Desperate to breathe new life into a company that had been resting on its cruiser based laurels for decades, sweeping changes were made to their lineup. Indeed, the popular cruiser and touring bones remain, but a few key additions have been made and a few slow sellers culled.
The Adventure bike market has seen explosive growth over the past few years, so as much as it goes against the grain, it does make financial sense.
10 New Engine
No valve adjustment, ever. That is the promise made by the latest Revolution Max engine, thanks to hydraulic valve lash adjusters.
It promises to be one of their best engines, with electronic variable valve timing and a DOHC set up it is good for 150 horsepower, right in line with the competition.
9 New Approach
This is not the first Harley powered Adventure bike, that honor technically goes to the Buell Ulysses (above), which was initially supposed to be a little more off-road oriented.
It was a bit of a disaster though as the old air/oil cooled V-twins were just too underpowered for their weight. This time Harley didn’t farm out the job, they did it themselves, and they did it the hard way, from the ground up.
8 Tech Heavy
In an effort to keep up with the proverbial Joneses (i.e. the Germans) they threw the kitchen sink at the bike, with a more sophisticated electronics suite than you will find on any other current Harley.
It makes use of a six-axis IMU which controls the lean sensitive ABS and traction control, to make the most of this feature you have 5 ride modes to choose from; road, rain, sport, off-road and off-road plus. The latest model also offers an optional quickshifter, although that will add a fair amount to the already hefty price tag.
7 Adaptive Suspension
One of the bike’s party tricks is the adaptive suspension that will rise as you ride and then lower as you come to a stop.
It is a feature that is unique to the Pan-America and is quite frankly genius. It will give you more confidence being able to get both feet down when you come to a stop without compromising the ground clearance.
6 Comfortable Tourer
If you spent a little too much time looking at the marketing for the bike, you would swear it must be some kind of off-road beast. Spoiler alert, it isn’t. The thing is huge, just look at it.
It was never intended to be either, it is positioned against the large displacement touring focussed Adventure bikes, and in that arena it excels. Sure, it can go off-road, as well as any of these behemoths can, they just are not meant for tight technical trails, they are built for long distance comfort, with heated grips, a comfy seat and nice ergonomics it will take you anywhere and back.
One thing Harley-Davidson does well is make sure they have both an options list and a robust aftermarket prepared for all their customers. The Pan-America is no exception.
If you dare get too carried away with the extensive list of options you might end up paying over $30,000 for one of these, but you need not, there is already a decent selection of accessories available thanks to all the partnerships Harley has.
4 Genuine Competitor
After all the hype surrounding this bike we were all convinced that it was going to fall well short of expectations, but in the end once it actually broke cover, it did the unthinkable and exceeded them.
Few manufacturers have brought out something this good on their first effort, even the pioneers of this class were scorned in the beginning.
3 Road Oriented
So many publications want to take this bike off-road, in so doing you will literally see the worst of this bike, no matter how much Harley insists on highlighting that it has off-road ability it won’t compete against any true off-road focussed Adventure bike.
This is a fantastic touring/sport touring bike, that will also effortlessly double as a commuter, just like many other bikes in this class. This is not a bike you should put dedicated off-road tires on and search out far-flung destinations. Instead, it’s a bike you get on and just ride wherever you want, whenever you want.
2 Incredible Effort
Nobody expected this kind of bike to ever get made by Harley-Davidson, but almost to spite the doubters they made it anyway.
It is far from perfect, it is for one, ridiculously heavy at close to 600 pounds and is also very complex which won’t necessarily translate to reliability.
1 Something Different
We suspect this bike will appeal to two distinct sets of riders, Harley lovers who have been after an Adventure bike, and Adventure bike enthusiasts desperate for something different.
It most certainly isn’t something anyone can learn on, and if you haven’t done any off-road riding before you certainly shouldn’t attempt it on this. It is exceptional though, and well worth a look if you know what you are looking for.