H.O.G. member Michael Cowton participates in an epic adventure on the new Pan America

IT SEEMS A while ago now, but May 26 marked a very special day for Harley-Davidson and its new adventure bike, the Pan America 1250. For that is when 150 H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) Chapters from 16 countries, totalling more than 40,000 members, joined forces to embark on an extraordinary journey.

The Great Relay ’21 comprised of 150 legs where one H.O.G. Chapter passed on the baton, in this case a brand new H-D Pan America, to the next H.O.G. Chapter. Each successive Chapter rode the bike through Luxembourg, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Wales, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland. Taking over three months, a total of 20,000 kilometres were travelled, proving the ultimate test for H-D’s new multi-tool on wheels.

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Dai Gunter, Deputy Director of Lindum Colonia Chapter, receiving the baton from a member of  Sherwood Chapter

Each stage began and ended at a pre-arranged dealership, with each local Chapter setting out the route, which had begun from the heart of London, and travelled through the Ardennes hills to the North Cape in Norway and stunning locations in Europe, crossing hills and valleys, mountain lakes and glaciers, following rugged fjord coasts and passing the Arctic Circle. Then there were the extensive national parks and picturesque fishing villages, by snowy mountain ranges and unspoiled nature.

The amazing, but grueling journey came to a fitting end where it had begun at Warr’s Harley-Davidson dealership in London on Saturday, August 21, having raised £42,750 for Two Wheels For Life. The charity provides motorcycles to transport healthcare in countries in Africa.

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The new Pan Americsa 1250 is up for any kind of terrain (picture courtesy Harley-Davidson)

The relay proved to be the perfect platform to showcase the comfort, reliability and all-terrain qualities of the new Pan America. I was lucky enough to be invited to ride the bike on two stages of the relay, the first leg being from Lincoln to HarleyWorld Chesterfield accompanied by my fellow Lindum Colonia Chapter members. The following day I travelled onwards to Manchester, where the local Chapter at Manchester Harley Davidson had laid on a special BBQ.

As we were about to set off from Lincoln, our very own Dai Gunter whispered in my ear: “Seeing as the bike has come from Belgium, don’t forget it’s left-hand drive!” Yes, thank you, Dai, most helpful!

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Flying the flag for the Lindum Colonia Chapter

It was an extraordinary opportunity for me to ride the new Pan America alongside fellow Harley-ites. Never previously having had the chance to ride an adventure bike, to be honest I was slightly phased on the first day as I am so used to a lower riding position and forward pegs, but by the second day, journeying across the stunning Pennines, I had grown well accustomed to the bike and enjoyed the ride immensely, having taken in some lovely, quiet country roads, towns and villages, motorways and the traffic-laden streets of Manchester.

I was impressed by the performance of the Adaptive Ride Height technology, an industry-first motorcycle suspension system that automatically transitions between a riding position when stopped to an optimal ride height when the motorcycle is in motion. The lowered suspension at rest makes the motorcycle easier to mount and dismount, without sacrificing lean angles or ground clearance.

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Dirt and dust… the Pan America loves it! (picture courtesy Harley-Davidson)

The Pan America is powered by the all-new Revolution Max 1250 engine. The latest in the legendary powertrain lineage of Harley-Davidson, the liquid-cooled 1,250cc-displacement V-Twin has been finely styled as the visual centerpiece of the bike, designed to offer smooth, low-end torque delivery and low speed throttle control that is ideal for off-road riding.

According to Gordon Dick of the Harley Owners Group of UK and Ireland, The Great Relay had been a perfect example of what riding motorcycles was all about. “We have met many wonderful people and seen some fantastic scenery on the way, all while helping a great cause. The Pan America was more than up to every challenge we threw at it and proved it has what it takes to take on any touring task.”

Steve Kelly, Harley-Davidson UKI Marketing Manager, commented: “The Great Relay has been another brilliant event for our bikes and our riders. We are proud of the money we have collectively raised together and hope that we can help make a real difference to those who need it most.”

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Arrival at HasrleyWorld, Chesterfield

A target had been set of £64,192.50 by the charity, and donations can still be made*. At the time of writing, £44,298.82 had been raised. Achieving the set target would enable Two Wheels For Life to purchase, maintain and fuel a fleet of 15 motorbikes for transporting vaccines and providing outreach healthcare.

According to the charity, whilst many of use can ride for pleasure and healthcare is always close by, that is not the case in other countries, where a motorcycle is not a luxury, but of vital importance. That is the reason why The Great Relay supported the aid organisation.

The charity has been using motorcycles in African countries as a means of transport for healthcare since 1989, and provides a vital means for educating and vaccinating communities, transporting medicines and vaccines, supporting local doctors, and providing more or better access to healthcare for as many as 47 million people.

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Packed up and ready for the next leg of the journey

The last word fittingly goes to Jochen Zeitz, chairman, president and CEO Harley-Davidson. “I’ve put in many miles aboard the Pan America, in beautiful and remote parts of the world, and have experienced the innovations and capabilities that will unlock our brand’s passion for adventure for more people around the world. I am truly excited about the Pan America. Adventure touring is a natural fit for Harley-Davidson.”

*Donate at https://donate.thegreatrelay21.com/