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A person is shown standing near a black 2023 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 after visiting a used motorcycle dealer.

Venturing Off the Pavement With a Used Harley-Davidson Pan America

Harley-Davidson has built its reputation around its penchant for rebellion and willingness to think outside the box, giving riders a head-turning lineup at their local new and used motorcycle dealer nationwide. But that outside-the-box thinking took a surprising turn over the last few years when Harley-Davidson proved it was ready for something more. The revered motorcycle manufacturer capitalized on the growing demand for adventure bikes and debuted the Pan America in 2021. So, what’s the big deal?

The Pan America isn’t a chopper and certainly not a Grand American Touring powerhouse. Instead, it’s a lighter-weight adventurer capable of tackling life on and off the pavement. Its recent introduction makes it an incredible find as a used model, especially with its expansive suite of technology and potent engine that delivers the thrills expected of a Harley-Davidson road warrior. Only this time, those thrills can finally veer from the pavement and into the unknown.

A person is shown taking photographs near a black 2023 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250.

Striking a Balance Between Past and Present

Adventure touring bikes are incredibly popular, but they aren’t a modern invention. The 1980s saw the rise of the adventure touring category when manufacturers like BMW answered our insatiable need to venture off the pavement with the GS family. The BMW GS sitting in my garage speaks volumes to that need, with my husband proudly taking his powerhouse on and off the pavement over the last two decades. Over the years, manufacturers like Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki jumped on the bandwagon and expanded the segment. Yet, there was nothing but the sound of crickets coming from Harley-Davidson. Awkward silence, anyone?

Many chalked up the absence to an abundance of iconic choppers, cruisers, and luxurious touring bikes from the brand. That meant adventure bikes were allegedly out of the Harley-Davidson wheelhouse, but that line of thought was erroneous and a colossal mistake. Harley-Davidson proves as much with the Pan America, an adventure bike that might mark a new branch on the family tree but isn’t beyond the brand’s expertise. How so?

The Pan America is the culmination of every lesson and experience learned by Harley-Davidson over the last century. Think about roads in the early 1900s when the founders of Harley-Davidson tinkered in a backyard shed in Milwaukee, developing their prototype. Gravel and dirt roads were a staple, meaning those first Harley-Davidson models were adventure bikes long before the world knew what to call them. The Pan America sits on the shoulders of those first bikes, introducing us to greater capability and advanced technologies that guarantee pure thrills in the saddle.

Experiencing Adventure With the Pan America

Part of the appeal of an adventure bike is knowing you’re not limited to the pavement. Whether navigating the Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee, The Twisted Sisters in Texas, or the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, there’s something special about knowing you’re on a bike that can handle itself long after the pavement ends. It extends the possibility of adventure, breaking the boundaries in the best possible ways. Those endeavors are even more exciting when you’re in the saddle of a used Pan America, a Harley-Davidson built for precisely that.

A 60-degree Twist on the V-Twin

The Pan America introduced a new category of bikes for Harley-Davidson, but it also debuted the manufacturer’s next-generation engines–the Revolution Max 1250. Harley-Davidson powerhouses are renowned for their potent V-Twin engines, and the Pan America is no exception. However, the adventure bike differentiates itself in several unique ways.

First, the Revolution Max 1250 is a structural component of the Pan America chassis. By moving away from the traditional frame design, Harley-Davidson reduces the bike’s weight and heightens its handling and responsiveness. This seemingly minor detail makes a significant impact, considering the Revolution Max 1250 is in a 60-degree configuration rather than the expected 45-degree layout. If you know Harley-Davidson, the difference is substantial.

With the 60-degree layout, the connecting rods are offset by 30 degrees and fire in a 90-degree order. Likewise, the configuration lends itself to a higher rev range, with the engine having a 4.134-inch bore, 2.846-inch stroke, and a 13:1 compression ratio. These adjustments translate to a higher rev range, with the Pan America producing 94 lb-ft of torque and 150 horsepower at a redline of 9,000 RPM. The unique angle of the connecting rods and their firing order also play a role in this output, promising a smoother power delivery at higher RPMs and translating to better traction when venturing beyond the pavement.

A person is shown riding on a black 2023 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250.

Variable Valve Timing Reaches Milwaukee

Venturing off-road on the Pan America is a feat marked by excitement, putting you in the saddle of a revolutionary motorcycle that showcases the innovation ingrained in America’s most revered motorcycle brand. That innovation is at the heart of the Pan America, with its 60-degree V-Twin engine also skirting the pushrods expected in the Harley-Davidson lineup for dual overhead cams and variable valve timing. It’s another surprise from Harley-Davidson that makes the Pan America even more enticing.

With dual overhead cams, the Revolution Max 1250 engine is more responsive and efficient, meaning reactivity is heightened across the engine’s broad band of power. Variable valve timing adds to this responsiveness by improving the bike’s performance across the RPM range, whether climbing a steep ascent on the trail or cruising at highway speeds. In either scenario, the Revolution Max 1250 is optimized for efficiency and responsiveness, refusing to compromise one for the other to answer every demand of the road or trail. Because of this, you have more on-demand power and can confidently navigate scenic drives like the Blue Ridge Parkway just as readily as you can venture off Route 66 for an uncharted adventure.

Sweetening the Adventure Package

Exploring life beyond the pavement on a used Pan America guarantees a new type of thrill in the saddle of a Harley-Davidson powerhouse. The Pan America makes history as the first official adventure bike in the Harley-Davidson fleet. Still, it does so by paying homage to the brand’s incredible legacy that began on dirt roads in Milwaukee over a century ago. Today, Harley-Davidson sweetens its new adventurer by outfitting it with a potent Revolution Max 1250 V-Twin engine and a host of innovative technologies that heighten every experience behind the handlebars.

While so many adventure bikes are minimally equipped, Harley-Davidson stays true to its heritage and outfits the Pan America with everything riders need and more, regardless of their destination. Features like the bike’s five Ride Modes let you customize its performance to the terrain or your riding needs using Sport, Rain, Road, Off-Road, and Off-Road Plus. Harley-Davidson even lets you finetune other elements, like the Rider Safety Enhancements that add cornering-enhanced technologies and must-haves like Wheel Lift Mitigation, Enhanced Lift Mitigation, and a Drag-Torque Slip Control System.

The components add to the bike’s appeal, but there’s even more to the Pan America than its packaging. The Pan America represents something truly phenomenal by blending the past and the present to answer our insatiable need to chase the horizon and explore the unknown on two wheels, whether taking in the scenery along the Pig Trail in Arkansas or nimbly navigating the twisties along Beartooth Pass in Montana or The Hellbender 28 in North Carolina. Harley-Davidson gives us this unique opportunity, doing so without compromising the signature rumble of a V-Twin engine or the very components that make a Harley-Davidson road warrior worthy of the marquee.

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