In terms of storage, the classic though antediluvian-looking saddlebags offer inadequate access and cargo capacity, especially when compared to direct rivals like the Honda Gold Wing
and BMW K1200LT
|The real benefits of the upgraded chassis are immediately felt as soon as the road starts to wind.
How is it on the road? Well, I covered more than 6,000 kilometres in 8 days and tackled all types of road conditions North America has to offer, including Interstates, the 760-km long Blue Ridge Parkway (and its thousand turns), as well as the delicious inclines and meanders of the Ohio backcountry. On the highway, you don’t lose any poise and stability with the new frame. That said, the real benefits of the upgraded chassis are immediately felt as soon as the road starts to wind. Sure, the bike feels just as heavy, but cornering and braking performance is sharp nonetheless.
Even when trailing sportbikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the big CVO managed to keep pace… especially after realizing that I could tightly grab the base of the fuel tank and part of the rear cylinder head with my knees, just like these riders clamped the tank. While riding there, my tester effortlessly stuck on the tail of a Honda ST1300 for more than 300 kilometres.
The ABS brakes are effective although perhaps a bit too quick to step in. I always enjoyed generous, fade-free braking power during this memorable escapade with the two sportbikes. Unfortunately, the suspension is too soft and needs serious revisions to both the compression and rebound settings to bring it up to par with the rest of the chassis. The lowered tail in CVO trim is an aberration for a touring motorcycle. Simply put, I hated it.
While docile at high velocities, the engine of this Road Glide must be revved beyond 3,000 rpm before reaching its full potential. It’s always low-key, except at idle and particularly when the ECU stops feeding the rear cylinder to prevent overheating. At this point, in the purest tradition of big-bore V-twins, the powerplant springs to life and seemingly wants to escape from the frame.
All in all, the 2009 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide really has the stuff of a Grand Touring motorcycle -- grand comfort, grand performance. Offering excellent handling and ride quality, not to mention plenty of room, it makes long-distance rides ultra-comfortable. It’s a shame the limited power, third-class cargo capacity and downright inappropriate suspension fail to achieve the performance level promised by its amazing frame.
Photo Credit : Matthieu Lambert
|The engine of this Road Glide must be revved beyond 3,000 rpm before reaching its full potential.