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2010 Harley-Davidson CVO Models – MD First Ride

CVO Softail Convertible
CVO Softail Convertible

For those of you unfamiliar, in Harley-Davidson’s jargon, CVO refers to the “Custom Vehicle Operations” of America’s leader in cruiser motorcycle production. A Harley-Davidson CVO is the cream-of-the-crop. The turnkey solution, backed by a factory warranty, for those who want a high-end custom cruiser you won’t see on every corner, but are afraid to deal with a small, niche manufacturer and the potential problems associated with that approach.

HD started the CVO operation 11 years ago, and sold roughly 2000 bikes the first year. Today, more than 10,000 CVOs are purchased and sold annually, but this is still less than 4% of HD production. CVOs get special attention, including custom, hand painted designs and special cosmetic touches, as well as performance and chassis part upgrades that the regular HD customer would have to purchase separately from the HD catalog (if they are available, at all).

For 2010, HD is offering four CVO models in total, two of which are entirely new to the CVO program, including the Softail Convertible and the Street Glide. Returning for 2010 are CVO versions of the Ultra Classic Electric Glide and the Fat Bob. We had a chance to ride all four bikes recently, and to spend an extra bit of time testing the Ultra Classic Electric Glide 2009 model that is functionally unchanged for 2010 — more about that later.

CVO Softail Convertible
CVO Softail Convertible

CVO Softail Convertible
CVO Softail Convertible

To begin with, the 2010 CVO Softail Convertible is a machine that really caught our attention at the press intro. Like all of the CVO models, this bike offers big power from a 110 cubic inch (1803 cc) V-twin with 110 foot/pounds of torque, delivered through a six-speed transmission. What makes the Softail Convertible most interesting, however, is the “convertible” part, allowing the owner to quickly turn his bike into a weekend tourer or a stripped cruiser . . . literally within a matter of seconds (we saw it done).

Like other Softails, the Convertible looks like a hardtail, but has a hidden rear shock that offers a reasonably comfortable ride (a heck of a lot better than a true hardtail, that’s for sure). The detachable components that allow for a quick conversion include a compact fairing with smoked windshield, leather-covered saddlebags with genuine buffalo-hide inserts, passenger pillion seat and passenger backrest. The removal of all of these parts creates a dramatically different look, transforming the two-up light tourer into a solo hardtail-look custom.

Our brief ride on the Softail Convertible revealed some expected Softail features, including a predictable handling machine with surprising suspension compliance given the hardtail look. With the fairing attached, we found reasonable wind protection (with some wind buffeting at higher speeds). Overall, the CVO Softail Convertible provides a very functional, adjustable riding experience with unique CVO styling and power (BIG power), including huge torque from the 110 cubic inch motor.

HD’s Street Glide has always been one of our favorites. It is a popular model that other manufacturers are beginning to target with similar designs. It is great to see a CVO version of the Street Glide, and we had a chance to spend some miles aboard this comfortable tourer with its unique, minimalist look.

The CVO version gets that huge 110 cubic inch motor we have already told you about, as well as beautiful custom paint options and other exclusive touches.

CVO Street Glide
CVO Street Glide

Handling is exceptional on the CVO Street Glide, courtesy of the touring chassis introduced by HD last year that significantly improved stiffness and geometry to allow the touring machines not only excellent straight line stability, but surprising turning ability, as well. In this regard, the CVO Street Glide did not disappoint. It tracks straight, but the wide bars allow you to flick it into corners where it exihbits surprising agility. Ground clearance is pretty reasonable, as well, given the custom look of this “bagger”.

The saddle bags on the CVO Street Glide are a new design that provide increased load capacity and color-matched locking latches. The 18 inch “Agitator” wheels are a neat seven spoke design with contrast-chrome highlights.

Hand adjustment of the rear suspension preload is awfully handy on a touring machine, and the CVO Street Glide has it. We used it to jack up the rear end just a bit, and place more weight on the front end for even quicker turning, but it would be particularly useful for passenger and luggage variations. Other features unique to the CVO Street Glide, include a trimmed front fender/bracket assembly, and special low-profile seat and matching backrest (with leather inserts and French stitching). Standard features include ABS, cruise control, a security system and the 40-watt Harman/Kardon audio system. Available in three color schemes, the 2010 CVO Street Glide carries a U.S. MSRP of $30,999.

CVO Street Glide
CVO Street Glide

Returning for 2010 are CVO versions of the Fat Bob and Ultra Classic Electra Glide. Although the Fat Bob is not new to the CVO classification, 2010 features some changes nonetheless. The Fat Bob is a naked cruiser that handles just as well as some much lighter standards. The 2010 changes include Midnight Pearl plating (which looks pretty cool) on several parts, including the dual headlamp shell, LED tail light cover, timer and derby covers, horn cover and fender strut covers. Also new is a distressed-leather, two-piece seat that is really unique (and comfortable). Other updates include speedometer and tachometer with Diamond Black backfaces, as well as Diamond Black footpegs, shifter peg, brake pedal pad and grips. Three new paint schemes this year highlight the 2010 CVO Fat Bob, which retails for $25,299.

CVO Fat Bob
CVO Fat Bob

The 2010 CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide returns with some significant changes from last year, most notably the color-matched LED King Tour-Pak brake/tail lamp, which provides a much different look from the rear of the bike. Also new are a leather passenger backrest with adjustable lumbar support, a 12-volt outlet inside the trunk and custom carry-out luggage liners for both the trunk and the saddlebags.

CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide
CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide

This is HD’s top-of-the-line tourer, and the big 110 cubic inch motor has no trouble pulling this heavyweight along smartly. The torque hits right off of idle, and provides a fun, hot rod experience to a category normally much more sedate. Together with the new-for-2009 touring chassis, the bike handles very well, and offers surprising ground clearance in the corners.

This is a bike for long tours, either solo or two-up with luggage, and all the comforts of a luxury automobile ease the way. An excellent stereo together with cruise control and steady handling allow the miles to slip away while the wind protection offered by the full fairing and lowers keep the rider comfortable.

That sound system is an 80 watt Harman/Kardon unit, and it goes along with other premium features including anti-lock brakes, integrated garage door opener, and even heated rider and passenger seats.

Just prior to the press intro (where we shared bikes with several other journalists), we put several hundred miles on a 2009 model (with the same engine and chassis available on the 2010 unit), and really enjoyed it. That big motor is simply a blast to use on California highways, and the comfort makes the CVO Ultra Classic a great choice for highway cruising. Luggage capacity is very generous with the standard trunk and saddlebags, and passengers shouldn’t complain about their own special perch on this motorcycle (including rear speakers and seat heater controls). The big Ultra Classic Electra Glide is available in three different CVO paint schemes for 2010 and carries a U.S. MSRP of $ $35,999.

For additional details and specifications, visit Harley-Davidson’s web site here.

CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide
CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide
CVO Fat Bob
CVO Fat Bob
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MD Readers Respond:

  • Nice bikes all the same but their bottom line price tags makes me balk. Except for all up touring where any mount will get you close to and into the 20′s there are just too many other bikes out there that offer a better value and I don’t mean just in price. But if you just have to have a Harley. Rick