Hot or not? Is the CVO Road Glide THE pinnacle Harley
You've been hit by, you’ve been struck by, a smooth criminal.
If ever a phrase could sum up a bike, from its sublime appearance to its super smooth road capabilities, then it would describe the 2020 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide.
This bike is downright smooth, from its Sand Dune premium paint work to its hot-as-f$#k 21-inch front wheel, this Harley will have you yearning to climb in the saddle, grab the handlebars and hit the road.
CVO stands for Custom Vehicle Operations and the nomenclature is applied to a select few models each year to create a very special family of true limited edition Harley-Davidson bikes.
This year though, the 2020 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide turned up to the party a little late, having been launched in February. In fact, it wasn’t part of the initial Harley-Davidson 2020 model release.
Available in just this colour scheme, the CVO Road Glide drew ire from some traditional Harley-Davidson fans for its plainness, after they were spoiled for choice in 2019, with some absolutely beautiful colour options.
Photos don’t do this paint scheme justice though. Roll it into the sun or under a street light in the dark and it has a stunning shimmer that is exceptionally eye-catching. It contrasts sensationally with the blacked out features as well.
With its traditional shark nose fairing, the CVO Road Glide can be polarising, with many opting for the more tradition ‘batwing’ fairing bikes like the Street Glide and Limited, which are also available in CVO models for 2020.
For us though, it’s ironically that very nose, mounted to the frame and not the front forks, that truly sets this bike apart. The front wheel feels weightless, and just glides its way through the apex of a corner beautifully.
The bigger front wheel, with its low profile tire, will have you feeling the bumps a little more though. And yet, the ease with which the big Glide leans into the angles of corners will have you pushing the bike nicely.
That is until you hear the scraping of the floor boards, which is a good indicator that you ain’t going over much further. With a lean angle to the right of 33.7 degrees and 33.9 degrees to the left, the 377kg CVO takes corners particularly well.
Don’t get us wrong, this is no Yamaha YZF-R1, but for a big cruiser, it is well balanced and planted through the corners, and is a lot of fun. It does sacrifice some handling for the massive Gloss Black and Smoked Satin Knockout front wheel though.
The standard front wheel on the Road Glide Special does mean it handles a tad better, however if it was our choice, we would take the big front rim every day of the week, even just for kerb appeal and envy.
Every conceivable factory extra from Harley-Davidson is included as well, including custom heated grips, floorboards, CVO-specific digital gauges, an upgraded Boom Box audio system, cruise control, and tyre pressure monitoring.
CVO accents are splashed across the bike as well, but the centrepiece, the pista-resistance, is the biggest motor fitted to a standard Harley-Davidson, is the 117ci Milwaukee Eight. 1,923cc of pure goodness, producing 166Nm of torque.
It delivers effortless pick up, despite the signature 6-speed Harley-Davidson gearbox giving its traditional thump as you change gears. A heavy breather air cleaner protrudes out the side of the sinister looking engine, adding to the ‘smooth criminal’ demeanour.
Closer inspection of the CVO also reveals some unique details, including an exhaust system that isn’t actually black, but rather anodised dark bronze. It’s impressive, but it’s also the one thing we’d remove. It needs to be deeper, and angry, with more of a growl.
The 2020 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide might just be the ultimate custom touring machine, and it’s fitted with the bike maker’s reflex defensive rider system (RDRS) too, for added safety.
RDRS adds advanced chassis control, electronic brake control and power train technology to assist with acceleration and braking. In simple terms, these are cool aids that help enhance the riding experience.
Right, now for a little perspective. The ride away price for the incredible 2020 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide is a whopping $55,995 AUD (or $41,000 USD). And no, that’s not a typo. That’s a lot of coin for a motorbike, as great as this bike is.
For less money, we could buy the normal Road Glide Special and install Harley-Davidson’s monster 131ci Screamin’ Eagle motor, and still have some change left over. That said, the 2020 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide is a stunning bike in every conceivable detail.
It is not manufactured to be a motorbike that is available to us mere mortals. It is designed to be exclusive and premium, and price aside, as you cruise down the highway on this bike you truly feel like a god.
And after all, isn’t that how your motorbike is suppose to make you feel.
Our 2020 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide was provided by Harley-Davidson Australia. To find out more, visit your local Harley-Davidson dealer. Pictures courtesy of Jessica Jenkin Photography.
This story written by Andrew Jenkin and first published as "2020 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide (bike review)" on Exhaust Notes Australia.
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