Harley-Davidson 2011 CVO Street Glide

Thanks to the mainstream media, I am reminded daily that the world economy is down and most of us are experiencing some sort of hardship. That said, regardless of the economic climate we’re in, aren’t we all still entitled to feel good about ourselves and have some fun in life? News flash: motorcycling is a relatively inexpensive way to do that.

There are tons of options when it comes to thinking about getting into, back into, or even getting serious about motorcycling. For me, just getting on a Harley Touring bike and hitting the road is what it’s all about since I’m almost guaranteed to have some sort of fun. The 2011 Harley-Davidson FLHXSE2 CVO Street Glide (SG) seen here is an easy, yet stylish way to accomplish that. And all for a fraction of the cost of my ultimate dream, owning a custom-built bagger.

I was first exposed to Street Glides back in 2005, when I had the good fortune of riding a standard OE version of the bike from Denver, to Sturgis, South Dakota. Back then, the economy and the motorcycle industry were booming, and the Street Glide had just been introduced as new for the 2006 model year. It was around that same time that there seemed to be increased interest in customized baggers as a whole. If I remember correctly, the story goes that Willie G designed the SG to be his personal ride, only to have the Motor Company then release it as a production factory-custom, hot rod bagger.

Based on the Electra Glide, the Street Glide joined the Touring family as a stripped-down, younger, hipper member. Sure it has saddlebags, a batwing fairing, and a windshield like its older siblings, but there is no denying this bike’s updated, more modern street presence. The SG went on to become a very popular touring bike and one of Harley’s best-selling models overall. So much so that four years after it was introduced, the Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) division took the original hot rod bagger concept of that first Street Glide one step further and released the CVO Street Glide. Now, for the second year in a row, it is building upon that successful debut and even took it up another notch with the introduction of this FLHXSE2 for 2011.

What you get with this CVO is a limited-production version of the popular Harley-Davidson hot rod bagger. But it comes with one-offish, custom styling and all the chrome, paint, and accessories associated with that. As with all CVOs, a TC 110″ power plant is standard, and in this bike it definitely puts the hot in hot rod in more ways than one.

This year’s CVO Street Glide features a Road King side-fill fuel tank with flush-mount caps, gas on the right, and LED gauge on the left. The new, low-profile console and sleek, liquid-metal badges give the setup a true custom look. A new 19″ seven-spoke Agitator front wheel, the largest-diameter wheel ever offered on a H-D Touring bike, is covered by a slammed and trimmed front fender. Hydraulic rear shocks are hand- adjustable for preload and perform well over a wide range of road surfaces. The combination lets this bike roll in style without compromising the overall handling. A low-profile seat is faced with snakeskin-patterned leather inserts and puts the rider in a comfortable riding position. A matching passenger backrest comes standard.

All 2011 CVOs have benefited from audio system upgrades, and this model specifically boasts six speakers (one in each of the ventilated fairing lowers and the other four in the fairing) and a new, high-efficiency, 100-watt-per-channel amplifier. An 8GB iPod nano comes standard with your bike purchase, and it easily docks to a holder located in the top of the right saddlebag for seamless interaction with the stock sound system. Also notable is the fact that the saddlebags on this bike are of the one-piece, extended variety which adds both style and storage capacity.

A first for CVO: each of the four color options will be complemented by other specific finishes. For example, the Kryptonite and Black Diamond bike you see here also has gloss black engine covers as well as a blacked-out inner fairing and muffler caps. Note that production will be limited to approximately 3,700 units total for all four colors, with this color and combination of finishes being the most exclusive of the four.

Back when the economy was booming, it seemed everyone was buying a Harley and hitting the road for some fun because he easily could. That led to lots of glorious things and a surge in the custom industry was just one benefit to bikers. When customizing touring bikes became popular, it led to the introduction of the Street Glide, which then led to one CVO version and then another. In my mind, this CVO Street Glide is the closest thing to a one-off custom bagger you can get that’s still a bike from the factory. If you want a bike with a batwing fairing and windshield, but also want it to have an awesome street presence, this is the ride for you. Simply stated, it has all the capabilities of a full-blown tourer, but the style of a custom. Of all the CVOs I’ve ridden, this Street Glide seems to have the perfect combination of components and treatments applied to the stock version of the bike, making it all work as a whole.

Sure, this bike has an MSRP of $32,499, which is a good amount of shekels, but when you factor in everything you get and the fact that the package might be the closest to a one-off you may ever buy, you actually have yourself a bargain.

So now every time I hear that damn mainstream media reminding me of the economy, I just tune it out and go for a ride. AIM

NEW BIKE TEST by Joe Knezevic as seen in American Iron Magazine

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