Baldy, aka. Chris MacAskill, is at the Zakar compound in the Mojave Desert at Harley-Davidson’s First Ride Event. This post will be updated by Zac Kurylyk throughout the day as Chris sends him photos and text messages from desert. The posts will be in chronological order so the latest posts will be at the bottom. Refresh the page throughout the day. There are new photos from Day 2 of the event, scroll to the bottom to see them!

Have questions about the Pan America? Post them the in the comments and Zac will try forward them to Chris.

3am EST: Arrived. More here.

I got an invite to Harley’s First Ride event at the Zakar compound in the Mojave Desert. Yeah, it’s modeled after marine compounds in combat zones and we sleep in containers. Just got out of bike fitting (they put risers on the handlebars for my 6’4” frame and the accessory tall boy seat, I think it’s called).


7:30 EST: I’ve just gone through Baldy’s first write-up from Zakar—looks like H-D is doing this right, with a two-day launch that includes knobby-equipped machines on Day 2. No doubt benefiting from the experience of RawHyde personnel or maybe they’ve poached some staff from another ADV-oriented company that knows how to do things. Can’t help but chuckle at the accommodations. Looks fun and I dig the idea, but the last time I was on an H-D launch, the journo I was traveling with was awed. He was normally a car journo, the most wined/dined members of the press gallery, always put up in swanky accoms with the finest eats/drinks, so when he said “It looks like something from a James Bond film,” I knew it was good, even by his standards.

What I’m saying is, we weren’t sleeping in a camp styled like a USMC firebase. But, this is the experience a lot of the Pan America customer base wants. Life On The Edge Of Civilization.

Looking forward to Baldy’s photos and thoughts from later today, but for now, here are a couple of other grabs from his SmugMug album.—ZK

The interior of FSB Zulu … er, RawHyde’s new “Zakar” facility. Expect to see plenty of ADV launches and events running out of here, but Harley-Davidson’s Pan America is the first and maybe the biggest. It’s supposed to look like you’re in The Sandbox, but the Edison lights are a touch the engineers never thought of overseas. Photo: Baldy

Close-up of the bike. Notice anything different from the prototypes that Harley had on the show circuit? Photo: Baldy

Dining quarters at Zakar, filled with bike journos and media reps. “A wretched hive of scum and villainy,” etc. Definitely not the swank spa that H-D usually uses for this sort of thing. It’s a brave new world we’re living in! Photo: Baldy

6:14am EST: A first look at the 2021 Pan America 1250. Photos provided by H-D.

9:30 EST: Baldy’s up!

Stoked to go riding a new bike through Mojave today! Photo: Baldy

Here’s what Baldy rode in on …

And here’s his bike for today. There’s a different fleet of knobby-equipped machines for tomorrow.

11:30 EST: More pix!

Here’s the “mystery plug” at the front of the Pan America (also note that exposed electro-box). Photo: Baldy

Harley-Davidson says it’s a coolant overflow plug. Photo: Baldy

Check out that Daymaker cornering LED light. Nice upgrade; it allows you to “see into” corners as the headlight beam shifts with the bike. Harley-Davidson has had this tech on its cruisers for a while already. Photo: Baldy

Accessory exhaust. Not your standard-issue Harley-Davidson life-saving Loud Pipe. Photo: Baldy

Expensive, heavy crash bars and sidestand are expensive and heavy. But, they make the bike more practical and much less likely to suffer pricey damage in an off. The crash bar and centrestand add 25 pounds to the 534-pound wet weight. Photo: Baldy

11:45 EST: More pix!

ADVer @erinsills rode here too (Erin Sills from Women Riders Now). Maybe a little more practical than Baldy’s Ural? But is it as cool? Photo: Baldy

Hey look! It’s Spurg from Revzilla. Don’t think he rode here, though! It’s a long trip from PA. Photo: Baldy

Tall Boy seat on my bike. Adds 1 inch to standard (in the background) 2 positions. Sold as accessory. $249. Also, a Reach seat is 1 inch lower than standard, also $249 and 2-position. Photo: Baldy

3 PM EST: More shots from the launch. Baldy’s out in the middle of nowhere and having trouble uploading pix. Apparently Zakar is just as off-grid as Dakar? He also reports that his riding group encountered a pack of conventional cruiser-type Harley-Davidsons out in the wild, and they didn’t wave back to the new ADV H-D crowd …

Wait, why isn’t Baldy connecting his phone to his bike? As you can see, that’s an option here. This bike also had TPMS. Note the fuel gauge lower right, and the combined digital/analogue speedometer/tach display. Photo: Baldy

