Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide Ride Review

There’s no looking away when in the presence of Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide – it makes a stunning first impression that explodes with premium quality! It’s become the best-selling model overall in the Harley-Davidson touring class and the new 2011 continues to maintain the reputation. The Autumn Haze and pin striped Antique Gun smoke paint scheme with chrome finished details looks – luxurious!

Harley-Davidson CVO Streetglide Ride Review on MOTORESS
Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide Ride Review

Then your eyes fall to the seven spoke mirrored chrome Agitator wheels; a 19 inch rim/wheel front wheel (18 inch rear) the largest-diameter wheel ever offered on a Harley-Davidson touring model. Mesmerized without even hitting the start button! Lavish details are visible everywhere you look, which of course reinforces its up-scale price tag starting at CAD 35,949.

Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide History

The Harley-Davidson CVO (Custom Vehicle Operations) Street Glide “bagger” (lingo for the obvious inclusive of hard covered custom saddlebags), joined the touring category of the Harley family as the newer, stripped-down base style of the ElectraGlide. Indeed its saddlebags, “batwing” wind-shield fairing inclusive peek through windscreen appears as its older siblings. The Harley Davidson Street Glide was introduced just a few years ago right around the same time riders showed an increased interest in customized “baggers”.

Harley-Davidson CVO Streetglide Ride Review on MOTORESS
Harley-Davidson CVO Streetglide

Big Audio

Now here’s something I’ve not noticed before on a motorcycle – 6.5 inch sound blasters which sit within the bikes ventilated fairing lowers! These represent but two of the six speakers that are part of a high-output audio system boosted by a new high-efficiency 100-watt-per-channel amplifier. “Big Audio” is what Harley-Davidson proclaims as the theme of this particular model which literally makes your road environment “swing”! The audio system in addition to the expected functions and XM Radio, also incorporates an 8 GB iPod nano (imprinted with Harley’s bar-and-shield logo) with dock and holder in the right saddlebag – ensures you’ll run out of gas while the music keeps playing!

Screamin Eagle Tuning

After snapping out of my style gazing trance I sat into the seat and hit the start button. Its air-cooled 110 cubic inch Screamin’ Eagle 1802cc- twin-cam engine pounded in its Harley-Davidson tone, drumming to move me forward! Admittedly, this was a large model for me size wise– 380 kg’s (+/-852 lbs). So, slowly I accelerated and moved off – it was then that I became acquainted with the reputed torque and its kind smooth delivery. The Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide fuel-injected engine has extra displacement with a factory crankshaft rating of 156 Nm (115 ft. lbs) of torque at its 4000-rpm peak and all this more than manageable with its strong hydraulic clutch. Yes, easy operation to say the least! I headed straight for down-town Toronto using one of the freeways. And with 6 speakers of tunes beating out my favourite classics, we had the riding on two world pretty much made!

Harley-Davidson CVO Streetglide Ride Review on MOTORESS
Harley-Davidson CVO Streetglide Ride Review

Then came along an environment tough enough to test any motorcyclist – strong gusty winds! I was riding amidst one of the city’s windiest autumn days of record and oddly enough this huge mass of Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide did not feel at all stable to me. I sentenced the next hour of this experience to entirely disorderly conduct! With the added interference of passing transport trucks under such blustery circumstance, wind turbulent affected the steering (vibration and slight wobble) in a way that would toss a less experienced rider into panic. I also experienced a lot of “head bobble” from the highway winds while riding at above 110k/ph (Note: this was a temporary higher speed test to see the feel of the machine at accelerated rates). But once cruising and I underline cruising because that’s what this model is designed to do; just above 90kph the “head bobble” side affect and instability disappeared along with my feelings of motion sickness. Furthermore, I had some trouble adjusting to viewing the road ahead through the narrow smoked wind deflector atop the wind shield fairing. Eventually I found the right place to sit and was able to see through well enough to relax deeper into the seat. Later I realized the rear shock was set too soft for me, and with a small adjustment, I was able to make things a bit better to create a more stable higher speed ride for my 52 kg’s weight input.

Low Seating Comfort

The 2011 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide new low profile seat is faced with snake-style leather inserts. At 69.5 cm gives the feeling of riding close to the ground which on such a huge machine is a terrific sensation. When entering a corner the bike dropped in easily and felt solid; evenly planted during lean, be it highway or urban street turning. In fact I found it brilliantly cooperative and light to operate at slow speeds (walking pace such as in bumper to bumper traffic). The tires offer high levels of grip and deliver an adequate amount of road feel for a big cruiser. And for the length and weight of this model I found the ground clearance quite impressive when riding through city terrain – speed bumps and such. And in terms of stopping there’s a responsive confidence as the braking system is complimented by floating 300mm Agitator brake rotors.

Harley-Davidson CVO Streetglide Ride Review on MOTORESS
Harley-Davidson CVO Streetglide

Here is a bike that looks just as fabulous arriving or leaving. Stylish to the finish with a pair of vertical LED tail lamps cleanly slotted in to the area between the extended saddlebags and the rear fender! Smart, up to date performance for your brake lights, turn signals, four-way emergency lights and all this under smoked lenses and in one incorporated design. The custom saddlebags are one piece which extends the bikes design while maximizing storage space. Practical and handy to use! Just under these saddlebags is its dual exhaust four-inch touring mufflers. With billet end caps adding an expected finished look.

It’s EITMS – engine Idle Temperature Management System (EITMS shuts off fuel to the engine’s rear cylinder, leaving it to idle on the front cylinder only. Without combustion, the rear cylinder and exhaust header will begin to cool, bringing relief to the rider soon after. Once the rear cylinder cools to a predetermined temperature, or as soon as the rider accelerates, both cylinders resume operation. And by maintaining constant rpm during rear cylinder “shut down,” transitions between one and two-cylinder operation are nearly seamless) was not put to the test because I was riding during cool autumn temperatures and was turned off. This is definitely smart technology and a great riding comfort advantage also for your passenger.

Harley-Davidson CVO Streetglide Ride Review on MOTORESS
Harley-Davidson CVO Streetglide


The 2011 CVO Streetglide spares nothing in terms of standard accessories. You’ll have cruise control, ABS, accessory connector, Harley-Davidson’s Smart Security System with siren and artfully hidden cables. Its paint schemes are available in four different colour combos.

The CVO Streetglide is a great model for the touring rider who desires incredible audio accompaniment along the way. Its significant elegance and style all sit upon an engine that’s got performance plus for the long haul. You’ll need the skills (experience) and ability to manoeuvre its weight. It’s custom look right from the factory sets you apart from the crowd from the get go. And with all the standard accessories you’ll ride with confidence and with the legacy of the Harley-Davidson name. You’ll have it all for the road and capture it all with your camera, dry and nicely stowed in the hard cover saddlebag behind you!

There is one problem I did encounter to which I could find no solution to- and I’m certain you’ll be faced with this too. No matter where I rode, I could not seem to avoid strangers yelling and hollering at me from streets, buildings or out of car windows!

They all wanted to know more about the beautiful machine I was riding!

Harley Davidson CVO Street Glide
Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide

Click here full specs and details on Harley-Davidson’s website.

MOTORESS director, Vicki Gray is a basic and advanced motorcycle instructor – certified for over 25 years. She is a motorcycle licensing examiner and has instructed, examined and licensed riders for European and North American road racing schools.

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