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Harley-Davidson’s First Adventure Bike, the Pan America 1250, Is Its Most Important Model in Decades

The 118-year-old manufacturer hopes to blaze a new trail in market share and perception.

The 150 hp Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 adventure bike. Photo: Courtesy of Harley-Davidson, Inc.

Chalk one up to delayed gratification, as the first adventure bike from Harley-Davidson is finally here, the Pan America 1250. This motorcycle is, quite simply, the 118-year-old manufacturer’s most important model release in recent memory, as it signals a shift in both its philosophy and demographic.

While the company’s cruiser segment remains its main source of income, the adventure market—and its revenue stream—can be denied no more, and Harley-Davidson desperately wants a slice of it. No part of the Pan America, priced at $17,319 for the base model, owes its heritage to any other motorcycle in Harley’s lineup, and the machine comes packed with some pretty impressive specs.

The Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250.

The 150 hp Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 adventure bike.  Photo: Courtesy of Harley-Davidson, Inc.

The model’s new 1,250 cc V-twin produces 150 hp and 94 ft lbs of torque, and sits in a package weighing a total of 534 pounds ready to ride with a 5.9-gallon tank of gas.

The motor itself is a stressed member of the chassis, with three mounting points anchoring it to the main frame. The bike also features fully adjustable Showa suspension, Brembo brakes and a massive 6.8-inch TFT display.

The 150 hp Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 adventure bike.

Demonstrating the Pan America 1250’s off-road capabilities.  Photo: Courtesy of Harley-Davidson, Inc.

The dash is part of an impressive array of electronics that the Harley-Davidson engineers have integrated into the Pan America. Four preset riding modes and a programmable “User” mode come as standard fitment, while a six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) mitigates traction control, cornering ABS and linked braking, putting it on par with many of the premium machines offered from Europe.

The 150 hp Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special.

Harley-Davidson’s Pan America 1250 Special.  Photo: Courtesy of Harley-Davidson, Inc.

Along with the standard version, Harley-Davidson is also offering the $19,999 Pan America Special. As the name suggests, the variant gets a few more goodies than the base bike, including an extra two customizable riding modes, Showa semi-active suspension, extra crash guards, cornering lights, tire pressure monitoring sensors, heated grips, steering damper and the all-important center stand. However, for all of that, you’ll have to contend with a little extra weight, as it tips the scales at 559 pounds.

The Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 (left) and Pan America 1250 Special (right).

The Pan America 1250 (left) and Pan America 1250 Special (right) in their natural environment.  Photo: Courtesy of Harley-Davidson, Inc.

Another handy feature on the Special will be adaptive ride height, which lowers the chassis by one to two inches when the motorcycle comes to a stop. Once the rider starts moving again, it returns to the operating ride height—an attribute that will no doubt appeal to the more compact riders out there.

You can expect to see the Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 and Pan America 1250 Special hitting the trails around spring of this year. One thing’s for sure, we can’t wait to see if this pivotal Harley lives up to the hype.

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