2018 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide

Editor Score: 86.25%
Engine 19.25/20
Suspension/Handling 12.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.25/10
Brakes 9.0/10
Instruments/Controls4.5/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 8.25/10
Appearance/Quality 9.5/10
Desirability 9.0/10
Value 5.5/10
Overall Score86.25/100

In all the hoorah over the new Softail line, many riders may have missed the announcement of the Harley-Davidson touring lineup for 2018. Although there weren’t many changes to the standard touring models which had a major revamp last year, the CVO (Custom Vehicle Operations) models, which always have to stay a couple steps ahead of the lesser machinery, did receive a few alterations for the upcoming model year. Fortunately, we got our hands on a 2018 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide to see how those changes – though largely cosmetic (with two notable exceptions) – shake out.

2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide First Ride Review

2017 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide First Ride Review

The biggest change to the CVO Street Glide comes in the form of bigger pistons. Last year, when the engine displaced a mere 114 cu. in. (1868cc) the piston bore was 101.6mm (4.0 in.) in diameter. While the stroke has remained the same 114.3mm, the bore has grown to 103.6mm (4.1 in) in diameter for a new displacement of 1917cc – a 49cc bump. While that may not sound huge, it’s big enough to be the largest production engine ever available from Harley-Davidson. Although the engine displacement grew, a surprising feature was taken away. This year’s CVO Street Glide is oil-cooled as opposed to liquid-cooled. The Twin-Cooled radiators that lived in the CVO SG’s lowers have been removed to make way for the second addition to the 2018 CVO.

2018 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide Review

The Milwaukee-Eight 117 announces itself on the air cleaner, letting everyone know that this is a big engine. Note the engine’s many finishes: crinkle, gloss black, chrome, and the Smoked Satin Chrome translucent heat resistant coating of the headers.

The 6.5 Boom! Box Infotainment System gained an additional set of Stage II speakers – this time in the lowers, taking up some of the space that the radiators formerly used. New speakers aren’t all that’s new about the Boom! system. The twin amplifiers now feature 900 total watts of power to pump out a total of 75 watts per channel. We know plenty of people whose home theater systems don’t put out as much power. And, according to Harley-Davidson, attention-grabbing is what the CVO Street Glide owner is all about. So, expect CVO Street Glide owners to ride with their sound systems loud and proud. However, for riders who want to communicate with passengers and other riders or take phone calls, all of the 2018 CVO models will ship with a Harley-specific accessory Bluetooth helmet communicator based on the Sena 20S EVO. (Additional headsets are available as an option.)

2018 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide Review

Fans of loud music will love the addition of the speakers in the CVO Street Glide’s lowers. Harley says the loss of the Twin-Cooled radiators will not affect either rider comfort or engine performance.

One place where the CVO Street Glide isn’t as loud as last year, though, is in the selection of paint schemes. Harley’s designers have taken on a more subdued selection of tones for 2018. The Dark Alloy and Black Denim color of our test unit plays with different amounts of reflectiveness. The glossy pearl section of the paint contrasts with the matte finish of the black denim and the deep orange striping. While the difference between the gloss paint is so stark that the matte looks like it must be a sticker, it is actually paint. The deep orange is carried over onto stripes across the engine’s heads.

2018 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide Review

The CVO Street Glide has an engine cut-out that kicks in around 115 mph. Because the cutout is a soft limit, the dip in the horsepower curve is most likely not the peak that the engine is capable of achieving.

Continuing with the interaction of colors and surface treatments, the exhaust pipes and fork sliders wear a translucent tint Harley calls Smoked Satin Chrome that accents the glossy black engine pieces. According to Harley, the metal treatment on the pipes is based on a hardening technique used in jet engine parts, and consequently, they should not change their color over time. Very cool.

2018 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide Review floorboard

The floorboards and the heel/toe shifter are just two of the included accessory items on the CVO Street Glide.

The Milwaukee-Eight 117 is both a beast and a pussycat. Around town, other than the hefty clutch pull (despite the torque-assist clutch), the engine is easy to manage. EFI is just about perfect. The slight hitch in low-rpm fueling affecting the 2017 CVO with the 114 engine has been minimized to the point that it is merely a footnote. The transmission shifts smoothly – both short shifting while trolling along on the torque curve and when bellowing through a series of high-rpm clutchless upshifts. Beware, though, the engine has a sweet spot at around 3,200 rpm which translates to 90 mph in sixth gear – at which point the CVO Street Glide is effortlessly galloping along with only a slight V-Twin thrum reaching the grips and floorboards. When there is no traffic around to give reference to the CVO SG’s speed, you can easily find yourself cruising unawares at impound-your-vehicle speeds. We can only hope the cop is sympathetic when the inevitable happens on this bike.

