Pan America 1250 Special Introduces Adaptive Ride Height and Semi-Active Suspension


MILWAUKEE (February 22, 2021) – The Harley-Davidson® Pan America™ 1250 and Pan America™ 1250 Special models are all-new adventure touring motorcycles. Harley-Davidson has applied its deep engineering capabilities to equip these motorcycles with advanced technologies designed to enhance the riding experience.


Semi-Active Suspension
The Pan America™ 1250 Special model is equipped with electronically adjustable semi-active front and rear suspension. Utilizing data provided by sensors on the motorcycle, this suspension system automatically controls damping to suit the prevailing conditions and riding activity. These suspension components are provided by SHOWA®, while the control software was developed by Harley-Davidson.

  • Suspension travel front and rear is 190mm (7.48 inches).
  • Front suspension is by 47mm inverted SHOWA® BFF™ (Balance Free Forks) with semi-active damping control.
  • Rear suspension is a SHOWA® BFRC™ (Balanced Free Rear Cushion-lite) coil-over shock with electronic preload control and semi-active damping control. The rear suspension incorporates a linkage system connecting the shock, swingarm, and frame which provides a progressive feel through the stroke. This progressive system maintains a comfortable, compliant ride on-road, while providing superior support for off-road conditions.                 
  • The Vehicle Loading Control system senses the weight of the rider, a passenger and luggage to select optimal suspension sag by automatically adjusting rear preload.
  • The Semi-Active Suspension system reacts to suspension position, vehicle speed, vertical acceleration of the motorcycle, roll angle, roll rate, rider applied throttle, and applied brake torque alongside the selected Ride Mode to maintain the desired motorcycle comfort.
  • The Semi-Active Suspension system features five pre-programmed profiles, which are incorporated into each ride mode program:
  • Comfort: Maximizes ride comfort by providing significant compliance and isolating the rider from rough road conditions.
  • Balanced: Optimized balance of ride comfort and ride control for all-around riding.
  • Sport: Maximum ride control with higher damping rates calibrated for spirited riding with confidence.
  • Off Road Soft: Reduced initial damping to increase suspension compliance to better absorb larger inputs and to reduce kickback – ideal for logging roads, washboards and rocky terrain.
  • Off Road Firm: Increased initial damping for aggressive riding or when less body float is desired – ideal for soft/loamy terrain.
  • The rider may not change the Semi-Active Suspension profile within a pre-programmed ride mode, but when creating a custom ride mode the rider does select their preferred suspension profile.


Adaptive Ride Height (ARH) is an option for the Pan America 1250 Special model only. Harley-Davidson is the first to offer this technology in the motorcycle industry. This evolutionary suspension system automatically transitions the motorcycle between a low stopped position and optimal ride height when the motorcycle is in motion. The system allows the rider to mount the Pan America 1250 Special model with ease, and to confidently put feet down to the ground at a stop, by lowering the seat height 1 to 2 inches (depending on automatically selected rear pre-load, which determines ride height when the bike is moving).

This system does not compromise suspension travel – travel is maintained – and does not compromise lean angle, ground clearance or ride quality.

There are four selectable Adaptive Ride Height sub-modes:

  • Auto Mode: The system determines how quickly to lower the suspension based on how aggressive the braking action is, with the target of having the suspension fully lowered when the bike comes to a stop.
  • Short Delay and Long Delay Modes: In these modes the lowering function is delayed until the motorcycle comes to a stop, so that ride height is maintained while the motorcycle is moving at low speeds, such as when negotiating a parking lot.
  • Locked Mode: The Adaptive Ride Height system will maintain the normal ride height and does not lower at a stop. This mode might be selected by a tall rider who does not need Adaptive Ride Height to be flat footed at a stop, or for off-road riding when full ride height is desirable at low speeds.


Cornering Rider Safety Enhancements
The Pan America 1250 and Pan America 1250 Special models are equipped with a collection of technologies designed to match motorcycle performance to available traction* during acceleration, deceleration and braking. The systems are designed to aid the rider in controlling the motorcycle while accelerating and braking in a straight line or while in a turn. A rider may find the systems most helpful when riding in adverse road conditions or in unexpected situations. The systems are electronic and utilize the latest chassis control, electronic brake control and powertrain technology.

