New from the ground up, it’s Harley’s leap into the adventure market

LISTEN 10:42

No doubt about it, the Harley-Davidson Motor Company is breaking new ground nowadays as part of its “100 new bikes” initiative, and look no further than the new Pan America 1250 for one of the most obvious examples thereof. That’s right sports fans, H-D takes on the adventure bike segment with its very own entry that is a standalone machine with no direct connection to the rest of the lineup. An all-new Revolution Max 1250 engine powers this line with H-D’s new RDRS as part of the stock package to make the Pan America a technological marvel.

  • 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250
  • Year:
    2021
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V-Twin
  • Displacement:
    1252 cc
  • Top Speed:
    135 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    17315
  • Price:

Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Design

  • All new from the ground up
  • LED lighting with signature taillight
  • Form-follows-function design
  • Manually adjustable windshield
  • Customizable 6.8-inch TFT display
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250
- image 975069
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250
- image 975080

Looks matter, and the factory took a risk with the Pan America 1250 by stepping out of its long-established comfort zone in order to enter the adventure-bike market proper. The result is a machine unlike anything in the MoCo’s lineup, though if I’m honest, when parked beside a Multistrada or even a Tiger, the Pan America looks a bit boxy; a skosh stodgy; definitely form-follows-function. Aesthetics aside, it does inspire with an adventuresome spirit that’s impossible to ignore.

It leads off with a heavily-bobbed front fender pulling double duty with uprights that serve as mini fairings for the swept area of the inverted fork tubes. The blackout treatment also makes its mark early on with darkened rims, fork tubes, and feet, and the little bash guard below the Daymaker Signature LED headlight bar that splits the night and ensures ample daytime visibility.

An additional structure above the front fairing mounts tracks for the adjustable windshield and protects the 6.8-inch full color Thin Film Transistor screen that bundles all of the instrumentation and infotainment displays together in a single location. A set of shrouds that extend down to the chin bubble and hide the water cooler, at least when viewed in profile.

The exposed subframe mounts a saddle complete with a p-pad and beefy J.C. handles that double as hard points for your bungee net for some cargo-carrying capacity. Truth be told, you’ll need to throw on some bags to make it viable as a globetrotter and/or grocerygetter, but that’s actually typical of most ADV bikes on the market, so it isn’t a ding, more of an observation. A swingarm-mount hugger joins with a short mudguard and plateholder to provide fling containment out back with a signature taillight bar and bullet turn-signal housings – all in LED – to finish out the gear in the rear.

Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Chassis

  • Front and rear fully adjustable suspension
  • Optional low-seat and tall-seat accessories
  • Cornering-enhanced ABS and traction control
  • Hill-hold control
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250
- image 975077
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250
- image 975073
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250
- image 975082

The main structural components in the frame of the Pan America 1250 are low-alloy steel members with stamped, cast, and forged junctions all MIG welded up for strength. A forged-aluminum mid-structure lends lightweight strength to the frame. Out back, a gull-wing, cast-aluminum, yoke-style swingarm finishes the standing structure and contributes to the modern look of the Pan America.

The suspension is also very rare within Milwaukee’s lineup as it comes with the full battery of adjustments – front and rear – so you can dial in your ride across the full spectrum. This plays well into the Pan America’s role as a globetrotting machine that is liable to see wide variances in surface quality when used as intended, and puts it on par with the other top ADV-bike builders in this respect.

As for the suspension hardware itself, the Pan America rides on a set of 47 mm inverted forks with a piggyback, coil-over monoshock that supports the rear end and tames the swingarm. Suspension travel measures in at 7.5 inches at both ends, which should be ample to absorb the abuse of off-road use as these figures are fairly typical for the genre.

Cast-aluminum rims round out the rolling chassis with a set of stealth-knobby Michelin Scorcher Adventure rubbers to make the connection to terra firma in a 170/60-17 behind a 120/70-19 with a “V” rating that is just one peg down from full-on race-rated tires. Brembo supplies the anchors for this ride with dual four-pot Monobloc calipers up front that bite 320 mm discs for solid brakeage up front. Out back, a 280 mm disc takes care of business alongside a single-piston caliper.

Since Harley’s Reflex Defensive Rider System comes stock and brings with it a cornering-enhanced ABS feature that offers a level of technological protection that, until very recently, was unheard of on a Hog. That last is just a single example of the electronic yummygoodness that comes packed on board.

