2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 | First Look Review

The 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan American 1250 Special shown in Baja Orange and Stone Washed White Pearl.

It’s official: Harley-Davidson has entered the Adventure-Touring segment with the all-new 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250. The ADV class has become one of the most hotly contested categories in motorcycling, and H-D is joining the fray with two models — a base model Pan America 1250, priced at $17,319 and the up-spec Pan America 1250 Special priced at $19,999. Loaded with technology, an all-new 1250cc V-twin engine and much more, these American-made ADV look ready for action.


The Pan America features an all-new Revolution Max engine, a 1,250cc DOHC liquid-cooled 60-degree V-twin that pumps out a claimed 150 horsepower at 9,000 rpm and 94 lb-ft of torque at 6,750 rpm. Harley says these healthy performance figures include a broad powerband but doesn’t forgo a nice top-end surge that extends to the 9,500 rpm redline.

The 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 standard model, shown in River Rock Gray with Medallion.


H-D has pulled out all the stops with the Revolution Max engine when it comes to engine tech, and we see things like Variable Valve Timing (VVT) and a finger-follower valvetrain employed. The brand has also adopted a radically oversquare 105mm bore and 72mm stroke, which is a huge departure for H-D engines. High-mileage riders will also enjoy hearing about the maintenance-free valves, thanks to hydraulic adjusters, saving owners time and money at the dealer.

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The Revolution Max engine uses an interesting exhaust solution with two mufflers — although based on photos, you might miss that detail. The most prominent side-mounted muffler is accompanied by another muffler located under the engine that H-D says won’t impede off-road excursions or compromise lean angles. Speaking of emissions, the new powerplant is Euro 5 compliant.

Lastly, a 6-speed gearbox equipped with a slipper-clutch is part of the package.

The Pan America Special (shown) features a tire pressure monitoring system, centerstand, multi-position brake pedal, radiator brush guard, aluminum skid plate, heated grips, handguards and a steering damper.


On the electronics front, both Pan Am machines are equipped with a full-suite of IMU-supported rider aids that we’ve come to expect on flagship models. To that end, five preset riding modes (Road, Sport, Rain, Off-Road and Off-Road Plus) adjust the intervention levels of cornering ABS, lean-angle-detecting traction control and drag-torque slip-control. Hill-hold assist and cruise control are standard. The 1250 Special gets a few more electronic gizmos in the form of a tire-pressure monitoring system and the Daymaker adaptive headlight system that illuminates more of the road when cornering at night.


A massive 6.8-inch full-color touchscreen TFT display is standard and can be paired with your Bluetooth-equipped mobile device to use navigation and more. The display features an anti-reflective coating, making it easy to read in direct sunlight.

Pan America Special.


To save chassis weight, H-D engineers opted to make the 1250cc powerplant a stressed member, and the Pan America is said to have a wet weight of 534 pounds while the Pan America 1250 Special tips the scales at 559 pounds. According to The Motor Company, the frame is broken down into three distinct sections — a front, mid and tail section — all bolted directly to the engine to create a rigid and sporty chassis. On that note, we see ADV geometry like a long 62.2-inch wheelbase and 25-degree rake in play, which will hopefully translate to a handy yet sure-footed motorcycle on- or off-road.


Suspension hardware is an area where the two Pan America bikes diverge. The base model 1250 features fully adjustable Showa suspension with a linkage-type shock and an ample 7.48 inches of travel at both ends. However, the 1250 Special kicks it up a notch with semi-active Showa suspension that automatically adjusts damping settings based on your riding and environment. Meanwhile, preload is adjusted based on the rider’s weight, passenger, or luggage at any given time.

Pan America Special.


Special owners will also have the option to add Adaptive Ride Height (ARH) that automatically lowers the motorcycle 1 to 2 inches when coming to a stop or parked, allowing riders with shorter inseam-length to plant their boots on the ground confidently. Once the motorcycle starts out, the suspension returns to normal, maintaining full suspension travel, maximum ground clearance, and the laden 31.1-inch seat height.


In standard trim, both Pan America models feature 19- and 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels, shod with Michelin Scorcher Adventure rubber. Those that want to hit the dusty trail will want to get the optional tubeless wire-spoke wheels, as well as the optional Michelin Anakee Wild knobby tires. The 19-inch front wheel size is a wise one, as it often results in a wide tire choice plus good balance between on-road agility and off-road capability.


As these motorcycles are open-class ADV bikes, the seating accommodations look remarkably roomy around the sizeable 5.6-gallon fuel tank. Each bike uses an adjustable windscreen with a 1.8-inch range of adjustment. Seat heights vary between models and remember, the Special’s electronic suspension raises and lowers the bike depending on the amount of laden weight. The standard 1250 has a lofty seat height of 34.2 inches (35.2 inches in the high position).

Pan America in Vivid Black.


The Special’s seat height is more variable because of the semi-active suspension adjusting height, but it is listed at a more accommodating 33.4 inches. Also, the Special receives heated grips and handguards.


Radially mounted 4-piston monoblock Brembo calipers and 320mm rotors in the front handle braking, accompanied by a single-piston Brembo caliper and a 280mm rotor in the rear. Additionally, the 1250 Special features a height-adjustable rear brake pedal.


Pricing for the standard Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 begins at $17,319 and is offered in two color options; Vivid Black, River Rock Gray with Medallion ($250). Meanwhile, the full-regalia Pan America 1250 has a starting price of $19,999 and is available in three solid color options; Vivid Black, Gauntlet Gray Metallic ($250), and Deadwood Green. A two-tone Baja Orange and Stone Washed White Pearl ($350) option is available. All Special models feature a split graphic.


We’re excited about this new frontier for Harley-Davidson and we can’t wait to get some seat time aboard these machines that are expected to hit dealers this spring. Until then, feast your eyes on The Motor Company’s all-new 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 and 1250 Special.

2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Specs:

Base Price: $17,319; $19,999 (Special)
Website: Harley-Davidson
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 60-degree V-twin, OHV, 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 1252cc (76.3ci)
Bore x Stroke: 105 x 72mm
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet slipper clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Wheelbase: 62.2.0 in.
Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/6.2 in.
Seat Height: 34.2-35.2 in.; 33.4-34.4 (Special)
Claimed Wet Weight: 534 lbs.; 559 lbs. (Special)
Fuel Capacity: 5.6 gals.

2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 and 1250 Special Photo Gallery:

8 COMMENTS

  1. Not something I’m likely to buy. Just getting tired of spending so much on motorcycles. Still, looks interesting. Curious what that finned object is sticking out of the front of the bash plate.

  2. Harley Davidson. – now just as rediculously technologically advanced as everyone else.

    Like modern cars these are no longer long-term keepers.

    When things start to wear out or get glitchy (with how many bazzillion lines of code controlling everything?) they will lose value quickly as repair of components will be impossible and the required replacement of modules will cost more than the bike will be worth.

    Remember when Mercedes Benz’ and Harley’s could be driven forever? No longer. For what? If all that complexity is what’s required to pull gullible customers into the showroom to want to ride a bike, then motorcycling is already dead.

    RIP the good car and the good motorcycle.

  3. It is very good to see that H-D is embracing the technology that has been proven by other manufacturers and the racing circuits. I’m old enough to remember when people ridiculed ABS and airbags as marketing ploys for the gullible. Both have saved countless lives. The technology laden bikes I’ve owned failed mechanically, not electronically. Final drives, fuel delivery systems, and frame cracks are some of the problems I’ve encountered over 20 years of riding Adventure bikes. But the ABS and adaptive suspension components kept on ticking.

  4. It’s certainly an adventurous departure from their iconic iron horse, but really, how available is it? Our local HD dealership has shuttered; it was a very decent place to purchase and service. In fact, every major manufacturer is still present within a two hour ride . . . but not Harley-Davidson. My understanding is that in Europe and Canada more than a few dealerships have been shuttered, and not because the local owners wanted it.

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