lights below are not foglights but LED turn signals. Interesting touch.

Buttons to control various motorcycle and instrument display functions are neatly laid out on both the left and right side of the handle bar.

They’re easy to get used to, although it must be said that unlike other Harleys, the turn signal is only on the left side a la most motorbikes.

The instrument display itself is well laid out, and can be switched between what you see here called ‘Widgets’ or a minimalist look called ‘Simple.’ All pertinent information is clearly laid out and easy to read.

It can also adaptively adjust display brightness based on ambient conditions. However, at night and while travelling between street lamps, it dims and brightens a little annoyingly. Best to disable the adaptive brightness function and set it static instead.

At the heart of Pan America sits a brand new engine for Harley-Davidson – the 1,252cc 60° liquid-cooled V-Twin Revolution Max 1250 with a 90° firing order, putting down 150hp and 128Nm of torque. More on that later.

As expected with any large-capacity motorcycle, one’s legs do feel the heat in stop-and-go traffic, but on the move, it is a non-issue unless one’s seriously laying the hammer down. Which is bloody easy to do.

Anchoring duties fall to twin Brembo monoblock four-piston calipers and floating rotors in front, and a single-piston Brembo floating caliper and solid disc in the rear, aided by standard-fit ABS and traction control.

The party piece of Pan America is Showa’s semi-active damping control suspension with Adaptive Ride Height that comes standard in the Special.

When coming to a standstill, the rear of the bike lowers to where the unladen seat height sits at 850mm accompanied by a blinking green suspension icon on the display. On the move, this rises to 890mm.

In other words, taller riders will easily be able to flat-foot at a standstill, while slightly more petite riders can at least get the ball of their boot on the blacktop. Here’s what it looks like with 1.82-metre tall yours truly aboard.

thanks to Jen for the picture!

The rear end features LED taillights and turn signals, as well as a solitary and angular-looking muffler. Don’t be put off though, for the soundtrack is still scintillating.

‘Nuff yapping. Let’s ride.

The Daily Stuff

The first evening’s test ride took me headlong into post-ERP home-going traffic on the AYE, and this was by intent. Let’s face it, Pan America owners would likely want to ride their steeds to and from the workplace, and that means contending with rush-hour traffic.

First up was lane filtering. Keeping in mind that this is a slightly wider bike, simply choose your moment and then deftly slice through traffic like a hot knife through butter. There’s enough torque for days to leave the gearbox in sixth. Just twist the wrist to point and squirt.

Once the heavier traffic is done and dusted, settle into a relaxed cruise. The adjustable windscreen means that one can tailor its height to where wind buffeting at highway speeds is a non-issue, as is the unexpected cloud burst.

Standard cruise control may seem a tad out of place in Singapore’s context, where adaptive cruise would have been more suitable, but it is usable in lighter traffic.

A selection of riding modes that adjust throttle response is available. However, the three that will usually be used are Rain, Road and Sport, from the least to most responsive. There is an appreciable difference between the three, and I stuck to Road mode most of the time.

The Ride Glide

Which then brings us to Pan America’s pièce de résistance – the way it rides and sounds.

If, like me, you suffer from hip and/or back issues, you’re going to love Pan America’s ride comfort. I couldn’t help but equate how it just glides down highways to how a Rolls-Royce wafts – it is that comfortable.

very comfy seats

This is all thanks to the excellent semi-active suspension front and rear. Road imperfections and bumps picked up by other bikes were simply not present on this Harley.

That it emits a guttural gurgle from its nether regions while cruising adds to its H-D charm.

Sure, the Revolution Max is no Thor’s-tailpipe-on-taco-Tuesday Milwaukee Eight, but despite lacking the traditional signature “po-ta-to” or “pop-pop-pause”, it has its own endearing gruff burble that will put a smile on any petrolhead’s mug, especially when wrung out toward its 8,000rpm redline.

It may feel a little placid below 3,000rpm, but get above that and the Revolution Max 1250 gets into its stride. Although you won’t be screaming “VTEC kicked in yo!” into your helmet, power delivery is wholly healthy and very linear to the upper regions of the rev range.

And it keeps pulling, and pulling… and pulling. All the while emitting that gruff, guttural gurgle which becomes more and more urgent. And just like Softail and Fat Bob, there’s a steroid-addled pigeon-sounding gearbox loudly “pruu-pruuing” away in the belly of the Pan America through it all.

Brakes? Strong and progressive. Especially during one near-emergency slow-down situation on the highway. Although ABS intervention was not needed, the bike remained stable and surefooted while hurriedly shedding speed.

The Rough Stuff

Blacktop done and dusted, pun intended, I just had to take Pan America to Bahtera Track in an effort to correct 2021’s inadequacy. Even though there is both Off-Road and Off-Road Plus modes to choose from, I just stuck to Road and rode down the rough stuff.

One would assume that riding down the rutted gravelly Bahtera Track would require riders to assume the ‘bumpy’ half-standing posture on the bike. Well, you could if you wanted to, but there was no need.

In third gear at around 40km/h, Pan America’s suspension simply soaked up the ruts and bumps. I wouldn’t say that it feels akin to riding on a soft puffy cloud, but it is comfortable enough to remain seated.

Given the gravelly ground conditions, the bike does move around a little. However, it never got sketchy. Turn traction control off, on the other hand, and I’m pretty sure an experienced rider can get really lairy and sideways in a jiffy. I wouldn’t know because traction control remained firmly engaged.

2021, eat yer heart out!

Should You Buy One?

This is the second bike with which, after the first test ride, I’ve come home and said, “I want this bike.” The first was Fat Bob. Here’s the key difference though. Fat Bob is a bike you buy with your heart.

Pan America is one you can purchase with both your heart and head. And it is truly a Harley-Davidson.

Pan America does things differently to traditional Harleys, and H-D has gone out and done the unthinkable – it entered the adventure bike market with guns blazing. And boy howdy did they hit a home run on their first attempt.

In other words, Pan America is an Ace of Spades.

It’s comfy. It rides and handles well. It’s steadfast. And it’s got Harley-Davidson DNA pouring out of its pores. What more could you ask for?

So, should you buy one?

F**k yeah you should!

For a change, and unlike Fat Bob and Softail, upon collecting my Duke 390 after returning Pan America, I’m happy to report that there was no shift-lever inadequacy to mull over.

Photo Credits: Sean Loo (@auto.driven)

@ignitionlabs Harley-Davidson Pan America Special is an Ace Of Spades #fyp #fypsingapore #fypsingapore🇸🇬 #harleydavidson #harleydavidsonmotorcycle #harleydavidsonpanamerica #panamerica1250special #adventurebike @harleydavidson @harleydavidson_asia ♬ original sound – Ignition Labs

Technical Specifications

Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special

Engine:  Revolution Max 1250 1,252cc 60° liquid-cooled V-Twin
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Driveline: Chain-driven
Power: 150hp @ 8,750rpm
Torque: 128Nm @ 6,750rpm
Fuel Economy (combined): 5.1-litres/100km or 19.6km/litre (claimed)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 21.2 litres
Weight (in running order): 258.09kg
Length: 2,270mm
Wheelbase: 1,585mm
Unladen Seat Height: 850mm (low) / 890mm (high)
Ground Clearance: 210mm
Lean Angle (left): 42-degrees
Lean Angle (right): 42-degrees
Price: from $64,900 (with COE, accurate at the time of this article)
Contact: Harley-Davidson Singapore

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