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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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|
|+ Highs ||– Sighs |
|2018 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide Specifications|
|Engine Type||Air-cooled, 45° V-Twin, Milwaukee-Eight 117|
|Bore and Stroke||103.6mm x 114.3mm|
|Fuel System||Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)|
|Peak hp||93.7 (incomplete test; limited @ 115 mph)|
|Peak Torque||110.4 lb-ft|
|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.|
|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|