Harley’s Singapore debut of the Pan Am at the Sarimbun Scout Camp included a short test ride with both on and off-road segments.
The on-road segment included low speed maneuvers (first gear chicanes, down and uphill u-turns), a gravel road taken in fourth gear and a few twisties in the Neo Tiew area.
The Pam Am’s low speed balance was exemplary, with the engine delivering torque smoothly in perfect response to the throttle. The Pan Am even resisted flopping over when we tried to induce a stall mid-u-turn. The semi-active suspension soaked up the bumps and irregularities of the gravel road impressively, egging us to speed up. On the paved roads, the Pan Am tackled tight corners competently, the balanced 150hp power-plant linear and punchy, emitting just a little buzz.
With the on-road test done, we returned to the grounds of Sarimbun Camp, where the rain-soaked grassy terrain presented us with tricky conditions. Here the adventure touring capabilities of the Pan Am really shone – good feel from the front end, communicating changes in grip levels expeditiously and traction control (we left it on, in Enduro mode) taking care of the fish-tailing rear wheel as conditions got more slippery with each successive lap.
Most impressively, the Pan Am did more than well in hiding its 254kg kerb weight. We liked that the handlebar was raised higher than those from competition, allowing for great stand-up ergonomics.
Ride Leader Tommy Lee also demonstrated the enduro prowess (and hardiness) of the Pan Am by executing steep hill climbs and launching the bike into the air several times. Incidentally, Harley tested the Pan Am for more than 1.6-million km to ensure it would survive the rigours of adventure riding.
The Pan Am enters one of the most crowded and hard-fought segments in modern motorcycling. Almost every major motorcycle manufacturer has a large adventure tourer, including Honda African Twin, Ducati Multistrada V4, KTM 1290 Adventure, and Triumph Tiger.
As it always has been though, the one to beat is the king of the Adv Tourer Hill, the BMW GS. BMW Motorrad Singapore recently launched the updated version for 2021, which we covered in our launch story. But Harley Davidson’s first foray into the ultra-competitive Adventure Touring segment with the Pan America 1250 Special exceeds expectations. Whilst we had only a short stint with the bike, we found that it rode really well both on-road and off-road. We really liked the way the engine delivered torque at low speeds and top end punch, and the confidence inspiring low-speed and off-road handling.
If you thought Harley-Davidson was all about the show and less about the go, with large, heavy cruisers perfect for ambling around in, well we don’t blame you since the past decades have shown as much. But it’s best to forget all that when it comes to the Pan Am. The bike is a real eye-opener, it’s well thought out, has lots of features, and looks like it’ll be great both on and off-road. In other words, it’s a full-fledged modern adventure tourer, one that just happens to have a H-D badge on it.