ROAD TEST: 2013 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Custom – The Stuff of Dreams

By: Gary Koz Mraz
Photos by: Ron Sinoy

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_DSC1523The CVO moniker is the pinnacle of all things Harley-Davidson.  Custom Vehicle Operations pulls out all the stops once a year and a select few models get the star treatment.  It’s the stuff dreams are made of.  I rolled out to Huntington Beach to shoot this beauty with photographer extraordinaire Ron Sinoy.  He’s photographed dreams that have graced the pages of QT over the last 6 years.  On a leisurely Sunday ride my lady and I hit Main Street and parked in front of Coaches Deli for a few photos.

“Nice 2013 Road Glide CVO custom” barked a rugged sandy haired man lunching with his girlfriend outside. “Yes, that it is, its Harley’s most expensive motorcycle, over 30K”  I reply.  “Actually, he confidently retorts, its 32,999.00 and that’s before tax, license, freight and California emissions, oh yeah and the tour pack is an optional accessory”.  Who the hell is this guy?  “Harley only makes 2000 of these a year” I say nonchalantly, testing his resolve. “Actually, 1485 and it could be years before Harley offers a CVO Road Glide again”. This man has my attention.

CVO ROAD GLIDE 019Enter Thomas Corey. Turns out I was sitting on his motorcycle, not literally but figuratively. This was the motorcycle Thomas had been gloating over, poring over each and every detail on  He even had the HD CVO catalog open to the very image of this bike in his living room at home and read and re-read it again and again. He knew every minor detail; he knew more about this motorcycle than me and this very one was his color, Roman Gold and Burnt Emerald with Edge Graphics.

“I’ve never seen it in real life” Tom purrs as he prowls around the beast, examining every detail. “I saw one at Cooks Corner a few months ago but it was Diamond Dust and Obsidian with Palladium Graphics, this one is the color I’m getting”  Somehow I believe Thomas.  He seems like a regular guy, real friendly, no airs. I envision owners of Harley’s most expensive prize draped in 2 thousand dollars worth of brand new Harley leathers, smoking cigars while sipping brandy at the Ritz Carleton Laguna Nigel.

_DSC1504“I’ve wasted a whole lot more money than 33K .” Tom states, and he has a point.  “I own three bikes right now, if I sold them all I could pay cash.”  He has another good point.   He waltzes me over to a stunning 2001 blue and white Road King that looks brand new; this man takes care of his motorcycles. He also has a 2001 Heritage Softail and a custom Chopper, all purchased from Junior at Lifestyle Cycles in Anaheim Ca.  A retired heavy equipment operator, Thomas Corey is making a damn good case for regular guys actually owning such an extraordinary motorcycle. There are a few left around the country and he knows exactly where they are; he just needs to pull the trigger.  I offer to sell him this one for 20 grand cold cash. Unfortunately filing off the VIN on a bike this unique just won’t cut it.

_DSC1377The heart and soul of the CVO Road Glide Custom is the Twin Cam 110 V-Twin and the Screamin’ Eagle Heavy Breather intake. It’s got a healthy 4-inch bore teamed to a 4.38-inch stroke generating 122 lb-ft of torque within the granite-colored heads. The cooling fin tips have been machined and contrast well with the gloss black rocker covers and Harley has overall maintained an attractive balance between black and chrome in the engine department. The tank console has a light-up Harley medallion located in the top-center portion. The gas cap sits flush to the tank and deploys with a simple push down on the cap. The two-tone paint scheme started in the front fairing is carried over on the tank and is also teamed with the Willie G Harley skull emblem, designed by the venerable Willie G.  The diamond-patterned leather seat is wide in the middle before tapering off to the passenger pillion which pops off easily for solo action. As Thomas said, the rear seat Tour Pac and passenger back rest are optional accessories, but what Mama wants, Mama gets.

“You finance it man, Thomas proclaims, just like your motor home or backyard family pool, if it’s your dream, live it, you only get to ride the big blue ball once.”   Dude, I’m sold, where do I sign?

_DSC1482The CVO Road Glide Custom upgrades to a Showa adjustable rear shock in place of the standard air shock. An air valve located between the left saddlebag and rear fender is hand-adjustable for preload but requires removal of the saddlebag. The front is anchored by a 41.3mm fork that does a splendid job of keeping the tire on the road.  With a fairly low center of gravity thanks to a  26.6-inch seat height and a 64-inch spread between wheels and you’ve got a bike with surprisingly good handling for a bagger. Thanks to rider floorboards that are placed up and out of the way there 30 degrees of lean angle.

