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ADV NewsWatch: Harley-Davidson Begins Production of Pan America

Watch: Harley-Davidson Begins Production of Pan America

First Pan America Adventure Bikes start rolling off assembly line.

Published on 03.22.2021

In a new video released by Harley-Davidson, it’s clear the Motor Company wants us to understand that the building of its Pan America adventure bike is a family affair. A passion project of the Motor Company’s employees, well underway right here in the good old US of A. 

In under two minutes we not only get to meet workers from the H-D factory in York, Pennsylvania — the men and women who lovingly assemble the bikes, some with families that have worked in the plant for generations — we also get a glimpse at the employees celebrating the start of production this month and a look at the assembly line process, which is pretty neat. 

Harley Davidson begins production of Pan America Adventure Bike
Harley Davidson begins production of Pan America Adventure Bike
Harley-Davidson started production of the Pan America just a few weeks after its Global Reveal in February.

The York factory manufactures frames, gas tanks and fenders, then assembles the works using engines and drivetrains previously built in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, center of the Harley-Davidson Universe. 


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Freshly planted CEO Jochen Zeitz, who comes from the Puma and Keurig brands, is on hand in the video to congratulate workers and help celebrate the first Pan Am to roll off the line. 

Ever-casual, Zeitz is indistinguishable from the workers, save for the microphone, as he says to the group that Harley-Davidson has “always been off-road, but this is the true first off-road bike that we are launching into the world.” 

Harley Davidson begins production of Pan America Adventure Bike

We assume he’s referring to Harley’s long history of dirt track racing? Or maybe the short-lived series of Italian-made, Harley-owned Aermacchi dual-sport and dirt bikes we saw in the States during the 60s and 70s? Or it could be as simple as the fact there wasn’t any pavement in 1903 when the company first started producing motorcycles. Regardless of how much skin the Company previously had in the game, including its missed opportunity with the Buell Ulysses, there’s no denying Harley has a notable entry in its Pan America Adventure Bike.

Just look at that bike. Whether you love it or hate it, it leaves a substantial impression. And as we learned when the Pan Am’s specs and details were released in February, this is a very modern motorcycle that looks (at least on paper) like a serious contender to the big dog in the category — the BMW R1250GS.

An Industry First: Adaptive Ride Height

In addition to advanced features like selectable ride modes, linked, cornering ABS, hill hold, electronic traction control and premium, fully-adjustable suspension, Harley has implemented an industry first with its Adaptive Ride Height (ARH) technology (an option on the top-shelf “1250 Special”model only). 

Harley Davidson begins production of Pan America Adventure Bike

This feature adjusts the suspension for optimal ride height while the bike is in motion, and even more advantageous, it automatically lowers the seat height at stops. Potentially cool, right?  And definitely an accessibility feature that could prove key in encouraging brand loyalists to take a surefooted step in the direction of adventure riding. And honestly, unless you’re a real daddy longlegs, a feature that might get one flat-footed at stops — as long as it’s reliable and fast-acting — could be a huge asset.

Harley’s ARH feature offers four selectable Adaptive Ride Height sub-modes: 

  • Auto mode: The system determines how quickly to lower the suspension based on how aggressive the braking action is, with the target of having the suspension fully lowered when the bike comes to a stop. 
  • Short Delay and Long Delay Modes: In these modes the lowering function is delayed until the motorcycle comes to a stop, so that ride height is maintained while the motorcycle is moving at low speeds, such as when negotiating a parking lot.
  • Locked Mode: The Adaptive Ride Height system will maintain the normal ride height and does not lower at a stop.
Harley Davidson begins production of Pan America Adventure Bike

All-New Revolution Max Engine

Another element of the Pan America we’re especially excited to test out is its all-new Revolution Max liquid-cooled V-twin 1250 engine. Why? Because this high-performance mill represents a giant leap forward for Harley. While heritage wasn’t thrown completely out the window, the new engine’s architecture, implementation of lightweight materials, aggressive component design and its position as a stressed frame member are all choices geared toward performance and weight reduction. 

Furthermore, H-D has stated the engine is tuned specifically to deliver smooth low-end torque for the low-speed throttle control so important for off-road riding. How much torque? Up to a very respectable peak of 94-foot pounds. The top end is claimed to offer a likewise impressive 150 hp, with a peak RPM of 9000. 

Harley Davidson begins production of Pan America Adventure Bike

True, Harley’s Pan America adventure bike remains extremely divisive in looks and badging, but its spec sheet describes a potentially capable machine that’s completely un-Harley. 

Will all that promise translate to real world competence? Now that production bikes are rolling steadily off the line in York and set to hit dealer floors this Spring, it won’t be long until the world has its long-awaited answer.

