Harley-Davidson Pan America Special vs. BMW R 1250 GS

Can the new Harley enduro outperform the BMW legend R 1250 GS?

Harley-Davidson is attacking with the Pan America travel enduro, trying to lure drivers of the legendary BMW GS. AUTO BILD MOTORRAD highlights strengths and weaknesses. Which machine is suitable for whom?

The BMW GS is that Standard meter in this comparison. All-rounder, climbing tower with a boxer’s heart, a kind standard under the tripEnduros. The GS is that best-selling Bike this league in Germany and it has been proven that for around 40 years Universal talent. Anyone who lifts GS once will never let go. There was no competition in sight. Until now …
Of all things HarleyDavidson saws on the original meter. the Pan America with V2 machine and Active chassis is built exactly according to the successful recipe of a BMW GS. Lawn, travel – if need be over Long stretch and with plenty of luggage. The original can do that. BMW has been fine-tuning for more than 40 years and six generations Offroadflagship. Harley has only been digging into the dealers’ showrooms for a few weeks.
Of the Showdown at AUTO BILD motorcycle should clarify: How much different is a Harley? Which type of driver is better advised with which brand? Where can which model stand out? In four chapters we compare where strengths and weaknesses lie and sort them according to detailed properties. Here are the findings from the first practical comparison:

1. How well can you travel with a Harley and BMW?

Harley-Davidson Pan America Special

It’s easier to slide back and forth on the seat of the Harley-Davidson Pan America Special.

© Olaf Itrich / AUTO BILD

A cheaper one consumption, a slightly bigger Tank and the slightly higher one Windbreak the Harley promise longer endurance on very long stages. Some more quickly is the Harley too. In addition, the Bench the Pan America is a bit more casual – so it’s easier to slide back and forth in the saddle than in the strictly fixed posture of the GS. On the other hand, at higher speeds, i.e. from around 150 km / h, the BMW better ones Tracking stability with mounted cases. One thing is clear: the GS offers that passengers – thanks to the pillion package – a more comfortable seat and a better view to the front.

In terms of multimedia, there is a tie between the two machines

Like the BMW, the Harley can do yours at the push of a button speed keep. In addition, the cockpit displays can be used in Navigation devices walk that Smartphone link, a Intercom dial in. In terms of multimedia, there is in principle a tie. Clear BMW advantage when relaxed Slide: The one with more Torque The GS boxer engine runs more powerfully in the lower speed regions, and that adaptive landing gear puts away bumps in the road more confidently. Besides, the Height adjustment the windshield on the R 1250 is foolproof to use and very sturdy. The windshield of the Harley Pan America, on the other hand, looks extremely rickety.

BMW R 1250 GS: technical data / strengths and weaknesses

Technical specifications

Engine: 2-cylinder boxer, air / liquid-cooled • Displacement: 1254 cm3 • Power: 100 kW
(136 HP) at 7750 / min • Max. Torque: 143 Nm at 6250 / min • Top:> 200 km / h • Tires: v./h. 120-70 19 / 170-60 17 • Seat height: 850-870 mm • Weight: 249 kg • Tank capacity: 20l • Price: from 16,580 euros.


Seat cushions mechanically adjustable in height, rather locked sitting position due to the step.


Wind protection with stable and easy height adjustment, excellent protection even at high speeds.


Light alloy wheels ex works, in the “Rallye style” as a cross-spoke variant with tubeless tires. 17 inches at the back and 19 inches at the front.


Exhaust with valve control – very sonorous, sometimes hard throbbing sound.


The pillion package with ample padding ensures a comfortable posture. High ascent, good leg posture.

Plus minus

+: Extremely powerful, good workmanship, very comfortable, no brake nod.

-: Clutch overwhelmed at fast starts, chassis reactions when changing gears hard.

2. How big is the fun factor in Pan America and GS?

the Harley can be achieved despite a tie in the curb weight more agile to lead, your Revolution-Max engine grabs more courageously at high revs. The Harley clearly offers curve artists more Lean angle potential. aside from that sprints them faster. Harley does not have a modern gearshift assistant like in the GS for the Pan America. In the case of a quick sprint from a standstill, it falls square indenting coupling the BMW on – that also makes the Pan America smoother. Drivers with a tendency to wring out the engine and fun at the Scratching the limit should have more fun with the Harley.

