As big as The Motor Co. is on anniversaries, the 1oth one for the CVO line seems particularly notable-bringing new models, new frames and new wheels for 2009. One thing shared across the platform is the Screamin' Eagle Twin Cam 110 engine-the largest mill Harley manufactures and one said to pump out over 110 lb-ft of torque. It's also only available on the CVO bikes (for now), and in this case it's got a granite powdercoat finish. All four of the CVO bikes, even the Ultra Classic Electra Glide, will embarrass a typical car-and many motorcycles, too-in stoplight-to-stoplight drags. The engine is mated to a six-speed tranny on all bikes and is solid-mounted except on the Softail, which gets rubber engine mounts.
First up for 2009 is the all-new CVO Fat Bob. Aside from all that chrome and three not-so-subtle paint options, the first thing to strike you is the Heavy Breather air intake, which made its debut on last year's CVO Softail Springer. Also striking are the two large front-brake rotors sandwiching a 16-inch cast aluminum wheel, chromed with contrasting black powdercoating, a matching 16-inch wheel out back. Both the forks and shocks have been retuned for "enhanced ride comfort." On the road the ride is indeed smooth and retains the easy handling characteristics of the stock bike. Taller riders will appreciate the forward-set footpegs. We can attest to the leather and Alcantara-a synthetic suede material-seat's comfort. For $25,299 ($25,499 in CA), you can have one of the 2450 units that will be available.
The CVO Softail Springer returns for 2009, but it's really a new bike-this time based on the '08 Rocker swingarm and frame (except for the steering head). The most noticeable visual difference from last year is the 18 x 8-inch chromed, forged aluminum rear wheel sporting a Rocker-sized 240mm tire. Of course a Springer wouldn't be a CVO Springer without its distinctive front-end color matched to the frame. One of the nicest pieces on the bike is the chromed, cast aluminum oil tank that looks like a one-off custom part. I found the Softail fun to ride, and with the steeper steering head it turns more easily than the Rocker in all but the tightest turns. The new four-piston front brake is also an improvement, but I don't recommend charging full-bore into sharp corners. The 2500 examples being produced will sell for $26,999 ($27,099 in CA).
Absent since 2006, the Road Glide returns to the '09 CVO line. The front fender has been slammed to the tire, while inserts fill in the gap between the rear fender and the saddlebags and also function as the stop, turn and taillights. The saddlebags have bottom skirts that wrap over the exhaust mufflers and make the Road Glide appear to be lowered several inches. Unfortunately, the skirts do not increase saddlebag capacity. But the biggest new features are the frame and swingarm, which will be used on all '09 Touring models. The new FL frame uses a bolt-on rear subframe and has redesigned engine mounts for less vibration at idle. The new swingarm is longer and wider than the old model and will have a 180mm (previously only 150mm) dual-compound rear tire, featuring a harder rubber in the center of the tread for increased mileage and to help prevent the tire from "squaring off." In action the Road Glide handles well and has much greater stability in sweeping turns than the older FLs. The CVO Road Glide comes in at $30,999 ($31,195 in CA) for each of the 3000 to be made in 2009.
'09 Ultra Classic Electra...
'09 Ultra Classic Electra Glide
Finally, the CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide takes center stage. Like the Road Glide, the biggest new features are the chassis, wider rear tire and improved suspension. Also new for 2009 is a suspended, dual-heated seat with matching rider and passenger backrests. Other nice changes include the stainless steel front brake and clutch lines and a 70-pound increased load capacity. Though ungainly at a stop, the Ultra is quite maneuverable once rolling and provides a very smooth ride. However, at over 60 mph there is noticeable turbulence hitting the top of my helmet, something taller riders might not experience. The Ultra has everything save for a bar-mounted button to toggle through the functions on the main dash gauge. All you have to do is pick one of the three color options and plunk down $35,499 ($35,699 in CA) to be one of the 4200 exclusive Ultra owners in 2009. -EK
'09 CVO Fat Bob