Our full-length 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special review spanned more than 4,000 words to fully describe Harley’s new adventure bike. That’s a lot of words, but there is a lot to cover with a brand new motorcycle in a hot category like the adventure segment – and even moreso when a manufacturer, whose entire line exists of cruisers, builds a bike outside its wheelhouse. 

2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special Review – First Ride

Harley-Davidson had a video crew on-site during the model introduction and let me blabber to the camera after two long days of riding that left me tired, sweaty, dirty, and sunburnt – but also thoroughly impressed. The result is a mildly coherent rambling of what stood out to me at that time (and still does, thankfully). 

When the Pan America’s First Look came out it was pretty exciting stuff. Doing just a spec sheet comparison, the H-D looks closer to its European rivals than its own recent product offering – as it should. Its 1250cc V-Twin engine is said to spit out 150 hp at 9,000 rpm and 94 lb-ft at 6,750. We hope to toss the bike on the dyno as soon as we’re able, but we can report that when you mash the throttle, the bike accelerates with ferocity. This new Revolution Max engine is no joke. In addition to its power output, the other standout feature for Harley’s new mill is its hydraulic lash adjusters that make its valvetrain essentially maintenance-free.  

Our time was spent on the Pan America 1250 Special which was equipped with electronic semi-adaptive Showa suspension components front and rear. Also equipped, was the adaptive ride height adjuster which lowers the motorcycle when it’s coming to a stop, therefore alleviating one of the biggest barriers to entry for the ADV market – seat height. The feature worked flawlessly and was hardly noticed by our group as it did its thang during our first day of riding.  

2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special

Those features combined with an electronics package that allows tailoring of the engine characteristics, TC adjustments, ABS tweaks, and plenty of other technological wizardry puts H-D’s latest machine right on par with other heavyweight adventure offerings. Speaking of weight, Harley-Davidson says the base model comes in at 534 lbs ready to ride which, if we look back to our last big ADV shootout spec sheet, would slot it in as the lightest machine in the group. Of course, we didn’t test the base model here. We tested the 1250 Special with optional cast wheels and extra protection which sees it coming in around 574 lbs. Still, the machine doesn’t feel as top-heavy off-road compared to plenty of the other models in the category.

Join other fans of the Harley-Davidson Pan America at PanAmericaForums.com

I can’t wait for the opportunity to throw a Harley into our next big ADV comparison. Who thought that would ever be a sentence? Hopefully, we’ll get a hold of the Pan America for a bit more long-term testing asap. For now, enjoy the video.