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Generally speaking, stock bikes are a blank canvas upon which the owner, or professional custom builder, places their own personal touches to make a unique machine representative of their own taste and vision. The process takes time (patience), skills, tools and money to do it properly, and to be honest, most buyers seem to lack the first three items on that list, which drives the work into custom shops, or the dealership service department.

Enter Harley’s Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) program. Since 1999, when the factory released its FXR2 and FXR3, Harley has expanded the program to include bikes across their spectrum, complete with all the bells and whistles. 2016 sees the CVO Limited added to the line of CVO bikes, and this tour-tastic sled gives a whole new meaning to the name “full dresser.”

As with all CVO models, the Limited comes with many of the commonly used accessories and top-shelf features already bolted up, so ambitious do-it-yourselfers will be halfway to their goal right off the showroom floor.

Continue reading for my review of the 2016 Harley-Davidson CVO Limited.


2016 Harley-Davidson CVO Limited
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Harley has long since established its basic bagger design over the decades, and the Limited toes the family line while adding its own genetic legacy to the mix. Not only that, but it also borrows items from the acclaimed Project Rushmore initiative built off the wishlists of Harley riders around the world, so it comes with a whole laundry list of features that places this sled in the very top tier amongst the available dressers this year.

Harley’s Airflow Collection dresses it up with some bits and bobs, while the hand-laid accent stripes ensure that each unit is unique. The sheet metal comes shot in colors that are new for 2016, and in combinations reserved specifically for the CVO Limited.

Far from a small bike with its 102.4-inch overall length, it still manages to look beefy and somewhat compressed with a mere 64 inches between axles, roughly the same as its smaller Big-Twin brothers, but with so much more packed in between. The batwing fairing sports the Rushmore-inspired Splitstream vent that reduces head buffeting when under way, while the lower fairings break the wind off the rider’s legs.

Both rider and passenger benefit from vibration-isolated floorboards, and even come with over-sized highway pegs to prevent foot-arch fatigue on long hauls. The rider triangle is set up for an absolutely upright riding position, and the passenger gets a cushy backrest and armrests with their stadium P-pad, compliments of the luggage-rack mounted Tour-Pak.

Hard bags add to the Tour-Pak’s carrying capacity for a total cargo volume of 4.7 cubic feet, and all three storage spaces plus the fuel door come with One-Touch release latches, which makes it easy to manage even in gloves. Heated handgrips add to rider comfort, and they work really well what with the fairing ears breaking the wind off the rider’s hands.

Bullet-shaped, LED, Daymaker turn signals, headlight and pimp lights (passing lamps) throw out plenty of light to ensure that you can see where you are going while making the ride as visible to the cage-driving public as possible. Visibility equals safety, m’kay?


2016 Harley-Davidson CVO Limited
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It’s an FL, so Harley necessarily started out with its double-downtube, double-cradle, big-bike frame with a massive, square cross-section backbone. It ain’t light, but a bike like this isn’t exactly an exercise in subtlety, is it? The steering head is set at 26 degrees, leaving us with a rather long, 6.7-inch trail — perfect for straight-line stability, but you can go ahead and disabuse yourself of the notion that you will be able to take corners like the equally large, but infinitely more maneuverable Honda Goldwing for example, it ain’t happening. Having said that, the Limited can still safely lean 33.4 degrees to the left and 34.3 degrees to the right, more than many riders have the nerve for anyway.

The 29.1-inch unladen seat height isn’t as low as, say, the Electra Glide Low, but still it isn’t as tall as some of Harley’s past baggers. Vertically challenged riders be advised; the seat height is only half the story. You still have to clear the floorboards and exhaust before you can find the ground.

Chrome fork shrouds conceal and protect the 49 mm fork tube, and the fork sliders carry the chrome the rest of the way down. While the front suspension is non-adjustable, the air shocks in back provide nearly infinite preload adjustment and ride control via a zero-loss air pump. Harley calls the rear shocks “full travel.” Not sure what they mean by that, but three inches of wheel travel doesn’t qualify as “full” in my book. Not even close.

