2017 Harley Davidson CVO Street Glide Review

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Harley-Davidson’s Custom Vehicle Operations department puts together what one could call showroom-custom bikes that include many of the features that buyers commonly add on post-sale and borrows much of the Infotainment system used on the big touring models. For 2017, this hot-rod bagger features a new-and-improved suspension system to the table with the all-new, 114 cubic-inch, Milwaukee-Eight engine. Power output falls well above the 100 pound-foot mark — not surprising with a CVO machine — so it falls into the power-cruiser/stoplight-burner category. Performance, good looks and barrels of that Harley mystique push the CVO Street Glide over the top in my book, so join me while I check out the details of this vanity-stoking sled.

Design

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The CVO SG leads the way with a cut-down front fairing that retains the full length of the classic dresserfender, but with shorter sides and no trim. The beer-can fork covers come shot in monochrome to tie the various elements together visually, which is nice, but I think I prefer chrome in that particular spot, myself. A cut-down windshield rides atop the batwing fairing for that boulevard bruiser look. The pared-down deflector helps keep the upper lines at the entry nice and clean, and the mirrors come tucked away in the wingtips of the bat to keep it that way.

Infotainment controls and instrumentation is found in the inner fairing, and that includes the AM/FM/Weatherband receiver, Bluetooth receiver and USB/iPod/iPhone port for your portable jukebox needs. A Vehicle Information Center displays ambient air temp and oil pressure with a TPMS function for your peace of mind on the open road as well as around town. The front pair of 6.5-inch speakers ride in the inner fairing with the rear pair in the forward corner of the saddlebag lids for plenty of volume; all the better to hear over the wind noise and share your tunes with the rest of the class. A hands-free mobile-phone interface with VR rounds out the gadgetry. While all of this falls short of the full Infotainment system found on the touring models, it’s still quite fancy for a ride that is essentially a drag-bike/cruiser.

The upper lines ride down the tank console to the scoop of the rider’s saddle that rests at a mere 27.2 inches off the ground unladen, and squats almost another inch with a 180-pound rider mounted up. Theoretically, this makes the SG CVO low enough for just about anyone to be able to flatfoot the thing, but the 867-pound wet weight means you’d still better pay attention when you put your Fred Flintstones down, or you may get to find out what it’s like trying to stand one of these beasts up. Power-actuated saddlebag and steering locks make sure it’s tough to rob your stuff from your SG, or haul one off in its entirety.

Chassis

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As usual, the factory starts out on a welded frame made of tubular, mild-steel members, with a yoke-style, rectangular cross-section swingarm to finish out the bones. The double-downtube/double-cradle frame comes with its steering head set at 26 degrees of rake with 6.7 inches of trail and a 64-inch wheelbase, numbers that make the SG very stable on the straights but still capable of leaning 31-degrees to the left, and 32-degrees to the right without it turning into a wrestling match.

Dual front discs work with the all-around, four-pot Brembo calipers, and the CVO SG comes with ABS and H-D’s Linked-Brakes feature that sends a portion of the rear braking effort to the front calipers for balanced brakes in panic-stop situations. Harley stopped short of gracing the SG with adjustable front forks, but it did boost fork diameter up to 49 mm this year and added Showa’s Dual Bending Valve technology to the mix for a cushier ride with 98 mm of travel. A set of emulsion shocks supports the rear, and it comes with a handwheel-adjustable preload feature that allows you to make tool-free tweaks to the ride stiffness in response to variable passenger and cargo loads.

Drivetrain

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The biggest improvement for MY17 is, of course, that all-new powerplant. Branded the Milwaukee-Eight, it gets its name from the total of eight valves split between the two heads, and these poppets are actuated by the standard, external-pushrod valvetrain that helps define the look of the engine along with the 45-degree angle of the jugs. This thing is huge, folks. The 4-inch bore and 4.5-inch stroke displaces a total of 114 cubic-inches (1,868 cc), but the vibration-attenuating steps taken by the factory keep it from shaking like you’d expect from a large Harley.

The twin-cooling feature circulates coolant around the exhaust port to draw off that most-hateful heat before it gets kicked out to wash over the rider. Not only does this make for a more comfortable ride, but it increases performance across the board. Best of all, the little radiators come tucked away well out of sight within the engine guard-mount leg protectors, so it retains that straight-up, air-cooled look we all know and love.

