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First Ride: Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250

Well, Maybe It’s Actually the Suspension

If the byways you’re plying aren’t intestinally wound but instead, gentler, wider arcs, then the Pan-Am will make you grin like a total idiot. It helps that Harley shod it with extra-wide (120/70R-19 front / 170/60R-17 rear) Michelins handling cornering duties. While this is an adventure bike (or is it a touring one?) it’ll lean hard, a lot like a sportier rig. Much of your riding exuberance will get swept up by Harley’s integrated, lean-sensitive traction control. That will mostly prevent your antics from biting you in the behind.

But don’t forget: This is a pretty heavy bike. If the path starts to really tighten, you’d better be ready with the Brembos. Luckily, you’ve got stopping mojo to spare: 320mm rotors in the front and a 280mm disc in back. Also, these are linked, reading the pressure you’re using on the lever or pedal, and spooling that into both front and rear grabbers. This is a smart feature, and Harley’s wise to integrate it. It allows you to ride fairly aggressively and still use your brakes to control your line, or trail brake out of corners to set up the next one.

Faults: The Pan Am wants to understeer, a lot like the average sports sedan, but the behavior is wholly predictable. Once you know what the bike will and won’t do, dialing in your riding style follows instinctually.

You can also adjust how firm or soft you’d like the suspension. Both manually, and when you toggle between presets, from Sport through Road, Rain, Off-Road, and Off-Road Plus. While we can’t imagine toggling through the TFT all day to noodle with the ride quality, it’s pretty cool to be able to set out on a ride on roads you know and play around with how the bike feels, sessioning the same asphalt. Naturally those settings all control engine output, too; though to be honest, for pavement, Sport and Road are pretty perfect in dry conditions.

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