Revisiting the Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special

It’s funny how when we’re introduced to new things, our first reaction can be to dismiss or rubbish the thought or idea. Later, we begin to fall in love with whatever it is. That’s exactly the case with Harley-Davidson’s adventure bike, the Pan America 1250 Special.

Yours truly has ridden Harley-Davidson bike’s for a good 20 years now, and every time they launch a new motorcycle, I get a little excited, conjuring thoughts of how good it would look parked in my garage.

The Pan America was different, this was a whole new ball game for Harley-Davidson to be playing. Hand on heart, I thought they’d gone a little crazy, and possibly lost the plot when news broke they were entering the adventure market.

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When pictures first emerged, it looked chunky. Who were we to judge a book by its cover though, and so it was, that we headed to the launch on the South Coast of NSW back in 2021. Fast forward to our Cape York trip on the CFMOTO 800MT and something changed.

The adventure bug had bitten, and bitten hard. Between that trip, and a few opportunities to ride the Pan America, I quickly came to understand the popularity for bikes that are capable both on and off road. I even contemplated trading in my Road King.

2022 Harley-Davidson Pan America
2022 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special

Needless to say, the wife was a little nervous when the 2022 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special turned up in our driveway in early December for a longer loan. This writer was simply excited about the Screamin’ Eagle exhaust and the quick shifter.

After a quick squirt up the Old Road to embrace the angry exhaust note that only added to the abundance of power on tap from the 1250 Revolution Max motor, a plan was hatched to gather a group for a ride up the Putty Road (one of NSW’s coolest riding stretches).

The weather gods provided a cracking day, with plenty of sunshine, heat and not a sign of the constabulary. Punching in a custom ride setting via the 6.8-inch TFT display, we chose comfort suspension and full throttle/power capability.

In a nutshell, that gave us access to the whole to have all of the Pan America’s near 112kW of power, should we need it. The grin underneath my helmet was huge as we hit the twisty stuff.

The Pan America tipped into corners beautifully as I worked my way up and down the quick shifter, exiting turns in amazement of just how capable this adventure bike really is. It is a little quirky though, and you do need to make shifts at less than 100 per cent throttle.

2022 Harley-Davidson Pan America
2022 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special

Still if yours truly was to buy a Pan America 1250 Special, the quick shifter would be the first accessory we’d tick the box for. Riding with mates who were on cruisers it was also easy to see the advantages the adventure bike offered in terms of handling prowess.

Aside from the brilliant motor that sits at the heart of Harley-Davidson’s Pan America, there’s a six speed gearbox, and three pre-programmed on-road riding modes, two off-road ones, and a custom setting as well.

The suspension package works well and kudos needs to be given to the semi-active front and rear setup, with optional adaptive ride height. This allows the bike to lower automatically when coming to a stop to enable the rider to more easily stand flat-footed.

The suspension lifts as you rides away, returning you to the standard ride height. A Showa balance free fork features up front, allowing 191mm of travel. The rear is balance free too, with a cushion lite coil-over shock, with electronic preload control and semi-active damping.

The rear suspension incorporates a system that links the shock, swingarm and frame. In simple terms, it works extremely well and offers the rider adjustability to suit the conditions and their riding style.

2022 Harley-Davidson Pan America
2022 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special

After knocking in nearly 2,000km during our loan period, it’s fare to say the Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special has worked it’s way into my heart, and is now firmly cemented as one of my favourite bikes.

The day trip up the Putty Road proved that this bike lends itself well to touring and can be ridden for long periods in comfort. It comes standard with heated grips and cruise control, and the adjustable screen does a reasonable job with wind buffeting.

We did manage to spend a little time off road, but in fairness, the Pan America was so good on the road we found most of our time was spent hunting for the next great twisty bit of tarmac.

Although not perfect, the Pan America is very good and still has plenty of character. It is a true representation of where Harley-Davidson is headed in terms of delivering performance in a versatile package.

For the record, I haven’t bought one, yet. This writer is a little averse to change and not quite ready to part with the big cruiser yet. Mind you, if I could convince the Minister for Finance and Domestic Affairs to hand over $33,995 plus on-roads – that may change.

2022 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special
2022 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special

Our test bike was provided by Harley-Davidson Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special, contact your local Harley-Davidson dealer. Read our original review to find out how we scored it.

Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin is the ride editor at Exhaust Notes Australia, founding editor of Two Wheel Addicts, a contributor at Bike Review and panel judge for Harley Davidson's Breakout Boss competition. Andrew has a love for anything on two wheels whether that be sports, naked or adventure bikes, with a guilty pleasure for cruisers.


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