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Harley Davidson Reveals the Pan America Off-road Bike

When you think of Harley Davison motorcycles, do you imagine mud, sand, and mountain roads? Do you think of straight-lining up a sandy slope, or drifting a dirt corner? No? Well, you should because Harley Davidson just added Adventure Touring to their website, where you’ll find the newly revealed Pan America 1250.

If you are now trying to picture a gleaming, growling Harley rocking up a logging road, you’re way off. Harley has gone back to the roots here; back to what their motorcycles were first made for.

harley davidson pan america 1250 in dirt

At the end of the 19th century, paved roads weren’t a thing. Vehicles bounced along rutted, washed-out, muddy, uneven surfaces—the type of roads Harley Davidsons were originally built for. In fact, Harley motorcycle sales competed with the horse and buggy. Harleys were used in both world wars and in 1975, Ivan Stewart won the Baja 500 on one. When the ’80s came along, riders wanted something luxurious and cruisy, so Harley filled the demand. Now, the company is reclaiming its adventure travel status from the good old days.

Because the Pan America concept hadn’t been done before, Harley had a lot of creative freedom; but they still wanted to do it the Harley way. The concept design was to keep the engine visible, and also make it stiff enough to be a central member of the frame. The Pan America will top 135 mph fully loaded and is said to corner like a street bike. With the handy touch of a button, riders can turn the Pan America into a sport-mode or cruiser.


As the first manufacturer to incorporate Adaptive Ride Height in a motorcycle, Harley appeals right off the bat to those of us on the shorter side. The system lowers the bike when the rider stops, then builds pressure through a pump to rise again on lift-off.

The long-standing company appears to have thought of everything when going after the adventure rider market, including:

Lightweight materials
Titanium exhaust
Knobby Michelin tires
Auxiliary lights
Moving map navigation
Heated grips
Steering dampener
Center stand

Harley Davidson’s new 1250 comes in two choices: the Pan America, starting at $17,319, and the Pan America Special, starting at $19,999.



Riders can get suited up for adventure at the dealership with bike protection like engine guards, along with off-roading gear from head to toe. Three different types of luggage systems are also available, including aluminum hard cases and Harley-branded soft bags.

I’m interested to see how the Pan America 1250 is received by the ADV crowd. For one, the weight at 547 pounds might be too heavy for some. The starting price tag is steep, but competitive with BMW’s 1200 GS.

In the end, one thing is certain: this is not the Harley you clean and polish daily. As Bill Rodencal, Harley Davidson Museum Collections Lead, says: “What’s a road? To a motorcycle, what isn’t?”

harley davidson pan america 1250 jumping

Pan America off roading





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Heather Lea has traveled to over 60 countries, 40 of which were on a BMW F 800 GS during a 708-day round-the-world motorcycle adventure with now-husband, Dave Sears (Trip Blog: Riding Full Circle). Heather has been a freelance writer for over twenty-five years and a book and magazine editor for more than fifteen. Aside from Expedition Portal, her stories can be found in Overland Journal, Canadian Geographic, Kootenay Mountain Culture, and Canadian Alpine Journal. She loves doing anything in the backcountry, including backpacking, four-wheel-driving, ski touring, and climbing. Heather is a Canadian now living in Bellingham, WA. Find her on Instagram at writer_heather_lea or on Facebook at Heather Lea—Senior Editor—motorcycles.