2018 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide Review front wheel

The 19-inch Turbine front wheel features a cool H-D badge. The fork lowers receive the same Smoked Satin Chrome treatment as the exhaust.

Since the suspension hasn’t changed since the major upgrades last year (read about it here), you shouldn’t be surprised that the handling is identical. The Street Glide’s ride is supple but not soft. The bike floats over minor road imperfections yet remains firm enough to give the rider feedback. Larger hits deflect the washers in the dual bending valve fork and are largely absorbed without transmitting the force to the rider. The shock handles those big hits better than before last year’s upgrade, but it still bottoms on occasion.

2018 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide Review bags

The passenger pillion is easily removed with a knurled knob. The bags and the fork lock remotely with the included key fob.

Out on the open road, the CVO’s massive sound system is more than enough to overpower highway noise while cruising along at 80 mph. While some people will enjoy riding into that wall of sound, others may find it tiring over an extended ride to have the volume that high. When the ride comes to an end and the gang gathers in a parking lot, the stereo sounds good enough to use as the party sound system. With a choice of XM radio, Bluetooth audio connection, and a USB port, the options for supplying the tunes are nearly endless.

For 2018, all CVO models receive three unique color treatments that cover more than just paint.

According to Harley, being the center of attention is exactly what CVO buyers want. They also want all of the exclusivity of owning a custom bike without the difficulties and delays of building one. This year, by offering three different designs for each CVO model, the Motor Company has increased the desirability of each design because they will each be produced in limited numbers.

Of course, that uncommonness comes at a cost. In the case of the CVO Street Glide, the MSRP is a whopping $39,949. Only the buyer can decide if the biggest production engine that Harley manufactures, a 900-watt stereo, a rare paint scheme, and a boatload of accessory parts – all covered by the factory warranty – are worth it. Based on past sales, plenty of people do. If you are so inclined, you might want to get your deposits in early to assure you receive the color you want.

2018 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide Review action

Other than the pillion (which is easy to pop on/off), do you notice anything missing? Yep, the floppy rear antenna is gone for 2018.

2018 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide
+ Highs

  • A gift from the torque gods
  • Massive audio
  • Cool new metal treatments on exhaust and fork sliders
– Sighs

  • Right-side engine heat in slow-moving traffic
  • A highway speeding ticket looking for a place to happen
  • Costs as much as the down payment on a house
2018 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide Specifications
MSRP $39,949.00
Engine Type Air-cooled, 45° V-Twin, Milwaukee-Eight 117
Displacement 117ci (1917cc)
Bore and Stroke 103.6mm x 114.3mm
Fuel System Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Ignition Electronic
Compression Ratio 10.2:1
Peak hp 93.7 (incomplete test; limited @ 115 mph)
Peak Torque 110.4 lb-ft
Transmission 6-speed
Final Drive Belt
Front Suspension 49mm conventional fork
Rear Suspension Dual emulsion-style shocks, hydraulically adjustable preload on left shock.
Front Brake Dual 320mm, four-piston calipers, ABS
Rear Brake 320mm, four-piston caliper, ABS
Front Tire 130/60B19 61H
Rear Tire 180/55B18 80H
Rake/Trail 26° / 6.7 in.
Wheelbase 64.0 in.
Seat Height 27.4 in.
Measured Weight 880 lb.
Fuel Capacity 6 gallons
Available Colors Dark Alloy & Black Denim, Orange Lava & Black Denim, Gunship Gray
Warranty 24 months
  • Sayyed Bashir

    They will sell.

    • Alexander Pityuk

      After reading the article I wanted to type “okay”, but decided not to. You haven’t gone too far from me either.

  • Scooby

    “According to Harley, being the center of attention is exactly what CVO buyers want.”

    I sometimes wonder if that’s all some (most?) of these Harley riders want out of their motorcycle. Where I live almost every Harley has a straight-pipe exhaust (that’s right, the cops around here could give a rat’s a** about noise ordinances) and their bikes are ungodly loud. Of course most of these 30 and 40-something twits rarely roam out of state or even out of the county, but hey! I’m cool! Pay attention to me! I’m loud! I’m obnoxious! Pay attention to me! And yes a lot of them ride by with their stereos blaring some tired old southern rock anthem. I appear to be a badass! Pay attention to me! Oh, and did I mention I see their bikes outside the local bar as much as I see them on the road? I won’t even get into how they all seem to conform to the same helmetless, leather vest and chaps dress code. Seems like all the ‘lone wolf’ types somehow run in packs nowadays…

    So now Harley is encouraging this type of moronic, obnoxious behavior from the factory. Well done, MoCo. Funny thing is I actually like some Harley motorcycles, but the culture around them just keeps me away.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      When bikers go on a ride, where should they stop? At someone’s girl friend’s house? At the local Denny’s? They stop at a bar where they serve appetizers and beer and the guys get to talk without their significant others and kids bothering them. Just like in England people gather at the pub. It is a socializing and relaxing experience. What else do you want them to do? Besides it is nobody’s business telling others what they should or shouldn’t do. I see a lot of whining and complaining in these forums but I have never seen one of them walk up to a biker and tell them what they are doing wrong.

