Harley Davidson makes some very fast cruisers and touring bikes, just about as far from the Honda Grom as someone can get. The fastest ones are the Harley Davidson CVO motorcycles, essentially factory-custom, limited-production machines. Unfortunately, that speed doesn’t come cheap. The latest Harley Davidson CVO Road Glide costs just under $41,000—never mind bikes, there are some good trucks, SUVs, and cars that don’t cost that much. Is the CVO Road Glide worth it, or is this just another not-so-special special-edition?
The Harley Davidson CVO Road Glide’s engine
Normally, the Harley-Davidson Road Glide comes with a 1.75-liter V-twin, the Milwaukee Eight 107 engine, developing 111 lb-ft (H-D doesn’t quote horsepower). The Road Glide Special has a larger 1.87-liter V-twin (the 114 engine), which makes 123 lb-ft.
But Harley Davidson CVO models, Motorcyclist reports, get an exclusive engine: a 1.92-liter (117 cubic inch) V-twin, linked to a 6-speed manual. Harley claims it’s the biggest, most powerful engine the company has ever made. Torque output only increases to 126 lb-ft, but the engine also gets a Screamin’ Eagle Heavy Breather intake, for better airflow.
And despite the mild torque increase, the 117 is definitely more powerful than the other Road Glide engines. Cycle World ran 2018 Harley Davidson CVO Road Glide on a dynamometer and recorded 93.75 hp at the wheel. A 2020 Road Glide Special, meanwhile, developed 76.13 hp. Factoring in powertrain loss, that’s roughly 106 hp for the CVO, and 86 hp for the Special.
However, while the engine may be the main attraction, the Harley Davidson CVO Road Glide does have more to offer.
Other CVO features
In terms of unique features, the CVO Road Glide gets an exclusive paint: Premium Sand Dune. It’s not only exclusive, it’s the only color offered. The bike also gets custom seat covers and CVO-specific seven-spoke wheels. The rear is 18”, and the front 21”, which Harley claims is the biggest it offers on a touring bike.
Like other Road Glides, the CVO has standard ABS, which is helpful given its 893-lb curb weight. But the CVO’s adjustable suspension gets an upgrade, which Autoblog reports is for improved handling. The CVO model also receives a fairing-mounted spoiler, to smooth airflow while providing high-speed stability.
As a top-of-the-line model, Harley Davidson also loads the CVO Road Glide up with some touring-focused aftermarket parts. Like the Road Glide Special, the CVO’s Boom Box infotainment system has a full-color TFT 6.5” touchscreen display. But the CVO gets 2 additional speakers, for a total of 4.
Plus, in addition to the standard Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay, the CVO gets a built-in headset, to let riders hear music, GPS directions, or even communicate with each other via helmet intercoms. Harley also installs Kahuna heated grips and controls, which are normally aftermarket accessories.
Is the Harley Davidson CVO Road Glide worth it?
Harley Davidson won’t be making very many CVO Road Glides. The motorcycle company claims total production will be less than one bike per dealership. But is it worth considering?
It’s clear that, unlike the various Harley Davidson-branded trucks, the CVO Road Glide isn’t just about appearance. The new engine and upgraded suspension make that clear. And such a small production run does mean the touring bike will definitely be a ‘limited-edition.’ That being said, apart from the paint, you can actually replicate this bike for less.
It’s even possible to get a more powerful engine for the Road Glide: Hemmings reports the Screamin’ Eagle 131 crate engine develops 121 hp and 131 lb-ft. The only downside is it’s not California emissions-legal. But again, you can buy and have this engine installed in a normal Road Glide directly at the Harley factor for $6500-$7000.
Add it all up, and the non-CVO Harley Davidson Road Glide Special works out to $39,590. Cut out the Screamin’ Eagle engine, and that drops to $32,590. And honestly, although Cycle World reports the 117’s performance increase is noticeable, with almost 900 pounds to move, the touring bike will never be sport-bike-quick.
The Harley Davidson CVO Road Glide may be a true limited-edition, but if you don’t get one, don’t worry—you can make one yourself for less.
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