Is this the ultimate adventure bike for touring?

Adventure bikes may claim to be descended from rally racing stock, but in reality, 90% of their genes come from the tarmac.

That fact is reflected in the fact that most owners spend the majority of their time on the road, and many never stray from the blacktop at all. And that’s no bad thing. We’re big believers here at ABR in the fact you don’t need to ride off road to have an adventure.

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So why are adventure bikes so popular with people who mainly ride on the road?

It’s because they’re comfortable, exciting, versatile, capable, robust, and great to live with. Plus, they’re more than ready to hit the dirt if you decide to.

So, with that in mind, what’s the best adventure bike on the market when it comes to touring?

There’s a number of strong contenders, but we’re going to suggest one you might not have considered: Harley-Davidson’s Pan America 1250.

That’s right, the Pan America rivals the best when it comes to adventure touring, and this is why.

It’s extremely comfortable

Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special

When you think about riding a Harley-Davidson, you think about blasting across endless miles of Texan highway or along the Pacific Coast. After all, that’s what the bikes are built for, with the idea of the great American road trip in mind.

So, it should be no surprise that when designing the Pan America, Harley put all its decades of building bikes for touring vast distances to work. As a result, the Pan America is one of the most comfortable adventure bikes we’ve tested.

The weather protection is excellent, the seating position is spot on, and the seat is plush and roomy. It’s also a fantastic bike if you spend a lot of time riding two-up.

If you want to experience the comfort of the Pan American for yourself, Harley-Davidson will be bringing its fleet to the ABR Festival 2024.

You’ll be able to take the Pan American for a test ride there and see exactly what we mean.

Technology that enhances the riding experience

Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special

The thing about touring is that it’s an adventure, but it’s also supposed to be pleasant.

Sure, getting stuck in a bog for three days halfway across Russia or rebuilding your top-end in a shack in Gambia are all memorable experiences, but also a hell of a lot of work.

Sometimes, which if we’re being honest is most of the time, it’s much more pleasant to ride twisties in the Pyrenees and eat tapas every night.

Similarly, we want a bike that enhances our experience and makes the adventure all the more enjoyable.

The Pan America gets big ticks from us in this regard. The crystal-clear 6.8-inch TFT display offers all the on-board information you need, including phone connectivity and a new moving map for easy navigation.

Then there’s the option of the fantastic Adaptive Ride Height system, which automatically lowers the bike when coming to a stop, making it much easier to plant both feet firmly on the ground.

And for the ultimate in ride comfort, the Pan America Special comes with semi-active suspension which, from our experience, delivers a responsive yet wonderfully smooth ride, no matter the road conditions.

It’s a thrill to ride

Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special Revolution Max engine

If you haven’t experienced the joy of a huge lump of Milwaukee metal rumbling beneath you, you’re missing out.

While the 1,252cc Revolution Max 1250 is more sonically polite than some of Harley’s other engines, it certainly doesn’t lack in performance.

With a massive 150bhp and 128Nm of torque to play with, the Pan America can seriously hustle, which is just the thing for a long series of mountain passes.

It’s a thrilling engine, and as a result the Pan America is fantastic fun to ride.

Is a Harley-Davidson the best bike for touring?

If you’re looking for an adventure bike that you can cruise in comfort all day long on and carve up mountain passes, the Harley-Davidson Pan America is an excellent choice.

It’s one of the most comfortable and exciting bikes we’ve tested for touring. Plus, if you do end up on a dirt trail, the Pan America is more than capable if you have the skill.

But at this point, maybe you’re thinking “well, why not go for a strictly road-oriented bike?”

Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide

If that’s the case, we could point you in the direction of Harley’s new Road and Street Glide baggers.

ABR Editor James has been riding a CVO Road Glide for the last couple of months as his daily ride, and I’ve never seen him smile more.

You can read his full review in the latest issue of Adventure Bike Rider, available here.

You can check out Harley’s full 2024 range of motorcycles here.