Harley-Davidson partnered with REV’IT! to make its branded ADV riding gear. Look at those gloves on the right. They’re obviously derived from the classic Sand Pro glove line. Photo: Baldy

Pre-ride briefing, with the female land speed record holder in Baldy’s group! Photo: Baldy

Burly-looking footpegs from Harley-Davidson. We’ve come a long way from forward controls, baby. Photo: Baldy

4 PM EST: Still waiting on pix from Baldy, he must be out in the desert still, Here’s another look at the new bike from this morning:

6 PM EST: Word is that Baldy’s so far out in the desert that they’re using carrier pigeons to deliver the photos. So, you get these factory shots instead.

6:30 AM EST, Day 2: Yesterday, the launch went so far out in the desert that it was hard to get pix uploaded, We have some new shots from Baldy below, though. Sounds like he had fun, and liked the new engine. When his day’s ride was over yesterday, here’s what he texted me:

One thing is clear: Harley hit it out of the park with this engine. Damn it’s sweet. Smooth, good low end torque for lugging in the dirt, and when 6,000 rpm come around on the road, holy shit!

I kept it above 6,000 in the twisties because the sound is so good without being too loud, and engine braking was great in default road mode.

He’s enjoy himself, then, and it sounds like other journos on the bike have been happy so far as well. Today, the focus is supposed to be offroading, from what we’ve heard.

“Got a lot of sandy dirt road today on the street-ish tires. Lots of elevated heart rates with all the snaking like all bikes do, but far as I could tell, all the journos thought the bike was exceptional.” – Baldy

“Our road crossed The Pacific Crest Trail. Water is left there for the hikers by volunteers.” – Baldy

12 EST: Some more uploads from Zakar. Baldy’s headed off to the desert for more intensive offroad riding today.

1 PM EST: Baldy’s off on two wheels again, but he sent these two pix in, to reply to questions about seat heights, and to show the selection available.

2:30 PM EST: Baldy’s been riding the desert for the past while, and it looks like he’s having fun from his photos (below). A couple of other riders have ditched their machines in the soft sand sand, alas.

Baldy up nice and early, and happy for a day’s ride!

Looks like a standard pre-ride lecture. Also, it looks like some riders here are wearing H-D’s line of REV’IT!-built ADV riding gear.

“Oh the places you’ll go!”

5:30 PM EST: The desert takes its toll! Baldy had an off in some soft sand, looks like the mirrors and his helmet get a bit of a scuffing, but he says he’s fine.

10PM: The end of a long day of hard riding. Chris writes …

Credit to Harley that they let us ride some tough terrain to really put the bike to the test. After all the places we went today, I can definitely attest this is not just a sport tourer.
Some of the riders had major skillz and dazzled the photography crew. ‘‘twas quite a site to see these guys riding like they belonged in Dakar —especially at Trona Pinnacles, which made for dramatic backdrops. Expect to see dramatic photos in all the pubs.
The acclaimed motor sports photographer Brian Nelson led the photography on our crew (photo of him with huge lens).


Tire from one of the aggressive riders who looked like he really knew how to use 150 horses.

Photographer Brian Nelson

11pm: And that is all folks! 

Chris is on his way home in the morning. 350 miles on a slow Ural.

A huge thank you to Chris for finding the time to live blog from the desert!

11 AM EST: Baldy’s on his way back, but we’ve got some more shots for you:

Here’s the staffer shirts at Zakar!

Jim Rawhyde in fron of his famous zombie apocalypse art with three bikes included in the art. Recognize the bike on his left?

For those who’ve been wondering about the radiator shield: Radiator shield accessory: $149.95. Professionally modeled by Rob Day, senior coach and tour leader (he led our group) at Rawhyde Adventures.

11:05 AM EST: Here’s some action photos of Baldy!



Nice work, if you can get it. Photo: Harley-Davidson

2 PM EST: Baldy’s last update before heading out:

“Pan America tool kit. I had Josh from Harley explain all the details in luscious 4K video, like everything else I couldn’t include in the live blog over cellular, and will publish it all on YouTube next week.” – Baldy


“The great Erin Sills, badass, motorcycle speed record holder. She was the rider in front of me for two days. When I couldn’t hang and dropped back, I’d tell my wounded male ego, ‘It’s fine. She goes 242 MPH!’ ” – Baldy

“Just 360 miles from home on a Ural! Need a Pan America engine in this rig…” – Baldy


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