Harley-Davidson Takes Flight with the New Pan America

What you see here is nothing short of a new beginning for Harley-Davidson. Even more than the electric Livewire, which plays to Harley’s self-image of being “first” and “original”, the 2021 Pan America is aimed squarely at a new generation of motorcyclists who might have never even considered buying a Harley before. Meet, in other words, the future of Harley-Davidson.

The Pan America is fundamentally different from Harleys past not because of its all-new, high-revving, 60-degree liquid-cooled V-Twin engine. It’s not even all that different from past Harleys that raced on dirt tracks across America. Heck, it’s not even the first adventure-tour bike to be sold in Harley dealerships (that honor goes, arguably, to the Buell Ulysses XB12X). No, what makes this bike different from any other Harley in recent memory is that the Pan America was designed in response to trends in the market.

In the past, Harley would design a bike and the market would respond to it– or, at least, that’s what Harley hoped would happen. Now that The Motor Company seems to have accepted that change is needed, it can get back to what it does best, I think. That is: building great motorcycles.

Make no mistake, true believers– this bike has the makings of a truly great motorcycle. Harley calls the Pan America, “equal parts campfire, wanderlust, and grit,” and the spec sheet heavily implies that there’s more to those words than just carefully-crafted PR-speak.

The all-new, 1250cc Revolution Max V-Twin engine is a thoroughly modern, liquid-cooled piece that produced more than 115HP. And– yes, you’re right!– it is incredibly rare for Harley-Davidson to publish power figures. Expect that 115, to be a somewhat “conservative” figure, then. Expect, too, for the bike to deliver the goods when you decide to “send it” on more aggressive trails, too. That engine is believed to act as a stressed-member in the Pan America’s chassis, which is supported by expensive-looking inverted forks and a multilink(?) setup at the rear. Harley also announced that it’s been working with Brembo on new, radial-piston calipers that will match the motorcycle brand’s “styling ethos”, and with Michelin on co-branded tires designed to deliver the sort of predictable all-terrain performance experienced adventure-tour riders have come to expect from other premium brands.

It seems like, with the Pan America, H-D will be betting on its product being good enough to lure buyers back into its stores and away from the BMW and Honda Africa dealers of the world, rather than its history. That’s good for riders– and even better for Harley fans. That’s my take, anyway. What about you? Let us know what you think of the new “Revolution Max” in the comments section at the bottom of the page.


Source | Images: Harley-Davidson, via RideApart.