 *Disclaimer: Available traction is determined by the road/tire interface. The systems are only able to adjust brake pressure or powertrain torque in an attempt to keep the forces at the tire from exceeding available grip. These technologies do not have the ability to increase grip, to intervene when the rider has not made a brake or throttle application, or to directly influence vehicle direction. This is a key difference between motorcycle systems and automotive stability control. The rider is ultimately responsible for steering, speed and path corrections.

Some elements of Cornering Rider Safety Enhancements may be cornering enhanced” with technology that is motorcycle-specific. An inertial measurement unit, or IMU, measures and reports the motorcycle lean angle as it navigates a turn. Because many motorcycles have different size front and rear tires, when the motorcycle leans into a turn the wheels begin to rotate at slightly different speeds. The tire traction patch – the part of the tire actually touching the pavement – also changes as the motorcycle leans in a turn. Cornering enhanced technology takes this into account and, for optimal performance, intervenes differently when the motorcycle is leaned compared to when the motorcycle is upright.


  • Cornering Enhanced Electronically Linked Braking (C-ELB)

The Cornering Enhanced Electronically Linked Braking (C-ELB) system provides balanced front and rear braking under a wide variety of brake applications. The system provides more linking when the rider is applying heavier braking and reduces or eliminates linking for light braking and low speeds. When linked, applying the front brake lever alone will cause the system to also dynamically apply an amount of braking to the rear. C-ELB takes into account the motorcycle lean angle and will alter the proportioning of brake pressure between the front and rear brakes while cornering in an attempt to improve the ability of the bike to maintain the rider’s intended path. C-ELB is disabled when the rider selects the Off-Road Plus or Custom Off-Road Plus Ride Mode (see Ride Mode section)


  • Cornering Enhanced Antilock Braking System (C-ABS)

ABS is designed to prevent the wheels from locking under braking and to help the rider maintain control when braking in a straight-line, urgent situation. ABS operates independently on front and rear brakes to keep the wheels rolling and prevent uncontrolled wheel lock. Cornering Enhanced Antilock Braking System (C-ABS) is a variant of ABS that takes into consideration the lean angle of the motorcycle. While cornering, the available grip for braking is reduced and C-ABS automatically compensates for this reality.

Rear-wheel Lift Mitigation utilizes the C-ABS sensors and the six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) to manage rear-wheel lift during heavy braking and further balance deceleration and rider control. The height and duration of RLM is tied to the selected Ride Mode. RLM allows for the least rear-wheel lift in Rain Mode and the most rear-wheel lift in Off-Road mode. Rear wheel ABS and RLM are disabled when the rider selects the Off-Road Plus or Custom Off-Road Plus Ride Mode (see Ride Mode section).


  • Cornering Enhanced Traction Control System (C-TCS)
    Traction Control System (TCS) is designed to prevent excessive rear wheel spin during acceleration. TCS can improve rider confidence when available traction is compromised by wet weather, a sudden unanticipated change in the surface, or when riding on an unpaved road. Cornering Enhanced Traction Control (C-TCS) is a variant of TCS that accounts for the lean angle of the motorcycle. Each pre-programed Ride Mode has a specific level of TCS and/or C-TCS. In the customizable ride modes the rider can select from three levels of C-TCS intervention.

The rider can deactivate C-TCS in any Ride Mode when the motorcycle is stopped and the engine is running. Changing to Rain Mode will automatically re-enable C-TCS, but C-TCS may be disabled again after Rain Mode has been selected. C-TCS can be reactivated with the push of a button on the right hand control when the motorcycle is stopped or underway. 

TCS is also designed to support Front-Wheel Lift Mitigation (FLM) to reduce the height and duration of front-wheel lift (wheelie). The height and duration of front-wheel lift is tied to the rider-selected Ride Mode, with Rain Mode being the most-restrictive and Sport/Off Road being the least-restrictive of the standard modes. Turning off C-TCS fully disables both C-TCS and FLM.

In the Off-Road Plus or Custom Off-Road Plus Ride Mode (see Ride Mode section) TCS is enabled without any cornering adjustments, allowing the rider to take advantage of ruts, banking, and berms to better accelerate at lean. In Off-Road Plus mode TCS will allow a greater amount of rear-wheel slip appropriate for off-road use only and fully disables FLM so that an experienced rider may use throttle to lift the front wheel to clear obstacles.


