The Harley-Davidson Pan America Doesn’t Care Where You Ride It

Equal parts dirt bike, highway cruiser and canyon carver.

[Photos: Harley-Davidson]

Harley-Davidson Pan America

We’ve reviewed the Harley-Davidson Pan America on the channel before. However, when the folks at Harley reached out about sending us into the Mojave desert to ride it off-road, we didn’t hesitate.

We joined the Harley crew at a remote desert facility called Zakar. These were the same ADV coaches who gave Alex some pointers when we attended Get On! ADV Fest in SD.

The two day Harley trip would include an off-road training day, followed by a full day ride through the Mojave desert.

ADV Training

Starting small, the Zakar coaches had us run drills to focus on counter-balancing turns and understanding the Pan Am’s capabilities. By balancing opposite the motorcycle while turning, you move your center of gravity closer to the front tire’s contact patch. Better traction and less wash out in the turns.

Next we got familiar with the Pan America’s Off-road ABS and traction control. Though I’ve reviewed it before, the Harley’s off-road ABS is nothing short of stunning.

Grabbing a handful of front brake is probably the number one thing you want NOT to do on dirt. Oddly enough, the coaches set us on a dirt road and had us do just that. Though it requires A LOT of trust, the off-road ABS really works. Instead of running into the ground, the Pan America comes to a smooth stop with only the front wheel if you so choose.

Riding The Pan Am

The final training exercise was an optional deep sand pit. That’s the one that did me in. I managed to keep the bike upright all day, until I biffed it in the pit. I am far from an experienced ADV rider, and the soft stuff was an entirely new challenge for a street rider.

That being said, the motorcycle did surprisingly well. I already knew the Harley-Davidson Pan America worked well on the road. The 150 horsepower Revolution Max V-Twin has phenomenal power, and the whole package handles with confidence.

For a 560 pound machine, that Harley makes for a pretty convincing dirt bike. I wouldn’t tackle any technical single track on it, but once moving the bike feels a lot more nimble than it looks.

Our full day ride consisted of everything from off-roading to highways and windy paved roads. Regardless of the surface and what speed you hit it at, the Harley-Davidson Pan America eats it up.

The biggest limiting factor is the bike’s tires. The better you spec them of off-road the worse they’ll be on pavement. Aside from that, the motorcycle’s chassis, suspension and powertrain have as much off everything you’d want as you can expect from one bike.

I can confidently say that this ADV is in my top 5 bikes on sale. If I had $19,999 kicking around, I would happily throw it at one of these. The Pan America is an all-American athlete that will carry you anywhere and everywhere you want to go. I just wish it sounded like a Harley.

Stay tuned to TFLbike for a full video on the experience coming soon.