The hoops measure out at 17-inches up front, 16-inches in back, and they come mounted on Harley’s mirror-chrome Slicer rims. At 940 pounds wet, and well over half-a-ton with rider, this is one heavy ride, and needs a lot of brakes to manage the energy. To that end, Harley went with 300 mm dual front rotors and a 300 mm in back, with four-piston, Brembo brake calipers all the way around. The Reflex Linked Brakes with ABS prevents wheel slip while electronically balancing brake effort between front and rear, so you can use those brakes with confidence.


2016 Harley-Davidson CVO Limited
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The term “power-cruiser” is thrown around a lot these days, and I get it, cruisers with over 100 pound-feet of torque deserve to be held apart from the run-of-the-mill. With that in mind, perhaps we should consign this ride to the “power-tourer” category, ’cause the CVO Limited definitely qualifies. Sure, the chrome-on-black mill is definitely eye candy, and it serves as the crown jewel if you will, but it isn’t just another pretty face, oh no. This is Harley’s 110 cubic-inch (1,801 cc) powerplant that comes already packed with Screamin’ Eagle yummy-goodness, and it delivers a crushing 115.1 pound-feet of torque at a mere 3,750 rpm with the most decisive fifth-gear roll-on offered by Harley yet. Like I said, power tourer, all the way.

Air cooled, with specifically targeted liquid cooling around the exhaust port to carry off the excess waste heat in that location, the Twin-Cooled Twin-Cam mill breaks from Harley’s traditional air cool-only motors, with the notable exception of the current Street 500 and 750, of course. But worry not purists, the factory hid the radiators behind the lower fairings so the classic air-cooled look comes through unspoiled.

An electronic throttle control works with the electronic, sequential-port fuel injection to manage the engine and the cruise-control feature. A catalyst in the exhaust burns off any free hydrocarbons that escape the combustion chamber, and helps the engine meet emission standards.

Harley uses its “Assist and Slip” clutch to ease the heavy burden on your left hand as you work through the six speeds provided by the gearbox, and provide extra traction protection by moderating the amount of backtorque in the drivetrain when you downshift to scrub some speed ahead of a turn. It also has the benefit of smoothing over rough clutch techniques from inexperienced riders, and so, when coupled with ABS and the linked-brake system, it provides yet another layer of contact-patch protection. In short, you really have to mess up in order for this bike to get away from you. Good thing too, it’s a Helluva lot of bike to try and stand back up by yourself.


2016 Harley-Davidson CVO Limited
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A 6.5-inch color touch screen acts as the rider interface for Harley’s information and entertainment system. On the information front, the monitor displays a GPS map with 3-D landmarks and buildings, along with data from the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) that allows you to keep an eye on that critical metric sans pressure gauge and dirty knees.

Harley’s BOOM! Box 6.5GT stereo system comes with four, 6.5-inch speakers that can pipe in music from an AM/FM receiver, Sirius satellite radio, stored music files on your smartphone or other device (SD card, flash drive, MP3) and XM traffic/weather service. Everything you need to avoid bad traffic, bad weather and the bad song you have stuck in your head.


2016 Harley-Davidson CVO Limited
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With such a premium product, it should come as no surprise that the sticker shock is quite severe at $39,999. The good news is, unless you are an absolute fanatic about owning an utterly unique ride, the CVO Limited has all the bases covered right off the showroom floor. I don’t have to bother listing the options here, because there are none — it’s all standard equipment on this sled, unless you count the $200 California emissions package. Sorry brothers and sisters on the West Coast, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.


2016 Harley-Davidson CVO Limited
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2016 - 2017 Honda Gold Wing / Gold Wing F6B
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With only a handful of comparable bikes in the world, I decided to go for the jugular with the GL1800 Gold Wing from Honda.

Visually, they are as chalk to cheese. Harley carries a more open look that uses the engine as part of the overall panache, while Honda runs with its typical plastic body panels that completely enclose the running gear for a clean, faired-off look.

