For as long as Asphalt & Rubber has been in business, we have never seen Harley-Davidson debut an actual new motorcycle.
Rehashing the same design ethos over and over again, Harley-Davidson’s “new” bikes each year fail to stray very far from their predecessors. This notion changes today, however.
Releasing a number of concepts for future machines, the Bar & Shield brand is showing signs of life. The concepts include electric motorcycles, e-bikes, a new roadster, a streetfighter, and even an adventure-tourer.
We will take a look at these machines in turn, but first up, let’s look at Harley-Davidson’s biggest surprise to us, its ADV bike, which is called the Harley-Davidson Pan America.
Set to debut in 2020, the Harley-Davidson Pan America will use a 1,250cc “middleweight” v-twin engine from the Bar & Shield brand.
This new power plant will be a part of a family of engines, that will range from 500cc to 1,250cc, and power Harley-Davidson’s radical new models. Another engine will fill the 250cc to 500cc void, and then of course there will be the electric two-wheeled models.
For the Harley-Davidson Pan America, the concept looks like it picks up where the Buell Ulysses left off. The design is polarizing, some might say it is even “ugly”, but it also stands apart from the crowd, evokes a certain utilitarianism, and draws some links back to Harley-Davidson’s cruiser offerings.
Noticeable from the single photo that Harley-Davidson provided us is copious amounts of grab rail, including one at the front of the bike, all of which double as crash bars for the Pan America.
The motorcycle looks extremely wide, especially for being a v-twin, with the width betrayed by the beefy skid plate. Handguards, a tall windscreen, and a very ADV tail section complete the dual-sport look, as do the knobby tires.
The front wheel looks to be 19″ in diameter, which suggests an on-road bias, and the wheels are of a tubeless design, with the spokes going to the edge of the rim.
It is hard to guess performance from a single photo and minimal information, but the Harley-Davidson Pan America should compete with bikes like the Ducati Multistrada 1260, BMW R1200GS, and Triumph Tiger 1200.
Pan America is a truly unique model from Harley-Davidson, and we certainly didn’t expect Milwaukee to be working on an adventure-tourer motorcycle for the 2020. But, maybe we should have.
The Pan America takes a page from the Carducci Dual Sport playbook, and then whitewashes it within the Harley-Davidson corporate boardroom.
Less aggressive, and less off-road capable than the Carducci, the Pan America shows that Harley-Davidson was paying attention to what the custom seen was doing with its engines, and borrowed the thought.
Certainly everyone will be drawing comparisons between the Harley-Davidson Pan America and the Buell Ulysses. I’m just not sure that is a good thing, in more ways than one.