Article By: J. Ken Conte
Photos By: Kevin Wing. Brian J. Nelson
Originally Published In The April 2019 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
The CVO or Custom Vehicles Operations have been around for 20 years. It is no wonder that the first bagger to be produced out of the CVO was the Road Glide. At that time it was called the Screaming Eagle Road Glide. It was named after the high-performance parts that it was adorned with and is still what the SE stands for at the end of the CVO models such as in FLTRXSE (CVO Road Glide). The first time a bike was named CVO was in 2009, and that lineup also included a Road Glide. Are you starting to see a trend? For those of you that are unaware of the difference in the Road Glide, it’s all in the fairing. The fairing is fixed to the frame, so the handlebars and consequently the front-end are independent of the fairing. What makes that the perfect platform for a hot rod bagger? The Road Glide and its shark-nose fairing because of its sleek design that is more aerodynamic.
The 2019 CVO Road Glide has plenty of new designs and accessories that, at first glance give it a custom look but with a heaping scoop of refinement. The most obvious addition is the new Milwaukee Eight 117 engine, which is the most powerful V-Twin engine offered to date by Harley. It comes with color accented red rocker box lowers that harken back to the original Fat Boy. That Milwaukee Eight comes from the factory with 125 ft-lb of torque that is helped by the Screaming Eagle heavy breather airbox and custom finished cross over dual exhaust. This all equates to a torquey monster. Whether it is off the line or passing cars you will notice a difference compared to the 114 or the 107. The way this bike sits is…low. This is all thanks to a 21- inch wheel and the dual bending valve front suspension coupled with the emulsion rear suspension that is hand adjustable. It rides like a dream. I know, it doesn’t look like it could but it does.
The new Fang front spoiler combined with the tire-hugging front fender makes me have that visceral “thump” that I so often get with bikes that are low, but as much as I expected it and road over several potholes and crummy roads through Minnesota and Wisconsin, I never could get it to make a sound…it was smooth and in the turns it handled, well. I must mention that during this trip there were numerous roadblocks, literal roadblocks from flooding, bridges out and road closures. We were crisscrossing the mighty Mississippi in torrential rains, so canyon carving was not on the docket for this trip, but plenty of rainy miles were. It made for some great testing of the ABS System in adverse conditions and I found them to react as they should, stopping the bagger in plenty of time, with a solid lever and peddle feel.
Because of the extended seat time, it was nice to have the latest version of their Boom! Box GTS Infotainment System to track our progress. I found it to be very intuitive, user-friendly and easy to read, even when it was pouring rain. Unlike previous versions this one (which is only available on the CVO models this year), it is just like using a modern tablet or mobile device, and it gives the rider more information about the bike than imaginable. It can also link to a helmet and use voice commands (I didn’t try this out), but my understanding is that the Bluetooth worked flawlessly and it comes with a headset. The infotainment system incorporates a 150 watts per channel stereo and 4 Stage II speakers, which equates to some serious audio. The most noticeable styling detail was the three new paint schemes and finishes. The CVO Road Glide comes in three distinct color schemes, which fit almost any riders taste. The Mako Shark fade is a blue fade that must have been a huge pain to replicate. This is accented by mostly black accessories and gives it a menacing but subdued look.
The second, Red Pepper & Magnetic Grey with Black Hole is by far the favorite because it features the iconic Harley 1 logo and has mostly blacked out accessories. The third option, Lightning Silver, Charred Steel with Black Hole, is for the rider who wants a little more bling. It still features the iconic Harley 1 logo on the tank but is accented by chrome. Everyone’s first question about the CVO is: “How much is it?” If you have to ask, well it probably isn’t the bike for you. If you are considering getting a custom bagger, or have a bagger that you are thinking about putting some money into, you might consider the CVO Road Glide because they have thought of everything and it looks and rides great. Yes, it starts at $42,339, but I can assure you that the additional $15k you are spending compared to the Road Glide Special are well worth it! Support your local dealer and take a test ride on a new Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide. You can see more about the CVO family here.