Harley-Davidson re-invents its Grand American Touring CVOs

Harley-Davidson has built new CVO Street Glide and CVO Road Glide models to introduce what Australian Road Rider believes will be new platform for the touring models moving forward.


Featuring changes to nearly every part of the bikes, there seems to be little left other than the names and the iconic silhouettes we associate with these models left over from previous models.
There’s the new 121 cubic inch engine – that’s 1977cc – producing 115hp (86kW) at 5020rpm and 183Nm at 3500. Controlling that torque is Showa suspension, now upside-down at the front and all-new at the back, adjustable for preload and rebound damping, and with more travel.
But that’s only scratching the surface of the changes – there’s new Brembo brakes, better aero, improved comfort in the seats and riding position, upgraded electronics and audio systems, changes to the fairing designs and lighting, a massive digital instrument display… and yet the two new bikes are considerable lighter than the models they replace.
Availabilty and pricing will be announced soon.


The Models

The new bikes are mid-2023 models, continuing Harley’s practice of launching new bikes mid-year as the company has done for a while now – and introducing these two bikes now leaves the Motor Company the opportunity to get everyone excited about what else might be coming at a more affordable price, for while pricing has been announced yet, no CVO has ever been cheap.
Harley describes the two new bikes thus: “The stunning new design creates dynamic flow among the key components of the motorcycle – the fairing, fuel tank, side covers and saddlebags. The result is a dramatic visual transformation that respects and is clearly evolved from the familiar shapes of previous Harley-Davidson Grand American Touring motorcycles.”

While both bikes retain the family appearance owners know and love, the updates are significant. The Street Glide’s is described thus: “the silhouette has been updated to present a faster overall look with the splitstream vent now fully integrated into the design. Undercuts beneath the headlamp are more pronounced. Signature LED lighting is used as a distinctive design element and provides instant recognition of the new model, even at night. Amber LED turn signals are seamlessly integrated”.
The Road Glide’s ‘Sharknose’ fairing is more aggressively styled. “More surface tension and the definition of a well-trained athlete. In examples of design flow, the aft edge of the new fairing relates to the fuel tank shape, and the edge of the lower portion of the fairing to the front engine cylinder. A single LED headlamp has a wide, horizontal shape and appears to have twin elements, recalling a key feature of all previous Road Glide fairings. The “W” shape of signature forward lighting provides instant recognition of this new model. Amber turn signal lamps are integrated within the outer portions of the signature lighting, eliminating the previous bullet turn signals.”
Other changes abound: a ‘trimmed’ front fender (guard), different tank and sidecovers, more compact looking (but actually larger) luggage, new (19-inch front, 18-inch rear) laced wheels with tyre pressure monitoring and exclusive paint finishes.

CVO RG Engine

The power

The changes to the Milwaukee 8 engine to create the new VVT 121 powerplant are long and detailed, with the result being improved heat management for the rider with less heat coming off the rear cylinder, eight per cent more torque and 9.5 per cent more power… and an improved exhaust note.
“Variable Valve Timing (VVT) broadens the overall powerband, improves torque management and enhances efficiency to increase range from each tank of fuel (compared to the same engine with fixed valve timing). Through computer control, VVT advances or retards camshaft timing infinitely through a potential range of 40 degrees of crankshaft rotation. Riders may experience a 3 percent to 5 percent improvement in fuel economy over a standard drive cycle compared to similar motorcycles powered by the Milwaukee-Eight 117 engine.”
There’s a high-performance camshaft, new cylinder heads and intact tract, new airbox and exhaust all contributing to the increased performance and better fuel economy.
To make finding neutral easier there’s a new shift drum. Charging output has been increased so you can add more accessories and keep your battery healthy.


Lighter Heavyweights

At 391kg, you’d hardly describe the CVO Road Glide as anything other than a heavyweight motorcycle, but it’s 14 kg lighter than the previous version, achieved by shaving of a gram here and a gram there… for the Street Glide, its weight is down 15kg.


