– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

MD First Ride: 2007 Harley-Davidson CVO Models (Part Two)

2007 Harley-Davidson CVO Screamin’ Eagle Ultra Classic Electra Glide

After reading my first ride impression of Harley-Davidson’s Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) versions of their Springer Softail and Dyna, regular readers may be wondering why I chose to cover CVO’s Road King and Electra Glide models in a seperate feature. The answer is simple – despite the fact that all four models were conceived and built by CVO, their is a fundamental difference in concept between the two models I covered yesterday, and those I’ll discuss today.

To get the full scoop on CVO, you’ll want to refer back to yesterday’s article – I don’t want to bore regular readers by repeating what I’ve already said. However, I am going to expand on one concept I mentioned (though not by name) yesterday – a concept Harley-Davidson refers to as ‘aspiration’.

What does that mean? Well, H-D wants the CVO bikes to serve as functional examples to the millions of riders who own standard H-D cruisers and tourers, demonstrating what they could create by combining their imagination and a copy of the Harley-Davidson Parts and Accessories catalog. Thus, despite the fact most will never own a CVO model, owners of standard bikes will ‘aspire’ to create something more unique, mixing and matching accessories to tailor their bike to their own individual needs and tastes.

To help those new to the customizing scene, the H-D Parts and Accessories catalog begins with a simplified explanation of two categories, directing potential customizers to decide whether they want to optimize their bike for ‘cruising’ or ‘touring’. While the words themselves seem fairly self-explanatory, a quick quote of the catalog’s descriptions of each style may help readers understand the basic assumptions from which the CVO designers are working:

  • Cruising: Stripped-down to the bare essentials, with a low-profile riding position and a high-profile attitude, these bikes make the maximum impact when riding across town or cruising the boulevard. The look begins big – paint, chrome, custom wheels – and ends with the smallest details.
  • Touring: Start by choosing a seat, handlebar, and foot control position to match your size, and select a windshield to protect you from the weather. Then, add saddlebags and touring luggage to haul your gear. For the final touch, select from a wide range of comfort and entertainment accessories to help you rack up the miles.

From these descriptions, it’s obvious that the CVO Springer Softail and Dyna I reviewed yesterday are designed to fit H-D’s vision of a customized ‘cruiser’ – since the bike is intended mainly for short rides, and appearance is of primary importance, certain compromises in comfort and functionality are accepted in pursuit of ‘the look’. The CVO Road King and Electra Glide I’ll discuss today, on the other hand, are designed for touring, and so the focus was on enhancing comfort and functionality to make a better bike for long-distance travel.

The author aboard the CVO Screamin’ Eagle Road King

However, the CVO tourers do have a few things in common with the cruisers I discussed yesterday – first and foremost being the big-bore Twin Cam 110 (1800cc) motor. Pushing the greater weight of the heavily-laden touring models seems to do little to strain the TC110’s powerful torque curve, and even on the massive Electra Glide, there’s little shortage of available acceleration, regardless of gear selection. The thumping pulse of the TC110 also gifts these bikes with infinitely more character than the majority of stock cruisers, which often feature exhausts so heavily muffled that the sound of the motor is barely connected to the low-frequency throbbing of the motor beneath you. Not so with the CVO machines, which replace the typical drone of most bikes under steady-state cruising with a much more soulful purr, and then bark authoritatively when you aggressively crack the throttle.

The CVO Screamin’ Eagle Road
King’s 18″ ‘Roadwinder’ front wheel

Other common features include the incredible quality of the paint, which could easily pass for a full custom job from a high-end paint shop, and the trick detail parts: from floorboards and foot controls to custom wheels and trick tailights, there’s barely a stock piece to be found on either of these CVO creations. The fit and finish of the frame, wheels, other running gear, and accessories is at the same high level as the quality of the paint.

However, while both these bikes feature their fair share of shiny chrome and trick billet accessories designed mainly to improve their appearance, the overall purpose of their CVO makeover has been designed to improve their comfort and functionality. Of course, this fits well with the character of the basic models from which they are derived – the Ultra Classic Electra Glide is H-D’s top-of-the-line touring model, while the Road King maintains more of the classic Harley-Davidson ‘cruiser look’, yet still offers a high level of comfort for that long ride to Sturgis or Daytona.