Ready for the power? Harley claims a total of 124 pound-feet of torque with this mill, and that’s enough to put it as one of the most powerful production V-twins in the world, at least in the grunt department. Ponies is another story…

Price

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For once, H-D has no tiered pricing for different levels of paint treatment. The factory offers a quartet of packages to include all new custom colorways — Candy Cobalt/Indigo Ink, Dark Slate Candy/Arctic Black, Starfire Black/Atomic Red, and my favorite, the Sunburst Orange/Starfire Black number — for a flat $37,799 across the board. As usual, California riders can expect to pay another two Benjamins for their special emissions package.

Competitor

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The whole boulevard-bruiser bagger look is really popular right now with lots of manufacturers putting out something within the genre, so since I had no shortage of potential rivals, I picked a couple of rides that might appeal to the same sort of riders.

First up, we have Harley-Davidson’s oldest domestic foe, Indian Motorcycle with its top-of-the-line bagger, the Chieftain Elite. Visually, the two could be brothers from another mother with similar fairings topped by chopped down screens over custom-looking fenders. Indian leaves its signature figurehead on the shelf, leaving the Chieftain’s fender as clean as the unadorned SG’s. The Chieftain runs Indian’s Thunder Stroke 111 mill that uses a little oil cooler between the downtubes, but has nothing like the Harley’s hybrid cooling system to hide, so the engine guards remain clean.

Similar flylines give way to similar bags and overall looks, and honestly, both are little more than rolling slices of Americana. Harley manages to milk a bit more out of its new Mil-8 powerplant with 124 pounds o’ grunt versus 119.2 pound-feet from the Thunder Stroke, but that’s a difference that will hardly even register on the old heinie dyno, and both plants deserve respect for their stump-pulling torque figures. Both carry some sort of advanced infotainment system as well, so Harley doesn’t get to skate on that bit. The numbers work against Harley at the checkout, though, with a lofty $37,799 tag over the $31,499 sticker on the Chieftain Elite. Guys, name power is worth a lot, but maybe it ain’t worth that much? Just sayin.’

Next up I’d like to take a gander at the Vulcan 1700 Vaquero from Kawasaki. I reckon this ride might appeal to someone looking for the looks of the SG CVO, but maybe not all the features and definitely not the price. In the looks department, Kawi didn’t land far from the mark with one notable exception; rather than using a fork-mount fairing that turns with the steering like the H-D and Indian, Kawi went with a frame-mount fairing that stays fixed. I prefer the fork mount, but to each his or her own. The Vulcan carries fairing lowers similar to the SG, so both have that beefy front end that I do like. Kawi even stuck a sound system on the thing, so you can take your tunes with you, but don’t expect the same level of sophistication that you get with the other two, at least not in this department.

The Vulcan comes stock with ABS, and like the SG, has an electronic brake-balancer that works to ensure even braking pressures to further bolster contact-patch integrity. Kawi’s engine is a little on the small side at 1,700 cc, and it predictably falls on the low side in pulling power with only 107.6 pound-feet of torque. Having said that, the Vaquero is still a power cruiser, and anything over 100 pounds of grunt deserves some respect.

Kawasaki sticks the knife in and gives it a twist in the checkout line — the Vulcan 1700 rolls for a mere $16,799, less than half the price of the SG. Granted, you won’t get the cool infotainment stuff or some of the other features, but if you’re just interested in the looks of the genre, it’s hard to go wrong with the Vaquero. Just depends on what your priorities are.

He Said

“As ever, Harley’s CVO line doesn’t fail to impress. I’ve always liked this particular look, and even without the full Infotainment kit, what you get is pretty sweet to be sure. But, the real jewel for me is that big, new engine, and that alone moves this ride nearer to the top of my very improbable wishlist.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer,Allyn Hinton, says, “New engine and new suspension this year and you can really feel the difference. The increased power and torque over the Twin-Cam 110 is noticeable. The ride is plush and the heat that washes up over you at a stop light is significantly less with the twin-cooling system. The instrument cluster is easy to read and the CVO SG is very comfortable for long trips in the saddle.”

