• 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special

When the ADV industry said "Go big or go home", Harley replied "Hold my beer and watch this"

LISTEN 10:40

Harley-Davidson’s design team pulled out all the stops for its “Special” version of the new Pan America 1250 platform, and it shows throughout the details. Electronic suspension controls join with a TPMS and high-output, adaptive headlight that responds to changes in lean angle as you stoop to a corner. The addition of heated hand grips and brush guards increase the Special’s cold-weather and off-road utility, plus it rolls with a center stand that helps ease the pain of trail-side stops. To enhance its adventure worthiness, the engine has a variable valve-timing feature that broadens the tractable power band, and the suspension sports an optional Adaptive Ride Height feature in an industry first. The Special is a more appropriate machine for riders who are more likely to head off-road than its more street-centric base model sibling, the Pan America 1250.

  • 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special
  • Year:
    2021
  • Make:
  • Model:
    Pan America
  • Engine:
    V-Twin
  • Displacement:
    1252 cubic inches
  • Top Speed:
    135 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    19999

2021 Harley-Davidson PanAmerica 1250 Special Design

  • All new from the ground up
  • LED lighting with signature taillight
  • Daymaker® Signature Adaptive Headlight
  • Adjustable rally-style windshield
  • Configurable 6.8-inch color TFT display
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special
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2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special
- image 976196

It would be easy to say that the MoCo is breaking new ground, and they are in contemporary terms, but you could argue that the factory is simply returning to its roots. “From its inception more than a century ago, when many roads were little more than dirt trails, Harley-Davidson has stood for adventure,” says Jochen Zeitz, chairman, president, and CEO Harley-Davidson. “So I’m very proud to present Pan-America as the first adventure touring bike designed and built in America. The Pan America models exude that go-anywhere spirit, shared today by riders in the US and around the globe who want to experience the world on a motorcycle.

Toward that end, the Pan America 1250 Special looks like nothing that has come out of Milwaukee in generations. It leads off with a stubby front fairing that, while I find it a bit stodgy looking, I still prefer to any and all sorts of bird-beak fairings. One of my other favorite ADV bikes is Honda’s Africa Twin, and I like the overall look because of the same reason, if I’m honest.

The Special’s blocky front fairing houses an all-LED Daymaker Adaptive Headlamp that works with an in-board IMU to gauge the angle of lean. It illuminates the curve accordingly in steps as a series of LED emitters with different aim points light up in the turn with stops at 8 degrees, 15 degrees, and 23 degrees.

Behind the adjustable, rally-style windscreen is a full-color 6.8-inch TFT touchscreen that serves as a one-stop-shop for all of the instrumentation along with the infotainment and ride-quality controls. The rider’s triangle allows for a standing riding position to tackle the more technical off-road stuff. This is backed up by a quick-adjust brake pedal that you can move to a more comfortable position without benefit of tools allowing you to switch back and forth as changing conditions demand.

Subframe-mount footpegs and a stock pillion pad join a beefy set of J.C. handles that meet in the back to form a small luggage rack, but if you want any real storage capacity, you’ll have to spring for the optional panniers and top case.

2021 Harley-Davidson PanAmerica 1250 Special Chassis

  • Semi-active front and rear suspension
  • Vehicle Loading Control
  • Cornering-enhanced ABS and traction control
  • Hill-hold control
  • Factory-installed option, tubeless laced wheels
  • Factory-installed option, Adaptive Ride Height
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special
- image 976195
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special
- image 976199
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special
- image 976204

The steel Trellis frame on the Pan America 1250 Special is made up of separate head and tail pieces that use the engine as a stressed member to complete the structure and eliminate several large chunks of tubing in the process. A steering damper comes stock on the Special to help take the edge off the kickback prevalent in off-road use. Rake and trail are 25 degrees and 6.2 inches respectively, figures that deliver a mixed bag of agility and tracking at speed, but it’s the suspension that steals the show.

