2010 CVO Softail Convertible (front) and Ultra Classic Electra Glide
2010 CVO Touring Bikes
Each year, in addition to the regular factory offerings Harley-Davidson unleashes an exclusive line of limited edition bikes under the Custom Vehicle Operations moniker. Usually shortened to CVO, these machines are the biggest and baddest bikes coming out of the Milwaukee manufacturer, although the bikes are assembled in York, Pennsylvania. A select group of engineers and artisans create cutting-edge bikes that incorporate the latest technology and innovations aimed at the premium crowd. Big motors, big paint, and big style are targeted to H-D's core and primarily affluent customers.
In H-D speak these are their Alpha customers who are achievers, accomplished, and exclusivity driven individuals. They enjoy a taste of the exotic and being a member of an elite group of Harley owners. Although the CVO bikes come loaded with accessories CVO owners still shell out the most cash on parts and accessories. CVO motorcycles create aspiration among prospective buyers who seek the ultimate in rideable art while still having a bike that comes with full factory and dealer support.
This year's crop of four CVO bikes contains three Touring models and a Dyna Fat Bob. Returning for its fifth iteration is the Ultra Classic Electra Glide with the interminably long FLHTCUSE5 designation. Added to the stable is the brand new FLHXSE Street Glide and a brand new touring capable Softail Convertible (FLSTSE). Each of the bikes features a fuel injected 110ci Twin Cam motor bedazzled in Granite finish and mated to the standard Cruise Drive six-speed tranny. CVOs are the only bikes that roll out of the factory with the 110-inch mill. Each model is decked out with the latest accessories and lots of chrome.
A handful of journalists were whisked away to the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay located south of San Francisco. We got to ride some amazing twisty mountain roads as well as cruise along the Pacific in Santa Cruz. This was the perfect setting to enjoy the pinnacle of the H-D food chain.
It was a tough decision to look at the newest CVO, the Softail Convertible, and immediately think of touring. In PR speak the newest Softail quickly converts from touring to cruising. CVO team manager Jeff Smith demonstrated the no-tool conversion by quickly removing the fairing and windshield, leather saddlebags, and the passenger seat with sissybar. So a capable two-up bike can be stripped to a solo boulevard cruiser in less than two minutes. The bike rolls front and rear on 18-inch Stinger wheels, with matching rotors and sprocket. Speaking of wheels-these are probably the nicest looking factory wheels I've ever seen. They are constructed from cast aluminum and have the intricate look of 3-D wheels with the pattern going to the edge of the rim. They are also lighter than forged aluminum wheels due to the fact that the 'spokes' are hollow. A fat 130mm tire up front is joined on the rear by a 200mm radial Dunlop. New fenders with a full-coverage wide rear fender and a trimmed front cover each tire. The Stinger brake rotors received styling attention too with the semi-wave pattern cut into the perimeter of the stainless steel friction ring. The Convertible comes in three two-tone color schemes, with a color-matched frame, swingarm, frame inserts, and oil tank.
CVO Street Glide
Beautiful Stinger wheel on Softail
Heated seats and passenger lumbar control on the Ultra
Tour-Pak with LEDs
Because Softails utilize solid engine mounts the Convertible receives the balanced (B) version of the Twin Cam 110. Breathing occurs through a high-flow Ventilator air cleaner cover reminiscent of the Hamcan while the exhaust flows out through staggered, shorty-dual pipes with slashdown mufflers. Out on the road the new Softail feels very solid and quick for a 750-pound bike. The windshield provides some wind protection but not nearly as much as say a Road King. Sitting on the bike puts you under 25 inches from the ground, which is good and bad depending on your riding style and height. On one hand it's great for shorter riders and instills confidence, but at the same time the floorboards touch down too fast for my riding style. With only 26 degrees of lean on either side this chassis is definitely more for casual cruisers than for ripping through the twisties. I know it's a Harley, and a touring bike, but I like to ride hard.
This bike does strike a nice balance between cruising and longer rides though for form and function to coexist some compromises were made. The bags aren't as large as the other bikes in the H-D lineup and the windshield is less protective. The Convertible is well suited towards the person who does more local and day rides than long range touring. With a claimed 50 mpg on the highway the five-gallon tank still gives plenty of distance between fill ups.
Next up in the lineup is the ber Touring bike: the Ultra Classic Electra Glide. This is the biggest two-wheeler H-D offers and comes equipped with just about every creature comfort a person can imagine. New highlights include new flamed paint schemes, LED saddlebag lights, and LED King Tour-Pak combination brake and taillights. The LEDs take up less room in the Tour-Pak, are brighter and last longer than the incandescent predecessors. The Tour-Pak also receives a new 12V outlet to charge any accessories you may have. Saddlebags and Tour-Pak have nice power locks that can be actuated with a key fob. Both rider and passenger seating areas include perforated leather inserts while the passenger seat also receives an adjustable lumbar support for added comfort. Dual zone heated seat warmers come standard.
