2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide & CVO Street Glide – First Look

Dennis Chung
by Dennis Chung

Premium Custom Vehicle Operations models get significant updates

Harley-Davidson revealed full details about its next-generation CVO models, and the new Milwaukee-Eight VVT 121 engine. The 2023 CVO Road Glide and CVO Street Glide offer a dramatically new (and already polarizing) fairing design, updated suspension, selectable ride modes, and a giant 12.3" TFT display.

We already know about the new fairing designs with integrated lighting. The CVO Street Glide fairing maintains the familiar T-shaped shape, but with a pronounced forward curve along the bottom edge. The two LED strips on either side of the headlight serve as position lights, and turn amber when used as turn signals.

The CVO Road Glide fairing is an evolution of the classic "sharknose" design, but the signature dual headlight design has been replaced by a single wide lamp that Harley-Davidson says provides the appearance of dual lights. The headlight is joined by a W-shape LED that also serves as the forward turn indicators.

Both fairings come with a new "floating" windshield designed with wind tunnel analysis and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) tools, plus real-world testing. According to Harley-Davidson, helmet bufetting is reduced by an average of 60% compared to the previous designs. An adjustable center vent on both fairings lets riders control the airflow directed towards the head. The CVO Road Glide fairing has adjustable vanes on the trailing edge to channel air towards the torso, while the CVO Street Glide has deflectors on the fork skirts to reduce wind turbulence.

Harley-Davidson redesigned the 6-gallon fuel tank with a new shoulder bevel, and the side covers and saddlebags were also reshaped to go with the new fairing designs. The saddlebags appear more compact, but Harley-Davidson says they hold slightly more volume than the previous designs.

The fuel tank is made of a lighter-gauge steel compared to the previous tank, to reduce weight. The triple clamp is made using a liquid aluminum forging process, reducing weight by a claimed 7 pounds. Further weight reductions throughout both bikes resulted in a claimed 862 pound running weight for the CVO Road Glide and a claimed 838-pound running weight for the CVO Street Glide; they're both still behemoths, but it's still a 31-pound reduction compared to the 2022 CVO Road Glide, and a 28-pound reduction for the CVO Street Glide.

The new Milwaukee-Eight VVT 121 V-Twin engine has a 1,977cc displacement, thanks to a 103.5 mm bore and 117.5 mm stroke. The engine continues to use pushrod-operated valves with hydraulic lifters, with four valves per cylinder. The new variable valve timing system advances or retards camshaft timing by up to 40 degrees of crankshaft rotation (20 degrees of camshaft rotation), with Harley-Davidson claiming improved fuel economy of 3-5% compared to the previous M-8 117 engine.

Harley-Davidson redesigned the cylinder heads with new oval intake ports, low-profile intake valve seats, increasing intake air velocity and tumble for improved performance and fuel economy. A new camshaft offers higher lift and longer duration than the previous engine, with the hydraulic lifters, inner cam bearing, and valve springs adjusted accordingly for the added lift and to maintain durability. The compression ratio was also increased to 11.4:1 from the previous 10.2:1, with the aim of improving fuel efficiency and low-rpm torque. A single counter-balancer is tuned to cancel out undesired engine vibrations.

The cylinder heads are liquid-cooled, with cooling focused on the exhaust valve area of each cylinder. The cylinder heads have new cooling channels, and the electric pump circulates coolant first to the rear cylinder, as it receives less air cooling than the front cylinder head. A new radiator is positioned low on the front of the frame, with a thermostatically controlled fan directing air below the motorcycle, improving rider comfort.

The new 58 mm throttle body (up from the previous 55 mm) is positioned closer to the middle of the gap between the cylinders to improve intake air flow. A new aluminum intake manifold design provides a more direct path for air to flow from the round throttle body to the oval intake ports. On the right side of the engine, a new 4.0L airbox replaces the Heavy Breather intakes on the previous CVOs. Though it is about 50% larger than the Heavy Breather, Harley-Davidson says it is lighter and uses fewer parts, with no exposed fasteners, and significantly muffles intake sound.

