After being roundly criticized for keeping faithful to its roots at the expense of modernization for too long, Harley-Davidson strikes back with the Sportster S, powered by a version of the liquid-cooled 1,252cc V-Twin in the thoroughly modern and warmly received Pan America adventure bike.
It’s a bold new era for the Sportster, and this all-new S version signals the demise for air-cooled Sportys. Bold, too, is this new bike’s chunky styling, with an ultra-fat front tire leading the way. The high-mount shotgun exhaust is another bold styling element, capped by a tailsection inspired by Harley’s XR750 dirt-trackers.
The key element of the Sportster S is its Revolution Max 1250T motor, which is used as a structural element rather than a lump to be placed in an external frame. A steel-trellis steering head section combines with an aluminum mid-frame, which helps enable the new bike to weigh about 60 pounds less than the Sportster Forty-Eight. H-D says the S scales in at 502 pounds with its 3.1-gallon tank filled.
Gone is the beloved Harley potato-potato exhaust note from a 45-degree V-Twin, replaced by a steadier thrum from the new 60-degree V-Twin. Misgivings about the engine sound are forgotten once the 121-horsepower RevMax is unleashed. This is undoubtedly the fastest Sportster ever.
We were initially disappointed the new Sporty doesn’t come with the 150-horse motor from the Pan America, but there’s more than enough power here to vault near the apex of muscle cruisers. The mill’s variable valve timing ensures there’s plenty of steam on tap no matter the rpm, hitting harder than the Pan Am down low. Hydraulic valve-lash adjustment reduces maintenance costs.
The seat height, at 29.6 inches, is tall for a Harley but still quite low. Footpegs are set moderately forward to yield adequate legroom. Mid-mount foot controls are available, but they’ll set you back another $659 on top of the bike’s $14,999 base price. They’re a smart option for shorter-legged riders who are unaccustomed to cruiser-style peg placements.
The low and muscular stance of this new Sportster forces a few dynamic compromises. H-D has spec’d premium Showa suspension that’s fully adjustable at both ends, but wheel travel is meager, particularly at the rear where bumps larger than 2 inches have nowhere else to go but to the chassis and rider. The 43mm inverted fork has 3.6 inches of travel to work with, which is enough to perform competently.
The front end of the S has sparked controversy. Surely that wildly fat 160/70-17 tire would make the bike steer like a truck, right? Not really. The triangular-ish profile allows it to lean over in a surprisingly neutral manner, even if steering effort is higher than it would be with skinnier rubber. The wide handlebar provides meaningful leverage on the way to skimming pegs at 34 degrees of lean angle. Some riders will find that insufficient, but let’s put it into context: H-D’s Sportster Forty-Eight touches its pegs at just 27 degrees.
The Sporty can actually rail pretty nicely around mountain roads, as it has a solid and confidence-inspiring chassis, but its limited suspension travel keeps a rider wary of encountering mid-corner bumps that would be swallowed up with longer suspension.
Sportbike riders turn up their noses at single-disc front brakes, but the Brembo package on the S provides good feel and plenty of power. A solid two-finger squeeze can get the fat front tire chirping, while IMU-informed ABS keeps the tires from locking even when leaned over. The IMU also corresponds with traction control linked to the customizable ride modes. A 4-inch color TFT screen provides instrumentation, including tire-pressure monitoring. Cruise control is also standard.
The high-mount exhaust system looks like a leg roaster, but heat from the pipes is remarkably subdued. The main source of heat reaching a rider comes from the engine’s rear cylinder, which can get quite toasty when sitting in traffic, despite a rear-cylinder deactivation system when idling. Not a deal breaker unless you insist on riding in short pants.
While the Sportster falls a little flat when ridden like a sportbike, that’s because it’s not designed to be one. It’s a cruiser that can really hustle. For further context, consider that Indian’s affable Scout Bobber has the same amount of rear suspension travel, weighs 50 pounds more, and has 20 fewer horsepower. The Sportster, however, costs $4,000 extra.
Other variants of this exciting new platform are in the pipeline and still to be announced. The Sportster S is so good that we’re salivating over what might come next.
2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Specs
Base Price: $14,999 Website:harley-davidson.com Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 60-degree V-Twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 1,252cc Bore x Stroke: 105 x 72mm Horsepower: 121 @ 7,500 rpm (claimed, at the crank) Torque: 94 lb-ft @ 6,000 rpm (claimed, at the crank) Transmission: 6-speed Final Drive: Belt Wheelbase: 59.8 in. Rake/Trail: 30 degrees/5.8 in. Seat Height: 29.6 in. Wet Weight: 503 lbs. Fuel Capacity: 3.1 gals.
This 2021 motorcycle buyers guide includes new or significantly updated street-legal models available in the U.S. It includes bikes in many categories, including adventure, cafe racer, cruiser, sport, sport-touring, retro, touring, and others.
Organized in alphabetical order by manufacturer, it includes photos and links to details or, when available, first rides and road test reviews of each motorcycle. Due to the pandemic and supply chain disruptions, some manufacturers skipped the 2021 model year. Stay tuned for our 2022 Motorcycle Buyers Guide.
Aprilia‘s RS 660 is the first of three models — the RS 660 sportbike, the Tuono 660 naked bike (below), and the not-yet-released Tuareg 660 adventure bike — built on a new engine platform, a liquid-cooled 659cc parallel-Twin with a 270-degree firing order that makes a claimed 100 horsepower at 10,500 rpm and 49.4 lb-ft of torque at 8,500 rpm. The RS 660 is equipped with the IMU-enabled APRC (Aprilia Performance Ride Control) electronics package with five ride modes, 3-level cornering ABS, 3-level traction control, wheelie control, cruise control, and engine braking management. Pricing starts at $11,299.
Aprilia is an Italian brand known for performance, and the RSV4 and RSV4 Factory are at the pointy end of the company’s go-fast spear. Both are powered by a 1,099cc, 65-degree V-4 that Aprilia says cranks out an eye-watering 217 horsepower at 13,000 rpm and 92 lb-ft of torque at 10,500 rpm, even while meeting strict Euro 5 emissions regulations. And both are equipped with a 6-axis IMU and the APRC (Aprilia Performance Ride Control) suite of rider aids. Whereas the standard RSV4 features fully adjustable Sachs suspension, the RSV4 Factory is equipped with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 semi-active suspension, with a 43mm NIX upside-down fork, a TTX rear shock, and an electronic steering damper. The RSV4 has cast wheels and the RSV4 Factory has lighter and stronger forged wheels. MSRP for the RSV4 is $18,999 and MSRP for the RSV4 Factory is $25,999.
The Tuono name has always been associated with top-of-the-line street performance, and the Aprilia Tuono V4 and Tuono V4 Factory carry the cred with a 1,077cc V-4 that produces 175 horsepower and 89 lb-ft of torque at the crank (claimed). The Tuono V4 is the more street-focused of the two, with a taller windscreen, a higher handlebar, and optional saddlebags (as shown above), and it is equipped with fully adjustable Sachs suspension. The Tuono V4 Factory is equipped with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 semi-active suspension. Both models feature a six-axis IMU that supports the APRC electronics suite. MSRP for the Tuono V4 is $15,999 and MSRP for the Tuono V4 Factory is $19,499.
The Benelli Leoncino (“little lion”) is an Italian-designed, Chinese-manufactured roadster powered by a liquid-cooled 500cc parallel-Twin also found in the TRK502X adventure bike (below). In the U.S., the Leoncino is part of a two-bike lineup, which includes the standard street-biased roadster model (shown above) and the Leoncino Trail, a scrambler variant with more suspension travel and spoked wheels with a 19-inch front and 90/10 adventure tires. The Leoncino comes with standard ABS and is priced at $6,199, while the Leoncino Trail is $7,199.
