2017 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide First Ride Review

Evans Brasfield
by Evans Brasfield

Something wicked this way comes

Every year Harley-Davidson releases special models from its Custom Vehicle Operations skunkworks. These limited-edition factory customs are chosen to represent the best that Harley has to offer, which is usually based on the most popular models the manufacturer sells. This year, for our test of a 2017 CVO model, we chose the CVO Street Glide. We did this for two reasons. First, we’d get to do a true apples-to-apples comparison since we were also testing the standard Street Glide. This perspective would give us the opportunity to see what similarities and differences the Milwaukee-Eight 107 had with the Milwaukee-Eight 114 bruiser. Second, we last tested the CVO Street Glide in model year 2015, which would give us a good impression of how far the model has come in two model years.

2017 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide

Editor Score: 85.25%
Engine 19.0/20
Suspension/Handling 12.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.25/10
Brakes 9.0/10
Ergonomics/Comfort 8.0/10
Appearance/Quality 9.5/10
Desirability 9.0/10
Value 5.0/10
Overall Score85.25/100

2015 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide Review

In any normal model year, the first thing that people would notice about CVO models are the eye-catching accessory parts and limited-edition paint schemes the factory lavishes on these bikes. However, this year, being the first that the all-new Milwaukee-Eight is available, we know that everyone is more interested in how the biggest engine Harley has ever made available in a production motorcycle behaves. So, we’ll jump right in.

The brawny, 114ci engine is covered in black with chrome highlights on some CVO packages.

Sitting on the CVO Street Glide puts 114 cubic inches between your knees – that’s 1,868cc for those who are metrically inclined. The 4.0-in. x 4.5-in. (101.6mm x 114.3mm) bore and stroke cylinders breathe through liquid-cooled, four-valve heads. Aside from the increase in displacement, the use of Twin-Cooling on the 114 is the primary difference with the 107ci. While the clutch does get an extra plate to cope with the additional torque and both the intake and exhausts are Screamin’ Eagle items, the 114 is just an example of what the 107 is capable of achieving. Still, we’re sure that industrious builders are already noodling on how to put Harley’s Biggest Twin to shame with aftermarket parts.

2017 Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight Engines Tech Brief

The engine starts with authority. The less restrictive intake and exhaust make themselves known (while still satisfying Gub’mint RegulationsTM). The initial release of the clutch reveals that it is just a tad more sensitive than that of the 107. However, it is still easy to modulate and the torque assist is readily apparent. Out on the road, the 114 makes it clear that it’s making more than just music with the breathier air cleaner and mufflers. Pull the engine’s tail, and you better be hanging on tight.

The fun of accelerating this hard while sitting astride a 867 lb. (claimed, wet) motorcycle can’t be understated. Chalk it up to the 124 lb-ft of torque Harley says the engine twists out. Regardless, at the introduction, any time riders on the CVOs had open road in front of them, the throttles were twisted, and the bikes would fade off into the distance as they worked their way through the gearbox. (An aside: You really owe it to yourself to read about the Milwaukee-Eight engine in detail.)

Yes, the CVO Street Glide has lowers and the Street Glide does not. The Twin-Cooled radiators are hidden inside, and they also provide more lower body weather protection. As with the lowers on the Ultra Limited, the engine heat was more noticeable than without the lowers but still cooler than on the previous generation.

Contrary to what one might expect from what is basically a hopped-up engine, the Milwaukee-Eight 114’s tuning is almost as unflappable as the 107’s. With the exception of a slight abruptness transitioning onto positive throttle in the lower reaches of the tachometer, the engine doesn’t mind whatever throttle input the rider gives; it just goes along as seamlessly as the 107 – only much stronger. Although, thanks to the ample torque, I didn’t need to downshift on entering most corners, I actually found myself downshifting more frequently than on the 107. I couldn’t resist twisting the throttle and making the pipes bellow as I ran the engine up through the rpm before returning to the higher gear. (And then I got to test the brakes. They passed.)

Perhaps this thrill would wear off if I had the opportunity to ride the CVO Street Glide for more than an hour or so, but I doubt it. All of the superlatives I heaped on the Street Glide’s engine apply to the 114. Since the CVO has the same suspension upgrades for 2017 (instead of the CVO sporting premium parts), both models use the new fork and shocks. And the difference is notable – even when compared to the previously premium suspenders. ( Read the Street Glide review for all the details about the 2017 suspension.)

