Non-Radio: New 2-Wheel Ride – Harley Davidson Pan America Special

Took delivery of a new Harley Davidson Pan America Special. The local dealership got one as their “demo bike” and I bought it before it hit the sales floor.

Break-in started. First 50 miles are low revs (5000 cap), avoiding steady at one setting, and basically a “low stress” hour or so to let all the parts “get to know each other” as they say.

Dealer dropped the bike off yesterday during the work day, so I did the low rev part of the break-in after work.

Wisconsin is at a fine time of year for a quiet ride on backroads. More tractors on the road than cars. The break-in low speed seemed in itself prudent with the young spotted fawns with their mothers in attendance out crossing roads.

Was warm enough at 88F on the bike’s panels, that the Amish were evident only by the signs enjoining drivers to take caution for their horse pulled wagons.

The bike is superb, as I felt I could simply keep riding across country and perhaps should have done so right then. Electronically capable of switching between several personality mappings, the ride mode I used was the wet weather mode as it is among the most tamed down options.

The adventure/off-road bike’s close in foot controls was a reminder of the purposefulness of the Pan America. Did not contemplate wearing my usual zip-sided logger-style Harley riding boots with a pedal design expecting adventure/off-road rider’s footwear. Correct footwear is top on my list.

Running slow and low rpms is hardly a test of the fettle of a bike, though it does offer plenty of time to “feel the bike” as a rider. The impression it left was one that elicited a smile and good feeling. Enough that with the eagerness of a small boy pining while stuck inside looking at the sunny world out the window, I am really looking forward to the next ride.

The technology of the Pan America is amazing, yet unobtrusive. The display panel is impressively easy to read, and the hand controls logical.

Philosophically the bike is a paradox already. The feel it gives meets every subtle expectation of a “Phaedrus” type rider while the technology beneath would favor Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance author Persig’s “Sutherland” character as most of the technology needs other technology for servicing. A fascinating juxtaposition of the ‘active tinker’ involved participation ideal and ‘black box’ isolation.

The bike was delivered completely stock with all of the extras I purchased to be installed once they come in. It is not hard to add 20-30% in accessories and extended warranty coverage. The sport-tourer panier system with grab-and-go liners, extra running lights and several guards round out the accessories for my Pan America. Given the brand new design and brand new engine design an extended warranty seemed prudent.

An interesting rider observation is the Pan America was not recognized as a fellow Harley Davidson by other Harley riders, so none of the v-twin hand signal courtesy was extended. Personally I am fine with dropping the hand flashes.

With the slow speed part of the break-in complete the new upper rpm suggested limit is 7000 rpm. I can see needing the first service really quickly, as it is at 1000 miles.

More ride reports to follow!



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