Both bikes are massive. Weight, wheelbase, seat height and length are too close to bother with putting the metrics in here, but there is one crucial difference when we look to the steering geometry. I mentioned before how maneuverable the “Gold Thing” can be in the corners and switchbacks, and the short, 4.3-inch trail is where this surgical precision comes from. I have seen experienced GW riders take corners harder than I would on a “proper” sportbike, so don’t be fooled by the size and weight, this is one nimble ride all things considered.

The tradeoff comes on the long-and-straight where Harley’s 6.7-inch trail makes it track like it’s on rails, which makes for really relaxed cruising/touring, but a bit of a wrestling match on twistier roads, while Honda’s short trail will contribute to rider fatigue on long trips. Pick your poison, because these bikes are at the extreme opposites of the spectrum, and ne’er the twain shall meet.

Electronics are also very comparable, with all the same entertainment options, engine control, ABS/CBS, cruise control, etc. Honda takes it a step further, however, with a bike-mounted airbag system, a definite edge for riders looking for the maximum protection. Yeah, you could get an aftermarket inflatable crash vest for the Harley, or any other bike really, but Honda’s comes with the bike, and that is one less piece of gear to have to struggle into and out of before/after every ride.

Engine size is comparable, too. The GW runs a 1,832 cc, liquid-cooled mill in a flat-six configuration, just a skosh over the 1,801 CVO Twin-Cam, V-Twin plant. Don’t be fooled by that tiny difference— though Honda declines to post up any official torque figures, I would bet my bottom dollar that it can’t hold a candle to the Twin-Cam’s 115 pound-feet of torque. However, in my opinion tour bikes don’t need that kind of power any more than they need to corner like a sportbike, so again, pick your poison.

Honda gains a significant edge in pricing at only $23,999, only a bit more than half the price of the 40k CVO Limited. This may not be enough to drag dyed-in-the-wool Harley fans kicking and screaming across the fence, but folks with less/no brand loyalty to H-D and are looking for the top-of-the-line will likely view the price difference as a deal breaker.

He Said

“Oh man, where to start? I’ve been in love with Harley baggers since the Evo-powered models were released back in the mid-eighties, and this thing is pure-D awesomesauce. Though I doubt I will ever own one — I have a policy of not spending 40k on anything that doesn’t include a patch of land under it and a roof over it, but it does make good grist for my daydream mill. This individual model aside, the fruit born of H-D’s CVO and Rushmore initiatives is really tasty, and it shows a more progressive mindset from the factory than most of us are accustomed to. All good stuff, can’t wait to see what comes next.”

She Said

My wife and fellow writer, Allyn Hinton, says "The price of this bike is well into the ’midlife-crisis’ range, but man, what a lot of bike you get for the money. I have to give a nod to the Project Rushmore bikes and the CVO line. The CVO Limited is one of the luxury rides of the Harley line-up."


