We pit the newly launched Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 against it’s nearest rival on paper the BMW R 1250 GS
Harley-Davidson has announced prices and opened bookings for the all-new Pan America 1250 and the Pan America 1250 Special in India. The bikes are expected to arrive by June, so, in the meantime we decided to pit the Pan America 1250 against its nearest rival that’s available in India right now, the BMW R 1250 GS on paper. For the purpose of this specification comparison we have chosen the standard Pan America 1250 and the BMW R 1250 GS (not the GS Adventure). Let’s get right into it.
Both the Harley-Davison Pan America 1250 and the BMW R 1250 GS have twin-cylinder engines, albeit in different configurations. The Pan America 1250 uses a 1252cc V-Twin, Harley’s all-new Revolution Max 1250 engine. Harley claims that this engine is unlike their traditional lazy V-twins and they wouldn’t be wrong considering it revs all the way up to 9500rpm. How this engine delivers power in the real world remains to be seen. Speaking of power, it makes a healthy 150bhp at 8750rpm and 128Nm 6750rpm of torque. That’s power made pretty high up in the range for a Harley-Davidson. It should ideally perform well out on the highway but whether it’ll be able to pull its weight in the slow-paced off-road trails where tractability matters remains to be seen, a place where the GS has proven itself over the years. The 1254cc boxer-twin on the Beemer is good for 134bhp at 7750rpm but makes a massive 143Nm at 6250 rpm of torque giving it the clear torque advantage. Now, we all know that the power delivery on the GS is extremely smooth and refined. So, it’ll be interesting to see how the two stack-up in the real world.
The Pan America 1250 uses a three-part frame with the engine at the centre of it acting as a load bearing member while the BMW on the other hand uses a two piece frame a front section and a bolted on rear section, again, with the engine playing a load bearing member. Where the differences become really apparent is in the suspension setup. The GS uses BMW’s patented Telelever 37mm suspension at the front and the Paralever suspension at the rear. In terms of adjustability, the rear is adjustable for preload and rebound damping. It gets 190mm of travel at the front and 200mm travel at the rear. BMW doesn’t share information regarding the 1250 GS’s ground clearance but the bike has proven itself as a worthy off-road machine, so that is a non-issue. The H-D Pan America 1250 uses a more traditional Showa 47mm USD setup at the front and a Showa monoshock at the rear both of which are adjustable for compression, rebound and spring preload and offer 191mm of travel. The Pan America also boasts of 210mm of ground clearance which should help when off the beaten path. BMW has proven time and again that it's Telelever/Paralever suspension is extremely versatile and capable of handling almost everything you throw at it. The Pan America 1250 does get good numbers in terms of suspension travel and ground clearance, but how the package ties together remains to be seen.
Braking on the Pan America 1250 comes courtesy radially mounted Brembo monobloc, four-pot calipers on win 320mm discs at the front and a single-piston floating caliper mounted on a 280mm disc at the rear. The GS gets smaller twin 305mm rotors with four-pot radially mounted calipers in the front and a 276mm with a two-pot caliper at the rear. In terms of wheel setup both bikes get 19-inch front and 17-inch rear alloy wheels. However, with the BMW you get the option to spec it with spoked wheels, but on the Pan America 1250, that option is reserved for the more expensive Special variant only. The Pan America 1250 gets Michelin Scorcher Adventure tyres that have an 80 per cent road and 20 percent off-road bias while the BMW R 1250 GS comes shod in Bridgestone BATTLAX A41 rubber which has a 90 per cent road and 10 per cent off-road bias. So, in terms of tyres the difference will be marginal. The seat height on the standard Pan America 1250 is a high 869mm and the GS’s seat height ranges from 850-870mm. The GS also gets an optional lowered suspension kit which brings the range to 800-820mm but that would hamper with the ground clearance and suspension travel.
The Pan America gets a slightly larger 21.2-litre fuel tank while the GS gets a respectable 20-litre tank. In terms of weight both bikes are pretty close to each other with the Pan America 1250, tipping the scales at 245kg (wet) and the R 1250 GS weighing 4kg more at 249kg (wet) but the GS with it’s boxer-twin and its low centre of gravity is known for how stable and nimble it is. Meanwhile, the Pan America’s package inherently doesn’t allow for that advantage, so despite the weight being less, there is a very real possibility that it will feel more cumbersome on the go.
Both bikes benefit from a whole host of modern electronics you’d expect to find in bikes like these. Both bikes get full-LED illumination on both ends and big colour TFT instrument clusters. The HD however benefits from a touchscreen unit improving interactivity. The Pan America also gets 5 pre-programmed riding modes and one custom mode as standard whereas the GS gets only two riding modes and the pro modes are a paid option. But, more riding modes don’t necessarily translate to better riding experience unless they are tuned well and bring something extra that is functional to the table. In terms of rider aids both the Pan America 1250 and R 1250 GS get cornering ABS and traction control.
The Harley-Pan America 1250 as standard in the Vivid black colour scheme will cost Rs 16.9 lakh whereas the BMW R 1250 GS in standard trim will cost Rs 20.45 lakh. Both prices are ex-showroom. The Pan America 1250 is almost Rs 3.55 lakhs more affordable than the R 1250 GS and logic would dictate that you give this win to the Harley-Davidon, but it isn’t that simple. This is, after all, Harley’s first attempt at an adventure tourer and it is lining up against the legendary GS. BMW’s ADV building expertise stretches back decades and it is no surprise that the GS is the default choice for overlanders and adventure seekers. Meanwhile, the Harley still has to prove itself. We’re going to reserve our judgement on whether the GS is worth the extra money for after we ride the Pan America!