When was the last time you came across a motorcycle actually named after the country it originates from? Right? Me neither. That too with a promise of travelling right across it. If you think about it, there is some logic there. The Pan America is no ordinary motorcycle. That’s because, since 1903, Harley-Davidson has had a unique approach to building bikes. It’s always been about the open roads, leather jackets and easy riding. But, like most things in life, change is inevitable. In that respect, Harley-Davidson seems to have a handle on where the market is headed. Why do I say so? Well, because of the Pan America 1250, of course. It’s the first time the iconic American brand has made an adventure-tourer. And what a first attempt! Dare I say, it looks characteristically like a Harley-Davidson. FYI, we had the top of line Pan America 1250 Special, which retails at Rs 19.99 lakh (ex-showroom). If you want the standard version, that costs Rs 16.90 lakh (ex-showroom).
In case you’re wondering, the Special gets semi-active suspension, Vehicle Loading Control system which automatically adjusts the preload according to the weight of the rider, TPMS, steering damper and a whole lot more. Hence, the Rs 3 lakh premium for the top-end variant. There are some visual differences as well, but both variants look pretty kickass. Right from those knuckle guards, square-ish headlamps, huge windscreen and angular cuts all around, it’s clear that it is meant to be a rugged motorcycle – and it is! The seat too is mighty comfortable and provides ample support on longer rides. That emblem on the side, which gets divided between the tank and the fairing also looks quite fantastic. As far as the design is concerned, Harley-Davidson has got it bang on, I feel. This is as American as it gets, it’s big, brash and badass – a true Harley-Davidson. Since Yash Sunil had done most of the riding, here’s what he has to say about the motorcycle.
“The footpeg placement and handlebar height placement was extremely comfortable for long-distance riding. Didn’t feel any tiredness on the wrists and shoulders nor any discomfort on my lower back after riding. The only downside is that riders under 5 feet 9 inches will have to stand on their tippy-toes. The ride quality in one word is fantastic. It feels extremely planted and passes over bad roads and speed breakers with extreme ease. Power delivery I felt was a bit harsh in Sport, the throttle response felt too lazy in rain. Street mode felt the most comfortable and didn’t make the bike twitchy. Braking performance was quite mundane. It did offer decent braking performance but lacked the eagerness and urgency required while riding such a big bike. That being said, it did bring such a heavy bike to a halt quite quickly. A good amount of power and torque was available through the gears. The bike would happily cruise along at 80km/h in 4th gear and the engine didn’t feel strained. Additionally, the torque curve felt quite linear and easy to control.”
I’m in complete agreement with Yash. The thing that hit instantly was the excellent ride comfort and incredible performance the Pan America 1250 has. Since this is a chain drive and not a belt one, it feels distinctly different from Harley’s of recent times. Special praise must go out to the 6.8-inch TFT, which is simple and informative, and the switchgear, which is well-built and plentiful. Although, the rear-view mirrors could have been bigger and better designed. For most, there might be a deterrent. But, if you’re a Harley fangirl/boy and feel that the Pan America lacks the essence of a true Harley – well don’t. Trust me, this has all the makings of a true icon for the Americans. For example, if the engine is on and you’re trying to have a conversation with someone right next to you – it just won’t happen. The sheet engine noise is colossal and can be a little annoying at times. But, mostly it heralds the arrival of a truly big motorcycle which leaves bystanders in awe. There were a whole bunch of people who stopped, waved and marvelled at just how overbearing the Pan America 1250 truly looks in person.
So, what’s the verdict? Is the Pan America 1250 any good? Is it worth the cash? If you consider the competition, the Ducati Multistrada, BMW GS and Triumph Tiger are well-established players. However, the Pan America is more affordable than most of these models available here. I will also say this – for a first attempt, Harley-Davidson deserves a massive amount of praise and respect. What most people don’t understand is the sheer effort that goes into coming up with a whole new motorcycle. Sure, Harley-Davidson is going through a bit of a hard time but I’m sure (fingers crossed) things will only get better. Certainly, with products like the Pan America 1250 and LiveWire, things look bright. As much as I’d like to conclude on that note, I can’t – in all honesty. The bike we had gotten for the test did feel a little worn down but towards the end of our shoot, we did have a bit of an issue. Nevertheless, Harley-Davidson promptly handled the issue and took the Pan America 1250 away on a flatbed. We’re still not quite sure what the issue was, but there was leakage and a rise in engine temperature. All in all, not the kind of goodbye I’d expected, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the Pan Am is a capable, comfortable and good looking motorcycle.
(With inputs from Yash Sunil)
Engine – 1,252 cc, V-Twin
Power – 148 bhp
Torque – 128 Nm
Gearbox – 6-speed
Price – Rs 19.99 lakh (ex-showroom)
Kerb Weight – 254 kilograms
Fuel tank – 21.2 litres
For – Larger than life feel, butch looks, comfortable ride, torquey performance
Against – Weight, review-view mirrors look basic, ride height