Like the Leoncino above, the Benelli TRK502X is an Italian-designed, Chinese-manufactured adventure bike powered by a liquid-cooled 500cc parallel-Twin. It has a comfortable and upright seating position, a good windscreen, 90/10 adventure tires with a 19-inch front, spoked wheels, ABS, hand and engine guards, and enough luggage capacity to go the distance (aluminum panniers and top box are standard). MSRP is $7,398.
The BMW R 18 is a cruiser powered by a massive 1,802cc OHV air/oil-cooled 4-valve opposed Twin that’s the largest “boxer” engine the German company has ever produced. Part of BMW’s Heritage line, the R 18 has styling inspired by the 1930s-era R 5. Despite its classic looks, the long, low cruiser is equipped with fully modern electronics, brakes, suspension, and other features. Base price is $17,495. BMW recently announced two touring versions for the 2022 model year, the R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental, both with a fairing, hard saddlebags, and an infotainment system; the Transcontinental adds a trunk with an integrated passenger backrest.
The Ducati Monster is one of the Italian manufacturer’s most iconic and best-selling models. Gone is the trademark tubular-steel trellis frame, replaced with a front-frame design that uses the engine as a structural member of the chassis, as on the Panigale and Streetfighter V4 models. Compared to the previous Monster 821, the new model weighs 40 pounds less and is equipped with a more powerful 937cc Testastretta 11-degree L-Twin engine and top-shelf electronics. New styling and more make this an all-new Monster. Pricing starts at $11,895 for the Monster and $12,195 for the Monster+, which adds a flyscreen and passenger seat cover.
Another top-selling Ducati is the Multistrada adventure bike. For 2021, it is now the Multistrada V4 and it is powered by the 1,158cc 90-degree V4 Grandturismo engine that makes 170 horsepower at 10,500 rpm and stomping 92 lb-ft torque at 8,750 rpm (claimed). Ducati Skyhook semi-active suspension and a full suite of IMU-supported electronics are standard, and S models are equipped with a radar system that enables Adaptive Cruise Control and Blind Spot Detection. New for 2021 is a 19-inch front wheel. Pricing starts at $19,995 for the Multistrada V4 and $24,095 for the Multistrada V4 S.
Updates to the Ducati SuperSport 950 include new styling inspired by the Panigale V4, an IMU-enabled electronics package, and improved comfort. The seat is flatter and has more padding, the handlebar is higher, and the footpegs are lower. The SuperSport 950 is powered by a 937cc Testastretta L-Twin that makes 110 horsepower at 9,000 rpm and 68.6 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm (claimed, at the crank). The SuperSport 950 is available in Ducati Red for $13,995. The SuperSport 950 S, which is equipped with fully adjustable Öhlins suspension and a passenger seat cover, is available in Ducati Red and Arctic White Silk starting at $16,195.
2021 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Revival
Earlier this year Harley-Davidson announced its new Icons Collection. The first model in the collection is the stunning Electra Glide Revival, which is inspired by the 1969 Electra Glide, the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle available with an accessory “batwing” fairing. Though retro in style, the Electra Glide Revival is powered by a Milwaukee Eight 114 V-twin and is equipped with RDRS Safety Enhancements and a Boom! Box infotainment system. Global production of the Electra Glide Revival is limited to a one-time build of 1,500 serialized examples, with an MSRP of $29,199.
With its iconic solid aluminum 18-inch Lakester wheels, for 2021 Harley-Davidson gave the Fat Boy 114 a new look with lots of chrome and bright work. Powering the Fat Boy is none other than the torquey Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-twin engine, equipped with a 6-speed gearbox and putting down a claimed 119 ft-lb of torque at just 3,000 rpm. Pricing starts at $19,999.
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 / Pan America 1250 Special
A competitive, state-of-the-art, 150-horsepower adventure bike built by Harley-Davidson? Yea, right, when pigs fly! Well, the Motor Company came out swinging with its Pan America 1250 and Pan America 1250 Special. Powered by the all-new Revolution Max 1250, a liquid-cooled, 1,252cc, 60-degree V-Twin with DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, and variable valve timing. The killer app is the optional Adaptive Ride Height, which lowers the higher-spec Pan America 1250 Special (which is equipped with semi-active Showa suspension) by 1 to 2 inches when the bike comes to a stop. Pricing starts at $17,319 for the Pan America 1250 and $19,999 for the Pan America 1250 Special.
For Harley-Davidson Touring models like the Road Glide, Road King, and Street Glide, there are Special models that offer a slammed look and 119 lb-ft of torque from the Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-Twin. The 2021 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special is available with new two-tone paint options, and with a choice of a blacked-out or bright chrome styling treatments. All Special models are now equipped with the high-performance Ventilator air cleaner with a washable filter element, and a new low-profile engine guard. Pricing starts at $26,699.
2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S
The (air-cooled) Sportster is dead, long live the (liquid-cooled) Sportster! Visually similar to the 1250 Custom teased several years ago, the 2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S represents a new era for the legendary Sportster line. Since the introduction of the XL model family in 1957, Sportsters have always been stripped-down motorcycles powered by air-cooled V-Twins. Harley calls the new Sportster S a “sport custom motorcycle,” and at the heart of the machine is a 121-horsepower Revolution Max 1250T V-Twin, a lightweight chassis, and premium suspension. Pricing starts at $14,999.
The Street Bob, with its mini-ape handlebar, mid-mount controls, and bobber-style fenders, has become a fan favorite among those looking for a minimalist American V-twin to customize. The 2021 Harley-Davidson Street Bob 114 packs more punch, thanks to the larger, torque-rich Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine. Pricing starts at $14,999.
With a slammed look and 119 lb-ft of torque from the Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-Twin, the 2021 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special is available with new two-tone paint options, and with a choice of a blacked-out or bright chrome styling treatments. All Special models are now equipped with the high-performance Ventilator air cleaner with a washable filter element, and a new low-profile engine guard. Pricing starts at $27,099.
The 2021 Honda ADV150 is an ADV-styled scooter, essentially a Honda PCX150 with longer travel Showa suspension (5.1/4.7 inches front/rear) and a larger ABS-equipped 240mm disc brake at the bow and a drum brake without ABS in the stern. Its powered by a liquid-cooled 149cc Single and has an automatic V-matic transmission. Pricing starts at $4,199.
Well-mannered motorcycles seldom make racing history, and the 2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP was developed with one uncompromising goal — win superbike races at all costs. It’s powered by an inline-Four that we dyno tested at 175 horsepower at the rear wheel, and it’s equipped with Öhlins semi-active suspension, IMU-enabled electronics, and top-shelf braking hardware. And it’s street legal and available for purchase from your local Honda dealer. MSRP is $28,500.
The 2021 Honda CRF300L (above) and CRF300L Rally (below) dual-sports share the same powerplant, a liquid-cooled 286cc Single which boasts 15% more displacement, power, and torque than its 250cc predecessor. They have a new slip/assist clutch, revised steering geometry, less weight, and a new LCD meter. The CRF300L has a base price of $5,249 (add $300 for ABS), weighs 309 pounds, has a 2.1-gallon tank, and has a 34.7-inch seat height.
The 2021 Honda CRF300L and CRF300L Rally (above) dual-sports share the same powerplant, a liquid-cooled 286cc Single which boasts 15% more displacement, power, and torque than its 250cc predecessor. They have a new slip/assist clutch, revised steering geometry, less weight, and a new LCD meter. The CRF300L Rally, which has a windscreen, handlebar weights, rubber footpeg inserts, a larger front brake rotor, more seat padding, and a larger fuel tank (3.4 gallons vs. 2.1) than the CRF300L, has a base price of $5,999 (add $300 for ABS), weighs 333 pounds, and has a 35.2-inch seat height.
