Pan America: Harley-Davidson heads for the hills
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Harley-Davidson sure knows how to enter a segment with a bang. Not only is the Pan America the first bike in its lineup to enter the hotly contested adventure segment, but also debuts the company’s latest engine platform – the 1252cc Revolution Max V-Twin.
The Pan America just landed in the New Zealand market brings H-D toe-to-toe with the heavyweights of the adventure class including the benchmark BMW R 1250 GS with a truly competitive package. NZ pricing starts at $33,995, which undercuts both the offerings from BMW and KTM.
A complete departure from Harley’s bread and butter, the Pan America is engineered for adventure as the tagline goes. With long travel suspension, a 19/17 inch wheel combination and a full electronics suite backed by a 6-axis inertial management unit, touchscreen instrumentation, rider modes and more, Harley has it covered.
While aesthetically the Pan America may be confronting (what adventure bike isn’t?) its looks share a commonality with Harley’s existing tourers, in particular the Road Glide with its “shark nose” fairing.
Like the bike it debuted in, the Revolution Max is a vast departure from Harley-Davidson’s usual fare. A thoroughly modern powerplant that integrates the engine and gearbox into one unit, not only does it boast water-cooling to keep engine temperatures in check, but it also has variable valve timing and hydraulic valves. The latter ensures fewer expensive trips to the dealer for valve checks.
The engine even forms part of the frame in another first for Harley, with the subframe and steering neck bolting on to form the chassis.
The suspension system componentry is supplied by Showa with Harley developing the ARH system’s electronics in-house. Fully adjustable for pre-load and compression/rebound damping, there is plenty of travel at both ends with 190mm, while ground clearance is a respectable 210mm.
Seat height is 869mm in the base Pan America, but the Pan America Special has the option to have both laced wheels and Harley-Davidson's industry first Adaptive Ride Height system installed for an extra $1675. The ARH system can lower the seat height by up to 50mm while coming to a stop to help riders get a firm footing, or it can be locked in the high setting.
Harley’s attention to detail even spanned to the type of nuts and bolts used on the Pan America, with the bike exclusively using globetrotting-friendly metric hardware rather than the imperial units of traditional Harleys.
Harley-Davidson has clearly done its homework this time and produced a truly competitive product in a fiercely contested segment. In fact, the biggest challenge the Pan America faces isn’t its competition but rather in being a bike breaking away from Harley-Davidson’s long-honed image. Unlike the last bike to try that move, the Pan America has everything else in its favour.
HARLEY DAVIDSON PAN AMERICA
PRICE: From $33,995
ENGINE: 1252cc Revolution Max V-Twin