The BMW is immersed in gear changes

BMW R 1250 GS

The BMW sometimes dips in when changing gears quickly and then rebounds far. Pity!

© Olaf Itrich / AUTO BILD

Nevertheless: also that BMW conceals her pounds excellently, which is 1250s Fed up and binding, also shy away from fast ones Alternating curves including courageous Killing it not. Too bad: When fast Switching The GS dips strongly with every gear change and rebounded widely. This annoying nod brings nervousness in driving behavior. That’s what it works for Support the fork excellent when braking hard. Kudos to BMW for this technology (Telelever). Rather Getting used to the arrangement of the Main stand. If the ball of the left foot is on the notch, the boom of the stand restricts freedom of movement. In direct comparison sounds the BMW much grumpier than the Pan America with theirs Whisper exhaust.

Harley-Davidson Pan America Special: technical data / strengths and weaknesses

Technical specifications

Engine: V2, liquid-cooled • Displacement: 1252 cm3 • Power: 112 kW (152 PS) at 8750 / min • Max. Torque: 128 Nm at 6750 / min • Top: 225 km / h • Tires:
v./h. 120-70 R 19 / 170-60 B 17 • Seat height: 830-894 mm • Weight: 258 kg • Tank capacity: 21.2 l • Price: from 17,995 euros.


Bench can be locked in two positions, good upholstery, additional height adjustment of the chassis.


Large cockpit display with multi-layered menu navigation, windshield with fiddly settings.


Satin black cast wheels ex works, 500 euros surcharge for spoke versions (tubeless). Dimensions in front 19 inches, rear 17 inches.


Arg, restrained exhaust noise, Screamin Eagle system for around 1200 euros from the accessories helps.


Payload 197 kilograms, front passenger seat ergonomically restricted due to high footrest attachment.

Plus minus

+: Strong V2 with willingness to turn, light-footed driving experience, clean driving behavior.

-: Extras tied up in the special package, angular throttle response, processing weaknesses.

3. How do the competitors fare in off-road driving?

Harley-Davidson Pan America Special

Both machines can be handled very well at walking pace and are not only capable of off-roading in theory.

© Olaf Itrich / AUTO BILD

Move forward – decide about it in the terrain primarily the tires. Both models can be used accordingly Cleat profile equip. But we don’t want to go into that here. However, on other equipment content. This is how it can be done off-road with the Harley Pan America Rear at the push of a button by around five centimeters lower. This electric Suspension strut adjustment helps enormously when supporting on very uneven ground. Both motorcycles can be comfortably and easily in the Walking pace move. Driving aids like Traction control and ABS system can be adapted to the surface and driving style, Driving modes (with a correspondingly responsive throttle response) and damper stiffness, the driver can set a corresponding number of different settings on both motorcycles.

That applies if the machines overturn

BMW R 1250 GS Harley-Davidson Pan America Special

The BMW tips over more elegantly than the Harley. That means that it has scratches on fewer parts of it.

© Olaf Itrich / AUTO BILD

And what if the load overturns? the BMW is with 77 kilograms of pulling force Picked up at the handlebars a little easier than a wrecked Pan America, which requires 85 kilograms to pull it back to the vertical. the BMW tilts in addition more elegant (So ​​with smaller consequences for the material), basically only relies on the Valve cover and the Driver footrest on. The Harley lands on “contact points” such as the exhaust muffler, handlebar end, footrest and the side radiator guard, which is standard on the Special.

4. What are Harley and BMW good for loading?

BMW R 1250 GS

The BMW GS shows a little more talent when it comes to transport. It also offers a lot to the passenger.

© Olaf Itrich / AUTO BILD

suitcase, Tank bag, Top case – add the largest possible Storage options, is the BMW 147 liters of luggage away, the Harley 130. In addition, the latter only has one Tank bag version to offer. The manufacturers offer the for both motorcycles Luggage container as softbags, hard cases or aluminum cases. The GS is at its maximum 216 kilograms Payload gone, Harley allows a total of 197 kilograms of additional ballast. In contrast to BMW, Harley does not limit the maximum speed when the carrier system is installed (GS 1250: max 180 km / h).

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