First Ride Review
There’s a reason Harley’s top-shelf touring machine has been a staple of its CVO line since 2006. There are thousands of them. Go to Sturgis and try and count how many you see. Your head will spin. It’s a huge revenue generator for The Motor Company. But it’s also proven itself as a legitimate cross-country tourer. So offering one as a dream machine straight from the factory makes perfect sense.
Powering the 2019 CVO Limited is the Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 117, The Motor Company’s largest production engine, a CVO-exclusive powerplant that made its debut across the line last year. That’s 1,923cc at the disposal of your right hand along with a high-performance camshaft, intake and bumped-up compression ratio.
The motorcycle’s electronic throttle control is dialed and the hit off idle is immediate. But stump-pulling bottom-end torque is standard fare on Harley tourers. What benefits most is top end in the middle gears as the 117 continues to give where its predecessors sign off.
The 2019 CVO Limited hits its claimed peak of 125 lb-ft at 3,500 rpm but the standard Ultra Limited with the 114 maxes out at 3,000 rpm. It gets you up to highway speed quicker and has plenty of passing power on tap. While it didn’t skip a beat rowing through gears, engagement continues to be harsh and abrupt.
Between its Batwing fairing and Tour-Pak top trunk, the CVO Limited’s presence can be intimidating. It looks like a whole lot of bike to handle. But as I climb aboard, the rider’s triangle feels compact for a six-foot-tall rider.
With a seat height of 30.1 inches, it’s easy to place both feet firmly on the ground, a good thing when you’re balancing a bike that tips the scales at more than 900 pounds. The bars fall naturally at hand, my legs have plenty of room to stretch and my back is straight. The relaxed riding position made my 260-mile test ride a cinch. I could have easily done 260 more without feeling beat down. You’d be hard pressed to find a bike with a cushier seat and friendlier all-day ergonomics.
Hustling through the hinterlands between Lacrosse and Madison, Wisconsin, we chanced upon a rural road of sweepers, one flowing into the next. The CVO Limited shines on this stretch as turn-in is light, even with its big fork-mounted fairing. It’s solid at lean and has no problem staying on the designated line.
Even with the Tour-Pak, its center of gravity feels low and it transitions with surprising agility. You’d think for a bike with such a Herculean physique it’d be a handful to toss around but, like a heavyweight boxer, it’s deceptively light on its feet.
Reining in all that weight and power requires a solid set of binders, and Harley’s triple-disc Brembos and ABS-equipped Reflex Linked Brakes handle the job. When squeezing the front lever, initial bite into the two 300mm discs is strong but not grabby and doesn’t fade as the system administers a bit of squeeze to the rear as well.
Using solely the rear it takes a pretty good stomp on the pedal to get the ABS to engage, and overall the ABS is well modulated. Using the front and rear brakes simultaneously, the setup does a bang-up job of bringing the bike to a stop.
Bells and whistles. Check all the boxes. Gorgeous paint set off by the proper blend of shiny chrome, custom-quality wheels, a fresh assortment of bits and pieces from Harley’s new Kahuna collection and the upgraded Boom! Box GTS infotainment system, which boots up faster, is easier to see in direct sunlight and functions more like a smartphone.
The bike has a bounty of storage space, everything locks tight at the push of a button and a factory security system to protect your almost $44,000 investment comes standard. Harley offers three combinations of powertrain finishes and paint options to tailor your CVO Limited like a fine suit. Granted, its price tag puts it out of range for many of us, but those few who pony up will undoubtedly be pleased because despite its movie star good looks, the 2019 CVO Limited is ready to go coast-to-coast at a moment’s notice.