Getting a new motorcycle model to market is never a quick process, but Harley-Davidson sure took a leisurely route in bringing out its new Pan America 1250 adventure models.
First touted in July 2018, and even displayed at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show in New York in December 2019, the Pan America 1250 wasn’t unwrapped until Monday.
The model represents a huge departure from tradition for Harley-Davidson. There will be two versions – the base model Pan America 1250 at $17,399 and the premium variant Pan America 1250 Special at $19,999. Accessories will cost extra. They’re expected in showrooms in May as a 2021 model-year entry.
Cruiser-heavy Harley-Davidson is trying to get a toehold in a segment of motorcycles that can be ridden off-road as well as on pavement and find a way to lure riders who might not otherwise be attracted to the brand. The Pan America 1250 reveal came a month after the company shrank its lineup by 30 percent, hacking more than a half-dozen models while adding two new ones. It also trimmed 39 dealerships in the U.S.
The slowness in bringing the Pan America 1250 to stores can certainly be tied to Harley-Davidson’s fortunes and changes of late. Sales have been dropping for years and plummeted in 2020 with U.S. sales totaling only 103,650 units, down 22,310 from 2019. As recently as 2014, the company sold 171,073 motorcycles in the U.S.
On top of that, the company underwent an executive shakeup last year with Jochen Zeitz taking over as chairman, CEO and president. He soon shelved a planned street fighter sport model dubbed the Bronx, but allowed the Pan America 1250 to go forward.
The new model enters a crowded category filled with popular models made by BMW, Triumph, KTM, Honda and more. That may make it difficult for Harley-Davidson to expand its customer base beyond the aging leather-vest crowd. In their favor, the Pan America 1250s are more powerful, lighter and even lower than most of the adventure offerings of other manufacturers.
Both versions are powered by a 1,252cc V-twin engine with 150 horsepower and have multiple ride modes – Rain, Road, Sport, Off-Road and Off-Road Plus. They also boast a 5.6-gallon gas tank as well as a six-speed transmission.
The Pan America 1250 Special even has a suspension that automatically adjusts its height depending on whether it’s moving or at a standstill. When stopped, it’s lower, allowing for easier mounting and dismounting.
In providing all the details, Zeitz called the adventure model “a natural fit” for the company and predicted it will “unlock our brand’s passion for adventure for more people around the world.”
The reaction so far to the Pan America 1250s has been positive. At least it’s creating a lot of curiosity.
MOTORCYCLE FATALITIES UP, CLASS ENROLLMENT DOWN: Motorcycle fatalities in Connecticut rose nearly 20 percent in 2020 over 2019, primarily because reduced traffic on the highways due to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in riders going faster and riding more aggressively.
Nick Just, who guides the Connecticut Rider Education Program for the state Department of Transportation, reports that the preliminary death toll for 2020 is 56. “The majority of these fatal crashes were single vehicle crashes caused by speed and alcohol,” he wrote in an email.
The pandemic also had a major impact on CONREP classes last year. Enrollment plummeted due to classes being limited. Statewide, only 819 students took beginner rider courses, down from the pre-pandemic total of 3,252 in 2019.
Registration for 2121 classes at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury opened on Feb. 16. Classes begin in April and run until mid-November. The first eight of a total 76 of the basic rider courses are already filled to their 12-student limit.
The cost for the two-day course is $220. Passing a course is required in Connecticut to get an “M” endorsement on a driver’s license. Information is available online at nv.edu/motorcycle.
OIL DRIPPINGS: The Buell brand has been resuscitated, but without any input from original founder Erik Buell. Based in Grand Rapids, Mich., the new Buell has plans to “launch 10 performance models by 2024,” including dirt, dual sport, tour, cruiser and sport models. … Americade has pushed back the dates for its 2021 gathering in Lake George, N.Y. It will now be staged Sept. 21-25 instead of June 7-12 as originally announced. The hope is that the COVID-19 pandemic will be in vigorous retreat by summer’s end.
Bud Wilkinson may be reached by email at email@example.com. He also writes about motorcycles daily at ride-ct.com as well as on Facebook at facebook.com/ ridect and on Twitter at @ridect.