The Honda CRF450L debuted for 2019, bringing CRF450R motocross performance to a street-legal dual-sport. Its lightweight, compact, liquid-cooled 449cc single has a 12:1 compression ratio and a Unicam SOHC valve train with titanium valves. For 2021, Honda added an “R” to the model name (CRF450RL), lowered the price to $9,999 (from $10,399), revised the ECU and fuel-injection settings for better throttle response, and added new hand guards and fresh graphics.
The Gold Wing has been Honda‘s flagship touring model for more than 40 years. It entered its sixth generation for the 2018 model year, with a complete overhaul to the GL1800 platform that made it lighter, sportier, and more technologically advanced. The standard Gold Wing (above) and trunk-equipped Gold Wing Tour (below) won Rider‘s 2018 Motorcycle of the Year award. Gold Wing updates for 2021 include a suede-like seat cover, colored seat piping, audio improvements, and red rear turnsignals. Pricing starts at $23,800 for the Gold Wing and $25,100 for the Gold Wing DCT (with 7-speed automatic Dual Clutch Transmission).
Updates for the Honda Gold Wing Tour include the same ones listed above for the standard Gold Wing: a suede-like seat cover, colored seat piping, audio improvements, and red rear turnsignals. But the Tour also got a larger top trunk (61 liters, up from 50) that now easily accepts two full-face helmets; total storage capacity is now 121 liters. The passenger seat’s backrest features a more relaxed angle, thicker foam, and a taller profile. Pricing starts at $23,800 for the Gold Wing and $25,100 for the Gold Wing DCT (with 7-speed automatic Dual Clutch Transmission).
Joining the Rebel 300 and Rebel 500 in Honda‘s cruiser lineup for 2021 is the all-new Rebel 1100, which is powered by powered by a version of the liquid-cooled 1,084cc parallel-twin used in the 2020 Africa Twin, which uses a Unicam SOHC valve train and is available with either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 6-speed automatic Dual Clutch Transmission. Standard equipment includes four ride modes (Standard, Sport, Rain and User, which is customizable), Honda Selectable Torque Control (aka traction control, which has integrated wheelie control), engine brake control, and cruise control. Pricing starts at $9,299 for the Rebel 1100 and $9,999 for the Rebel 1100 DCT.
The latest addition to Honda‘s miniMOTO lineup is the Trail 125 ABS, which is powered by the same air-cooled 125cc Single found in the Grom, Monkey, and Super Cub C125. Like the Monkey and Super Cub, the Trail plays the retro card, pulling at heartstrings for a bike beloved by many decades ago. Just like its forefathers, the 2021 Honda Trail 125 proudly carries on the tradition of being a quaint and understated dual-sport, with a steel backbone frame, upright handlebar, square turnsignals, upswept exhaust, high-mount snorkel, and luggage rack. MSRP is $3,899.
For 2021, the Indian Roadmaster Limited gets the larger 116ci Thunder Stroke V-Twin versus the original 111, and it has a modern streamlined fairing, open front fender, and slammed saddlebags. As a premium touring model, the Roadmaster Limited also gets Indian’s heated and cooled ClimaCommand seats and other upgrades. Pricing starts at $30,749.
Like the Honda CRF300L above, Kawasaki‘s entry-level dual-sport got a displacement boost, which warranted a name change from KLX250 to KLX300. The 2021 KLX300 makes more thanks to a larger 292cc Single, which is liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, and has DOHC with four valves. It also uses more aggressive cam profiles, making it livelier than its predecessor. All of that is paired to a 6-speed gearbox and 14/40 final drive. Pricing starts at $5,599. And joining the KLX300 is a supermoto version, the KLX300SM (below).
Joining the KLX300 dual-sport (above) in Kawasaki‘s 2021 lineup is an all-new supermoto version, the KLX300SM. It has street-oriented 17-inch wire-spoke wheels and IRC Road Winner RX-01 rubber, and the suspension is stiffer with slightly abbreviated travel. The KLX300SM also has taller final-drive gearing and a larger front brake rotor. Pricing starts at $5,599.
Speaking of supermoto, KTM‘s track-only, race-ready 450 SMR is back for 2021. Using the 450 SX-F motocross racer as its foundation, the SMR shares its 63-horsepower 450cc single-cylinder SOHC engine, lightweight steel frame, and cast-aluminum swingarm. To suit its supermoto purpose, wider triple clamps with a 16mm offset accommodate tubeless Alpina wheels (16.5-inch front and 17-inch rear) fitted with ultra-sticky Bridgestone Battlax Supermoto slicks. The WP Xact suspension is updated, reducing suspension travel to an ample 11.2 inches in the front and 10.5 inches in the rear, lowering the bike’s center of gravity and improving handling. A radially mounted Brembo M50 front caliper squeezes a 310mm Galfer floating rotor to deliver all the braking power you’ll ever need on a bike that weighs just 232 pounds wet. MSRP is $11,299.
We selected the KTM 790 Adventure and 790 Adventure R as Rider‘s 2019 Motorcycle of the Year. Just two years later, KTM has updated the platform. Adapted from the 890 Duke R, the engine now has more displacement, a higher compression ratio, and other improvements. And like the 890 Duke R, the Adventure R has better throttle-by-wire response, a beefed-up clutch and a shortened shift lever stroke and lighter shift-detent spring for faster shifting. Chassis updates include an aluminum head tube, a lighter swingarm, revised suspension settings, and refinements to the braking system. Pricing starts at $14,199.
The limited-edition KTM 890 Adventure R Rally received the same updates as the 890 Adventure R (above), but is loaded with race-spec inspired components. Its development utilized feedback from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team riders, Toby Price, and Sam Sunderland. Only 700 units of the 890 Adventure R Rally will be produced worldwide, with 200 slated for the North American market. Pricing starKTM 8ts at $19,999.
Powering the 2021 KTM 890 Duke is the same punchy, rip-roaring 889cc parallel-Twin producing a claimed 115 horsepower and 67.9 lb-ft of torque that’s also found in the 890 Duke R and 890 Adventure (above). Shared amongst the middleweight Duke family is a chromoly-steel frame, lightweight one-piece aluminum subframe and cast aluminum swingarm. By using the 889cc engine as a stressed member, the 890 Duke flaunts a mere 372-pound dry weight. We recently completed a comparison test of the 2021 KTM Duke lineup (200, 390, 890, and 1290), which will be posted soon.
On March 15, 2021, Moto Guzzi celebrated its 100th anniversary of continuous production at its headquarters in Mandello del Lario, Italy. One of Moto Guzzi’s most iconic models, the V7, was updated for 2021, and is available in more modern V7 Stone and classic V7 Special versions. Both have a larger 853cc V-Twin derived from engine, variations of which are found in the V9 and V85 TT. They also get reduced effort from the single-disc dry clutch, a stiffer frame, a bigger swingarm with a new bevel gear for the cardan shaft drive, revised damping and a longer stroke for the preload-adjustable rear shocks, an updated ABS module, a wider rear tire, vibration-damping footpegs, and a thicker passenger seat. MSRP for the V7 Stone is $8,990, or $9,190 for the Centenario edition (shown above).
The 2021 Moto Guzzi V7 Special gets the same updates as the V7 Stone above. Whereas the V7 Stone has matte finishes, a single all-digital gauge, black exhausts, cast wheels, and an eagle-shaped LED set into the headlight, the V7 Special is classically styled, with spoked wheels, chrome finishes, dual analog gauges, and a traditional headlight. MSRP is $9,490.
For 2021, the Moto Guzzi V85 TT gets some updates to its air-cooled 853cc 90-degree V-Twin. The revised powerplant offers more torque at low to midrange rpm thanks to optimized lift of the pushrod-and-rockers timing cams and tweaks to the engine control electronics. New spoked rims now mount tubeless tires, reducing unsprung weight by 3.3 pounds for better handling and facilitating plug-and-go flat repairs. Two new riding modes—Sport and Custom—join the existing three (Street, Rain, Off-road) to provide more flexibility in managing throttle response, traction control and ABS to suit rider preferences. Cruise control and the color TFT instrument panel also come standard. The 2021 V85 TT Adventure ($12,990) has standard saddlebags. The 2021 V85 TT Travel ($13,390) includes a Touring windscreen, side panniers from the Urban series, auxiliary LED lights, heated hand grips, and the Moto Guzzi MIA multimedia platform.