  • Cornering Enhanced Drag-Torque Slip Control System (C-DSCS)

When Cornering Enhanced Drag-Torque Slip Control (C-DSCS) detects excessive rear wheel slip under powertrain-induced deceleration it will adjust engine torque delivery to better match rear-wheel speed to road speed. The action of C-DSCS is tailored when cornering, based on detected lean angle. C-DSCS is disabled in Off-Road Plus and Custom Off-Road Plus (because rear ABS is disabled). Additionally, C-DSCS intervention may be diminished when TCS is disabled by the rider.

  •  Hill Hold Control (HHC)

The Hill Hold Control (HHC) applies and holds brake pressure when activated and prevents the motorcycle from rolling after the rider has released the brake controls. The primary function of HHC is to prevent the motorcycle from rolling when it is stopped – for example at a stop sign on a hill, in stop-and-go traffic on a slope, or on a steep decline out of a parking structure. HHC is designed to make it easier to ride away with confidence by minimizing the number of controls needed to pull away smoothly. The system applies brake pressure until the rider actuates the throttle and clutch to pull away. HHC may also be engaged when the motorcycle is stopped on a flat surface if the rider wants to maintain position without applying pressure to a brake control.

The rider activates HHC by momentarily applying extra pressure to either the front-brake hand lever or the rear-brake foot control after the motorcycle has come to a complete stop. If rider brakes very hard to a stop, and holds the brake pressure after stopped, HHC may also set without any added squeeze. A HHC indicator light will illuminate to confirm that the rider has activated HHC, and the ABS system will hold brake pressure after the rider releases the brake control. The indicator light will blink if the rider attempts to engage HHC but that action is not available – for example if the side-stand is down on models equipped with a side stand sensor. HHC is disengaged automatically as the rider begins to pull away from a stop, or if the rider applies and releases either brake control.

HHC is not to be used as a parking brake. It will also disengage if the rider lowers the side stand (on models with a side-stand sensor, not a feature in all markets) or shifts into neutral on models without a side-stand sensor, or if the engine is turned off. In most situations after ten seconds the indicator light will flash and the HHC will release if there is no rider action. HHC is not intended as a substitute for a parking brake in any situation. The rider may use the instrument display to disable (or re-activate) HHC if they desire.

In the U.S. market only, the Pan America™ 1250 Special model is equipped with a side stand sensor interlock, which permits HHC to be engaged in neutral; this feature is not present on the Pan America 1250 model. In all markets that require a side stand sensor interlock (which is not the case in the U.S.) this feature is present on both models.


  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) displays current front and rear tire pressure on the on the color display screen and displays an indicator to alert the rider when tire pressure is low, and the pressure should be checked. TPMS is standard on the Pan America™ 1250 Special model and is a dealer-installed option for the Pan America 1250 model.


Ride Modes

Selectable ride modes electronically control the performance characteristics of the motorcycle, and the level of technology intervention. Five modes are available on the base model (4 are pre-programmed and one can be customized). The Pan America™ 1250 Special model has two additional modes that can be customized by the owner. Pre-programed ride modes for the Pan America 1250 models include Road, Sport, Rain, Off-Road and Off-Road Plus. Each ride mode consists of a specific combination of power delivery, engine braking, Cornering Enhanced Antilock Braking System (C-ABS) and Cornering Enhanced Traction Control System (C-TCS) settings. The rider may use the MODE button on the right-hand controller to change the active ride mode while riding the motorcycle or when stopped, with some exceptions. The ride mode may also adjust Semi-Active Suspension settings on the Pan America™ 1250 Special model.

The rider may use the MODE button on the right-hand controller to change the active ride mode while riding the motorcycle or when stopped, with some exceptions. A unique icon for each mode appears on the instrument display when that mode has been selected.

With the exception of the Road Mode, the rider may disable ride modes through the settings menu on the instrument display. The Custom Ride Mode(s) need to be enabled by the rider through this settings menu before they can be to be selected with the MODE button during operation.

▪      Sport Mode: Sport Mode maximizes the rider connection to the motorcycle for a direct and visceral performance riding experience. The rider will experience the full performance potential of the motorcycle in a direct and precise manner, with full power and the quickest throttle response. C-TCS is set to its lowest level of intervention appropriate for on-road use, and engine braking is increased.  On the Pan America™ 1250 Special model, Sport Mode will also increase the rate of suspension damping for enhanced feedback to the rider at higher speeds.

