What an impressive bike! I’ll be the first to admit, I was a little sceptical about Harley Davidson® making a fully fleshed out ADVENTURE bike! Could they really stand a chance against competitors such as the KTM 1290 Super Adventure and BMW’s 1250 GS Adventure? I was interested to find out!
A concern that was quickly debunked was the weight of the Pan America™ 1250 Special. Weighing in at 258kgs, I questioned if a large adventure bike would be too big of a handful in tricky situations, for old farts like myself. Once riding though, I was simply amazed at how manageable the weight really was. Light enough to be nimble where it matters, and stable off-road, it honestly felt like a much lighter bike.
First Day Riding! Switching the bike into the standard Off-Road Plus riding mode, and turning traction control off… I had a lot of fun! The suspension never under-delivered, or bottomed out during my first day of riding! With that being said, I wasn’t hitting the trails overly hard!
When I got back on-road, I had a more in-depth play around with the various riding modes and engine mapping configurations. The ability to set your own custom maps excited the hell out of me. I customised a couple of modes... “locked” the suspension, “max” power, “max” engine braking on decibel and minimised the ABS. It was pretty gnarly.
Second Day Riding! New day... new riding mode. I remember after punching a hump pretty hard and seeing blue skies under my wheels, the bike did decide to bottom out. The landing was pretty hard, but I didn't feel discomfort on my wrists or legs. With the suspension locked, it performed outstandingly. The front is incredibly stable and sure-footed, able to cruise over loose stony terrain and mud with ease.
You get very comfortable and confident with the Pan America™ 1250 Special rather quickly. For a larger bike, it's incredibly welcoming to ride. The engine is so lively with good torque between 1500 - 3000 rpm so you can manoeuvre and step around rocky bits and gutters pretty easily. When you get to 4000 and up, woohoo away you go! Better be holding onto the handlebars real tight!
The front-wheel loves to stand up with a quick blip of the throttle, which comes in handy when hopping over humps, rocks and potholes. The rear end steps out easily, but not in a spooky way. The tracks I tackled were varied with wet, rocky and muddy terrain. Because the Pan America™ 1250 Special is so bloody capable, there aren’t many spots I wouldn’t attempt.
On-road riding was just as refined! The gearbox is slick and easy to get through the gears. The technology in this bike is rather extensive but super easy to work out for yourself. The Riding Modes are the most impressive thing for me - technology wise. I can easily see myself spending days playing around with all the different configurations you are able to do with this power plant. The dash is a ripper, big and easy to see and not overly complicated.
The active suspension works well. Admittedly I didn’t notice a huge difference from off-road to road, but maybe that’s what it’s meant to be like… just takes care of itself.
Overall thoughts on the Pan America™ 1250 Special was I loved it! This is a bike that needs to be test ridden!
I’m so happy to have ridden this bike and given it a bit of a flogging. Harley® has done it... they have built a bloody good adventure bike! This is a bike that oldies like me can ride every day on the road and have a squirt in the dirt every now and then on the weekend. It’s a winner in my humble opinion! Won’t be the last time I ask for a lend of it. Easily my new favourite bike.
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