24 September 2021

Don rides: The Harley-Davidson Pan America RA1250S

Yesterday (23 Sept 2021) I had the pleasure of taking the Harley-Davidson Pan America for a good spin! Steve & Paul at LIND Guildford Harley-Davidson were fine hosts at their dealership - friendly, professional & knowledgeable.

Background: Kim & I miss the ability to tour, as we used to do on Holly my previous bike - a Honda Crosstourer VFR1200X. Now Ariel my Honda CB1000R+ is a truly brilliant bike (God willing gonna keep this bike forever!) but far from ideal for two up touring. Add a topbox & panniers & it would ruin what the CB does fantastically. So the solution is another bike. As Jeff says: the equation to calculate the ideal number of bikes is n+1 ;0).

The Pan America is designed to take a tasty slice of BMW's GS pie. It's a very attractive pie too: the GS is one of the best selling bikes in the UK, and the adventure bike market is probably the biggest sector in motorcycling. At my bike club IAM RoadSmart Solent the car park teems with GSs! So HD, known to the world as a purveyor of American cruisers, has developed their first adventure bike: the Harley-Davidson Pan America. "What's it like then?", I hear you ask. Read on...

The Pan America is a big bike, and makes Ariel look like a 125! The "S" (stands for Special) model that I rode has lashings of goodness as standard, but Guildford's demo model had been further upgraded with Adaptive Ride Height rear suspension, Spoked wheels, extra lighting, Topbox, etc. 

I spent about 45 minutes riding through leafy Surrey including Godalming, Busbridge, Hascombe, Loxhill, Dunsfold, etc - and got a good feel for the bike. The Revolution Max 1250 V-Twin engine is a brand new design delivering a claimed 150bhp, and has loads of low down grunt. The Adaptive Ride Height feature (lowers the bike by ~30mm when you come to a stop) works well, but is so subtle I only caught it doing it's thing once - clever! The fact the bike rises when you move off gives a great view of the road & surroundings. The windscreen is easy to adjust while on the go - with only one hand. Fantastic road grip giving a confident ride with compliant suspension & a super comfy seat. Good brakes by Brembo, not as powerful stopping as I'd imagined - but it is a big bike! A light, easy pull to the clutch lever with a smooth gearbox - although I did get a couple of false neutrals. This bike had a Screamin' Eagle performance exhaust fitted - which I thought was a touch loud (when cracking on) for my liking. That said, the bike made a fab sound on over-run: plenty of pops & bangs :0) ! The bike has self cancelling indicators, which weren't 100% self cancelling, and the indicator switch was in an awkward position - which made it tricky (not easy) do activate the turn signals. Like most things - I guess you'd get used to that. Harley is known for a very high quality build (which this bike certainly had) with great residuals (unknown - brand new model only launched this year).

So this bike was the "S" model. Spoked wheels (cast as standard) & Adaptive Ride Height are must haves. So would a luggage kit (topbox, panniers, mounts). Ball park £18.5k. Here are my pictures of the bike. It's a cracker & perhaps is a viable alternative to the Honda Africa Twin. Decisions, decisions...


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