Harley-Davidson is proudly—and deservedly—celebrating its 120th birthday this year. When you think of brands that have come and gone during its lifespan, that’s really quite an impressive landmark. The Motor Company (as it is known) has stayed in the game by proffering a philosophy of refined evolution as opposed to radical revolution—although their recent forays into the electric and adventure realms speak to technical daring and progressive thinking.
Yet, the base, signature Harley-Davidson presence is in those big, beautiful motorcycles, with the legendary thump of their V-twins. In 1999, Harley-Davidson introduced its Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) line of motorcycles. The concept was to produce a custom motorcycle in-house that was laden with an array of exclusive components and exceptional finishes, essentially creating a unique, super-premium motorcycle for the discerning Harley-Davidson rider. The machines roll out imbued with a heightened degree of performance and heritage, with refined technical advancements and aesthetically pleasing brushstrokes—with a price tag to match.
The profiles of the new CVO Street Glide and Road Glide are dominated by re-designed fairings. The Street Glide’s new swept profile promises speed, with LED lighting and turn signals integrated into the eagle-wing design. The pattern results in a striking appearance at night. The Road Glide’s shark nose has been refined with adjustable wing deflectors and vents for rider comfort.
The classic and defining tear drop fuel tank has acquired a distinctive bevel that adds subtle depth to its appearance, emphasizing the bike’s silhouette. Bringing that bevel alive, the Motor Company offers two paint finishes—Dark Platinum with Bright Smoke pinstriping, and the stunning (and adequately named) Whiskey Neat/Raven Metallic two-tone. The hand-applied deep orange base is augmented with airbrushed accents and pinstriping. The latter scheme also incorporates orange-accented engine inserts to tie the color together. This choice adds $6,000 to the price.
Both machines are emboldened by the new Milwaukee-Eight VVT 121 cubic-inch (1977cc) V-twin engine. Liquid-cooled heads with a new cooling system and variable valve timing bring 8% more torque (139 lb-ft at 3,000 rpm) and 9.5% additional horsepower (115 hp at 4,500 rpm) over the previous 117 engine. Rest assured, the signature exhaust tone is not only still there in all its brilliance and statement, but it’s even more pronounced. The variable valve timing (VVT) technology spreads power delivery over a broader spectrum, with torque felt over the full power band as well. In addition to enhanced performance, the VVT also improves fuel efficiency.
Harley-Davidson engineers managed to shave 31 pounds off the CVO Street Glide and 35 pounds off the CVO Road Glide, compared to the models they replaced. That’s significant weight, which gives a further boost to the engine and brakes—the latter built from top-of-the-line Brembo components. The Street and Road Glides have inverted front forks and improved suspension. A prominent, highly visible 12.3-inch TFT screen carries essential information about the engine, GPS, and communications.
Full reviews of the 2023 CVO Street Glide and CVO Road Glide will be coming in future RoadRUNNER issues.