2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special: Does It Pay to Accessorize?

Getting into the adventure bike segment with the 2021 Pan America is a significant shift for Harley-Davidson. However, the company’s first ADV motorcycle is shaping up to be a solid hit on- and off-road. And, just like Harley-Davidson’s other motorcycles, the Pan America can further boost its off-roading and touring abilities with some choice accessories. But while some of these optional extras are worth putting cash down for, others can be safely skipped.

The 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special is ready to roam right out the box

A low-angle rear 3/4 view of a gray-and-black 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special with accessories
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special with accessories low-angle rear 3/4 view | Matthew Skwarczek, MotorBiscuit
Spec2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America Special
Engine1252cc liquid-cooled V-twin
Power150 hp
Torque94 lb-ft
TransmissionSix-speed with slipper-assist clutch and chain drive
Front suspension and travelElectronically-adjustable semi-active Showa inverted front fork; 7.5”
Rear suspension and travelElectronically-adjustable semi-active Showa monoshock with piggy-back reservoir; 7.5”
Seat height31.1” (standard)
30.4” (with optional Adaptive Ride Height)
Curb weight559 lbs
Starting price$19,999

Harley-Davidson offers the 2021 Pan America in two trims: the base bike and the Special. They’re built on the same bones, with identical powertrains, suspension travel, Brembo brakes, and safety features. However, the Special costs $1680 more than the standard Pan America. And that’s because it gets several extra standard features centered on touring and off-roading.

While both Harley-Davidson Pan America models have Showa suspension, only the Special gets the electronic setup. And, like the ride-by-wire throttle, engine mapping, traction control, engine braking, and ABS, the suspension is linked to the ride modes. For instance, Sport Mode firms up the dampers for sharper handling without sacrificing ride quality. Also, the Pan America Special automatically adjusts its preload based on the rider, passenger, and luggage weight, Cycle World explains. Hence why its suspension is ‘semi-active.’

But the electronic Showa suspension shows its neatest trick with the optional Adaptive Ride Height. With it, the Pan America Special automatically lowers 1-2” when you’re coming to a stop. And once you’re moving, the bike smoothly rises back up to retain its 8.3” of ground clearance.

The Harley-Davidson Pan America Special transitions between pavement and dirt just as smoothly thanks to its other features, RevZilla says. For off-roading, it has an aluminum skid plate, center stand, engine brush guard, adjustable rear brake lever, and handguards. Additionally, those handguards pull double-duty for touring by blocking the wind. And speaking of touring, the Special also has heated handgrips, a steering damper, tire-pressure monitoring, and an adaptive headlight.

What kind of accessories does Harley-Davidson offer for the Pan America 1250 Special?

Although the electronic suspension is unique to the Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, some of its other accessories are optional on the standard bike. For example, the handguards, heated grips, brush guard, steering damper, and the TPMS. But those aren’t the only Pan America accessories that Harley-Davidson offers. Also, apart from the Adaptive Ride Height, they’re available on both adventure bike trims.

The list of Harley-Davidson Pan America accessories breaks down in the following way:

  • Off-road accessories
    • Brush guard
    • Radiator guard
    • Muffler guard
    • Headlamp guard
    • Heavy-duty aluminum skid plate
    • Auxiliary LED lights and installation kit
    • Adaptive LED headlight
    • Michelin Anawakee Wild off-road tires
    • 80Grit footpegs and shifter peg
    • Steering damper kit
  • Touring accessories
    • Tank knee pads
    • Handlebar risers
    • 11” and 18” windshields
    • Tallboy, Reach, and Sundowner solo seats
    • Solo and passenger-seat backrests
    • Handlebar-mounted phone mount
    • Tail bag
    • Cargo nets
    • Aluminum top and side cases with case mounting systems
    • Tank bag
    • Saddlebags
    • Ratchet straps and bungee cords
    • Handguards
  • Screamin’ Eagle performance
    • High-flow air filters
  • Maintenance and replacement parts
    • Spark plugs
    • TPMS sensors
    • Oil and oil filter
    • Antifreeze and coolant
    • Brake rotors and hardware
    • Washing and detailing equipment and chemicals
    • Tool kits
    • Air filter service kits
    • Threadlocker, grease, lubricants, sealants
    • Tire-pressure gauges
    • Heated and accessory hand grips
  • Security and storage
    • Helmet locks
    • Bike and seat covers
    • Wheel chocks
    • Security siren kit
    • Battery charger
    • Locking fuel-filler cap
  • Visual decorations
    • Medallions
    • Conchos
    • Valve stem, axle nut, bolt, and axle hole caps/covers
    • License plate mounting kits

My 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America Special press bike came accessorized

The overhead rear view of a gray-and-black 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special's handlebars, TFT display, and windscreen
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special handlebars and display rear overhead view | Matthew Skwarczek, MotorBiscuit

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The 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America Special tester I recently rode had a few accessories:

  • Screamin’ Eagle performance exhaust ($924.95)
  • Muffler guard ($159.95)
  • Side case mounting system ($289.95)
  • Top case mounting system ($149.95)
  • Lockable aluminum side cases ($949.95)
  • Lockable aluminum top case ($529.95)
  • Heavy-duty aluminum skid plate ($349.95)
  • Laced wheels ($500 for the Pan America Special)
  • Adaptive Ride Height ($1000)
  • Gauntlet Gray Metallic paint ($250)

Added up, my tester came in at $25,103.65 before taxes and additional fees.

Which ones are worth buying for your adventure bike?

The left side view of a gray-and-black 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America Special with accessories and cargo
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special with accessories and cargo left side view | Matthew Skwarczek, MotorBiscuit

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Although I haven’t ridden a Pan America with the stock exhaust, the Screamin’ Eagle exhaust doesn’t significantly change the volume or sound, RevZilla says. However, it is 6.5 lbs lighter than the stock one. It also gives the Harley a deep, resonant growl at high RPMs, but it’s not strictly necessary. Ditto the heavy-duty skid plate, laced wheels, and muffler guard unless you’re going off-road. Or if you’re using the Harley-Davidson Pan America as a police bike, Cycle World notes.

I do recommend getting the aluminum cases, though. They hook on with one clasp, they’re weather-proof and add little if any noise at highway speeds. And with more luggage space, the Pan America works well as a commuter bike. Also, the tops are removable if you have to carry long objects.

In addition, the top case isn’t rigidly mounted to the bike. Instead, it has a built-in ‘damper’ that lets it move side to side. Harley-Davidson claims it’s so the top case doesn’t affect the Pan America’s handling or its top speed. I can’t confirm the latter, but I can say that even loaded with stuff, I almost forgot I had a top case, even when riding on sweeping back roads.

Additionally, if you’re getting the Special, the Adaptive Ride Height is a must-have. It makes it easy to put a foot down during stops, so even shorter riders can feel confident about riding an adventure bike. You can always turn it off or delay it, but it’s so smooth, I just left it on.

So, beyond the visual-specific accessories, you could get a well-equipped 2021 Pan America Special for just under $22,920.

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