For 2021, the Royal Enfield Himalayan adventure bike, which is powered by an air-cooled 411cc Single, get several updates, including switchable ABS to help riders when riding off-road, a revised rear brake that is said to improve braking performance, a redesigned sidestand, and a new hazard light switch. MSRP is $4,999.
For 2021, the Royal Enfield family gets a new addition — the Meteor 350, a light, affordable cruiser powered by an all-new air-cooled 349cc single with SOHC actuating two valves. Available in three budget-friendly trim packages, variants include the base-model Fireball ($4,399) with a black exhaust system; the Stellar ($4,499), with a chrome exhaust and a passenger backrest; and the Supernova ($4,599), which adds a windshield and a two-tone paint scheme.
Triumph‘s Speed Triple is one of the original hooligan bikes. It has evolved over the years since its introduction in 1994, and for 2021 the Speed Triple 1200 RS is the lightest, most powerful, highest-spec version yet. Its all-new 1,160cc Triple (up from 1,050cc) makes 165 horsepower at the rear wheel, and the RS is equipped with state-of-the-art electronics, fully adjustable Öhlins suspension, Brembo Stylema front calipers, and much more. Pricing starts at $18,300.
The 2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport, a street-focused adventure bike powered by the same liquid-cooled 888cc in-line triple as the Tiger 900 models, but it has been detuned to 82 horsepower at 8,400 rpm and 58 lb-ft of torque at 6,700 rpm at the rear wheel, as measured on Jett Tuning‘s dyno, which is about 10 horsepower lower. To keep the price down, Triumph also reduced the number of ride modes to two (Road and Rain) and limited suspension adjustability to rear preload. But this is no bargain-bin special. It has Marzocchi suspension front and rear, and it has Brembo brakes, with Stylema front calipers and a radial front master cylinder. ABS is standard but not switchable, and traction control is also standard but is switchable.
The 2021 Triumph Trident 660 is a triple-cylinder-powered roadster in the the twin-cylinder-dominated middleweight class. It’s powered by a liquid-cooled, DOHC, 660cc inline-Triple making a claimed 79.9 horsepower at 10,250 rpm and 47 lb-ft of torque at 6,250 rpm, and it is equipped with ABS, switchable traction control, and selectable ride modes. MSRP is $7,995.
Updates for 2021 to the Yamaha MT-07, its best-selling middleweight naked sportbike, include revisions to the 689cc liquid-cooled CP2 (Cross Plane 2-cylinder) parallel-Twin engine to meet Euro 5 regulations and to improve low-rpm throttle response. The MT-07 has a new 2-into-1 exhaust, revisions to the 6-speed gearbox to improve shifting feel, LED lighting all around, new instrumentation, revised ergonomics, and new styling that brings it closer in appearance to the larger MT-09 (below). Base price is $7,699, and three color choices are available: Storm Fluo, Matte Raven Black, and Team Yamaha Blue.
Now in its third generation, fully 90% of the Yamaha MT-09 naked sportbike is new for 2021. Its has an entirely new 890cc CP3 (Cross Plane 3-cylinder) inline-Triple engine, a thoroughly updated and significantly stiffer chassis, state-of-the-art electronics, and a fresh look that results in the most refined MT-09 yet. The base price increased by $400 to $9,399, but the four extra Benjamins are worth it. The MT-09 is available in Storm Fluo (shown above), Matte Raven Black, and Team Yamaha Blue. There’s also an MT-09 SP ($10,999) with exclusive special-edition coloring, premium KYB and Öhlins suspension, and cruise control.
After being teased for several years, Yamaha‘s highly anticipated Ténéré 700 adventure bike made its U.S. debut in the summer of 2021, bringing some excitement during a challenging pandemic year. It’s powered by the versatile 689cc liquid-cooled CP2 (Cross Plane 2-cylinder) parallel-Twin engine from the MT-07 (above), modified for adventure duty with a new airbox with a higher snorkel, a revised cooling system, an upswept exhaust, and a final gear ratio of 46/15 vs. 43/16. The rest of the bike is all-new, including the narrow double-cradle tubular-steel frame, triangulated (welded-on) subframe, double braced steering head and aluminum swingarm, adjustable long-travel suspension, switchable ABS, and more. Base price is $9,999 and its available in Ceramic Ice, Intensity White (shown above), and Matte Black.
Now in its third generation, Yamaha’s middleweight sport-tourer — now called the Tracer 9 GT — is new from the ground up for 2021. It has a larger, more powerful engine, a new frame, and a state-of-the-art electronics package that includes semi-active suspension. With these updates comes a higher price, and MSRP is now $14,899. It’s available in Liquid Metal (shown above) and Redline.
New for 2021, Zero has taken the existing frame from the FX and added a redesigned body. The starkly modern, supermoto styling is very similar in appearance to the FXS – tall, slim and sporting a raised front mudguard. However, the FXE is capable of a claimed 100-mile range on a full battery charge and costs $11,795, which can be bought down to around $10,000 depending upon available EV rebates and credits.
Compared to many of its heavier, more expensive competitors the FXE is a lightweight and thrilling runabout, and what it gives up in range it makes up for in accessibility and potential for fun. The FXE makes for a credible commuter bike, capable of taking to the highway but ideal to zip around town on.
Harley-Davidson is producing a limited run of 2021 Street Glide Specials featuring the handcrafted Arctic Blast Limited Edition paint set. The motorcycle was revealed today at the 81st Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Availability will be limited to 500 examples worldwide, each serialized on the fuel tank.
The Arctic Blast Limited Edition paint will be offered in a single colorway – metallic deep blue with bright blue strokes over a pearlescent white base. Each of the Street Glide Specials receiving the new custom scheme is hand-painted by the artisans at Gunslinger Custom Paint in Golden, Colorado. Gunslinger is home to a renowned group of painters, designers and, artists with decades of experience supplying custom-painted components for Harley-Davidson’s Custom Vehicle Operations team and limited-edition motorcycles.
“With the Arctic Blast Limited Edition paint offering for the Street Glide Special, at Harley-Davidson, we continue to build on our reputation and lead by example, as the best in exclusive custom motorcycles and design,” said Jochen Zeitz, Chairman, President and CEO Harley-Davidson.
The Street Glide Special model is a Harley-Davidson hot-rod bagger that combines long-haul touring comfort and custom style powered by the Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-Twin engine. Key features include the iconic Harley-Davidson batwing fairing, stretched locking saddlebags, a Daymaker LED headlamp, low-profile engine guard, and Prodigy custom wheels.
“The Arctic Blast paint is executed in strokes of high-contrast color intended to communicate the appearance of motion,” said Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson Vice President of Styling and Design. “The design looks bold from a distance but offers interesting details that can only be seen up close, including a blue pearl effect over the white base, and a ghosted hexagon pattern on the fairing.”
The Arctic Blast Limited Edition Street Glide Special MSRP is $38,899. A Chopped Tour-Pak luggage carrier with matching paint will also be offered through Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories (MSRP: $1,699.95).
After the successful launch of the Pan America 1250, Harley-Davidson’s first-ever adventure bike that’s built on the all-new liquid-cooled Revolution Max platform, the Motor Company has announced a late addition to its 2021 lineup, the Sportster S. It will be in dealerships this fall with an MSRP of $14,999.
Visually similar to the 1250 Custom teased several years ago, the 2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S represents a new era for the legendary Sportster line. Since the introduction of the XL model family in 1957, Sportsters have always been stripped-down motorcycles powered by air-cooled V-Twins.