Harley-Davidson Pan America Specs

ENGINE:Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 60-Degree V-Twin
DISPLACEMENT:1,252cc (76.3 cu in)
BORE X STROKE:4.13 in. (105 mm) x 2.83 in (72 mm)
HORSEPOWER:150 @ 9,000 RPM
COMPRESSION RATIO:13:01
FUEL SYSTEM:Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
EXHAUST:2-into-1-into-1; catalyst in header
TORQUE:94 ft-lbs @ 6,750 RPM
CHARGING:Three-phase, 45 Amp system (300 Watts @13 Volts, 1200 rpm, 585 Watts max power @ 13 Volts, 2250 rpm)
ELECTRIC POWER OUTLETUSB C-Type , Output 5V at 2.4 Amp
DRIVETRAIN:Chain Driven
FRONT FORK:47mm USD Fork with compression, rebound and preload adjustability. Special model only: Electronically adjustable semi-active damping control.
REAR SHOCK:Linkage-mounted piggyback monoshock with compression, rebound and preload adjustability. Special model only: Automatic electronic preload control and semi-active compression & rebound damping on Special model.
SUSPENSION TRAVEL:7.5″ (190mm) front and rear
RAKE:25 degrees
TRAIL:6.2″
WHEELBASE:62.2″
GROUND CLEARANCE:8.3″
LENGTH:89.2″
SEAT HEIGHT (HIGH/LOW SEAT):34.2″/35.2″; 32.7″/33.7″ (With ARH)
FRONT TIRE:120/70R19 60V
REAR TIRE:170/60R17 72V
TIRE TYPE:Michelin Scorcher Adventure, Radial
FRONT WHEEL:19″ x 3″ Cast Aluminum, satin black (Anodized aluminum tubeless spoke wheels optional)
REAR WHEEL:17″ x 4.5″ Cast Aluminum, satin black (Anodized aluminum tubeless spoke wheels optional)
FRONT BRAKE:320mm twin discs. Radially mounted, monoblock, 4-piston caliper, with cornering ABS
REAR BRAKE:280mm disc. Floating single piston caliper, with cornering ABS
DISPLAY:6.8″ touchscreen color TFT with Bluetooth phone connectivity
OIL CAPACITY:4.75 qt. (4.5 l)
COOLANT CAPACITY:2.32 qt. (2.2 l)
SERVICE INTERVAL:First 1,000 miles (1,600 km), every 5,000 miles (8,000 km) thereafter
FUEL CAPACITY:5.6 gal.
FUEL ECONOMY:48 mpg (4.9 l/100 km)
WEIGHT (FULLY FUELED):534 lb. (Standard); 559 lb. (Special)
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING:1,003 lb. (455 kg)
WARRANTY:24 months (unlimited mileage)
MSRP:$17,319 (Standard); $19,999 (Special)
AVAILABLE COLORS:Standard: River Rock Gray & Vivid Black. Special: River Rock Dark Gray, Vivid Black, Deadwood Green, Baja Orange & Stone washed White Pearl.

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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7 thoughts on “Watch: Harley-Davidson Begins Production of Pan America

  1. Pingback: Watch: Harley-Davidson Begins Production of Pan America - ADVENTURE & OVERLAND MOTORCYCLE TRAVEL

  2. The success of this bike will be determined by a factor that is totally independent the actual build quality or performance of it. It will be whether Harley dealers and their traditional customers will again deem this bike “un-Harley”, resulting in the new Pan Americans being shunted to the back of their showrooms to languish unloved just like like the V-Rods and the Buells before them.

    If I was the new head of Harley I would give Harley dealers a simple ultimatum: If they can’t start selling an appreciable number of these bikes within a (very) limited period of time after its introduction, the non Harley dealers around them will then be allowed to sell them under the Pan American name alone. The threat would be as simple and brutal as that.

    The new head of Harley is a European with a history of being involved in the rescue of floundering companies. I don’t think he will be quite a accepting of whiny and recalcitrant Harley dealers as his predecessors were. He only cares about the bottom line.

    In fact, I think that I will invest some spare money in companies making guillotines because the (dealer) heads are certainly going be rolling once the new CEO starting getting any of the traditional resistance whatsoever to his new grand schemes!

  3. I am highly confident that the Motor Company did their homework, here, from all that I have seen and read on this new product. This will be a very credible motorcycle. As a lifetime Harley rider…I reserved a 1250 Special, due for delivery, the first week in May. I intend not to be disappointed.
    PS…I also had a V-Rod. The Pan America…is not a V-Rod.

  4. Harley davidson has always been off-road but this is their first off-road bike????? Contradictory does not compute. Nobody off-roads harleys most of them can’t even make tight turns on flat pavement. Not thrilled about this whole pan american thing, not that I really care either way about the bike itself more that now the adv community/forums are going to be inundated with the low IQ yee yee trailer trash HD morons now.

  5. If you know your Harley history you would know that Harley had a strong focus on racing and innovation from the beginning. “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” was a long standing mantra. Aside from the boardtrack, most other racing was done in the dirt. TT racing and the scrambles as well as dirt tracking are where Harley dominated the competition through the mid century. The Daytona 200 was raced on a sandy beach before it was moved to pavement with the construction of the speedway. I am not sure when percieved nostalgia became more important than innovation to the Motor company, but I for one have been waiting for a model like this for a long time. I am glad to read that these are being built in the good ole USA as I had thought they were being built overseas. That would be a dealbreaker for me. Now to go see one in the flesh.

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