Harley-Davidson claims the Milwaukee-Eight VVT 121 produces 115 hp at 4,500 rpm and 139 lb-ft. at 3,000 rpm. That's a claimed 9.5% increase in peak power and 8% increase in maximum torque compared to the Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 117.

The CVO Street Glide and CVO Road Glide offer selectable ride modes, each with preset engine mapping, engine braking, cornering ABS and cornering traction control settings. Road Mode offers balanced performance with a moderate throttle response and mid-range power and higher ABS and traction control intervention. Sport Mode offers maximum performance with snappier response, increased engine braking and traction control set to the lowest level. Rain Mode offers significantly restrained acceleration, limited engine braking and maximum ABS and traction control intervention. Riders can also create up to two custom ride modes.

Other electronic aids include cornering electronically linked brakes, cornering drag torque slip control, vehicle hold control, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

Brembo provides the dual front brakes (increased to 320 mm from the previous 300 mm) and radially-mounted four-piston calipers. The rear wheel uses a single 300 mm rotor and four-piston caliper.

Showa supplies the suspension system, with a 47 mm inverted fork up front with 4.6 inches of travel. The new CVOs continue to use dual rear shocks, with Showa dual outboard emulsion technology. The rear suspension uses a new remote hydraulic preload adjustment knob positioned in front of the left saddlebag, but it's designed mainly to make short-term adjustments for carrying more cargo or an occasional passenger. Riders will need to remove the right saddlebag to adjust the default preload for regular usage.

Harley-Davidson updated the saddle shape to rotate the rider's hips to a more neutral position relativce to the spine to reduce fatigue to the back and neck. The laden seat height is 26.7 inches, up from the previous 26.1 inches. The CVO Road Glide receives a new handlebar with a wider, flatter bend, which Harley-Davidson says is a more natural, comfortable position, and it offers 27 degrees of adjustability for finer tuning.

The new CVO models come with a 12.3-inch TFT display and a new Skyline operating system. The touch-sensitive display replaces the previous CVO models' analog instrumentation and the previous 6.5-inch BOOM! Box GTS screens. The infotainment system can connect with Apple and Android devices via Wi-Fi for live weather, navigation and traffic updates. The touch screen works with gloves, though the interface is designed primarily to be controlled with the handlebar switchgear and some touch features are disabled when the motorcycle is moving. The system also uses a voice recognition system for general commands.

The CVO Road Glide fairing has two storage compartments, with the right compartment holding a USB-C connector. The CVO Street Glide has just a single drawer located below the screen, and it also holds a USB-C connection point.

Both the CVO Street Glide and CVO Road Glide are equipped with Rockford Fosgate Stage II audio systems. The audio system includes three-way 6.5 inch fairing speaker and 5x7-inch saddlebag speakers, each with 150 watts of power. The 500-watt amplifier supplies enough power for an optional upgrade to a Stage III system with 6x9-inch saddlebag speakers.

Both models will arrive in showrooms in mid-July with a base MSRP of $42,999 for the Dark Platinum color. That's an $1,100 price increase over the 2022 CVO Road Glide and Street Glide models. For the orange Whiskey Neat/Raven Metallic hand-applied two-tone paint scheme, however, you're looking at an additional $6,000 charge, bumping the price up to $48,999.

That's a big chunk of change, but considering the number of upgrades, some were expecting the pricing would be higher than the $51,999 asking price of the CVO Road Glide Limited Anniversary model (granted, that's a one-year only special edition and it comes with a combination passenger backrest and top case).

For those looking for something more reasonably priced, you may want to wait to see how many of these updates make their way to the 2024 non-CVO touring models.

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Dennis Chung
Dennis Chung

Dennis has been a part of the Motorcycle.com team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.

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2 of 16 comments
  • Duken4evr Duken4evr on Jun 08, 2023

    The new upgraded engine sounds beefy and for this kind of money it should be.

  • Ponch Ponch on Jun 13, 2023

    Nothing succeeds like success. I wonder where Zeitz will be in 5 years.