Harley-Davidson calls the new Sportster S a “sport custom motorcycle,” and at the heart of the machine is a 121-horsepower Revolution Max 1250T V-Twin, a lightweight chassis, and premium suspension.
“The Sportster S is the next all-new motorcycle built on the Revolution Max platform and sets a new performance standard for the Sportster line,” said Jochen Zeitz, chairman, president and CEO, Harley-Davidson. “This is a next generation Sportster defined by power, performance, technology and style. And it’s part of our commitment to introduce motorcycles that align with our strategy to increase desirability and to drive the legacy of Harley-Davidson.”
The new Sporter S has a stocky, muscular profile and fat tires that look like balled-up fists. Its minimalist front fender evokes the front end of a classic bobber, while its tail section, high-mount exhaust, and olo seat draw inspiration from Harley-Davidson’s legendary XR750 flat tracker. The engine’s lightweight magnesium engine covers stand out with a Chocolate Satin finish.
“Every visual design element of the Sportster S model is an expression of the motorcycle’s raw power,” said Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson vice president of styling and design. “This is a wolf in wolf’s clothing.”
Displacing 1,250cc just like the Pan America’s engine, the Revolution Max 1250T in the Sportster S makes less peak horsepower and is tuned for a broad spread of torque. The riding experience can be tailored to conditions or preferences with selectable ride modes (Sport, Road, and Rain, plus two Custom modes) and H-D’s Cornering Rider Safety Enhancements.
Like on the Pan America, the Revolution Max engine is a stressed member of the Sportster S chassis. It has a welded tubular-steel trellis swingarm with a braced design and stamped X-member to further stiffen the chassis.
Suspension is made by Showa and is fully adjustable at both ends, with a 43mm USD cartridge fork and a piggyback-reservoir rear shock with a remote preload adjuster knob. Likewise, the Sportster S has Brembo brakes at both ends, with a single 320mm rotor up front squeezed by a radial monoblock 4-piston caliper and a 260mm rear rotor with a 2-piston caliper. Lightweight cast aluminum wheels with a staggered, five-spoke design are shod with wide Dunlop/Harley-Davidson Series GT503 tires.
Forward foot controls and a low handlebar put the rider in an aggressive posture, and seat height is 29.6 inches. Cruise control and a proximity-based security system are standard equipment. With its 3.1-gallon peanut tank full of fuel, Harley-Davidson says the Sportster S model weighs just 502 pounds.
A round, 4-inch TFT screen displays all instrumentation and supports Bluetooth-enabled infotainment. All-LED lighting includes a Daymaker Signature LED headlamp. A wide range of accessories will be available.
The 2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S will be offered in Vivid Black, Stone Washed White Pearl, and Midnight Crimson.
Harley-Davidson has announced a new mid-season motorcycle reveal, “From Evolution to Revolution.” The virtual launch event will be held July 13, 2021, at 10 a.m. CDT, and is open to anyone who registers.
“Following the successful launch of our first adventure touring motorcycle, the Pan America, we are excited to reveal another all-new motorcycle, built on the Revolution Max platform in the sport segment, showcasing unmatched Harley-Davidson technology, performance, and style,” said Jochen Zeitz, chairman, president, and CEO Harley-Davidson.
In 2018, when H-D rolled out its “More Road to Harley-Davidson” strategic plan, it provided prototype images of the Pan America as well as the Bronx streetfighter and 1250 Custom, all to be powered by a new modular engine platform, which we now know is the Revolution Max. The Bronx was said to be a 975cc motorcycle, while the Custom was 1,250cc. The teaser image for the new motorcycle says “1250” and looks similar to the 1250 Custom.
The reveal event will preview details of the new motorcycle and include presentations by Harley-Davidson leadership, product experts, and riders. To take part in the “From Evolution to Revolution” virtual launch event, you can register at H-D.com/JulyReveal.
When you step up to the plate, when you’re facing fierce competitors and all eyes are on you, sometimes you have to swing for the fences. That’s what Harley-Davidson — a 118-year-old American motorcycle manufacturer known primarily for cruisers and baggers — has done with its new Pan America 1250 and Pan America 1250 Special adventure tourers.
Harley is a new player in the adventure touring segment, which has grown in breadth and depth over the past several decades. BMW recently introduced a 40th anniversary edition of its highly popular — and very capable — R 1250 GS. And there are big-league adventure bikes made by Ducati, Honda, KTM, Moto Guzzi, Suzuki, Triumph, and Yamaha, many of which are best-selling models with years of development and evolution under their belts.
During more than a decade of largely stagnant motorcycle sales since the Great Recession, large-displacement adventure and dual-sport models have been a rare source of growth. Harley wants a cut of that action. As it demonstrated with the release of the LiveWire electric motorcycle, Harley wants to expand its customer base. Two ways it can do that are to sell new models to its existing customers, and sell new models to new customers. Some existing customers own a variety of motorcycles, like Rider contributor Bruce Gillies, who owns a Road Glide Ultra, a Triumph Tiger 800XC and a KTM 690 Enduro R. Bruce is retired from the U.S. Navy and buys American-made products whenever he can. He’s also a highly skilled rider who demands a lot from his motorcycles. He’d consider buying a Pan America, but only if it meets his high expectations.
Rest assured, Bruce. The Motor Company knocked this one out of the park.
[Editor’s Note: After this story was published, Bruce traded in his Triumph for a Pan America 1250 Special with ARH, and he loves it.]
Harley designed and built an exciting, capable and innovative adventure bike in its first attempt. Given the high profile of the Pan America and the eagerness of naysayers to pounce on any weakness, Harley knew it couldn’t release an odd-duck motorcycle. It learned that lesson with the Buell Ulysses. Belt drive is out, chain drive is in, not only because a chain is light, durable in off-road situations and can be repaired in the field, but also because that’s what many adventure riders demand. A V-twin engine stays true to the brand, but it has to be liquid-cooled and offer the power and sophistication necessary to compete in this segment. The new Revolution Max 1250 V-twin makes a claimed 150 horsepower and 94 lb-ft of torque, and ride modes change output and throttle response at the touch of a button.
Harley also knew it needed a hook — a killer app, if you will. And that’s Adaptive Ride Height (ARH), a $1,000 factory-installed option on the Pan America 1250 Special that automatically lowers ride height, and therefore the pilot’s seat, by 1 to 2 inches as the bike comes to a stop. The Special’s semi-active suspension automatically adjusts preload to 30% sag regardless of load, which is what accounts for the range of height adjustment. The system works seamlessly and virtually undetectably, and makes a huge difference in effective seat height. ARH is a real game-changer because seat height is one of the biggest obstacles for some riders to overcome when considering an adventure bike. Furthermore, it brings seat height within reach of more riders without compromising suspension travel or cornering clearance. (Click here to read our technical deep dive into the Pan America 1250’s Revolution Max engine and ARH.)
After years of development and benchmarking, not to mention teasing at shows and speculation by the media, the first public test of the Pan America was at its press launch. I have to hand it to the folks who planned the event — this was no bunny slope test ride. Hosted at RawHyde Adventures’ Zakar training facility a couple hours north of Los Angeles, we spent two full days flogging Pan America 1250 Specials on- and off-road in the Sierra Nevada mountains and Mojave Desert. We rode nearly 400 miles on highways, twisting mountain roads and off-road trails that included gravel, sand, rocks, tricky climbs and descents — even a few jumps.
Greg’s Gear Helmet: Fly Racing Odyssey Adventure Modular Jacket: Fly Racing Terra Trek Gloves: Fly Racing Coolpro Force Pants: Fly Racing Terra Trek Boots: Fly Racing FR5
As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. After tip-toeing down the sand-and-gravel access road from Zakar to the pavement and falling into formation on Route 58 with the dozen riders in our group, I began taking mental notes. As with many full-sized adventure bikes, the Pan America was comfortable and accommodating, with plenty of legroom, an upright seating position and a relaxed reach to a wide handlebar. Before the ride began, Harley’s tech staff helped us adjust the dual-height stock seat (33.4/34.4 inches), install either the accessory low or high seat (which reduce or increase the dual heights by 1 inch, respectively) or install accessory 2-inch handlebar risers.
