Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide first ride

Published: 29 September 2016

Harley’s CVO bikes have always been the very best-accessorised and tuned offerings the historic American firm can muster – but its latest for 2017 takes even all that a stage further.

CVO stands for H-D’s in-house Custom Vehicle Operations department which, each year, produces a limited edition of a few thousand or so blinged and hotted up examples of a small selection of its big twins.

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Usually, this means the standard engines get Harley’s bolt-on Screamin’ Eagle performance upgrade; special edition, two-tone custom paint is exquisitely applied and the whole thing is slathered with the most alluring aluminium billet and often carbon-fibre goodies H-D’s extensive accessories catalogue can offer.

The result is, simply, the best off-the-shelf Harleys money can buy. No wonder then that, despite sometimes eye-watering price tags, CVOs are in huge demand, often sell-out instantly and also keep their value impressively as used buys.

But with the arrival of Harley’s new, increased capacity, four-valve Milwaukee-Eight engines, which, in either oil or liquid (Twin-Cooled) form power H-D’s 2017 touring family, suddenly its CVOs have an extra card to play.

For 2017, Harley UK is offering three CVO models. The CVO Pro Street Breakout, as tested in MCN earlier this year and which is based on the old Twin Cam-powered Breakout, carries forward into 2017.

Of bigger news is this is now joined by the new, Milwaukee-Eight-powered CVO Limited and, here, arguably the most delicious of all, the similarly powered new CVO Street Glide.

And, there’s no getting away from it, the CVO Street Glide is simply fabulous. In every way. Almost.

There are three simple reasons for this: First, the stock Street Glide is already a brilliant bike. Essentially a chopped-down version of the full-dress Electra Glide it’s both the quintessential bagger and Harley’s (and America’s) best-selling bike, full-stop.

For 2017, however, the Street Glide gets the Milwaukee-Eight upgrades that have been applied across the whole of Harley’s touring family, namely new, 11% pokier, four-valve motor, in this guise in Twin-Cooled, liquid-cooled form, where twin radiators are hidden in the leg guards (models without the leg guards, such as the Road King, get the oil-cooled version with a single oil cooler) plus significantly improved suspension.

Then, in CVO form, the 2017 Glide gets even better yet – impressively so. First, there’s a bigger, 114ci, (or 1868cc from 1745cc), Screamin’ Eagle tuned version of the Twin-Cooled engine. That in itself boosts peak torque to 122ftlb and is something you really notice, especially when you remember last year’s Twin Cam bikes put out just 93ftlb. That’s a 30% boost right there.

Then come all the CVO goodies. Cosmetics-wise, the CVO Glide is simply lush. From its mouth-watering, special edition paint to the flush-fit filler, billet grips, granite-finished fairing inners and classy fob-operated, central-locking panniers. Everywhere you look, the CVO is mouth-wateringly glossy and cool – enough to make the stock Harley we also had on test seem almost basic.

While, finally, the surprise cherry on top is the CVO Street Glide’s enhanced sound system – and, wow, is it impressive. With bigger, 6.5in BOOM! Stage II speakers which are powered by a new 600-watt amplifier, the CVO’s sound system, already impressive through Harley’s slick, LCD ‘Infotainment’ system, goes simply into a different dimension, for production bikes at least.

Forget the tinny, barely audible soundtrack of before, here’s the kind of loud and bass-heavy audio previously the realm of hotted up hatchbacks. All of that makes the CVO Street Glide a simply brilliant bike and probably – seeing as it’s basically a blinged up take on the new hotted up version of H-D’s most popular machine – Harley’s best bike.

My only reservation, slightly, is its price. At £30,545 the CVO’s almost a whopping 10 grand more than the stock Street Glide Special (at £20,695) and only a little less than the full dress Limited version. It’s also worth remembering the CVO Pro Street Breakout has much of the same appeal (if not the latest engine, sound system and luggage) for around £20K.

 

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