▪      Road Mode: Intended for daily use, Road Mode delivers balanced performance. This mode offers less-aggressive throttle response and less mid-range engine power than Sport Mode, with a higher level of C-ABS and C-TCS intervention. On the Pan America 1250 Special model Road Mode selects a suspension damping setting that delivers a softer ride than Sport Mode.

▪      Rain Mode: This mode is designed for riding in the rain or when traction is otherwise limited. The Rain Mode is also an appropriate setting for riders as they become familiar with the motorcycle. Throttle response and power output are programmed to significantly restrain the rate of acceleration, engine braking is limited, and the highest levels of C-ABS and C-TCS intervention are selected. On the Pan America 1250 Special model Rain Mode will also adjust suspension damping to a compliant comfort setting.

▪      Off-Road Mode: This mode is designed for unpaved roads and moderate off-road situations. The motorcycle delivers a mid-range level of power, and the torque curve is tailored for use in an off-road environment – there is less peak torque and horsepower at the upper end of the rpm range. In Off-Road Mode C-ABS is active on both wheels, with interventions designed specifically for loose, unpaved surfaces. The C-TCS intervention is set at the same level as Sport Mode. On the Pan America 1250 Special model Off-Road Mode adjusts suspension damping to an off-road setting for enhanced control over uneven surfaces.

▪      Off-Road Plus Mode:** This mode is intended for use by experienced riders in the most-challenging off-road situations, ideally with the motorcycle equipped with Harley-Davidson® Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories off-road tires. The intent is to give the rider the ability to use braking and engine power to control the motorcycle over a loose surface or larger obstacles; for example to use the rear brake to lock the rear wheel in a controlled slide, or to use engine power to lift the front wheel to better clear an obstacle. Engine performance is the same as Off-Road mode. ABS function on the rear wheel is disabled, the linked braking function is disabled, and the Drag Torque Slip Control (DSCS) is disabled. The TCS is set to provide the least intervention available. Front wheel lift mitigation and rear wheel lift mitigation is also disabled. The cornering enhancement to TCS and front wheel ABS are disabled, meaning these systems will be at their consistent level of intervention regardless of motorcycle lean angle. On the Pan America™ 1250 Special model the Off-Road Plus Mode will adjust the suspension to have less initial damping for increased compliance over larger suspension inputs – bumps on the trail, obstacles or landing after leaving the surface.


Note: To select Off-Road Plus Mode the motorcycle must be in Off-Road Mode and stationary with the engine running. Pushing and holding the Mode button will then select the Off-Road Plus Mode. The rider may exit Off-Road Plus Mode by pushing the Mode button at any time. The mode will change back to Off-Road Mode, and the rider may then use the Mode button to change to any other Ride Mode setting.

 ** The Pan America™ motorcycle was designed for on-road and moderate off-road use (which entails use on paved and gravel roads or groomed trails, but does not include competition courses, rally routes, or similar use.


  • Custom Mode: A Custom Mode allows the rider to create a set of performance characteristics to meet personal preference or for special situations, such as a track day. To create a Custom Mode the rider may select their combined preference of engine torque delivery characteristics, engine braking, throttle response, C-TCS and C-ABS intervention, and suspension damping levels (Pan America 1250 Special model only), within specific ranges. On Pan America 1250 Special motorcycles equipped with optional Adaptive Ride Height (ARH) the rider can adjust the timing of, or turn off, the lowering function. The rider can create one Custom Mode for the Pan America 1250 model and up to three different Custom Modes (Custom A, Custom B and Custom Off-Road) for the Pan America 1250 Special model. (see chart below for Custom Mode options)

  • Custom Off-Road Plus Mode:** As is the case with the Off-Road Plus mode, this Custom Off-Road Plus mode for the Pan America™ 1250 Special model is intended for use by experienced riders in the most-challenging off-road situations, ideally with the motorcycle equipped with Harley-Davidson® Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories off-road tires. This mode will retain the engine performance setting selected by the rider for their Custom Off-Road Mode, but will select all of the other Off-Road Plus settings.

Note: To select Custom Off-Road Plus Mode the motorcycle must be in Custom Off-Road Mode and stationary with the engine running. Pushing and holding the Mode button will then select the Custom Off-Road Plus Mode. The rider may exit Custom Off-Road Plus Mode by pushing the Mode button at any time. The mode will change back to Custom Off-Road Mode, and the rider may then use the Mode button to change to any other Ride Mode setting.


