Op-Ed: CVO Pan America Should’ve Taken a Backseat to a Harley-Davidson Softail Update
Harley-Davidson recently updated its lineup, with specific focus on models like the Street Glide, Road Glide, and Pan America. Several models got a CVO treatment, and the Road Glide got an ST update akin to the Low Rider ST. Among the updates, Harley-Davidson produced a CVO Pan America. While the Pan America is serious competition for other adventure bikes on the market, the MoCo should have focused on some sort of update for the Softail lineup.
The CVO Pan America is an eye-popping addition to the Harley-Davidson lineup, but it should’ve taken a back burner for a Softail update
Harley-Davidson announced updates to much of its lineup, including a stylistic overhaul of its popular Street Glide and fixed-fairing Road Glide touring motorcycles. However, the Motor Company (MoCo) also updated the Pan America adventure motorcycle with the CVO treatment, including a characteristic Legendary Orange livery, aluminum luggage, and a throwback “#1” logo.
However, the CVO Pan America gets the same 1250 Revolution Max as the 1250 Special model. That, and the CVO model doesn’t improve the semi-active suspension from the Special. Therein lies an issue: people buy CVOs for more than the aesthetic.
Moreover, Harley-Davidson left its Softails alone. No updates for the Softail Standard, Street Bob 114, Fat Boy 114, Breakout 117, Heritage Classic 114, or the Club-Style Low Rider S and ST. In fact, HD dropped the Fat Bob 114 after the 2023 model year.
That’s unfortunate, as many Harley fans use the Softail lineup as they did the now-discontinued Dynas: as a canvas for modifications. Unfortunately, the lack of updates or additions leaves the same canvas as last year.
Barring some Softail updates this year, the 2024 lineup will look sadly similar to last year
Harley-Davidson will carry over 17 models from last year, not including the latest CVO additions. While seven of those models are in the brand’s cruiser category, none of them got the updates or attention that the “Grand American Touring” bikes received.
Granted, the Road Glide and Street Glide are some of the brand’s best sellers. However, many riders transitioning from starter motorcycles like the now-discontinued Evolution Sportster lineup have a tired library of Softails to consider.
It could be a costly oversight, given the surge of first-time motorcycle registrations during the pandemic lockdowns. Some of those riders will be looking to ditch their lockdown motorcycles and invest in a Softail Street Bob or Low Rider S. Why stretch for a 2024 Softail if it’s essentially the same bike as the prior model year? In fact, some patrons may reach for the keys to an Indian Chief or BMW R 18.
The powers-that-be at Harley-Davidson will have to see whether the move makes dollars and sense. In the meantime, fans of models like the Street Bob, Fat Boy, Fat Bob, and Low Rider S will have to wait for an update.