Showa provides the hardware for the semi-active front and rear suspension while H-D developed the software in house to deliver a ride that can compete with the best ADV-bike manufacturers around the globe. Dynamic damping control delivers the goods with a Vehicle Loading Control system that detects the current load and automatically sets the preload accordingly. Not only that, but when you come to a stop, the Adaptive Ride Height option kicks in and lets the rear-end sag 1 or 2 inches, depending on the moving preload setting. You can lower the seat further yet, to the tune of 2 more inches, with the optional “low” seat, or jack it up 2 inches with the “tall” saddle, all of which works together to make you comfortable at stops while maintaining the 8.3-inch ground clearance and 7.5-inch suspension travel needed for serious off-road work.

Cast wheels round out the rolling chassis in a 19-inch diameter ahead of a 17-incher, but if you’re into that dirt life, you can opt for the tubeless wire-spoke wheels instead. Dual-surface Michelin Scorcher Adventure hoops round out the rolling chassis in a 120/70 up front and a 170/60 out back with a stealth-knobby tread that ensures traction both on-road and off-road. Dual, 320 mm discs and four-piston Brembo calipers haul down the front end with a 280 mm disc on the rear and ABS protection as part of the standard equipment package.

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 electronically adjustable semi-active damping control. Aluminum fork triple clamps/ 7.5 in. (191 mm)
Rear Shocks/ Travel: Linkage-mounted with automatic electronic preload control and semi-active compression and rebound damping/ 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: Anodized 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

2021 Harley-Davidson PanAmerica 1250 Special 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 five ride modes
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special
- image 976190
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special
- image 976200
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special
- image 976201

Power for the Pan America 1250 Special comes from the new Revolution Max 1250 engine to the tune of 150 horsepower at 9 grand backed up by 94 pound-feet of torque that tops out at 6,750 rpm. That’s right – in a sharp departure from the norm, Harley-Davidson built a liquid-cooled V-Twin with dual over-head cams and a short-stroke layout. Bore and stroke mic out at 105 mm and 72 mm respectively for a 1,252 cc displacement and sizzlin’ 13-to-1 compression ratio, but that 91-octane fuel is the price you have to pay for all those ponies, though the advanced knock-detection sensors should help you run it on lower octane fuel if that’s all you can get.

Self-adjusting hydraulic valve lifters act on the quartet of poppets per head to limit valve noise and extend the service period, but the real star here is the variable valve-timing feature that permits the cam and its drive gear to rotate independent of each other to deepen the torque well and provide optimal valve timing for any given rev range.

A slip-and-assist clutch couples engine power to the six-speed transmission that, similar to the old Evo Sporty engine, rides in a common casting with the engine cases to make the drivetrain a self-contained unit.

Speaking just to this particular mechanic specifically and the overall performance in general, this Revolution Max 1250 is comparable and competitive with the other top AVD-bike brands like Ducati and its Multistrada for instance, or perhaps the Triumph Tiger or one of Beemer’s Gelände-Staße models.

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

2021 Harley-Davidson PanAmerica 1250 Special Price

2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special
- image 976193
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special
- image 976198
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special
- image 976207

For the launch of the Pan America 1250 Special, you can choose the Vivid Black over black package for $19,999. Gauntlet Gray Metallic over black runs $20,249 and the two-tone Baja Orange/Stone Washed White Pearl, also over black, for $20,349.

Model ID: RA1250S
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)
Standard equipment: Security Option, Cruise Control Option, Standard Cornering ABS
Warranty: 24 months (unlimited mileage)
Color: Vivid Black, Gauntlet Gray Metallic, Baja Orange/Stone-Washed White Pearl
Price: Vivid Black: $19,999, Color: $20,249, Two-Tone: $20,349

2021 Harley-Davidson PanAmerica 1250 Special Competitors

2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special
- image 976186
2019 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure
- image 826199

It’s a rare thing for Harley-Davidson to try to compete outside its comfort zone, and rarer still to take on another genre on its own terms, but Milwaukee managed to do both, so let’s see how it stacks up against one of the best Europe has to offer, the BMW R 1250 GS Adventure. Beemer calls it a Gelände-Staße (over-land and street), and that pretty much sums up the platform. Additionally, the “Adventure” is built with an off-road bias much like H-D’s “Special,” so let’s get to it.

