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High Sierra Pan America Demo Ride

Eric Hall

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I wanted to get my thoughts down about the new Pan America I got to ride at High Sierra this past weekend.

First of all, I had a total blast riding that beast!  It impressed me in many ways; mostly its power, street comfort and stability.  It's a fantastic first try for Harley Davidson and I give them props.  

I wanted to ride it on a loop of fast easy dirt given these bigger bikes are really designed for what I call "grade 1" dirt roads.  They'll do worse but that's when it starts taking a lot more skill, effort and a fat wallet to pay for repairs or costly upgrades to things like suspension, crash protection.

I'd ridden this route many times and rode it the day before just to check out the current conditions for any construction, wash outs, soft spots, etc...  Let's just say I set a blistering time trial of about 73 miles at an avg speed of 58 mph.  I won't bother you with my max speed lol.  Except to say REVER reported my max speed 8 mph less than the speedo on the bike, which is common and not unexpected.  I could have handled that loop much better on the 990 but not nearly as fast.

I find myself kind of placing it between a more street oriented Versys, Super Tenere 1200 or Tiger 1200 Explorer and of course the mighty GS/GSA.  I'd say it's not as bad as a Versys or Vstrom in the dirt but not as good as a GS or Super Tenere.  The motor PULLS HARD, especially in sport mode.  Suspension average too good.  Heard the motor pulls harder down low but not as hard up high as the KTM 1290 such with highway passing.

Only complaints lie with what we've heard already about the rider triangle; the pegs are too far back (knee pain reported by @greedyg), bars quite high, etc...  I compressed the suspension then lifted up for a small dip and heard and felt an alarming slip of either the bars or the forks.  Not sure what that was all about.

I spoke with @Dennis Godwin of GS Trophy fame and he had some extra insights...  He says the tight turning radius is 18" larger than a GS (wheel base, rake?).  He says the damper is fantastic and lends to an extremely smooth feel off road at speed (agreed; damper plus wheel base).  The brakes are "phenomenal" but also not loaded with all he usually carries.  More vibes than a GS but not bad.

I'm more of the "adventure enduro" segment and love my 990 for that but appreciate my Tiger 900 for my long trip to S. America but I could totally see myself riding the Pan America on the same trip and thus giving cred to the "Pan America" name.


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