So aside from the sweet paint job (the Black Ice with Pewter Leafing Graphics is the epitome of understated custom class) and the preponderance of chrome and billet dress-up parts, riding the CVO Screamin’ Eagle Road King is pretty much like riding a standard Road King, but with more of everything. More power and torque, thanks to the TC110 powerplant. More comfort, with a leather touring seat cradling your backside and an adjustable, removable rider backrest providing support for your lower back. And although it doesn’t feature more storage (the standard Road King already comes with saddlebags), the Screamin’ Eagle Road King’s flame-embossed leather saddlebags are definitely more stylish (a matching flame design decorates the seat). If you need more room to stash your stuff, a matching flame-embossed leather ‘Tour-Pak’ (top bag) is available as an option.

Handling is crisp, and seems better balanced than the Springer Softail or Dyna with their extremely forward-set foot controls. The floorboards intrude on the party by laying into the pavement fairly early, but for gentle twisties the Road King is more than capable, and is much easier to handle than its size and weight (claimed 754lbs dry) would lead you to believe.

The author aboard the CVO Screamin’ Eagle Ultra Classic Electra Glide

Looking at a standard Ultra Classic Electra Glide (H-D’s top-of-the-line touring model), you might think there’s not much to add. The guys over at CVO disagree, however, and after dressing up the ‘Glide with chrome wheels and accessories (floorboards, heated hand grips, shifter pegs, brake pedal pad, and highway pegs) from the new ‘Chrome and Rubber Ironside Accessories Collection’, they coddled the rider in a heated leather touring seat (which also features an adjustable, removable rider backrest).

My only complaint as far as rider comfort is that the mid-height windscreen caused excessive helmet buffeting at freeway speeds. Fortunately, H-D offers both a shorter version (as found on the Street Glide) and a much taller model (as found on the majority of Electra Glide models). Having sampled the Street Glide at Harley’s 2007 model intro, I would choose its shorter windshield, which offered plenty of wind protection without any noticeable buffeting.

The passenger sits in even plusher accomadations, however, thanks to the leather lumbar-support backrest (with armrests) built into the leather ‘Tour-Pak’. Speaking of that Tour-Pak, it features a power locking system (as do the saddlebags) and LED interior lighting to help you search its contents easily even in the dark.

Don’t get the idea that the CVO designers forgot about the rider – snugged up inside the classic Electra Glide fairing is an advanced audio system, which features an integrated GPS navigation system, along with XM radio and a CB radio/intercom (so you can argue with your passenger about which XM station to choose!). Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to test the GPS nav system, but we can definitively state that the XM radio is easy to use (volume and station can be changed while riding via convenient handlebar-mounted controls) and provides plenty of volume to be heard even at freeway speeds (heck, it even entertains your buddy in the next lane over, as I found while Dyna-mounted and cruising the freeway next to an Electra Glide).

As with the Road King, the Electra Glide’s balanced and relaxed handling belie its mammoth size and hefty 859lb (claimed dry) weight. Apart from struggling to lift it off the sidestand (I think I need to start working out), the author’s skinny 5’9″, 135lb frame didn’t prevent him from tossing the Electra Glide around in a fairly spirited manner, and even slow-speed U-turns presented little challenge (as long as you’re thinking ahead).

Either one of these bikes would be an awesome choice for even the longest rides (California to Daytona, anyone?), although of course the Electra Glide has an edge in comfort and amenities (along with a commensurate rise in price). Unfortunately, I doubt many of our readers will have a chance to get ahold of either bike – H-D plans to produce only 3,500 Screamin’ Eagle Road Kings (at a U.S. MSRP of $28,495) and 4,100 Screamin’ Eagle Ultra Classic Electra Glides (going out the dealership door for $33,495!).

It is more likely that those of you who own standard H-D touring models will read this article and ‘aspire’ to trick out your ride. Whether you’re riding a Road King or Electra Glide, I’d recommend that when you pick up the H-D Parts and Accessories catalog, you flip directly to the ‘Seats’ section, and order up a touring seat with adjustable/removable rider backrest. How far beyond that you go is limited mainly by your imagination and the depth of your wallet, but if you start there, at least you’ll know that your ass will ride in cushy comfort and your back will be pain-free on your next long-distance ride.

Check the Harley-Davidson web site for more info.

2007 Harley-Davidson CVO Screamin’ Eagle Road King
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