2012 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide FLHXSE3
Milwaukee’s Best Bagger Ever?
By Toph Bocchiaro, Photography by Courtesy Of The Harley-davidson Motor Company, Toph Bocchiaro
There are little things that the CVO team focuses on that make a big difference. The front wheel on this year’s CVO Street Glide (the third year in a row for this model) is 19 inches, but the wheel “appears” larger than that. The drop center (distance between the rotors and edge of the rim) of the wheels was reduced and that makes the wheels appear larger than they are. From an engineering standpoint there is always a delicate balance between handling and looks, as well as tire availability. A lighter wheel is beneficial to handling, and even acceleration and braking. To reduce mass and the spinning inertia of the wheels, CVO employed a casting process instead of the billet approach of many custom wheels. The Agitator wheels on the CVO Street Glide are hollow. You’ll also notice there is no carrier for the floating brake rotors. This reduces complexity but also reduces any squeal from resonance that some rotor-wheel combinations can experience. Helping out the wheels is a suspension that was tuned for the bike. The rear hydraulic shocks are customer friendly, requiring no air or tools to adjust. The shocks are more responsive and more resistant to bottoming out compared to the OE air-assist units.
We’ve saved the best part of the new CVO Street Glide for the end: the audio system. Never before has such a sound system been employed on a factory produced motorcycle. In total there are eight speakers driven by the Harman/Kardon Advanced Audio System: four in the inner fairing, two in the fairing lowers, and two more in the saddlebag lids; two 200-watt amplifiers, iPod dock with charging capabilities. Before the details are revealed here is some insight into how a model like this comes to market. CVO targeted a younger CVO customer based on the premium audio, paint, and the low profile two-piece seat, all attributes seen in the custom hot rod bagger scene. Market research determined an average age for the CVO Ultra is 52 versus the CVO Street Glide at 48. In addition, CVO heard loud and clear from customers of the 2011 CVO Street Glide, that the audio was great and they wanted more. CVO knew they could implement what the aftermarket was exploiting on H-Ds. With that in mind the CVO Street Glide was designed as the flagship aspirational CVO model for specific outreach markets, and specifically young adults and African Americans. As a comparison, the CVO Ultra has premium audio also but is not the over-the-top audio like the Street Glide, specifically chosen to be different. The CVO Road Glide would have also benefited from the speaker in the saddlebag lids but was a differentiator feature between the Road Glide and the Street Glide that CVO wanted to be separate.
Borrowing from the aftermarket Harley and CVO designed fairing lowers to carry 61⁄2-inch speakers and saddlebag lids to house 5x7-inch speakers. The inner fairing has two 51⁄4-inch speakers as well as the addition of two 2-inch tweeters. This is big, high-end audio—it’s not a system adapted from a boat supply store but designed to work in the environments motorcycles experience. A major challenge was overcoming wind and engine noise and getting the proper balance between high and low frequencies found in music. Each speaker was “tuned” to provide the right sound while not having to make the speakers or enclosures too large and insightly. The bigger a box or speaker that is used the more low frequency (bass) sound can be generated and heard. To get more power to the speakers the audio head unit was augmented with two small amplifiers.
By Toph Bocchiaro
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