Like any alpha wolf worth its fur, Harley-Davidson's "alpha customer" needs to make a little noise to remind everyone of his position within the pack-which is exactly why the Custom Vehicle Operations line exists. Every year, Harley's CVO team selects four models and hooks them up with exclusive accoutrements, snazzy paint and, of course, the CVO-exclusive 110-cubic-inch Screamin' Eagle engine. For 2011 the Ultra Classic Electra Glide, gangsta-fave Street Glide and versatile Softail Convertible return to the CVO stage, with the revered Road Glide Ultra rolling in to replace the Fat Bob.
To clear up any confusion, the Road Glide Ultra differs from its cousins the Ultra Classic Electra Glide and Street Glide by way of its hawkish, frame-mounted fairing and cockpit-style instrumentation. The other touring rigs feature flatter, fork-mounted fairings, which impart a slightly heavier steering feel. The Road Glide's unencumbered fork, combined with the Touring chassis' recent frame and suspension upgrades, make it a terrific platform for spirited travel. The CVO Screamin' Eagle Twin Cam engine adds some much-appreciated oomph to the package, bringing it nearer to the power standards of rival touring bikes.
The Road Glide comes standard with ABS, electronic throttle control and a six-speed transmission. It offers an updated Road Tech 660 GPS system, with audio commands available through the external stereo speakers. Harmon/Kardon supplies the iPod-integrated audio/entertainment system, which includes four BOOM! (that's right, BOOM!) bagger speakers. The 'Glide also gets a suspended, heated touring saddle that it shares with the Electra Glide, as well as a remote-control power-lock system that locks/unlocks the bike's trunk, saddlebags and ignition via a pushbutton fob. The fob works fabulously, and proves a great advance from the days when you needed to unlock and lock each bag manually every time you wanted to rummage for a rainsuit or road map. Additional baubles included the Deluxe Tour-Pak luggage rack with color-matched LED brake/tail lamp and Air Wing Tour-Pak rack, plus Harley's "Rumble Collection" of rubber and chrome footboards, shifter pegs, brake pedal, saddlebag latch covers and heated handgrips.
The CVO treatment elevates the Road Glide to a whole 'nuther level. The Screamin' Eagle Tw
Aside from the flash factor, the most apparent dimensional difference between the base Road Glide and the CVO version is the use of badass 18-inch Agitator wheels. The 15-inch windshield has been reshaped as well, and brought back 15 degrees.
On the road the newest CVO Glide is everything it should be: packable, comfortable, manageable ... and deeply conspicuous. I had a chance to ride all four fresh-from-the-factory CVO models around Lake Tahoe's tranquil shores and let me tell you, a pack of flashy, cash-happy Harley riders draws huge attention. Especially among the wooden boat-wielding, alpha cabin-owning crowd that frequents Tahoe's la-dee-da lakefront.
The 110-c.i. V-twin is the most appreciated upgrade shared by the 2011 CVO models, giving all the bikes a little more real-world punch. But there are also some enticing aesthetic and electronic additions to satisfy Harley's most demanding customers. The Electra Glide boasts a new 19-inch Agitator front wheel, as well as ventilated fairing lowers that house two out of the six speakers. After all, what better to complement loud pipes than several hundred watts of Stephan Wolf? The new audio system includes an H-D-branded iPod Nano with a slick dock pocket in the right saddlebag. Additionally, the Street Glide will roll out with a snakeskin-motif leather seat, low-profile tank console and 7-inch smoked flyscreen. It comes in four daring color options, each brandishing contrasting engine, wheel, tank console and fairing finishes.
GPS, CD player, BOOM! speakers, and MP3-ready stereo are CVO exclusives. Housing them in t
The CVO Convertible Softail also receives an iPod-integrated audio system, with dual speakers tucked beneath the bike's small windshield. Rider and passenger seats, passenger backrest and lockable leather saddlebags all receive simulated alligator-skin inserts, and new mini-ape hangers add to the Softail's plumage. First-time performance enhancements such as ABS, ETC, cruise control and keyless ignition add tangible value to the Convertible package.
Because the luxury CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide is first choice among long-distance Alpha Customers, great detail went into construction of a new heated touring saddle and adjustable rider and passenger backrests. The Electra Glide receives a new navigation system and the same handy remote-control power-lock system as the Road Glide.
Bucketed, heated, spacious and supportive-this level of comfort usually isn't found outsid
The stereo on the hot-rod Street Glide, with its 100-watt-per-channel amp, is by far the most potent for in-the-wind listening, but the BOOM! (yes) speakers on the Road Glide also offer impressive sound quality. The Softail's two-speaker stereo is less than stellar, but that's not its only downfall. A knee-high-to-a-grasshopper seat height of 24.4-inches and baby apes make the bike feel cramped for a full-size rider, and looks-wise there are much prettier ways to spend nearly $30,000.
Purchasing a new Harley will set you back a few stacks, and joining the exclusive CVO ranks even more so. The ever-popular CVO Electra Glide has a base price of $36,500, and the swaggering CVO Street Glide starts at $32,500. The newly-initiated CVO Road Glide Ultra nearly doubles in price compared to the base model, with a starting point of $36,000. But even at these prices, these bikes will inevitably find their way into the temperature-controlled man-caves of the Alpha Customer. Exclusivity does wonders for desirability.
The Road Glide gets the big Screamin' Eagle engine, bigger wheels, fresh paint and an assortment of functional and compelling electronics.
Arlen Ness Victory Vision, BMW K1200 LT, Honda Gold Wing, Kawasaki 1700 Voyager, Star Royal Star Venture S.
||a-c 45-deg. V-twin
|Bore x stroke
||101.6 x 111.3mm
||115 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
||Steel double cradle
||41.3mm Showa fork
||Twin Showa shocks with air-adjustable preload
||Dual Brembo four-piston calipers, 300mm discs
||Brembo four-piston caliper, 300mm disc
||130/80B-18 Dunlop H-D Series
||180/55B-18 Dunlop H-D Series
|Claimed dry weight
||Red/black, gray/black, ivory/gold
||24 mo., unlimited mi.
Harley-Davidson Motor Co.
3700 W. Juneau Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53208
Verdict 3.5 stars out of 5
One heck of a fly Road Glide, but damn is it expensive!