Equipment and ergos

47mm upside down Showa forks grace the front of the new CVOs offering 117mm of wheel travel, with radially-mounted Brembo brakes providing the stopping power. Rear suspension travel sees a welcome increase in wheel travel to 76mm – up a whopping 50 per cent.
HD describe the rear suspension like this: “Showa dual outboard emulsion technology shock absorbers feature a new remote hydraulic pre-load adjustment knob located forward of the left saddlebag. Adjustments can easily be made to rear suspension preload without tools or removal of the saddlebag to accommodate up to an additional 100 pounds of cargo loading or short-term passenger adjustments beyond the primary suspension loading condition. Pre-load adjustment for the primary loading condition (the condition that the bike will most often be used in, for example rider only or rider plus passenger) is accomplished by removing the right saddlebag and adjusting the threaded preload adjuster with the provided spanner tool. Rear suspension rebound damping is also adjustable to provide ideal suspension performance across a wide range of loading conditions. Adjustment is made using a dial on the bottom of each shock absorber, which requires removal of the saddlebags.”
Australian Road Rider criticised the rear suspension on the last Street Glide tested by the magazine, saying “It’s comfortable, but the short travel suspension struggles on anything rough.”
An extra inch of rear wheel travel combined with upgraded components will help, but at nearly half a ton with two people on board we’d have liked to have seen even more (the Ultra has around an inch more).
The front brakes are four-piston Brembos gripping 320mm rotors, 20mm up from earlier models. The rear is also a four-piston Brembo with a 300mm disc. The front brake lever is adjustable.
A Cornering Anti-Lock Braking System (C-ABS) is included.
New LED lighting abounds, with the indicators now integrated into the fairing design, so no stalks.
These CVO models feature a “signature lighting with a distinct appearance that identifies these motorcycles as the new CVO models.” There’s even a special 10-second shutdown sequence for “a dramatic effect curb side”.
A low seat height of just 678mm (laden) makes it easy to get your feet down, while the new seat shape is more comfortable on the long haul.
The CVO Road Glide’s handlebar has a new shape – wider and flatter for a more natural riding position. It can be adjusted through 27 degrees for personalisation.
There’s been work done to improve the way the bikes punch through the air.
“Aero and Thermal Comfort are informed by all-new fairings with a “floating” windshield design, part of a completely new aerodynamic system. Each aero system element was created using CFD (computational fluid dynamics) tools, wind tunnel analysis and real-world subjective testing with an emphasis on reducing rider helmet buffeting at highway speed. Many riders will find that the combination of improved aero design and adjustable elements results in a significant improvement in overall aero comfort compared to the fairing/windshield combination of previous Grand American Touring models.”
Harley claims helmet buffeting is reduced by up to 60 per cent, another reason your editor is in the background cheering.
“…with much of the breeze hitting my helmet halfway up, buffeting was definitely an issue”, he wrote in his review of the Street Glide S a couple of years ago.
Riders can now dial in airflow through the fairings via an adjustable control vane in the centre vent of both new models – the resulting change in air pressure behind the fairing reduces buffeting. There are also adjustable vanes on the trailing edge of the Road Glide’s fairing to channel air onto the rider’s chest, and air deflectors on the fork skirts of the Street Glide designed to reduce turbulence.

CVO SG dash


There’s a huge array of electronics providing entertainment and safety for anyone aboard one of the new CVOs. There’s a huge 12.3-inch touchscreen TFT display, riding modes, Apple CarPlay, smartphone connectivity and storage, WiFi connectivity, Bluetooth, voice recognition, a Digital Audio radio option and a Rockford Fosgate Stage II audio system with 150w fairing and saddlebag speakers.
Each bike is supplied with a single headset, too.
Harley-Davidson’s safety equipment is include:
• Cornering Electronically Linked Brakes (C-ELB)
• Cornering ABS (C-ABS)
• Cornering Traction Control (C-TCS) with modes
• Cornering Drag Torque Slip Control (C-DTSC)
• Vehicle Hold Control (VHC)
• Tyre Pressure Monitoring (TPMS)
The riding modes include Road, Sport, Rain and two custom modes.
Harley describe each this way:
• Road Mode: Intended for daily use, Road Mode delivers balanced performance. This mode offers less-aggressive throttle response and less mid-range engine power than Sport Mode, with a higher level of C-ABS and C-TCS intervention.
• Sport Mode: Sport Mode can maximise the rider’s connection to the motorcycle. The rider can experience the full performance potential of the motorcycle in a direct and precise manner, with full power and the quickest throttle response. C-TCS is set to its lowest level of intervention, and engine braking is increased.
• Rain Mode: This mode is designed to give the rider greater confidence when riding in the rain or when traction is otherwise compromised. Rain Mode is also an appropriate setting
for riders building confidence as they become familiar with the motorcycle. Throttle response and power output are programmed to significantly restrain the rate of acceleration, engine braking is limited, and the highest levels of C-ABS and C-TCS intervention are selected.
• Custom Mode: Within two available Custom Ride Modes the rider may create a set of performance characteristics to meet personal preference or for special situations. To create a Custom Mode the rider uses the touch screen display to select their combined preference of engine torque delivery characteristics, engine braking, throttle response, and C-TCS and C-ABS intervention, within specific ranges.
The huge 12.3-inch touchscreen interface replaces earlier mixed analog and digital systems with a big, new display.
You can choose between three display options…
• Cruise: The most traditional presentation depicts a separate speedometer and tachometer with satellite gauges for fuel level and engine temperature. Minimal widget info may be contained within the tachometer.
• Sport: Intended for performance riders, this view places a dial tachometer in the middle of the display with a digital speedometer in its centre. This view expands spaces for widgets to give the rider opportunity to display more information.
• Tour: Intended for long-haul riders and displays a centred navigation map and turn-by-turn instructions from Apple device projection or the embedded navigation display. Widget information can be displayed to the right of the map, or the rider can change to Full View to expand the map over more of the display area.
Widgets are items of additional information, including outside temperature, range, trip meters etc.
There’s also a ride planner for use in conjunction with the Harley-Davidson Ride Planner website.


Paint and Finishes

The new CVO Street Glide and CVO Road Glide models will be offered with two paint/finish choices:
Standard Dark Platinum with Bright Smoked Satin pinstriping and colour-matched inner fairing. Powertrain and air cleaner are Gloss Black with Scorched Chrome accents on the engine inserts. The lower rocker boxes, pushrod tubes and exhaust are finished in Scorched Chrome. Adversary Collection accessories are finished in Black powder coat with machined highlights.
Optional for an additional charge, Whiskey Neat/Raven Metallic two-tone with colour- matched inner fairing. This complex paint scheme is hand-applied. Raven Metallic panels are laid over the deep orange Whiskey Neat base, with airbrush accents and a bright orange pinstripe at the colour break. Powertrain and air cleaner are Gloss Black with orange accents on the engine inserts. The lower rocker boxes and pushrod tube collars are painted Whiskey Neat. Pushrod tubes and exhaust are chrome. Adversary Collection accessories feature a Black and Orange double anodised finish.