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/ Travel: 47 mm inverted fork with compression, rebound and spring preload adjustability, Aluminum fork triple clamps/ 7.5 in. (191 mm)
Rear Shocks/ Travel: Linkage-mounted, piggyback monoshock with compression, rebound and hydraulic spring preload adjustability/ 7.5 in. (191 mm)
Lean Angle (J1168): Right: 42°, Left: 42°
Rake (steering head): 25°
Fork Angle: 25°
Trail: 6.2 in. (157 mm)
Wheels: Aluminum cast, satin black
Wheels, Front: 3 in. (76 mm) x 19 in. (483 mm)
Wheels, Rear: 4.5 in. (114 mm) x 17 in. (432 mm)
Tires: Michelin® Scorcher® “Adventure”, Radial
Tire, Front: 120/70R19 60V
Tires, Rear: 170/60R17 72V
Brakes, Front: Dual 320 mm floating, tower- mounted rotors; radially mounted, monoblock, 4-piston caliper
Brakes, Rear: 280 mm solid uniform expansion rotor; floating, single piston caliper
Brakes, Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS): Standard

Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Drivetrain

  • New Revolution Max 1250 engine designed and tuned for adventure
  • Smooth power delivery
  • Variable valve timing
  • 94 lb-ft of torque and 150 horsepower
  • Cruise control and ride modes
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250
- image 975065
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250
- image 975092
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250
- image 975074

We need look no further than the engine controls on the Pan America 1250 to find the rest of the delightfulness that is the RDRS bundle. The same inertial-detection system that empowers the ABS also feeds the traction-control feature with data to deliver corner-optimized protection. This helps prevent lowsiders in the curves on top of the straight-line, anti spin-out protection you’d get from a garden variety ABS device.

It doesn’t stop there, oh no. There’s tunable power-delivery along with variable engine-braking, and all of it is controlled by five Ride Modes profiles for easy personality changes. Think you can program a better profile? H-D has you covered with a custom mode that’ll let you do just that so you can mix-and-match for your ideal setup.

A slipper clutch provides a final mechanical safety net by limiting the backtorque that makes it up to the mill during hard downshifts, and since the Pan America rocks that engine-braking control feature as well, it rolls with a double layer of protection to prevent loss of traction when you go to scrub off some speed ahead of a curve.

As for the engine itself, the new Revolution Max 1250 sports an oversquare configuration – which is a huge departure for HD – with a 105 mm bore and 72 mm stroke to give it an actual displacement of 1,252 cc, and a 13-to-1 compression ratio that is muy caliente by anyone’s standards. In another departure from its own established norm, this lump runs with chain-driven DOHC valve timing rather than the old external-pushrod system and has a lateral offset in the jugs which indicates a dual-throw crankshaft rather than the usual “knife-and-fork” connecting rods that operate on a single common crankpin.

Tuned downdraft velocity stacks feed the intake and broaden the useful powerband. H-D uncharacteristically published the horsepower figures on their customer front end, and who can blame them? This thing churns out a generous 150 ponies at 9 grand backed up by 94 pounds o’ grunt at 6,750 rpm, so it likes to be wound up quite a bit tighter than usual for a Harley-Davidson engine. Adventure bikes need that low-end torque and high end horsepower so H-D really hit the ground running with this engine.

Engine: Revolution® Max 1250, Chain-driven, DOHC, hydraulic self-adjusting lifters, intake & exhaust VVT; four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 4.13 in. (105 mm) x 2.84 in. (72 mm)
Displacement: 76.3 cu in (1,252 cc)
Engine Torque (J1349): 94 lb-ft (127 Nm) @ 6,750 rpm
Power: 150 hp (112 kW) @ 9,000 rpm
Compression Ratio: 13.0:1
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Air Cleaner: Downdraft intake, tuned velocity stacks, washable filter media
Exhaust: 2-into-1-into-1; catalyst in header
Lubrication System: Pressurized Wet Sump
Primary Drive: Gear, 49/89 ratio
Final Drive: Chain, 19/48 ratio
Clutch: Mechanical, 8 plate wet, assist & slip, 1090N
Transmission: 6-Speed
Gear Ratios (overall): 1st: 13.11, 2nd: 9.687, 3rd: 7.509, 4th: 6.057, 5th: 5.08, 6th: 4.436

Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Price

2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250
- image 975066
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250
- image 975088
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250
- image 975067

Per S.O.P., the MoCo offers its new Pan America in – wait for it – Vivid Black, which rolls for $17,319. If you’d prefer the brownish River Rock Gray paint you can expect to cough up another $250 to ride it home.