With a dry weight of 817 pounds the Brembo 300mm dual floating rotors on the front are squeezed by four-piston fixed calipers. At the lever you can feel the pads biting into the discs with a modest pull and ample stopping power is applied. The fixed 300mm rear also has a 32mm fixed four-piston caliper and again grips tight. Grab a handful and you’ll activate the standard ABS which still delivers a strong pulse to the rider’s foot.

_DSC1441On the list of new features on the 2013 CVO Road Glide Custom is a hydraulic nine-plate wet clutch with a high performance assist and slip design. The new “Assist & Slip Clutch Pack” makes for light action at the clutch lever and it’s designed for longer wear. The clutch engages early in the release of the lever and helps keep the heavy motorcycle manageable at lower speeds. I have been known to bitch about the twitchy nature of the CVO 110 and tranny but this bike felt silky smooth. Somewhere along the line, they’ve tweaked it for the better.

Another feature of the CVO Glide is its Engine Idle Temperature Management System (EITMS). This helps cut down the inner thigh-roasting heat coming off Harley’s V-Twin by cutting fuel and fire to the rear cylinder when idling. It can be turned off and on by the rider at a full stop. All that’s required of the rider is to rotate the throttle in a clockwise position all the way to a stop and as it bumps the cruise switch, it essentially stops the burn in the cylinder and reduces heat transfer to the rider. EITMS will activate once the engine temperature exceeds 284-degrees Fahrenheit.

_DSC1496The CVO Road Glide Custom LED headlamp is awesome, called the Daymaker.  It blows away conventional headlights as you knew them.  “WARNING Shameless self promotion” I am the Midnight Rider,  I just released a book about motorcycling at night (See Midnight Rider on a Graveyard Run, on Amazon) These headlights are a night riding game changer.  According to the numbers Harley provided, the Daymaker distance is boosted 30 feet over halogen lamps, increasing from 315 feet to 345. Spread gets even better gains in the form of a 55-foot wider spread pattern, jumping up to 120 feet over the standard 65-foot measurement. Harley achieved this while reducing power consumption by a claimed 50%. After riding at night on this bike I will now proclaim loud and clear that Daymaker headlights should be on every touring Harley.

_DSC1449Thomas calls some friends to come down and see “His Motorcycle” and his buddies get to sit on his bike. We talk bikes and riding as Ron shoots away. We listen to 110 decibels of Van Halen and the 110 c.i. V-Twin roar and purr of the custom dual exhausts and ogle the halogen headlight. Man this CVO sound system delivers.  Harley added another 200-watt amp, giving it two total. Six speakers connected to a Harman/Kardon sound system have both boom and clarity. Two 5×7 speakers with bridged tweeters audibly assault you from the front while two-way, 5×7 MTX saddlebag speakers hit you from the rear.  It has an iPod cable in the right saddlebag that can be controlled via hand controls. It even comes with a special Harley-Davidson 8GB iPod Nano.

For me, a professional Motojournalist, this is a dream come true.  To roll into town and find the one guy on this small corner of planet earth that really, really gets it.  And thanks to Thomas I get it now – CVO isn’t all about being mega wealthy, its about real motorcyclists who are truly passionate about what they do.  They are already riders living the dream, only they dream big. That ultimate road, the ALCAN to Alaska, riding the Great Divide or just touring America.  And they dream of riding it on the ultimate motorcycle and there it was, in 3D, in living color.

_DSC1375The list of CVO extras goes on, these include a Harley-Davidson Smart Security System, a commemorative CVO ignition key with display box, an indoor/outdoor motorcycle storage cover with embroidered CVO logo, and a customer care package comprised of a tool kit, microfiber detail cloth, and an H-D jiffy stand coaster…along with a two-year, unlimited mileage warranty.

Amidst all this glitz and glitter, what I think Thomas Corey sees is that dreams can come true. All the ride free and live to ride clichés aside I think he knows that cool cant be bought, it has to come from within. Cool takes fortitude, courage to take a chance and roll with it.  As Tom says, you only get to ride the blue ball once. This is not just any man’s motorcycle; this is not for the faint of heart. This is as good as it gets, this truly is the stuff dreams are made of.