The whole business of seat heights becomes a little fuzzy because we were on Pan America 1250 Specials with ARH installed. At a stop, the unladen height of the stock seat in the low position is 32.7 inches rather than 33.4 inches without ARH. In its specs Harley also provides laden seat height with a 180-pound rider, which is 31.1 inches on the Special without ARH and 30.4 inches with ARH. Install the $249.95 Reach Solo Seat on an ARH-equipped Special and laden seat height can be as low as 29.4 inches. In other words, Harley went to great lengths to make sure seat height is not a barrier to owning a Pan America, though getting exactly what you want may require an investment.
After humming along the freeway for a half hour with the cruise control on and the on-the-fly adjustable windscreen parting the air smoothly, we turned onto Caliente-Bodfish Road, one of the gnarliest paved roads in the Sierra foothills, and began to wick it up. The Pan America offers eight ride modes — Sport, Road, Rain, Off-Road, Off-Road Plus and three custom modes — which adjust power output, throttle response, engine braking, traction control, ABS and suspension damping. The Revolution Max 1250 is ripper, with a sportbike-like sound, feel and responsiveness, and, thanks to variable valve timing, it delivers generous low-end torque as well as a screaming top end.
As has become increasingly common, rather than bolting the engine to the frame, the engine serves as the main structural element of the chassis. Attached directly to the engine are a front frame that incorporates the steering head, a forged aluminum mid frame that’s the attachment point for the cast aluminum swingarm and a tubular-steel trellis subframe. Overall the chassis is stiff and robust, contributing to the Pan America 1250 Special’s neutral, stable handling. And Harley used tried-and-trusted component suppliers, with a steering damper made by Öhlins, radial-mount monoblock 4-piston front calipers made by Brembo and suspension made by Showa — a 47mm USD Balance Free Fork and a Balanced Free Rear Cushion-lite shock, both with 7.5 inches of travel. Everything performed to a high level in a wide range of conditions.
Standard on the Pan America are cast aluminum wheels (19-inch front, 17-inch rear) shod with specially designed Michelin Scorcher Adventure 90/10 tires, which offered good grip and handling on pavement and during light off-roading. Bikes we tested were equipped with the optional side-laced tubeless wheels (which cost $500 and weigh 14 pounds more than the cast wheels). On the second day, our bikes were fitted with accessory Michelin Anakee Wild 50/50 tires ($449.90), which give up some confidence and grip on pavement but are excellent off-road tires, even at the higher street temperatures we were running. Harley’s RDRS Safety Enhancements package includes IMU-enabled “cornering enhanced” linked ABS and traction control, with settings determined by ride mode (the cornering function and rear ABS are disabled in certain off-road modes). Drag-Torque Slip Control, which is like traction control for the engine to manage rear-wheel traction during aggressive riding, as well as cruise control and hill hold control are also part of the package.
Reactions to the Pan America’s styling have been mixed. Lacking the prominent beak or high front fender that is popular on many ADV bikes, it stands apart from the crowd, with a headlight design influenced by the Fat Bob and front bodywork inspired by the Road Glide’s sharknose fairing. Above the Daymaker Signature LED headlight, which uses 30 LED elements behind a diffuser lens, the Special has a Daymaker Adaptive LED headlight that illuminates a series of three lights as lean angle reaches 8, 15 and 23 degrees.
Harley offers a standard version of the Pan America 1250 that starts at $17,319, but many buyers will probably opt for the Pan America 1250 Special we tested. Starting at $19,999, the Special adds semi-active suspension with automatic preload adjustment (and the availability of ARH as a factory option), the adaptive headlight, the steering damper, a tire-pressure monitoring system, a centerstand, an aluminum skid plate, engine protection bars, hand guards, heated grips and a dual-height rear brake pedal.
In one shot, Harley-Davidson not only built its first adventure bike, it also built its first sportbike and sport-touring bike. We hammered the Pan Americas for two days, and they never gave up or reacted in an unexpected way or felt out of their depth. Whatever the metric — power, performance, handling, durability, technology, weight, price — the Pan America 1250 Special can compete head-to-head with well-established players in the ADV segment. Is it the best overall, or in any particular category? Well, that remains to be seen — two days and 400 miles, none of which were ridden back-to-back with competitors in the class, is not enough to draw firm conclusions. But this is one rookie that shows great promise.
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special Specs
Base Price: $19,999 Price as Tested: $22,299 (ARH, side-laced wheels, Anakee Wild tires, skid plate) Website:harley-davidson.com Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 60-degree V-twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 1,252cc Bore x Stroke: 105 x 72mm Horsepower: 150 @ 9,000 rpm (claimed, at the crank) Torque: 94 lb-ft @ 6,750 rpm (claimed, at the crank) Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated assist-and-slipper wet clutch Final Drive: Chain Wheelbase: 62.2 in. Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/4.3 in. Seat Height: 32.7/33.7 in. (unladen w/ ARH) Wet Weight: 559 lbs. (claimed, stock) Fuel Capacity: 5.6 gals.
In July 2018, Harley-Davidson announced a five-year growth strategy called “More Roads to Harley-Davidson,” a plan to add new products, provide broader access, strengthen its dealer network and amplify the brand. Expansion beyond Harley’s typical cruiser, bagger and touring models would include the LiveWire electric motorcycle, which debuted for 2020, and “middleweight adventure touring, streetfighter and high-performance custom models.”
The “More Roads” strategy offered the first look at the Pan America adventure tourer, with few details beyond its displacement and what could be gleaned from a photo of the prototype. At the 2019 EICMA show in Milan, Harley unveiled the Pan America and the Bronx streetfighter, both to be powered by a liquid-cooled 60-degree V-twin engine platform called the Revolution Max — 1,250cc in the Pan America and 975cc in the Bronx — and launched in 2020.
In February 2020, amid financial troubles, Harley-Davidson announced a revised five-year strategy called “Hardwire” that would, among other changes, “selectively focus on opportunities in profitable segments.” Plans to expand the company’s product portfolio were scaled back. The Pan America made the cut, the Bronx did not. Then the pandemic hit, which pushed the Pan America’s launch from late 2020 to early 2021. Details about the Pan America 1250 and up-spec Pan America 1250 Special were finally announced last February, and we got an opportunity to test ride the Special over two days in April.
Revolution Max 1250
According to Harley, its all-new, modular Revolution Max engine will be offered in four displacements ranging from 500cc to 1,250cc. In addition to powering the Pan America, it will likely replace the aging, air-cooled mill in the Sportster and may replace the liquid-cooled Revolution X in whatever entry-level models fill the gap for the discontinued Street 500 and Street 750.
In the Pan America 1250, the Revolution Max displaces 1,252cc, has a 13.0:1 compression ratio and makes a claimed 150 horsepower at 9,000 rpm and 94 lb-ft of torque at 6,750 rpm. Like the Revolution V-twin that powered the V-Rod and the Revolution X that powered the Street models, the Max’s cylinders have a 60-degree included angle. The two crankshaft connecting rod journals are offset by 30 degrees, resulting in a 90-degree firing order for smooth power delivery. Dual overhead cams use roller-finger followers to actuate four valves per cylinder and hydraulic lash adjusters eliminate periodic maintenance. Computer-controlled variable valve timing (VVT) independently advances or retards intake and exhaust timing through a potential range of 40 degrees of crankshaft rotation, with the goal of broadening the powerband to deliver ample low-end torque as well as high-rpm horsepower. Dual spark plugs optimize ignition and a robust, dry-sump oiling system is designed to withstand the demands of adventure riding.