The Pan America™ 1250 and Pan America™ 1250 Special models feature a 6.8-inch TFT touchscreen (thin-film-transistor, a type of liquid-crystal display noted for high image quality and contrast) that displays all instrumentation and infotainment functions.

  • The screen tilts on its mount to afford the rider an adjustable viewing position.
  • The touchscreen function is disabled when the motorcycle is in motion, but the rider can use hand controls to manage many functions of the screen display when the motorcycle is moving.
  • The screen is covered with non-reflective glass to make it easier to view in most lighting conditions. Colors and the design of the display were selected to make the screen comfortable to view.
  • The touchscreen unit is in a robust sealed case designed to withstand the off-road environment, and to be weather-resistant and dust-resistant.
  • The touch screen functions when a rider is wearing gloves, but is not affected by rain or other natural inputs.

Base Screen display:

  • Large digital speedometer display on center is surrounded by an arching tachometer graph.
  • Indicators and warning lights appear on the top edge of the display.
  • A space below the speedometer accommodates pop-ups (image below) for incoming phone calls and alerts such as “low fuel,” “side stand down,” “low temperature.”

Widgets: The rider can customize the basic display by adding “widgets” of additional information while keeping the speedometer and tachometer central to the display.

  • Turn-by-turn navigation directions
  • Infotainment information (artist, track title, etc.)
  • Motorcycle status information (oil pressure, battery voltage, etc.)
  • Trip meter information (trip mileage, time to empty fuel, etc.)


Bike Status Screen
The rider can select this display option to put bike status information in a predominate position on the screen, with a smaller speedometer on the upper screen. Status information includes front and rear tire air pressure, engine temperature and oil pressure, battery voltage, and diagnostic codes.


The screen display on the Pan America™ 1250 and Pan America™ 1250 Special models supports infotainment generated by the riders Bluetooth-equipped mobile device. The motorcycle does not have an on-board infotainment system, and it is not equipped with speakers. Most infotainment functions also require a Bluetooth headset and speakers worn within the helmet.

  • Music: Music files stored on a mobile device or music streamed through a mobile device may be played through the system, as the rider listens through a headset. The artist and track name will appear on the display, and the rider may use the hand controls (or the touch screen when the motorcycle is stationary) to scroll through music files and adjust the volume.

  • Calls: Using voice commands through the headset, the rider can receive or place calls through a mobile device. The ID of an incoming call may appear on the display.


Navigation is supplied by the free Harley-Davidson® App for iOS or Android, which must be downloaded into the rider’s mobile device. When navigation is enabled, the rider may select a moving map display or turn-by-turn map, either of which are displayed on the screen, assisted by audio instructions through the headset.

  • This is the first moving map navigation display on a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle.
  • When the moving map is displayed, the speedometer, turn signals and other key information is displayed above the map.
  • Using the touch screen or hand controls, the rider may pan and zoom the map to see more detail.
  • Turn-by-turn navigation instructions may be displayed on the widget screen, enabling the rider to toggle between the base instrument display and the navigation on the widget screen.
  • The Harley-Davidson® App helps riders get the most out of their time on the road with features including recommended rides, ride planning, ride recording, riding challenges and the ability to find Harley-Davidson® dealerships, gas stations, hotels, restaurants, motorcycle events and other attractions.
  • Because the navigation system relies on cell service (there is no GPS receiver on the motorcycle) navigation could be disrupted if there is no cellular signal. However, the rider can pre-load an entire route and save it in memory as a back-up.
  • The Harley-Davidson® App navigation system automatically updates, which is more convenient for the rider than adding updates to an on-board navigation system. 


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About Harley-Davidson
Harley-Davidson, Inc. is the parent company of Harley-Davidson Motor Company and Harley-Davidson Financial Services. Our vision: Building our legend and leading our industry through innovation, evolution and emotion. Our mission: More than building machines, we stand for the timeless pursuit of adventure. Freedom for the soul. Since 1903, Harley-Davidson has defined motorcycle culture with an expanding range of leading-edge, distinctive and customizable motorcycles in addition to riding experiences and exceptional motorcycle accessories, riding gear and apparel. Harley-Davidson Financial Services provides financing, insurance and other programs to help get Harley-Davidson riders on the road. Learn more at


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