The CVO Street Glide handles just as well as the standard Street Glide – only with a ton more power.

So, now we arrive at the bling, the other key feature that differentiates the CVO Street Glide. First are four exclusive color combinations (Candy Cobalt/Indigo Ink, Sunburst Orange/Starfire Black, Dark Slate Candy/Arctic Black, and Starfire Black/Atomic Red) which all feature an aggressive, angular two-toned paint scheme. As is usually true of Harley paint, the quality is impeccable on the CVO Street Glide.

The audio output is as big as the engine’s with the 6.5” BOOM! Stage II speakers powered by two 300-watt amplifiers, delivering 150 watts of power to both the front and rear speakers. As is usually the case with motorcycle audio, the stereo sounds great at around town speeds, but it becomes progressively more difficult to hear on the highway, when the ambient noise simply gets too great to allow for true enjoyment of the music. However, the in-dash system’s GPS is incredibly useful and easy to operate with gloved fingers.

Then there are the exclusive CVO touches. The tank has a backlit CVO badge and a pop-up gas cap. The seat has stylized stitching for both rider and passenger. The chromed custom wheels set the CVO apart. Other dress-up parts come from the H-D Parts and Accessories Airflow Collection.

The saddlebags include 6.5” BOOM! Stage II speakers to surround the riders with sound.

As with all CVO models, the 2017 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide is for riders who want to get noticed. The paint and accessories are flashy. The stereo is powerful, and the engine kicks ass. The CVO Street Glide is a more than worthy replacement for the previous model and will have those riders who always want the best Harley available considering a new bike. The MSRP begins at $37,799. Test rides of the 2017 Harley-Davidson touring models are available at dealerships, now.

2017 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide

+ Highs

  • Milwaukee-Eight 114 produces mountains of torque
  • Throaty exhaust note
  • Great audio system

– Sighs

  • Slightly grabby clutch
  • Minor low-rpm EFI abruptness
  • Expensive
Evans Brasfield
Evans Brasfield

Like most of the best happenings in his life, Evans stumbled into his motojournalism career. While on his way to a planned life in academia, he applied for a job at a motorcycle magazine, thinking he’d get the opportunity to write some freelance articles. Instead, he was offered a full-time job in which he discovered he could actually get paid to ride other people’s motorcycles – and he’s never looked back. Over the 25 years he’s been in the motorcycle industry, Evans has written two books, 101 Sportbike Performance Projects and How to Modify Your Metric Cruiser, and has ridden just about every production motorcycle manufactured. Evans has a deep love of motorcycles and believes they are a force for good in the world.

More by Evans Brasfield

Join the conversation
2 of 10 comments
  • Ron Hayes Ron Hayes on Sep 19, 2016

    I have a sport tourer and a cruiser. Neither are BMW or Harley but I enjoy both types in different ways. The BMW is a cruise missile. If I had to take the interstate and wanted to consume miles quickly, I would take the sport tourer. If I wanted to drive through the Adirondacks and just take in the view, I prefer the cruiser. It is a preference thing and I have test driven both and they both are excellent but for someone like me, it is what do I want to experience at that moment :-)

  • Joe Perkins Joe Perkins on Apr 10, 2017

    I started racing bikes when I was 5 years old. My Dad got me into it. I've had dirt bikes and rockets all of my life until last year when I finally traded in my CBR1000RR on a Harley Street Glide Special. I rode it all last summer and had a total blast. More fun in 6 months than I had in the last 10 years owning a rocket. Plus women love Harley's. I took my bike in for service a week ago and Sales Manager said hey didn't you want a CVO last year and there was the new 2017 CVO Candy Blue wow! I wanted a CVO last year but they were all sold out! I traded in the street glide and got the new CVO and couldn't be happier. New Milwaukee Eight motor 114 cubes every available option. Pipes were a little too quiet so I threw on a set of back slash pipes and wow! I am loving this new bike even more than the last one. If it's dry, then I am taking a ride after work. what a stress reliever... Anybody considering the CVO all I can say is you won't be disappointed!
    P.S. My Dad is 77 and still riding his 1997 Dyna Wide Glide. We spend more time together now that I have a Harley. It's great, I should have done this years ago!