BMW R 1250 GS Adventure

2019 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure
- image 826180

Right off the bat, the GS rocks a bird’s-beak front fairing that strikes more of a dirt-bike note than the blunt bow on the PA. It’s a typical entry for the genre, and I gotta’ say that BMW makes it jive with the rest of the bodywork quite nicely.

A narrow, rally-style windscreen and stock hand guards deliver roughly the same level of pilot protection, and the Beemer rolls with similar bike and engine protection with ample bolt-on guards and a bashplate. The bad news starts for the Bayerishe almost immediately, the suspension is rather lackluster for an ADV bike at this price point and is positively medieval compared to the stock electronic stems on the Harley. That “stock” bit is important as BMW does offer electronic suspension, but it’s optional equipment.

Things don’t really improve for the GS in the engine department either. The 1,254 cc boxer twin puts out a claimed 136 horsepower with 105 pound-feet of torque against H-D’s 150/94 in what is more-or-less a sidegrade at best. Beemer makes some up in the electronics suite to meet H-D tit-for-tat in the ride-quality and -control category with lean-sensitive ABS, traction control, Hill Start Control, and Ride Modes.

If you were expecting H-D to price as usual – which is to say “too damn high,” – you may be surprised to hear that the BMW R 1250 GS is priced a touch higher at $20,345 to make the H-D Pan America competitive in every pertinent category.

Read our full review of the BMW R 1250 GS Adventure.

He Said

“Truth be told, I wasn’t really feeling the Pan Am, but that was based mainly on looks. Once I started to learn more about what it had going on under the hood, I was increasingly like “Oh HELL YEAH.” By the end, I had decided if I had 20 grand laying around I didn’t need, I would definitely be adding this one to the stable. And I’d ride it like I stole it.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “There is so much to say about this new Pan America 1250 Special. Harley teased us three years ago as part of their More Roads to Harley-Davidson’ campaign and we finally see the finished product. This is no baby-step, toe-in-the-water attempt at an adventure bike. The whole package says, go big or go home and everything about the Pan America 1250 Special puts it in the mix with all the heavy-hitters in the adventure game. Ask me what I’m most excited about and I’ll say it’s the Adaptive Ride Height feature. With the factory-installed optional suspension, the bike squats when you come to a stop making it easier to put your feet on the ground. As a height-challenged person, I gotta love the possible 30.4-inch seat height on an adventure bike without compromising ground clearance.”

2021 Harley-Davidson PanAmerica 1250 Special 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 electronically adjustable semi-active damping control. Aluminum fork triple clamps/ 7.5 in. (191 mm)
Rear Shocks/ Travel: Linkage-mounted with automatic electronic preload control and semi-active compression and rebound damping/ 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: Anodized 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: 31.1 in. (790 mm)
Seat Height, Unladen: 33.4 in. (850 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: 46 mpg
Oil Capacity (w/filter): 4.75 qt. (4.5 l)
Coolant Capacity: 2.32 qt. (2.2 l)
Weight, As Shipped: 527 lb. (239 kg)
Weight, In Running Order: 559 lb. (254 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 Adaptive LED headlamp, with six-segment LED banking lamp
└ 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
Auxiliary Lamps: N/A
Details:
Model ID: RA1250S
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)
Standard equipment: Security Option, Cruise Control Option, Standard Cornering ABS
Warranty: 24 months (unlimited mileage)
Color: Vivid Black, Gauntlet Gray Metallic, Baja Orange/Stone-Washed White Pearl
Price: Vivid Black: $19,999, Color: $20,249, Two-Tone: $20,349

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, bmwmotorcycles.com

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