Engine: Twin-Cooled™ Twin Cam 110™ Valves Pushrod-operated, overhead valves with hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters; two valves per cylinder
Displacement: 110 cubic inches (1,801 cc)
Bore: 4 inches (101.6 mm)
Stroke: 4.374 inches (111.1 mm)
Compression Ratio: 9.2:1
Torque Testing Method: J1349
Maximum Torque: 115.1 Pound-Feet at 3,750 rpm
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Air Cleaner: Ventilator intake with chrome cover, fiberglass media, washable exposed element with rain sock
Lubrication System: Pressurized, dry-sump
Primary Drive: Chain, 34/46 ratio
Final Drive: Belt, 32/68 ratio
Clutch: Hydraulically actuated multi-plate, wet Assist & Slip
Transmission: Six-speed Cruise Drive®
Gear Ratios (overall):
First: 9.593
Second 6.65
Third: 4.938
Fourth: 4
Fifth: 3.407
Sixth: 2.875
Frame: Mild steel; tubular frame; two-piece stamped and welded backbone; cast and forged junctions; twin downtubes; bolt-on rear frame with forged fender supports; MIG welded
Swingarm: Mild steel; two-piece drawn and welded section; forged junctions; MIG welded
Rake (steering head): 26 degrees
Fork Angle: 29.25 degrees
Trail: 6.7 inches
Lean Angle, Right (per J1168): 34.3 degrees
Lean Angle, Leftt (per J1168): 33.4 degrees
Suspension, Front: 49 mm telescopic, triple-circuit damping, 4.6-inch travel
Suspension, Rear: Air-adjustable full travel air ride , 3-inch travel
Brakes, Front: Dual floating 300 mm x 5.1 mm rotors, 32 mm, Four-piston fixed calipers
Brake, Rear: fixed 300 mm x 7.1 mm rotor, 32 mm, Four-piston fixed caliper
Anti-lock Braking: Standard
Wheel, Front: Mirror Chrome Slicer Custom, 17 inches x 3 inches
Wheel, Rear: Mirror Chrome Slicer Custom, 16 inches x 5 inches
Tire, Front: D408 Dunlop® Harley-Davidson® Series, bias blackwall, BW 130/80B17 65H
Tire, Rear: D407T Dunlop® Harley-Davidson® Series, bias blackwall, BW 180/65B16 81H
Battery: Sealed, maintenance-free, 12V, 28-amp/hour, 405 cca
Charging: Three-phase, 53-amp system (617W at 13V, 2,000 rpm, 690W max power at 13V)
Starting: 1.2 kW electric with solenoid shift starter motor engagement
Electric Power Outlet: Electric power accessory port in fairing and Tour-Pak®
GPS System: New Boom!™ Box 6.5GT audio system with GPS and touchscreen
Lights (as per country regulation):
Headlamp: LED 34-watt, 915 lumen low beam, 37-watt, 915 lumen high beam with switchable 20-watt, 1,220 lumen LED fog lamps. Total of 2,136 lumen output at low beam with fog lights.
Tail/Stop Lights: LED
Front Signal Lights: LED
Indicator Lamps: High beam, running lights, front fender running lights, directional lights, neutral, low oil pressure, engine diagnostics, accessory, speakers, turn signals, security system7, gear indication, battery, low fuel warning, cruise control, ABS, miles to empty display, fog/aux lamp indicator, Tire Pressure Monitoring System indicator
Auxiliary Lamps (except where prohibited by law): Two LED at 20W each
Screen: 6.5 inch Color
Audio Output: 75Watts Per Channel, Four 6.5-inch Speakers
Headset Specifications (if equipped): 16-64 ohms
Audio Sources: AM/FM, Weather Band (WB), SD Card, Flash Drive and MP3 - via USB Connection Supported
Interface Languages: English (US/UK), German, Spanish (Mexico/Spain), French (Canada/France), Italian, European Portuguese
Voice Recognition: Hands-free Mobile Phone - via Bluetooth, Languages - Phone functions only: English (US/UK), German, Spanish (Mexico/Spain), French (Canada/France), Italian, European Portuguese
Other Features: Rider/Passenger Intercom, "Vehicle Information Screen (Air temperature, oil pressure and engine temperature)", Text-to-Speech (TTS) Languages: English (US/UK), German, Spanish (Mexico/Spain), French (Canada/France), Italian, European Portuguese
USB: USB/MTP/iPod/iPhoneBluetooth Phone/Media Supported
Length: 102.4 inches
Width: 42.9 inches
Height: 56.7 inches
Seat Height: 29.1 inches
Ground Clearance: 5.3 inches
Wheelbase: 64 inches
Fuel Economy: 41 mpg
Fuel Capacity: 6 Gallons
Fuel Reserve: approximately 1.0 gallons
Shipping Weight: 906 Pounds
Curb Weight: 940 Pounds
GVWR: 1360 Pounds
GAWR: Front - 500 Pounds, Rear - 927 Pounds
Luggage Capacity: 4.7 cubic feet
Warranty: 24-Month Unlimited Mileage
Colors: Palladium Silver/Phantom Blue, Carbon Dust/Electric Red Pearl, Charcoal Slate/Palladium Silver
Price: $39,999
TJ Hinton
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read full bio
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