      • Scooby

        A pub or bar is the last place a ‘biker’ should stop when out for a ride. See, the problem is, most of these bar hoppers do a lot more drinking than riding. Yeah, I guess this is just one man’s opinion, but I consider those types casual hobbyists, not motorcyclists — they are, as you seem to confirm, just in it for the social aspect of things. You don’t need a motorcycle to go socialize down at the pub, but you do need one if you intend to RIDE with purpose. As to ‘walking up to a biker and telling them what they are doing wrong,’ well, there’s more of that attitude I loathe. I don’t need to say it to the face(s) of a pack of group-think ‘bikers’ to have an opinion. I guess my point overall is that these loud stereo, loud pipe, leather uniformed, aging juveniles give ALL motorcyclists a bad name in the eye of the public who doesn’t much know the difference between them and the people who take our sport more seriously. I’m not completely opposed to maybe having a beer while out on a ride, but a lot of these guys drink heavily and then ride. Are you really okay with that?

        • Tim Blanch

          scoob, step back, relax, maybe have a beer, and read your own words. generalizations, assumptions, criticisms, condescension, narrow-mindedness, etc. have you ridden an M8? they are wonderfully fun and satisfying,super easy to ride motorcycles, and that’s coming from a 30 year plus metric rider. all motorcyclists are our friends. let’s treat them that way and hope they return the favor. thanks, tim

          • Douglas

            One thing we can all probably agree on…..when it comes to workmanship, fit & finish, quality materials, Hogs are really unbeatable…..give almost any one of the model lines a good, close once-over in a showroom. As to the character, ambiance, and the rest, of both the rider and the ride, that’s pretty subjective, no? I seriously doubt that anyone’s mind has been changed on this (or any other similar blog) site about what’s the correct scooter to be owning. This is the motorbikers’ “hot stove league”.

          • mikstr

            “One thing we can all probably agree on…..when it comes to workmanship, fit & finish, quality materials, Hogs are really unbeatable…..” Have to be good at something, they don’t go, stop, handle… all the things a true motorcycle should be good at. and for $40K? buyers are either sick in the head or looking for ways to piss away money

          • Douglas

            Well, how do you piss yours away?

      • litedoc

        Have a drink at the end of the day when you reach your destination. Getting on a bike after a couple of beers is stupid. The association between motorcycle fatalities and alcohol are undeniable.

      • Douglas

        I dunno…..where do you stop?

        • Sayyed Bashir

          The adventure riding group I ride with may start the day with a big breakfast at the Aviator’s Restaurant at the Executive Airport. Later in the day we may stop for lunch at a good restaurant. My street bike riding group gathers at the Coffee Republic early in the morning and then stops for a sandwich somewhere at lunch time. I don’t ride with bikers since they go from bar to bar, but that is their choice and is none of my business.

      • mikstr

        too funny! Oh wait, you’re being serious?…..

    • Paragon Lost

      You really live no one that rides a sports bike with aftermarket pipes? Or the damn trucks with aftermarket pipes? Most of who remove the baffles? I have a neighbor, nice guy who rides a Yamaha R1 who I can hear miles away.

      Of course you could hear my GSXR-750-R miles a way as well when I had that. My wife could tell my the distinct sound of it whether I was coming home or not. So tell me, do you think that it’s “only” HD riders who are crying out “look at me”?

      Edit: On the drinking and riding, it’s stupid but you see it all the time and you see it pushed by HD dealerships and motorcycle dealerships in general when they’re having this or that event. Beer and bbqs etc. I often tell the local dealership that it’s a bad idea to promote that at his events but I’m ignored.

      Of course if I had a nickel for every time I rode by a vehicle where the idiot was glancing at their phone instead of the road I’d be pretty damn wealthy. Which I feel anymore is the more constant danger I deal with on the road these days than the idiots drinking and driving. :/

    • Jon Jones

      Great post, was going to state the same.

      What a pathetic bunch of lame-ass twits.