Model ID: RA1250
Gauges: 6.8-inch viewable area TFT display with speedometer, gear, odometer, fuel level, clock, trip, low temp alert, side stand down alert, TIP over alert, cruise, range and tachometer indication BT capable - phone pairing to access phone calls, music, navigation (H-D App ONLY)
Auxiliary Lamps: N/A
Warranty: 24 months (unlimited mileage)
Color: Vivid Black, River Rock Gray
Price: Vivid Black: $17,319, Color: $17,569

Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Competitors

2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250
- image 975063
2018 - 2019 Triumph Tiger 1200 XR
- image 781622

No doubt about it, there’s no shortage of competition within the adventure-bike market, but I see more Triumphs around my area than any other ADV brand so I went straight to Trumpet for one of its Tigers and landed on the Tiger 1200 XR model.

Triumph Tiger 1200 XR

2018 - 2019 Triumph Tiger 1200 XR
- image 783005

The Tiger cuts a figure all its own with goggle-eye headlights and its bird’s bill front fairing, and in profile, the deeply set saddle and tall fuel tank run from one extreme to another for a striking flyline that’s even more adventure-tastic-looking than the camel-hump Harley. That said, the exposed Trellis framing and lack of gimmickry leaves both machines looking like serious customers with an industrial kick.

Triumph runs with adjustable WP suspension front and rear to break even with H-D, but the Brit falls behind in the brakes a bit with its vanilla ABS feature.

Triumph powers its 1200 XR with a liquid-cooled, transverse-mount, in-line triple engine with 1,215 cc total and a lower compression ratio at 11-to-1 so it will tolerate lower octane fuel than the Pan America, that’s for sure, though the bike does have advanced knock-detection sensors that should help you run it on lower octane fuel. This is a point that may become very important if you ever do any real adventure riding in, shall we say, less-developed areas around the globe where top-hook road champagne is harder to find.

As for power, the Trumpet lump cranks out 141 ponies with 90 pound-feet of torque against the H-D’s 150/94 to fall just a skosh short in the power department, but that’s hardly enough to sway a buyer. The price may be a bit more of a consideration given that the Tiger 1200 rolls for $16,500 which leaves less than a grand on the table, more if you go with the River Rock paint package.

Read our full review of the Triumph Tiger 1200 XR.

He Said

“As a long-time fan of the brand, I find the Pan America to be a bit of a shock to the senses. It looks like nothing that has come before. It’s also clear that the designers didn’t try to take a “typical” Harley and try to finagle the layout to make something that looks the part, but instead they struck off into uncharted waters with a totally new design. Bold to be sure, but wise? Time will tell.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “Three years ago, Harley-Davidson announced the Pan America as part of their ’More Roads to Harley-Davidson’ campaign. That has finally come to pass. The Pan America 1250 is all new...like really, really all new...built from the ground up with adventure riding in mind. It isn’t something new on a Softail frame or something new with an existing engine. It’s all new and a huge departure from everything else Harley has ever put on the street. Keep in mind that Harley-Davidson is no stranger to off-road, but this is the first leap into the adventure market. No baby steps here. The leap puts the Pan America squarely in the top echelon of adventure bikes with the likes of the BMW R 1250 GS, the Ducati Multistrada, and the KTM Super Adventure. What makes this even more exciting is that the Pan America is priced competitively and not blown out of the intended market like the Livewire. Adventure riders demand a capable, sophisticated bike and all indications are that Harley-Davidson is delivering in spades.

Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Revolution® Max 1250, Chain-driven, DOHC, hydraulic self-adjusting lifters, intake & exhaust VVT; four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 4.13 in. (105 mm) x 2.84 in. (72 mm)
Displacement: 76.3 cu in (1,252 cc)
Engine Torque (J1349): 94 lb-ft (127 Nm) @ 6,750 rpm
Power: 150 hp (112 kW) @ 9,000 rpm
Compression Ratio: 13.0:1
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Air Cleaner: Downdraft intake, tuned velocity stacks, washable filter media
Exhaust: 2-into-1-into-1; catalyst in header
Lubrication System: Pressurized Wet Sump
Primary Drive: Gear, 49/89 ratio
Final Drive: Chain, 19/48 ratio
Clutch: Mechanical, 8 plate wet, assist & slip, 1090N
Transmission: 6-Speed
Gear Ratios (overall): 1st: 13.11, 2nd: 9.687, 3rd: 7.509, 4th: 6.057, 5th: 5.08, 6th: 4.436
Chassis:
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/ Travel: 47 mm inverted fork with compression, rebound and spring preload adjustability, Aluminum fork triple clamps/ 7.5 in. (191 mm)
Rear Shocks/ Travel: Linkage-mounted, piggyback monoshock with compression, rebound and hydraulic spring preload adjustability/ 7.5 in. (191 mm)
Lean Angle (J1168): Right: 42°, Left: 42°
Rake (steering head): 25°
Fork Angle: 25°
Trail: 6.2 in. (157 mm)
Wheels: Aluminum cast, satin black
Wheels, Front: 3 in. (76 mm) x 19 in. (483 mm)
Wheels, Rear: 4.5 in. (114 mm) x 17 in. (432 mm)
Tires: Michelin® Scorcher® “Adventure”, Radial
Tire, Front: 120/70R19 60V
Tires, Rear: 170/60R17 72V
Brakes, Front: Dual 320 mm floating, tower- mounted rotors; radially mounted, monoblock, 4-piston caliper
Brakes, Rear: 280 mm solid uniform expansion rotor; floating, single piston caliper
Brakes, Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS): Standard
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 89.2 in. (2,265 mm)
Overall Width: 38 in. (965 mm)
Overall Height: 59.4 in. (1,510 mm)
Seat Height, Laden: 31.8 in. (807 mm)
Seat Height, Unladen: 34.2 in. (869 mm)
Static Ground Clearance: 8.3 in. (210 mm)
Wheelbase: 62.2 in. (1,580 mm)
Fuel Capacity: 5.6 gal. (21.2 l) with 1 gal. (3.8 l) reserve
Fuel Economy: 48 mpg (4.9 l/100 km)
Oil Capacity (w/filter): 4.75 qt. (4.5 l)
Coolant Capacity: 2.32 qt. (2.2 l)
Weight, As Shipped: 503 lb. (228 kg)
Weight, In Running Order: 534 lb. (242 kg)
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: 1,003 lb. (454 kg)
Gross Axle Weight Rating: Front: 399 lb. (181 kg), 665 lb. (302 kg)
Luggage Capacity -Volume: N/A
Electrics:
Battery: Sealed, maintenance-free, absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery, 12V, 12Ah, 225 CCA at 0°F
Charging: Three-phase, 45 Amp system (300 Watts @13 Volts, 1,200 rpm, 585 Watts max power @ 13 Volts, 2,250 rpm)
Starting: 0.9 kW electric with direct drive starter motor engagement
Lights (as per country regulation):
└ Headlamp: Daymaker Signature LED headlamp, low and high beam with signature position lighting
└ Tail/Stop: All LED Tail/Stop lamp with signature tail lighting
└ Front Signal Lights: LED Bullet Turn Signals
└ Indicator Lamps: LED Bullet Turn Signals
Electric Power Outlet: USB C-Type , Output 5V at 2.4 Amp
Details:
Model ID: RA1250
Gauges: 6.8-inch viewable area TFT display with speedometer, gear, odometer, fuel level, clock, trip, low temp alert, side stand down alert, TIP over alert, cruise, range and tachometer indication BT capable - phone pairing to access phone calls, music, navigation (H-D App ONLY)
Auxiliary Lamps: N/A
Warranty: 24 months (unlimited mileage)
Color: Vivid Black, River Rock Gray
Price: Vivid Black: $17,319, Color: $17,569

Further Reading

Harley-Davidson

50 New Harley-Davidson Models In Five Years?
- image 788828

Read more Harley-Davidson news.

TJ Hinton
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read full bio
About the author

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: harley-davidson.com, triumphmotorcycles.com

Press release

Related Articles

2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S

2021 Harley-Davidson Unveils the All-New Sportster S

2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special

2017 - 2020 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

2018 - 2019 Ducati Multistrada 1260

2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire

What do you think?
Show Comments
Motorcycle Finder: