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ADV NewsHarley-Davidson Pan America Looks To Be This Summer’s Blockbuster

Harley-Davidson Pan America Looks To Be This Summer’s Blockbuster

High demand for Harley’s new adventure bike surprises skeptics.

Published on 06.01.2021

Despite a long wait and widespread skepticism, Harley-Davidson’s Pan America is on track to become the darling of this summer’s riding season. 

Dealers from all over the country are reporting high demand and wait lists, with many buyers won over by the Pan America’s competitive starting price of $17,319, and raft of cutting-edge technology and amenities. According to Harley, 500 pre-order units that were offered in the U.S. with a unique owner’s package sold out straight away, long before the model started shipping to dealerships in mid-May. 

2021 Harley Davidson Pan America sales

The Milwaukee Business Journal is also reporting that dealers in Harley’s home state are scrambling to keep up with demand for the Pan America. As soon as units drop, there is a buyer. “We got one last Thursday,” stated a local dealer. “The customer took it Friday morning. We are scrambling.” Craig Winger, general manager of another dealership in the area is also seeing units flying off their inventory, “Any Pan Americas shipped to [our location] have deposits and are sold.”


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Keith Ulicki, the owner of Uke’s Harley-Davidson in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is very excited about the bike, reporting that it’s not just long-term Harley owners, but also BMW riders who are showing interest. “It’s a pretty overwhelming response we got from the consumer,” the general manager of another Wisconsin dealership told the Journal. 

Positive reviews from journalists worldwide have helped whip up enthusiasm for the Pan America after testers were able to put the bike through its paces on and off-road in the Mojave Desert. They left unanimous in their respect for Harley’s daring venture into the competitive adventure bike market. The bike works. It even brings brand-new, innovative technology to the scene in the form of its Adaptive Ride Height feature, a $1000 option which lowers the suspension when the motorcycle comes to a stop.

Harley Davidson Pan America sales

An article posted in the New York Times over the Memorial Day weekend asserted that the Pan America could very well be Harley-Davidson’s saving grace, calling it a potential blockbuster. The article cites The Motor Company’s positive first quarter earnings as a sign the iconic American brand might finally be turning a financial corner after years of stagnation brought on by declining interest in heavy cruisers and an aging core customer. 

Of course, this is just what Harley’s corporate brain was aiming for, both with its LiveWire e-bike, which remains too novel and pricey to generate a profit, and now this so-far well-received flagship adventure bike. While ex-CEO Matt Levatich, who resigned last year after five years of slumping sales, is responsible for the Pan America, his replacement, Jochen Zeitz, is happy to ride its wave in popularity. 

According to the New York Times piece, Zeitz said “We have not been active in the adventure and touring market because we didn’t have a bike, but we sure have the history. We would not have been able to build this bike if it wasn’t in the DNA of the company.”

Harley Davidson Pan America sales

Zeitz, who sat on the board ahead of his leadership role with H-D, also said he expected skepticism. “Before you launch into a new category, you always get the doubters and the cynics,” he said. 

And now that the Pan America has hit the ground roosting and people are rushing to put down deposits on the promising newcomer, Zeitz has wisely invested in the schooling of his salesforce, with many from dealerships now partaking in organized off-road training on the Pan America. 

Harley Davidson Pan America sales

So what’s an adventure rider to think after hearing all the buzz about Harley’s new adventure rig? Sign up for a demo ride of course and judge for yourself. There are a few events on the official demo tour that still have open spots. Otherwise, stop into one of the nearly 600 H-D dealers across the country — the company is reporting every Harley dealer will carry the Pan America due to the high volume of deposits before the model hit sales floors.

If you missed ADV Pulse’s in-depth review on the Pan America, check it out here

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge
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16 thoughts on “Harley-Davidson Pan America Looks To Be This Summer’s Blockbuster

    • Nothing over hyped about it. If fact, it was under hyped and people like you simply hated it because it was a Harley, sight unseen. It’s extremely competitive in the market and Harley has over 750 dealerships to BMW’s 153.People in the ADV world are impressed with them and its exceeded their expectations. They had what we call an “open mind” and waited to ride it before making comments like yours.

  1. Pingback: Harley-Davidson Pan America Looks To Be This Summer’s Blockbuster - ADVENTURE & OVERLAND MOTORCYCLE TRAVEL

  2. Pretty sick of hearing about the new HD 600 lbs vacuum cleaner. There are about a million more exciting things going on in the dual sport market right now unless you just want to impress your fiends with a $20,000 HD from back to the future.

    • Name ten things more exciting. I doubt you’ll ever get to a million. Besides the CFR 300’s. The KTM 390 ADV, The Husqvarna Norden.

      The weight, function and price is competitive to the GS. The GS evolved to what is is today. HD make their first ADV competitive out of the door. It took years for Honda to enter the market with the Africa Twin, of which, the debut bike wasn’t competitive until last year. No Cruise, no tubeless wheels, no real dynamic suspension. The only thing the PanAm doesn’t have is a quick-shifter and I only use my GS’s like 25% of the time.

      The PanAm is getting press because it’s a good motorcycle and it’s impressed people in the industry. Look at the site you’re on: “ADVpulse” is covering ADV trends.

  3. I rode the P.A. and, compared to my KTM, didn’t care for it. It’s not a bad bike though. I’m glad it’s turning out to be a seller for Harley.

  4. In the pursuit of weight reduction and better off-road performance I had recently traded my Triumph Tiger Explorer (1200) for a KTM 790 Adventure R. I rode the PA during a demo event. The PA did not make me regret buying the KTM. The PA is everything the Tiger Explorer was, with just a little lower center of gravity and a little less weight, with a far more extensive dealer network. If I had just been seeking to replace the TEx with more of the same, the PA would have been a primary choice.
    What I’d really like H-D to do is bring out the 975cc engine in a PA on a serious diet. Make it a bona fide competitor for the 790, the T7 Yamaha, and the other downsized ADV bikes on the market.

  5. From the tank back I think this is quite cool. Reminds me of an old-school dirt bike in the look. I wish Harley luck, I’d love to have a Harley motor in an adventure bike. But, I really hate the front end. It’s subjective of course, but yikes, the bike is not a cruiser!

  6. I like the Pan-am, but lets not pretend people haven’t been scooping up every available Tenere 700 and KTM790/890 for the last year. I’m betting Yamaha and KTM’s take rate eclipse the HD by end of summer.

  7. When the media said the Honda Africa Twin compared favorably to the BMW GS1250 it was a sure bet the AT was better (and it is, I owned both). Now they say say the Harley PA compares favorably with the BMW. I’ll take that to mean the same, it is better. Great job Harley.

  8. Blockbuster? It was well received overall by MC moto journos and is seen as a viable option in the big bore ADV market. Glad they’re selling well now but we’ll see how long the “shine” lasts. I do like the tech they introduced though with the ride height suspension and the engine has some nice design features too. Kudos to HD for taking a bold step and creating a decent ADV bike first try.
    I wish they would quit featuring the hideous orange/gray color combo so much, they might even sell more of them.

  9. I for one would never consider buying anything nor reading anything from or about a company that flouted every environmental law and moral they could. If you live near a twisty country road, if you live in a small downtown urban area and listen to the brap echo from building walls, if you’ve ever ridden behind one not only does the noise assault you but the air is unbreathable, if you were a child taking a nap or wildlife scattered by their colossal noise output equivalent to a gleeful 2 year old’s fart in the bathtub “look at me, look at me” then you know what I’m talking about. The only thing that interested me were the predictions that HD was over. I’ve owned Moto Guzzi, Tiger,Transalps, BMW F650GS, Villiers dual sports among lots of others – there is a ton of talent there without HD finally coming clean and grovelling onto market. America should be ashamed – fack the Euro 5 emissions requirements they’re for everyone else.

    • Robert, I’m not sure it’s fair to blame HD for that. It’s like blaming gun manufacturers for all of the murders. Maybe that’s not a great example. I will agree with you in one way ‘though. It does seem many Harley riders are teenage males.

      • Well, you might be right Randy, I don’t know how they come out of the factory. If they are after market modifications, I hope they, at least, recycle the catalytic converters.

  10. I hope the Motor Company sells every Pan American rig they can produce in advance. I can’t afford one, but I’d love to see a lot of them on the road to wherever with smiling riders. God bless H.D. for hanging in there…

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