  • Nedemeyer Muldoon

    LMFAO…40K and you get a bike that makes less HP than your avg. 750cc metric bike. Oh, and it still doesn’t handle as well as a metric. But hey, it has that million dollar HD badge on it! smh

    • John A. Smith

      Evans described the 117 engine as a “beast.” It’s a two litre engine that makes around 100hp and 110ftlbs. Laughable.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        Every bike is not a sport bike. You ride what you like and leave others alone.

  • V8-Snail

    Removing the water cooled features to fit a bigger speakers? Typical HD engineering priority.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Typical Harley customer’s priority.

  • Will Dougherty

    After 114 years no more blue pipes, that’s progress I can get behind! A louder stereo, bigger pistons, rare paint scheme (new shade of black), $40K, and the suspension “still bottoms on occasion”. Dancing in the parking lot to the “massive audio” must be the occasion?

    Please take away Willie G’s crayons and bring back American motorcycles!

  • ADB

    Cool man, cool… It will sell, they always do.

    Which is why these guys are doing them too: “2018 Yamaha Star Eluder Bagger Revealed”

    • Sayyed Bashir

      The bling doesn’t compare. The paint and finishes on CVO bikes are difficult to duplicate. You should see one in the showroom. There are probably 11 layers of paint to create the 3D depth. These new metal finishes are entirely new. These bikes are worth the money. But you have to be a drug dealer, bank robber or pimp to buy one.

  • Old MOron

    So Evans, what’s the tally on those 100 new models HD has promised?
    This center-of-attention-grabber doesn’t count, right?

    • Evans Brasfield

      My tally is:
      Eight Softails
      Four variants
      Two new touring bikes (not the CVOs)

      So, they’re about 14% of the way to their 100 new models.

      • Old MOron

        I can usually spot the BNG type updates, but I don’t know enough about HD models to sift the new ones from the merely updated. Thank you for keeping a tally.

        PS: wait a minute. Four variants? For something to be a variant, it must vary from an existing bike, right? Is your tally based on what Harley says is a “new model,” or does it reflect your own MOronic sense of a new model?

  • Paragon Lost

    I run with the Boom Audio stage II set up on my Road Glide Special, two speakers, 300 watt amp and have no issues on the highway hearing the stereo just fine at up to 110mph.

    I tend to wonder if hearing the stereo or not has to do with the the Street Glides having the handlebar mounted batwing fairing versus the frame mounted fairing on the Road Glides. Anyhow it’s always been enough sound for my highway needs that I never felt the urge to put a second set of speakers into my fairing lowers or into the saddlebags.

    I kind of like the extra storage I have in the fairing lowers various things instead of having speakers in there or a the coolers. As well as not losing the storage in the saddlebags due to having the speakers in them as well.

    I do like the heat resistant coating on the pipes and the stretch saddlebags. I’ll give it to HD they do a really nice job on the extra touches on the CVOs.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      I guess there can never be enough engine power, audio power or bling. I suspect CVOs are not for the practical minded motorcyclists.

  • kenneth_moore

    If removing the radiators from the previous model “will not affect either rider comfort or engine performance,” that must mean they were useless to begin with. Which is pretty amusing given all the hoopla HD gave the feature when it came out.

    Maybe they should have called it: “Imprecise Cooling.”

    • Sayyed Bashir

      The Milwaukee Eight engine is designed to run cooler so it does not need as much liquid cooling as the previous engine.

  • Larry Kahn

    I’ve owned a few Electra Glides. (that’s what these all are really) Liked them for what they are, but this $40K big-deal-about-the-stereo makes me feel sad for mankind. Gross in a 1%er kind of way. (not outlaw biker 1%)

    • Sayyed Bashir

      What do you think about Lamborghinis, Rolls Royces and Rolexes? Gross or sad? If someone has the money, they always want the top of the line and $40K is not a big deal. A Tesla costs $70K and won’t pay back its price in fuel savings even if you drove it for 70 years.

  • Bubba Blue

    I had a 2005 Vulcan 2000 with a 125 cu.” engine. That doesn’t impress me that much. Also, i deplore sound systems on motorcycles. Fiddling with a stereo is an accident waiting to happen, plus the wind blows all the bass away. I don’t even like the TV.LCD screens on Harley Motorcycles these days. I’d much prefer analogue gauges of clocks, compasses and altimeters. You can bluetooth sound straight into your helmet – assuming you’re wearing a helmet.

    I wear earplugs. I love Harleys though.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      You are not fiddling with the stereo since the music is coming from your phone. The controls are on the left handle bar. While riding on the freeway long distances there is not much else to do. You can hear the stereo clearly at full speed, especially with a 300W, 600W or 900W system, if you have a good fairing which Harleys do. Most bikers wear a half helmet so they can easily hear the stereo, and most of the time they are not going too fast. So it all works good.