Harley-Davidson CVO Limited: Key Specs
Engine: Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 117
Torque: 166 Nm
Displacement: 1,923 cc
Brakes: 32 mm, 4-piston fixed front and rear
Fuel economy: 37 MPG
Features: Reflex Defensive Rider Systems, Boom! Box GTS audio system, Full Colour TFT screen, Keyless Ignition, GPS, Hands-Free Mobile Phone calls, Bluetooth, USB connection (SD Card, Flash Drive and MP3 supported)
Full info: Harley-Davidson.com (opens in new tab)
For a long time when I thought of Harley-Davidson I merely thought of rumble and leather. Loud, brash, and fundamentally simple motorbikes with so much torque and grunt that when even just one of them approached it was like a thunder cloud had just broken overhead.
I thought you bought a Harley-Davidson if you wanted that classic, no-nonsense cruiser/tourer motorbike experience, and were happy to buy into that despite a lack of mod-cons and smart tech.
But then last year I saw just how wrong my perception was when I rode the Harley-Davidson LiveWire, the most exciting electric motorbike built to date, and one that was built by none other than Harley-Davidson itself. This was a state-of-the-art, technologically cutting edge bike that felt like it was from the future, and it opened my eyes to just how forward-thinking the famous bike maker is and, crucially, just how much advanced tech it has installed on its bikes, electric or otherwise.
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Fast forward to summer this year and I'm getting what, for many riders, would be the ultimate tourer experience. That's because I'm powering down the A4 in Wiltshire towards Avebury (famous for its ancient standing stones) on the brand new 2021 Harley-Davidson CVO Limited, and its Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 117 engine (1,923 cc!) sounds absolutely phenomenal.
The thing is, though, the CVO Limited's engine isn't the only thing that sounds phenomenal, because I've also got the bike's advanced and super powerful Boom! Box GTS sound system cranked up and I've got classic rock blaring out of its four, 75-watt speakers.
The Boom! Box GTS system is part of the CVO Limited's comprehensive smart infotainment system, which is accessed via the bike's large, full color TFT display, and on top of giving access to a fantastic radio system also lets you play whatever music you want via a built-in USB connection.
You'd think the audio would be hard to hear above the wind blast and roar of the engine, but this is one very impressive sound system, both in terms of how balanced its phonics are, with defined audio reproduction over the soundscape, as well as just how crazy loud it can go. Seriously, if you turned up this sound system to even half as loud as it could go while the bike was stationary, then you could hold a full-on mini-festival around it.
And this is just one element of the advanced technology that comes loaded onto the Harley-Davidson CVO Limited. The infotainment system also supports wireless headset connectivity, which connects to it via Bluetooth and enables riders to communicate with other riders in up to a 4-way mesh intercom network within a mile of each other.
The system also enables hands-free mobile phone calls, too, meaning that you don't have to stop and pull-over to get in touch with someone.
The CVO Limited's infotainment system also comes loaded with quality GPS map service, that makes it easy to find a route and follow directions to any chosen destination. Like any input with the system, this is easily navigable, too, via the bike's TFT touchscreen, which works even when wearing motorbike gloves.
Having admired the standing stones of Avebury, and also admired the gorgeous Bronze Armor color scheme that the CVO Limited has been delivered to me in, I continue the exploration of this bike's advanced technology by firing it back up and heading on over to the nearby town of Marlborough.
And many of these are contained in what Harley-Davidson have dubbed its Reflex Defensive Rider Systems (RDRS).
The RDRS include anti-lock brakes, cornering enhanced ABS, cornering enhanced traction control (C-TCS), drag-torque slip control (DSCS) and vehicle hold control (VHC).
For those unfamiliar with any of these technologies, an anti-lock brake system is designed to prevent wheels from locking up under sudden, sharp braking while in a straight line, while cornering enhanced ABS is designed to balance braking and cornering loads during a corner.
Meanwhile, the DSCS is designed to reduce excessive rear-wheel slip under deceleration, such as would occur if a rider makes a sudden down-shift at high revs or decelerates quickly in wet conditions. DSCS detects when these things occur and adjusts engine torque automatically on the fly to better match the rear-wheel speed to the speed of the road.
Finally, and something that is very useful with larger motorbikes, is the Vehicle Hold Control system. This basically holds brake pressure when activated by the rider and prevents the motorbike from rolling backwards, which is designed to be useful on hill starts.
These are the exact sort of modern rider aid technologies that I did not expect to find on Harley-Davidson motorbikes.
Parking up the Harley-Davidson in Marlborough I'm made aware of another advanced piece of technology that comes as standard on the CVO Limited – keyless ignition. All the while I've been riding the bike I've had the key tucked into one of the dashboard's compartments, but you can have it located anywhere on you or the bike to trigger it to fire up or not.
It's a small detail but every time you fire the bike up without any visible key it reminds you your riding something a bit special.
In Marlborough I purchase a few things, including a copy of Motorcycle News, a new vinyl album and a bottle of juice, as the one thing the Harley-Davidson CVO Limited also has plenty of is storage. The bike comes with two large paniers as well as an even larger top box, that is so wide and deep that you could store serious amounts of clothes or other motorbike gear.
Indeed, I test this theory out on another ride a few days later taking my daughter to school on the Harley-Davidson CVO Limited, with her not only sitting like a queen in pillion passenger throne-shaped seat, but also with her three different school bags all safely contained within the bike's storage compartments.
As I ride back home from Marlborough, though, I fire the bike up keylessly, with its 1,923 cc engine drawing plenty of admiring glances from passers-by, punch in my destination and then enjoy listening to the deep hammering growl of the motor and punchy music emanating from its speaker system, all the while enjoying the gorgeous views afforded by the Wiltshire countryside.
The 2021 Harley-Davidson CVO Limited isn't a beginners motorbike at all, with its large size and big power definitely better suited to those who aren't new to two wheels, but after walking away from it I can honestly say that it is accessible and, if you're in the market for a luxury tourer, should be absolutely right at the top of your list of bikes to check out.
It's a fantastic blend of old-school motorcycle pedigree and class with a series of smart modern technologies that not only make the bike safer than ever before and easier to ride, but also elevate the overall experience and fun.
For more information about the Harley-Davidson CVO Limited, as well as the entire 2021 Harley-Davidson range of motorbikes, then head on over to the maker's official website (opens in new tab).