Riding the Harley-Davidson Pan America has been on my list since 2019 – that’s the year when I saw the motorcycle in its concept form at the 2019 EICMA. The sheer size and road presence of Pan America thrilled me to the core. That excitement grew when the bike was launched in India last year. But as situations would have it, I missed riding it again. However, things changed for good a few days ago when we were invited to ride some new modern Harley’s at their Dirt.Road.Track experience at the Bira Circuit in Thailand.
We got a chance to ride the 2022 Pan America. For 2022, the American brand has given it a new vibrant blue paint scheme and some software and minor feature upgrades. And yes, I could ride this model only off-road as the Pan America was part of only off-road experience.
Pan America is radically different from what Harley-Davidson has been doing for decades. The design language, cycle parts, and visual appeal – all have been thought out well for the motorcycle but in its own way. First, the fascia of Pan America is quite different from what we usually see in the segment. It is big, bulky, and butch. And as you move to the side, you will notice that large fuel tank and those two large fat seats. These design elements suggest that this motorcycle has been designed to make a statement on the roads.
When it comes to the overall quality, Pan America is in the top league. Everything has been done well. You can see finesse in the quality of work. Even things like chassis welding have been neatly done. The plastic quality around the switchgear is quite good too.
The Pan America is one loaded motorcycle. It gets all the bells and whistles. The bike gets six-axis IMU. That means the bike has cornering ABS, a lean-sensitive traction control system (TCS), hill hold control, and engine braking control. It is also equipped with multiple riding modes along with three customisable modes. Depending on what the rider chooses, the suspension, throttle response, ABS, and TCS are all configured to that mode.
The instrument cluster is big and neatly displays the ride data. This cluster information can be accessed via the switchgear, which again is easy to use. The other highlight of the Pan America is the adaptive ride height which adjusts the seat height based on the settings chosen by the rider. This is an excellent feature to have on big adventure motorcycles.
The dirt track at this event wasn’t extremely challenging but good enough to test the off-road aspect of the Pan America. There were long straights with a big slush pit to break the momentum. Then, it had tight turns along with some inclines and declines. There were also a few spots where I could take tight U-turns and also ride through some gravels.
With these simple dirt aspects in place, did Pan America manage to churn out a good experience? Oh yes! I enjoyed this ADV on dirt. There are a lot of things that Harley got right. First is the stand-up ergonomics. It is simply perfect, even for taller riders. It is easy to transition from road riding to off-road. The handlebar is easy to reach. The pegs are rightly placed. And the fuel tank has enough spots to hold. All of this made it quite easy to use the Pan America off-road. Be it during slaloms or while taking some quick turns, the motorcycle does this effortlessly.
Pan America loves to be in the off-road mode. And this is where it allowed me to be a little careless with that throttle while keeping me safe throughout. The rear slides in a controlled way. Enough for the rider to have some adrenaline flow and at the same time keep him on the motorcycle. In this mode, the throttle response gets a bit more linear and due to the limited power output, the Pan America behaves well. There’s the off-road pro mode as well, but that’s more fun during fast enduro rides.
Another thing I liked about Pan America is the feedback from the front, especially while riding through slush. The bike feels planted and controlled - these aspects are important for me as it inspires confidence to ride harder. The braking department worked flawlessly off-road. It is one of the strong points of this American ADV.
While the overall dirt track wasn’t a long one, it had a few sections that revealed the bike’s weak point and that was its top-heaviness. Despite the overall weight distribution being on the balanced side, the top-heaviness can be felt during slow-speed turns, especially those U-turns. Sadly, I couldn’t test the other aspects like the electronic suspension and the ground clearance exhaustively due to limited time and track. But I’ll be riding it hard once HD India gives us the bike for a longer duration.
Should you buy it?
As I mentioned at the start of this review, the 2022 Pan America was ridden for a short duration and had limited access to an off-road track. Plus, I didn’t get a chance to ride it on the road. So obviously there won’t be a definitive verdict here. But I’ll say that I enjoyed riding the Pan America on that dirt track. It feels solid and inspires confidence. It has the potential to be abused day in and out and yes, it could do this without bringing in too much fatigue to the rider.
In terms of styling and packaging, the 2022 Pan America is extremely aspirational. It has a fantastic road presence and it belongs to a brand that has the strongest brand recall in India in the premium motorcycle fraternity. If you are in the market for a big ADV machine and want to feel special and exclusive, it will be worthwhile to visit the nearest Harley-Davidson showroom. At Rs 21 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) it might look expensive, but when you consider the value it offers through styling, features and performance, you wouldn't mind spending that extra few lakh.