Like the other CVOs the Ultra comes with the Screamin' Eagle 110ci Twin Cam motor. Out on the road the bike didn't feel like it harnessed 115 lb-ft of torque. Performance was a bit of a disappointment and likely due to a wet weight of 924 pounds, tall windscreen, and the lowers attached to the engine guard. Riding comfort was extremely plush and helped out by newly designed rear shocks. The new shocks are hand adjustable hydraulic units that don't rely on any air for adjustment. Suspension preload can be adjusted on the left shock for varying load and road conditions. The ABS equipped machine does a fine job of stopping the Roulette wheels thanks in part to floating brake rotors.
Protection from the elements was very good-almost too good. The tall windscreen had me looking through the lexan and prevented wind from reaching my body. Combined with the lowers very little fresh air was circulating around the cockpit. The lowers have adjustable louvers to allow air in but they still don't provide much relief. The lack of air to the rider became very apparent after an hour-long stint on the Ultra. Even with the air temperature at 60 degrees my right leg was getting roasted from engine heat. It was very uncomfortable and I could only imagine how unbearable it would feel during hotter weather. Although the Ultra has an oil cooler the motor feels like it's boiling. Other than removing the lowers I'm not sure how to legally remedy the heat issue. A major source of the heat is the government mandated lean fuel ratio.
Stretched bags flank LED fillers
Moving on to the last Touring bike in the CVO lineup is the brand new CVO Street Glide. I'm a big fan of the Street Glide and spent the majority of my riding on the new hot rod bagger. My first impression was wow! This machine is the best handling and powerful H-D Touring bike I've ever ridden. Although it comes in only 75 pounds or so lighter than the Ultra the bikes feel like night and day compared to each other. The windscreen is short and there are no lowers or Tour-Pak to block the wind. With throttle only the front wheel can be lifted off the ground. With a 32 degree lean angle on the right side (30 on left) the FLHXSE was tons of fun to throw around the corners.
Hydraulic shock with preload adjustor
Dual 18-inch contrast chromed Agitator wheels worked as good as they looked. Floating rotors and ABS did a fine job of slowing down the 'Glide. It's hard to imagine that this bike and the Ultra share the same chassis and motor. They have a completely different feel on the road. The Street Glide feels much faster, handles better, and important for me a lot cooler, temperature wise. I didn't experience any of the uncomfortable heat issue with the more stripped down Street Glide. A couple of nice styling features were added such as the one-piece extended saddlebags. Unlike last year's two-piece CVO bags these have increased interior capacity. To show off the new front wheel the fender was trimmed and lowered for a sleeker look. The paint is top notch as it is on all of the CVO machines, with deep metalflake that shimmers in the sunlight.
There are so many details on these new bikes it's difficult to mention every single piece of chrome and hot accessory. The CVOs take factory custom to the highest level and offer motorcycles that would cost much more if you tried to have one built for yourself. We'll be bringing you more in depth coverage of the new CVOs in upcoming issues. Somehow I managed to score one for Sturgis.
New analog/digital gauge on CVO Softail
Tour-Pak LED pods illuminate saddlebags
Contrast-chrome Agitator wheel
|2010 Harley-Davidson CVOs |
|DATA SHEET |
|MODEL ||FLSTSE ||FLHTCUSE5 ||FLHXSE |
|NAME ||CVO Softail Convertible ||CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide ||CVO Street Glide |
|ENGINE/DISPLACEMENT ||Twin Cam B/110ci ||Twin Cam/110ci ||Twin Cam/110ci |
|SEAT HEIGHT W/RIDER ||24.4 inches ||27.4 inches ||26.5 inches |
|WEIGHT, WET ||756 pounds ||924 pounds ||848 pounds |
|RAKE/FORK/TRAIL* ||32/31/5.8 ||26/29.3/6.69 ||26/29.3/6.69 |
|FUEL CAPACITY ||Five gallons ||Six gallons ||Six Gallons |
|WHEELS, F AND R ||18x3, 18x6 ||17x3, 16x5 ||18x3.5, 18x5 |
|TIRES F ||130/70R18 ||130/80B17 ||130/70B18 |
|TIRES R ||200/50R18 ||180/65B16 ||180/55B18 |
|WARRANTY ||Two years unlimited miles ||Two years unlimited miles ||Two years unlimited miles |
|COLORS ||Inferno Orange/Vivid Black with Silver Braze Graphics; Abyss Blue/Sapphire with Silver Braze Graphics; Crimson Red Sunglow/Autumn Haze with Metal Grind Graphics ||Scarlet Red Pearl/Dark Slate with Flame Graphic; Riptide Blue/Titanium Dust with Flame Graphic; Burnt Amber/Hot Citrus with Flame Graphic ||Candy Concord with Pale Gold Leaf Graphics; Spiced Rum with Gold Leaf Graphics; Tequila Sunrise with Pale Gold Leaf Graphics |
|MSRP, $USD ||27,999 ||35,999 ||30,999 |
* Steering head rake and fork angle in degrees, trail in inches.