Because the Revolution Max is a stressed member of the Pan America’s chassis, it needed to be strong and light. Harley used finite element analysis and optimization techniques to reduce material mass in cast and molded components. Complex casting techniques allowed oil and coolant passages to be integrated into the engine in such a way that minimized wall thicknesses. Single-piece aluminum cylinders have nickel silicon carbide-surface galvanic coating, pistons are made of forged aluminum and the rocker, camshaft and primary covers are made of magnesium. An engine that vibrates less endures less stress over its life cycle, allowing components to be made lighter. A spiral-shaped, chain-driven balancer in the crankcase minimizes primary vibration, while a small balancer located in front of the cylinder head between the camshafts minimizes secondary vibration.
Revolution Max engines are built in Harley’s Pilgrim Road facility near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and complete Pan Americas are assembled in York, Pennsylvania.
Adaptive Ride Height
To be competitive in the adventure touring segment, the Pan America 1250 and Pan America 1250 Special are equipped with state-of-the-art electronics like riding modes and Harley’s RDRS Safety Enhancements. The Special is equipped with added features, including Showa semi-active suspension that adjusts damping rates on the selected ride mode and automatically adjusts spring preload to provide 30% sag regardless of the load.
But the real innovation is the Adaptive Ride Height (ARH), a factory option available only on the Special. Using an array of sensors and algorithms, ARH automatically lowers the motorcycle’s ride height by 1 to 2 inches when the motorcycle comes to a stop (the amount of ride height adjustment depends on preload). Lowering the ride height lowers the rider’s seat, which accommodates a wider range of riders and adapts to a wider range of conditions than other full-sized adventure bikes, even those with semi-active suspension.
In standard ride modes, the default setting for ARH is Auto, but in custom ride modes ARH can be turned off or set to Auto with Short Delay or Auto with Long Delay, and those settings will be retained in that mode after the ignition is turned off. In Auto mode, ARH will not lower the motorcycle in an condition where speed is greater than 15.5 mph, but lowering could begin to occur at 15.5 mph if the rider is braking very hard. Speed, brake lever pressure and deceleration rate are all used to determine when to lower the motorcycle. ARH targets the bike to be lowered when the rider would typically be moving their feet off the pegs to put them on the ground, which typically happens at speeds much slower than 15.5 mph under casual braking.
In technical off-road conditions at low speeds, especially if there is a lot of stopping and starting involved, it may not be optimal to have the motorcycle repeatedly lower and raise itself. In Short Delay mode ARH will not lower the ride height at all until 0.5 second after the motorcycle comes to a stop. Long Delay mode waits until 2 seconds after coming to a stop before lowering the bike.
Since ARH is a factory-installed option, it cannot be added to a Pan America 1250 Special after purchase. The beauty of ARH is that it offers a lower seat height without reducing suspension travel or otherwise compromising the motorcycle’s performance or capabilities.
Check out our video review of the 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special, an all-new adventure bike powered by the 150-horsepower Revolution Max V-twin. We hammered the Pan America 1250 Special for two days in the mountains and desert, on- and off-road, and it never gave up or reacted in an unexpected way or felt out of its depth. And its Adaptive Ride Height option is a game-changer, lowering ride/seat height by 1 to 2 inches when the bike comes to a stop. Whatever the metric — power, performance, handling, durability, technology, weight, price — the Pan America 1250 Special can compete head-to-head with well-established players in the ADV segment.
As the growing popularity of the resto-mod customization movement has shown, combining classic styling with modern engineering is a winning formula.
Harley-Davidson has announced its new Icons Collection, and the first model in the collection is the stunning 2021 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Revival.
The Icons Collection is an annual program that offers very limited-edition motorcycles designed to elevate traditional forms and celebrate Americana, either by revisiting classic Harley-Davidson design themes or by exploring ideas that represent the future of motorcycle style.
Only one or two models will be included in the Icons Collection each year, with a single production run that highlights their exclusivity. Production of that model will never be resumed or repeated. Each Icons Collection motorcycle will be serialized, and the purchaser will receive a certificate of authenticity.
“With The Hardwire, we made a commitment to introduce a series of motorcycles that align with our strategy to increase desirability and to drive the legacy of Harley-Davidson,” said Jochen Zeitz, chairman, president and CEO Harley-Davidson. “With that in mind, I am proud to introduce our new limited production Icons Collection, a series of extraordinary adaptations of production motorcycles which look to our storied past and bright future.”
2021 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Revival
The first model in the Icons Collection is the Electra Glide Revival model, a drop-dead gorgeous retro-classic motorcycle decked out with chrome and an old-school two-tone paint scheme. Global production of the Electra Glide Revival model will be limited to a one-time build of 1,500 serialized examples, with bikes available at Harley-Davidson dealers in late April, with an MSRP of $29,199.
The look of the Electra Glide Revival model is inspired by the 1969 Electra Glide, the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle available with an accessory “batwing” fairing. The fairing became an iconic Harley-Davidson styling cue, its shape an instant on-the-road identifier of many H-D models and the foundational design of the fairing featured on current models.
In 1969, the accessory fairing and saddlebags were only offered in white molded fiberglass, and the Electra Glide Revival replicates that look with a Birch White painted finish. The period-inspired tank medallion and Electra Glide script on the front fender complete the look. The Electra Glide Revival will be offered in a single color scheme inspired by the original 1969 colorway: The two-tone fuel tank in Hi-Fi Blue and Black Denim bisected with a Birch White stripe, with Hi-Fi Blue paint on the fenders and side panels.
“We live in a very dynamic time, each of us experiencing constant change,” said Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson vice president of styling and design. “The Electra Glide Revival model is an oasis in this daily turbulence, a way to reconnect with the fundamental Harley-Davidson DNA that created Grand American Touring.”
Design highlights of the Electra Glide Revival model include a solo saddle with a black-and-white cover and a chrome rail, mounted over an adjustable coil spring and shock absorber, also a nod to Harley-Davidson FL models from the 1960s and a functional feature that adds rider comfort. Chrome steel-laced wheels and wide whitewall tires add to the nostalgic look, as do brilliant chrome on front fender rails and saddlebag rails, front fender skirt, Ventilator air cleaner cover, fork covers, and auxiliary lights.
The Electra Glide Revival model is powered by a Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-Twin engine which delivers inspiring performance and classic Harley-Davidson look-sound-feel.
Displacement: 114 cu in (1,868 cc)
Torque: 118 lb-ft @ 3,250 rpm (claimed)
Four valve cylinder heads (two exhaust and two intake valves per head, eight total); increased airflow through the engine contributes to power output.
Dual spark plugs for more complete combustion of the air/fuel charge and maximized power and efficiency.
6-Speed Cruise Drive transmission reduces engine RPM at highway speeds to enhance fuel economy and rider comfort.
The Electra Glide Revival offers classic style, but its design and technology is absolutely modern. The foundation of the Electra Glide Revival model is the single-spar Harley-Davidson Touring frame with a rigid backbone design to sustain the weight of luggage and to support current engine power. The entire chassis is designed for the long haul. A single knob hydraulically adjusts the pre-load of emulsion-technology rear shock absorbers for optimal ride and control. The 49mm fork with dual bending valve suspension technology deliver linear damping characteristics for a smooth ride.
The classic Bat Wing fairing features a tall clear windshield and a splitstream vent to help reduce rider head buffeting. Electronic cruise control holds a steady speed for comfort on long rides, while a halogen headlamp and incandescent auxiliary lamps provide outstanding illumination and maintain the nostalgic styling of the Revival model.
A Boom! Box GTS infotainment system with color touch screen powers two fairing-mount speakers and features advanced navigation and hand and voice commands (when paired with a compatible headset) plus Android Auto application and Apple CarPlay software compatibility.
