First, a little about me. I grew up on motorcycles with my dad. I rode whatever we had at the time, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha both on and off-road. Stopped riding in my adult years and started back again about 8 years ago. Since then, I have ridden all 50 states, coast to coast a few times, multiple IBA certifications, and several countries. I love to ride, and I ride Harleys.
People often ask why I love to ride, and I say it’s because when you are on a motorcycle, even though the destination may be the same, the ride is always a different experience, and I LOVE new experiences.
That said, I have watched other motorcyclists go places and see things that I would like to see, but not sure my Harley RoadGlide would be the best fit, so I started looking for an enduro (on/off-road) bike, and at the same time, Harley announced their new PanAmerican.
I bought the HD PanAmerican 1250 Special with Spokes wheels and Adaptive ride height. (Basically, when you stop, the bike lowers so you can reach the ground)
I ordered the bike in April 2021, it arrived in August, and it’s now Nov 2021. I’ve ridden over 6000 miles on the highway, and now a little over a 100 on dirt, gravel, sand, hills, and tight maneuvers.
I absolutely love this bike! That said, I don’t have other similar bikes to compare to, so this is my inexperienced, non-technical review of the PanAmerican.
Style: I love the look of the PA. It reminds me of a smaller version of my RoadGlide. Some enthusiasts have called it the “Dirt Glide” comes in several colors…originally, I ordered it in Orange and Black (the standard HD colors, and sometimes referred to as Creamsicle) After I ordered the bike, I watched videos of some of the places I wanted to ride and decided I didn’t want to stick out like that, so I changed my order to the Grey bike. You can also order black and I think river rock grey.
Highway: This bike is quick and powerful! If you underestimate it, you may end up on your back. It is almost half the weight of my RoadGlide and has every bit of the power/speed. I’ve taken the bike from Dallas to Indiana, Georgia, Florida, and California. I was concerned with it being a smaller (physical size) bike that it would struggle on the highway with other traffic. Actually, it was exactly the opposite. Sometimes I cruise because that’s what I’m used to doing, but if I decide to move around or out, this bike quickly responds and leaves everything else on the highway.
The only time on the highway I felt a little nervous is on my way to CA, and it was the beginning of a storm with crazy wind gusts, that had cars on the side of the road. I made a decision to stop in Roswell to let the wind pass before getting back on the road. That said, when I am in the wind like I experienced with the storm, I would have reacted the exact same way on any bike. I don’t notice any more impact on the PA vs the RG, though I have heard other opinions. That’s just not my experience.
Comfort: This is where I struggle with this bike. I am 5’6” and it takes practice and a jump to get on the bike…a little exaggeration, but it is seriously work to get on the bike.
The bike is equipped with Rider Assist. What this does (in my non-technical terms) is it raises the bike when you are rolling and lowers when you stop. This allows you to put your feet on the ground. If I was a few inches taller, it might be perfect, but it is a challenge for me. As I have ridden the bike, it is getting easier, and less of a problem. From what I see and hear, the height of the bikes is a common issue for shorter riders across the off-road and enduro brands. The reason for this height is when off-road, you want clearance from the rocks, bushes, debris that you may hit.
A problem I have is that I forget the order that the kickstand goes down. If the bike is running and I start to put the kickstand down, it automatically shuts off the bike (safety feature) but because the bike is turned off, it lowers the bike. Now, I really have to lean the bike to the right to move the kickstand. Small issue.
Another comfort concern I have with this bike (I am spoiled with my RoadGlide) is the handlebar, backrest, seat combination. On my other bikes, I added a backrest and pullback bars so that I could have a nice bend in my arms and eliminate the right shoulder pain. With this bike (and probably others in this category) there isn’t an option for a rider backrest or bars….and I’m not sure how far to go if I did invest in bars, that would eliminate the ability to maneuver off-road. I am sure there have to be experts who will help me make the bike comfortable for me.
A cool thing is that Corbin has already built a seat for the PanAmerican. Maybe they should build a removable rider backrest. If off-roading, I could take it off, then put it back when on the highway? Hopefully, there is an answer soon.
Off-road: I bought the bike to allow me to travel roads that I wouldn’t on my RoadGlide. Prior to this weekend, this bike hadn’t seen dirt or any kind of off-road and wasn’t going to because I wasn’t comfortable with the power and how to properly handle it on gravel, dirt, etc. This past weekend, I took an off-road BMW training class. This class was phenomenal, and I highly recommend it for anyone potentially thinking about enhancing their overall riding skills. That’s said, my bike was one of 3 PanAmericans in the class amongst all BMW similar bikes. What I will tell you is, all three of the bikes performed very well on all obstacles. The coaches and attendees were all impressed. That said, I can’t compare to other bikes. This is the only one I’ve tried.
Overall, I am super excited and happy I bought this bike. I love the flexibility it gives me in my destinations, the durability against the competition, and the sheer power on and off-road.
I love this bike, and look forward to continuing to bond and make memories! Next stop, Baja, then start the PanAmerican highway!
This is an awesome story. The rider/writer is very insightful and shared key information/insight for me as a shorter rider.
Don’t call it a Hobby! Your bike riding is part of you and makes you, you! Your love and passion for motorcycle riding makes me want to jump on a bike! Love you!
Awesome Story, Enjoy your adventure!