As Harley-Davidson moves into production of its new Pan America 1250 adventure bike series, we’ve got a video that shows CEO Jochen Zeitz visiting the York, Pennsylvania factory, commemorating the day the first ADV bike rolled off the assembly line on March 8, 2021.
We get a quick overview of the Pan America’s production line in its factory in York, Pennsylvania, where workers complete final assembly. The Milwaukee plant builds the Revolution Max 1250 engine and transmission, then ships them south. In York, the workers build the frames, gas tanks, and other bodywork, and fit it all together.
It makes sense—the York plant is a world-class facility, winning awards for its efficiency. Harley-Davidson wants to put its best foot forward on this machine. The advertising campaign hasn’t always been spot-on, but H-D seems to realize the world is watching.
It’s cool to see the bike’s assembly process, but it’s almost as interesting to see everything else going on in this video, the stuff they’re slipping in without necessarily talking about. Zeitz may be the company’s big boss, but he’s showing up in a T-shirt and sneakers (hard to tell if they’re Pumas, or not). Is this his command style, or carefully-crafted schtick? Harley-Davidson goes to great pains to talk to blue-collar male and female workers alike here. Even the camera guy surreptitiously skulking in one shot’s background is wearing a bandanna for a face mask. The bro hug, the standard fare of cruiser marketing videos since Indian started business in 1901, is gone, but we do get an elbow bump instead. And when the whole thing ends, we get H-D’s modernized skeletonized logo, not the old-school bar and shield.
Maybe this carefully-crafted mash-up of business and casual, retro and modern, is all an accident. Probably not.
The reality is, Harley-Davidson is walking a tightrope. Nobody’s reported back on the new bike’s rideability, but even if it’s an instant success, Harley-Davidson must keep its existing cruiser-biased fans happy. That’s where the tendies are made, even these days. Again, as Zeitz says: “We’ve always been offroad, but this is the first true offroad bike we are launching into the world.” Harley-Davidson is in the middle of re-inventing itself, it cannot afford to fail. The smallest details in this clip show it’s very aware of that—and considering it’s still the most important player in North America’s moto industry, it’s good the company realizes that. If H-D does well, the industry does well.