Review: Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special

The story of Harley-Davidson has been a soap opera in recent years. The fully electric Livewire that was revealed in 2014? Quite the plot twist for a brand that’s usually linked to classic choppers and rumbling exhausts. And if that wasn’t already hard enough to swallow for the average Harley rider, they had to stomach an adventure bike and a streetfighter a couple of years later. Or at least the announcement. Preproduction models of both bikes (the Pan America and the Bronx) were shown at the 2020 Brussels Motor Show. Shortly afterwards the storyline spiraled even further with a new CEO who immediately decided to ditch the Bronx. Just to quickly give you an idea of a few plot lines.

The announced adventure bike did appear in showrooms this year, so I took the Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special on a little trip to Germany to discover how it rides.

The Special version of the Pan America differs from the standard version with a range of extras: semi-active suspension, tire pressure monitoring, crashbars, handguards, heated grips, steering damper, centerstand, bash plate, radiator guard, cornering lights and a brake pedal that can be easily adjusted to two different heights. Starting prices: $17,319 for the standard Pan, $19,999 for the Special. My version also had the optional spoked wheels and the adaptive seat height.

If you don’t like the design of the Pan America: it looks a lot better in real life than it does in the pictures. The striking front will probably be the pitfall for this model even though owners will think of it as ‘different’ or ‘original’. After one week, Continue reading

Review: Moto Guzzi V7 III Special

Moto Guzzi isn’t really the most top-of-mind motorcycle brand. Nonetheless, the Italian brand covers quite a few pages in the history books. It’s the European motorcycle manufacturer with the longest continuous production, it has a rich racing past and it pioneered in many areas. Think of the integral brake system, the centerstand and the eight-cylinder engine.

Last year, the Moto Guzzi V7 celebrated its fiftieth birthday and got an update. The Roman three in its name indicates it’s the third update of the V7 generation that was introduced in 2012. The V7 III comes in a handful of variations. The Rough for example has scrambler accents, while the Racer has the sportiest look.

Garage Chris Smeyers lent me a demo V7 III Special for a week. In their showroom I also spotted a limited edition V7 III Anniversario with a beautiful chrome fuel tank, of which 750 are produced for the occasion of that fifty-year anniversary.

The Special has the most vintage-inspired style of the V7 range. The orange and gray lines on the fuel tank and flank panels nod to its ancestors, the Blu Zaffiro paint has a wonderful retro look, and the well-considered harmony between chrome and matte black powder coated parts proves that the North Italian designers don’t lack taste. The slightly upward bended double exhaust gives a sporty touch. And there’s also the nicely ribbed saddle, the passenger handgrip that twists beautifully around the back of the saddle and the (well, that’s been a while) unvarnished spoke wheels. Base price of the Special: $ 8,990 (USA) or 8.540 euro (Italy).

The V7 isn’t very generous on technology. ABS and (adjustable and disengageable) traction control are standard, and Continue reading