Also standard is the suite of Harley-Davidson RDRS Safety Enhancements, a collection of technology designed to match motorcycle performance to available traction during acceleration, deceleration and braking, including:
We just spent two days in the Sierra Nevada mountains and Mojave Desert of California testing the all-new 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special. Over the course of two days, we rode about 350 miles on highways, twisting mountain roads and off-road trails that included gravel, sand, rocks and tricky climbs and descents. In one shot, Harley-Davidson not only built its first adventure bike, it also built its first sportbike and sport-touring bike. We’ll have a full review soon, but for now we’re sharing our top 10 highlights.
1. Revolution Max 1250 V-twin
Harley-Davidson’s base-model Pan America 1250 and up-spec Pan America 1250 Special (we only rode the latter) are powered by a brand-new engine called the Revolution Max 1250. It’s a liquid-cooled 1,252cc 60-degree V-twin with DOHC, four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing, a 13.0:1 compression ratio and hydraulic valve lash adjusters. Harley-Davidson claims that it makes 150 horsepower at 9,000 rpm and 94 lb-ft of torque at 6,750 rpm and redlines at 9,500 rpm. It packs serious performance and sounds fantastic, delivering generous, tractable power throughout the rev range. And multiple riding modes adjust power output and throttle delivery.
2. Semi-active Suspension with Adaptive Ride Height
The Pan America 1250 Special is equipped with top-shelf Showa suspension — a 47mm USD Balance Free Fork (BFF) and a Balanced Free Rear Cushion-lite (BFRC) shock, with 7.5 inches of travel front and rear. The suspension offers semi-active electronic adjustment that adjusts damping based on the selected ride mode, and it automatically adjusts preload to provide 30% sag regardless of the load. But the real game-changer is Adaptive Ride Height (a $1,000 factory option), which automatically lowers ride height by 1 to 2 inches when the motorcycle comes to a stop (the amount of ride height adjustment depends on preload). The system works seamlessly and is virtually undetectably, and it makes a huge difference in effective seat height, which is one of the biggest obstacles for some riders to overcome when considering an adventure bike.
4. Ride Modes
Like nearly every high-spec adventure bike, the Pan America 1250 Special is outfitted with a full suite of electronic rider aids. It offers multiple ride modes — Sport, Road, Rain, Off-Road, Off-Road Plus, Custom Off-Road Plus, Custom A and Custom B — which automatically adjust the engine map (power output), throttle response, engine braking, traction control, ABS, suspension damping and, optionally, Adaptive Ride Height. IMU-enabled “cornering enhanced” linked ABS and traction control are available in most modes, but the cornering function and rear ABS are disabled in certain Off-Road modes. Drag-Torque Slip Control, which is like traction control for the engine to manage rear-wheel traction during aggressive riding, as well as cruise control and hill hold control are also part of the package. Everything works well and the different modes have a big impact on the riding character of the bike.
5. Brembo, Showa and Öhlins
Adventure riders who buy top-level motorcycles expect the best components and latest-and-greatest technology. On many Harley-Davidson motorcycles, component suppliers are not identified, and brake calipers may be branded with a bar-and-shield logo. But the manufacturer of certain components matters to discerning customers, so Harley-Davidson made a smart decision and spec’d the Pan America 1250 Special with Brembo brakes, Showa suspension and an Öhlins steering damper. And all of the components performed to a high level in a wide range of riding conditions.
3. Wheels and Tires
Standard equipment on both the Pan America 1250 and Pan America 1250 Special includes cast aluminum wheels with a 19-inch front and a 17-inch rear, and they’re shod with specially designed Michelin Scorcher Adventure 90/10 tires. The larger front wheel is good for rolling over obstacles off-road but it does slow down steering somewhat relative to a 17-inch front wheel. The Scorcher Adventure tires offer good grip and handling on the street and they performed well for light off-road riding. We also tested the accessory side-laced tubeless wheels and accessory Michelin Anakee Wild tires, which give up some confidence and grip on pavement, but are excellent off-road tires, even at the higher “street” temperatures we were running. Harley-Davidson did its full range of development testing on both types of wheels and tires to ensure they met performance goals in a wide range of conditions.
6. Chain Final Drive
Harley-Davidson owners are accustomed to maintenance-free belt final drive, and in street-only riding conditions such a system works extremely well. But when off-road riding is involved, rocks and other debris can get wedged between the rear sprocket and the belt, causing damage that can lead to a belt failure. Although chain final drive requires some maintenance in terms of lubrication, adjustment and occasional replacement, it is the best solution in terms of weight, durability, minimal power loss and field repair. That’s why everything from dirt bikes to race bikes use chain final drive.
To save weight, the Revolution Max 1250 engine is a stressed member of the chassis. Attached to the engine is a front frame element to connect the steering head, an aluminum midframe element behind the engine that is the attachment point for the cast aluminum swingarm and rear shock, and a steel tail section (subframe) that supports the weight of the rider, passenger and luggage/cargo. Overall the chassis is very stiff and robust, which contributes to the Pan America 1250 Special’s neutral, confident handling. Wheelbase is 62.2 inches, rake is 25 degrees and trail is 4.3 inches.
8. Adjustable Windscreen, Adjustable Seat Height and Adaptive Headlight
Adventure touring motorcycles are built to go long distances. They have upright seating positions with wide handlebars, and they have fuel capacities to go 200-plus miles between fill-ups (the Pan America has a 5.6-gallon fuel tank and an EPA-tested 46 mpg, which translates into 258 miles of range). The Pan America 1250 Special has a windscreen that is adjustable on the fly over a 1.8-inch range. Its rider seat has two positions — low (33.5 inches) and high (34.5) inches — and there are accessory low (32.5/33.5 inches) and high (34.5/35.5 inches) seats. As described above, Adaptive Ride Height can lower the rider’s seat height by an additional 1 to 2 inches. And above the Daymaker Signature LED headlight, which uses 30 LED elements behind a diffuser lense, the Pan America 1250 Special has a Daymaker Adaptive LED headlight that illuminates a series of three lights as lean angle reaches 8, 15 and 23 degrees.
9. It Rips!
Harley-Davidson has done its homework. It knows it is entering a very competitive segment with highly evolved adventure bikes from BMW, Ducati, KTM, Triumph, Yamaha and others. The Pan America 1250 is a high-profile motorcycle, not just within the adventure segment, but within the motorcycle industry at large. Can Harley-Davidson, a company known for its cruisers and touring bikes, build a competitive adventure bike? The answer is yes. On the road and off the pavement, the Pan America 1250 delivered an exhilarating, confident riding experience.
10. It Can Fly!
Claimed wet weight for the Pan America 1250 Special is 559 pounds. The accessory side-laced wheels and beefier skid plate add more weight. But when we found a gully that had a tabletop hill on one side, we couldn’t resist jumping the Pan America. We aired it out time and again, and the semi-active suspension provided a plush landing with no bottoming and no harsh rebound or kickback. Nothing broke. This is a solidly engineered motorcycle that has gone through extensive durability testing, about half of which was done off-road, and it took a licking and kept on ticking. No, most customers will not jump their Pan America 1250s, but if they wanted to, they certainly could!
Greg’s Gear: Helmet:Fly Racing Odyssey Adventure Modular Jacket/Pants: Fly Racing Terra Trek Gloves: Fly Racing Coolpro Boots: Fly Racing FR5 Knee/Shin Guards: Fly Racing 5 Pivot
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Specs
Base Price: $19,999 Website:harley-davidson.com Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 60-degree V-twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 1,252cc Bore x Stroke: 105 x 72mm Horsepower: 150 @ 9,000 rpm (claimed) Torque: 94 lb-ft @ 6,750 rpm (claimed) Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated assist-and-slipper clutch Final Drive: O-ring chain Wheelbase: 62.2 in. Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/4.3 in. Seat Height: 33.5/34.5 in. Wet Weight: 559 lbs. (claimed, no accessories/options) Fuel Capacity: 5.6 gals. Fuel Consumption: 46 mpg (EPA)