It’s a momentous event when Harley-Davidson reinvents iconic models like the Road Glide and the Street Glide, the most popular motorcycles on American roads. Aside from the shared frames and crankcases of these fraternal twins, pretty much everything else on the new Harley-Davidson CVO Glides has been reimagined.
With a quick glance, you’ll recognize familiar batwing and sharknose fairings, but a closer look reveals entirely new bodywork. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find a new motor: the 121-cubic inch Milwaukee-Eight VVT 121 featuring variable valve timing and liquid-cooled cylinder heads.
Gaze a little longer, and you’ll notice a new inverted fork fitted with new radial-mount Brembo 4-piston calipers and larger brake rotors. You can’t see the shocks behind the restyled saddlebags, but they’re new too.
It’s the dawn of a new era for the Glides, as this refreshed styling and high-tech motor surely will migrate to Harley’s non-CVO baggers in the next year or two. For now, all this newness will cost a cool $42,999
Mo’ Mo From the MoCo
The centerpiece of the new Harley-Davidson CVO Glides is a Milwaukee-Eight V-Twin, but the VVT 121 takes the M-8 to a higher level with variable valve timing. The system expands the powerband by electronically moving the camshaft through a 20-degree range based on factors like rpm, load, and gear selection, supplying more grunt at low revs while also enabling it to rev more freely up top.
Harley’s internal code name for the new engine is “Helix,” and it features much more than just VVT. It uses the same bore size as the 117ci motor but gets additional stroke to add up to 121ci, or 1,977cc.
(Fun fact: Remember when H-D’s old Big Twins displaced 61ci? Now we’ve got a Harley that has nearly as much displacement in just one cylinder!)
The Helix gets its intake charge from a 4-liter airbox that’s 50% larger than H-D’s Heavy Breather and combines with a larger throttle body to feed the beast. The mixture is squeezed with a higher compression ratio (11.4:1) and dumps the spent charge into a freer-flowing exhaust that sounds deep and powerful for a stock system.
Added up, H-D says its new V-Twin produces 9.5% more horsepower and 8% more torque than the Twin-Cooled 117 M-8, churning out 115 hp at 4,500 rpm and 139 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm. Byproducts of this new architecture are increased fuel economy and improved durability thanks to cooler exhaust valves. Additionally, a new shift drum in the transmission makes selecting neutral when stopped easier.
The view from behind the handlebars of the Harley-Davidson CVO Glides has been dramatically freshened and modernized. At center stage is a brilliant 12.3-inch TFT color touchscreen that can be set to display three view options: Cruise, Tour, and Sport. These can be further customized to include the displays of various widgets like tire-pressure monitoring, temperature, fuel range, and more.
If you prefer pushing buttons to touching a screen, the CVOs are blessed with new backlit handlebar switches that have a nice tactile feel and are a welcome upgrade from the previous setup. Cruise control is standard, as are heated grips. Gone is the awkwardly bulky ignition switch behind the handlebar used previously, and an adjustable front brake lever is finally fitted.
A Rockford Fosgate Stage II audio system provides 500 watts of power for bangin’ road tunes pounded out by two pairs of speakers, one in the fairings and the other in the saddlebags. The instrumentation is compatible with smartphones for wireless connections, and both models feature storage compartments with a USB-C outlet.
The Harley-Davidson CVO Glides also offer selectable ride modes (Road, Sport, and Rain) that control power delivery, engine braking, cornering ABS, traction control, and hill-hold control. These parameters can be personalized to suit rider preferences by setting up a custom map.
- Helmet: Arai Signet-X
- Jacket: Alpinestars Hoxton V2
- Gloves: Highway 21 Jab Perf
- Pants: Saint Unbreakable
- Boots: H-D Hagerman
Both models include fairings with a “floating” windscreen design that’s augmented by an adjustable air-control vane in the center vent to alter airflow to suit riders of various heights. Electric windscreen adjustment isn’t part of the package. Fine-tuning airflow is accomplished by adjustable wind deflectors. The Road Glide gets new versions of “Willie Wings” along the trailing edge of its fairing, while the Street Glide’s deflectors are located on the upper fork legs.
Weight A Minute
There’s no getting around the fact that big-inch baggers are heavy, so we’re happy to see Harley making steps to reduce the weight of their bikes. The biggest weight-loss investment is the triple clamp that’s made using a liquid aluminum forging process. It cuts 7 lb from this critical area.
Also of note is a purported 4-5 lb of wiring stripped out thanks largely to the all-in-one TFT gauge panel. The fuel tank still holds a generous 6 gallons, but thanks to using thinner-gauge steel, it’s 2 lb lighter. The net result is a Street Glide that weighs 31 lb less, and the Road Glide’s mass is cut 35 lb. Total weight of the SG is 838 lb, while the RG scales in at 862 lb.
H-D invited us to its home base to ride the new CVOs – the MoCo’s first global press launch since 2019. It was nicely timed, as I had just finished riding a Road Glide to Monterey for the KOTB races three days earlier, so I’d have recent comparative impressions. Side by side with an Indian Challenger, the OE Road Glide felt outclassed in terms of power, plushness, and technology.
We would’ve felt differently if we were aboard the new CVO model. These Glides are easily the best ones yet. Their motors have more power at all points on the tach, and their instrumentation is now among the best in the business…
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