Harley’s New Road Glide and Street Glide Bikes Live Up Their Names
Milwaukee isn’t known for its winding roads. It’s a mass of long, flat, and occasionally hilly expanses that seem built for the brand that put the city on the map over a century ago. As I hum along next to the shores of Lake Michigan, the 2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide effortlessly devours the miles. The brand-new 121 cubic-inch Milwaukee-Eight motor, with its claimed 139 ft lbs of torque, is barely ticking over at 2,500 rpm, but then the Road Glide and sibling Street Glide—among the top-tier Custom Vehicle Operation (CVO) editions in the model line—are Harley-Davidson’s premium touring bikes, both starting at $42,999.
The CVO Road Glide commands your attention, from its impressive stature to the booming Rockford Fosgate audio system to the 12.3-inch touchscreen dash with its suite of ride assists. The CVO range has come in for an overhaul to commemorate Harley-Davidson’s 120th anniversary. Both model variants are designed for long days in the saddle, and have very little mechanical differences between them—save for the frame-mounted fairing on the Road Glide compared to the Street Glide’s fork-mounted fairing.
The Street Glide’s fairing configuration gives the bike a slightly heavier feel to the steering, versus its sibling, because you’re dealing with not just the fairing but that massive dash and all the weight sitting on the front wheel. These are very large machines, weighing 838 pounds and 862 pounds for the Street Glide and Road Glide, respectively. Both run non-adjustable forks and twin-emulsion rear shocks. And while the ride (at least with just my weight and no passenger or luggage), is delightfully smooth, I feel Harley-Davidson should have fitted electronically adjustable suspension to make for easy changes when the payload increases or decreases. Another feature missing is radar-adaptive cruise control, which should have been a given for bikes of this price, exclusivity, and long-distance intent.
One of the big enhancements with the new 121 motor is the addition of Variable Valve Timing (VVT), which has been a staple of the Japanese manufacturers for many years. The VVT allows for smoother initial torque delivery and a 5 percent improvement in fuel economy. An increase of 39 ft lbs of torque is another benefit of the system.
The bikes have 32 degrees of available cornering clearance, so you need to be smooth and deliberate to get the most out of the them. These are motorcycles that are not conducive to rushed riding, rather, they encourage and reward a more relaxed approach; let the road come to you instead of chasing after it. Our pick of the two is definitely the Road Glide, thanks to its larger fairing, higher-set handlebar, and slightly snappier steering. However, both are extremely well-finished entries in the lineup. The detail in the design is excellent, and although we lament the lack of electronic suspension and radar-assisted cruise control, the CVO Street Glide and CVO Road Glide excel at covering vast amounts of ground with an ease that befits their model names.
Click here for more photos of the 2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide and CVO Road Glide.Click here for more photos of the 2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide and CVO Road Glide.