Specifications

ENGINE:
Engine: Twin-Cooled™ Milwaukee-Eight™ 114 engine
Valves: Pushrod-operated, overhead valves with hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters; four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 4.016 in. x 4.500 in. (102 mm x 114.3 mm)
Displacement: 114 cu. in. (1868 cc)
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection(ESPFI)
Air Cleaner: Paper, washable
Lubrication System: Pressurized, dry-sump
Fuel Capacity: 6.0 gal. (22.7 L) (warning light at approximately 1.0 gal.)
Oil Capacity (w/filter): 5.0 qt. (4.7 L)
Transmission Capacity: 1 qt. (.95 L)
Primary Chain Case Capacity: 1.1 qt. (1 L)
Coolant Capacity: 0.8 qt. (.75 L)
DRIVETRAIN:
Primary Drive: Chain, 34/46 ratio
Final Drive: Belt, 32/68 ratio
Clutch: Hydraulically actuated 10 plate wet, Assist & Slip
Transmission: 6-Speed Cruise Drive®
Gear Ratios (overall) U.S. :
1st: 9.593
2nd: 6.65
3rd: 4.938
4th: 4
5th: 3.407
6th: 2.875
CHASSIS:
Frame: Mild steel; tubular frame, two-piece stamped and welded backbone; cast and forged junctions; twin down tubes; bolt-on rear frame with forged fender supports; MIG welded
Swingarm: Mild steel, two piece drawn and welded section; forged junctions; MIG welded
Front Forks: 49 mm Dual Bending Valve
Rear Shocks: Premium low hand-adjustable rear suspension
Rake (steering head): 26°
Fork Angle: 29.25°
Trail: 6.7 in. (170 mm)
Wheels: Mirror Chrome Aggressor Custom Wheel (Contrast Chrome Aggressor Custom, dependent on paint set)
Front Wheel: 19 in. x 3.5 in. (483 mm x 89 mm)
Rear Wheel: 18 in. x 5 in. (457 mm x 127 mm)
Brakes:
Caliper Type: 32 mm, 4-piston fixed front and rear
Rotor Type: Dual floating rotors (front), fixed rotor (rear)
Front Rotor: 11.81 in. x .2 in. (300 mm x 5.1 mm)
Rear Rotor: 11.81 in. x .28 in. (300 mm x 7.1 mm)
Anti-lock Braking System: Standard
Suspension Travel: Front Wheel: 4.6 in. (117 mm), Rear Wheel: 2.15 in. (54.6 mm)
Tires: (Dunlop® Harley-Davidson® Series, bias blackwall front and rear)
Front Tire: D408F 130/60B19 61H
Rear Tire: D407 180/55B18 80H
PERFORMANCE:
Engine Torque (per J1349) North America: 124 ft. lb. @ 3250 RPM (168 Nm @ 3250 RPM)
Lean Angle (per J1168): Right: 32°, Left: 31°
Fuel Economy (EPA urban/highway test): 43 mpg (5.5 L/100 km)
DIMENSIONS:
Length: 96.7 in. (2455 mm)
Overall Width: 38.2 in. (970 mm)
Overall Height: 53 in. (1345 mm)
Seat Height: Laden: 26.3 in. (668 mm), Unladen: 27.2 in. (690 mm)
Ground Clearance: 4.9 in. (125 mm)
Wheelbase: 64 in. (1625 mm)
Weight:
As Shipped: 833 lb. (378 kg)
In Running Order: 867 lb. (393 kg)
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: 1360 lb. (617 kg)
Gross Axle Weight Rating: Front: 500 lb. (227 kg), Rear: 927 lb. (420 kg)
ELECTRIC:
Battery (per Battery Council International Rating): Sealed, maintenance-free, 12V, 28-amp/hour, 405 cca
Charging: Three-phase, 48-amp system (600W @ 13V, 2000 RPM, 625W max power @ 13V)
Starting: 1.6kW electric with solenoid shift starter motor engagement
Lights (as per country regulation):
Headlamp (LED): 34-watt, 915 lumen low beam, 37-watt, 915 lumen high beam
Tail/Stop Lights: LED
Front Signal Lights: LED
Indicator Lamps: High beam, running lights, directional lights, neutral, low oil pressure, engine diagnostics, accessory, speakers, turn signals, security system7, gear indication, battery, low fuel warning, cruise control, ABS, miles to empty display, fog/aux lamp, Tire Pressure Monitoring System Indicator Electric Power Outlet Electric power accessory port in fairing
GPS System: Boom!™ Box 6.5GT audio system with GPS and touchscreen
DETAILS:
Luggage Capacity: Volume 2.4 cu. ft. (0.068 m3)
Warranty: 24 months (unlimited mileage)
Colors: Candy Cobalt/Indigo Ink, Sunburst Orange/Starfire Black, Starfire Black/Atomic Red, Dark Slate Candy/Arctic Black
Price: $37,799

(topspeed.com, https://goo.gl/rdbNbP)

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