It seems without fail, every year as the summer heat begins to reach its peak the brass at Harley-Davidson rounds up us wily moto-journalists and ships us off to some isolated location to get a glimpse of its lineup for the new model year. Traditionally, we are introduced to the CVO models first, and then a few weeks later we are presented with the OE lineup. This year was no different, and I was thoroughly pleased to hear that we would get some seat time on the new CVO models in my childhood stomping grounds, Northern California. There's a lot to cover in these few pages so I'll just jump right into it.
CVO What's it Mean?
CVO stands for Custom Vehicle Operations. No, you wont see radically raked and stretched choppers or wild, hand-crafted sheetmetal. What custom vehicle means for Harley is that these bikes are built in limited quantities, are dressed from the factory with all the chrome, horsepower, and bells and whistles you could possibly find in the H-D catalog, and are topped off with exclusive paint schemes. Well, actually let me back up a minute and correct that statement a bit. Yeah you will find a host of the parts and accessories on these bikes in the P&A catalog, but the CVO program is also an opportunity for H-D to introduce its latest technology and innovations. The program allows H-D to develop and introduce new parts and accessories that may not be offered in the catalog (at least not for several months) and/or develop exclusive products that are only available on CVO models.
"The CVO program is an aspirational brand," stated CVO Director Julie Chichlowski. "The CVO customer aspires to have the best of the best. Customers can't build these bikes for the value that H-D offers them for." According to H-D, the CVO customer is the alpha customer, they are brand loyal and they want bragging rights and membership in the most exclusive group of H-D owners. And even though the bikes are already loaded with all the goodies and priced at a premium, CVO customers still spend more on their bikes than the average OE customer.
This year the four CVO models that will be available are an Ultra Classic Electra Glide, a Street Glide, a Softail Convertible, and a Road Glide Ultra. Right off the bat it becomes pretty evident that the MoCo had a common theme in mind when they chose these four models. With the bagger market still popular among young and old, Harley chose a lineup of bikes that would appeal to all those looking for comfort and style on long road trips. But what's not evident on the surface is another common theme among all these bikes: upgraded electronics. All the models, including the Softail Convertible, come ready to rock your favorite tunes. And while some models got upgraded speakers or GPS units, others received some really trick electronic upgrades.
What's In A Number?
2011 marks the 12th year of the CVO program
4 CVO models available (Ultra Classic Electra Glide, Street Glide, Softail Convertible, Road Glide Ultra)
10,600 CVO bikes will be produced
11 exclusive paint schemes amongst the four models
110 Cubic-inch Twin CamScreamin' Eagle engine packages in all models
6 gears in all the transmissions
8 letters and one number make up the longest model designation amongst the CVOs
3 free months of XM satellite radio come with the Ultra Classic Electra Glide, Street Glide, and Road Glide Ultra models.
3 models come with an 8GB iPod Nano; Street Glide, Softail Convertible, and Road Glide Ultra