Retro Modern

When drinking in the cool Screamin' Eagle Softail Springer, the latest creation from Harley-Davidson's Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO), one can appreciate just how inventive a company can be, even as it relies on its own customers creativity for its products ultimate success. Typically, Harley-Davidson's strategy is to provide its customers with the platform, then let them personalize their motorcycles with either Genuine Motor Parts and Motor Accessories, or any number of countless third-party alternatives. In the case of the CVO machines, however, Harley-Davidson gets the customer moving in the right  by offering a factory customized bike.

Helmet: Bell Apex Yakuza
Jacket: Cortech DSX Denim
Gloves: Icon Pursuit
Pants: Icon Anthem
Boots: Red Wing 968 (Click image to enlarge)

The magic of any personalized bike lies in the builder's inspired execution of disparate elements. In the case of this Softail Springer, the majority of the parts are sourced from Harley-Davidson's own accessories catalog, which weighs in at around three pounds and 900 pages! The exclusivity of the Softail Springer—a limited production run of 2,500—comes from the items that are not available sepa-rately: the deeply detailed hand-painted Tribal Flame graphics, CVO-branded parts, the CVO logo storage cover and a commemorative barrel key. Each of the three color combinations—Amarillo Gold/Candy Tangerine, Canyon Copper/Candy Red, and Abyss Blue/Blue Pearl—is enhanced by color-coordinated powdercoating treatment for the frame and swingarm.

As much as the Softail Springer is about its visual allure, the Screamin' Eagle portion of its name refuses to be inconsequential. The bike is propelled by a new 110 cu in Twin Cam 100B motor that dispenses a muscular 105 ft lbs of torque at a mere 3,000 rpm; it is the largest displacement production powerplant in the Motor Company's history. In contrast to the nostalgia-tapping springer front suspension system, the engine claims such modern advances as Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection and impressively efficient internal counterbalance shafts that reduce 90 percent of the primary engine vibration. Complementing the smooth, upsized motor is a new 6-speed Cruise Drive transmission that lowers the cruising rpm in top gear. With this powertrain, the Softail Springer does not hesitate to exceed the speed limit on the fastest of interstates. (Click image to enlarge)

The CVO experience comes into more precise focus as you approach the bike. Under direct sunlight, the luxur-ious paint assumes a three-dimensional appearance that demands closer inspection. The air-cooled cylinders, boasting imposing four-inch bores, excrete testosterone as the right side brazenly displays a Screamin' Eagle air filter assembly, something previously available for off-street racing only. The Springer invites you to swing a leg over.

Ergonomics on the Softail Springer benefit from the new Centerline accessory collection. The oval grips, pegs and foot controls achieve the functions of comfort, performance and style in chorus. They provide the necessary tactile response, devoid of fatigue, with a contrasting combination of chrome and rubber. This, of course, means nothing if the pieces are not properly placed. For foot-forward cruising, the domain of the CVO Springer, your hands, feet and seat fall exactly where you would expect them to. The internally wired 1.25-inch handlebars sweep back gently, establishing a riding position that is both stylish and comfortable for the short hauls this bike was built to enjoy. The CVO Softail Springer is a motorcycle that turns the art of cruising into something more appealing than a test of your patience and sacroiliac.

Certainly, you give nothing away to any other production motorcycle when eyeball-harvesting is the goal—Harley-Davidson's design engineer teams clearly worked overtime on the CVO Springer's lean lines and tasteful tones. The sound is subdued to satisfy the bureaucrats, but Harley's management of decibels gives the Screamin' Eagle's shotgun, slash-down mufflers a satisfying rumble that does not exhaust the rider, or anyone else within earshot.

Handling is agreeable for a custom cruiser, as Harley-Davidson's combination of a 200mm rear tire and 21-inch front wheel strike a satisfying balance between the boulevard and the back road. So, too, does the Screamin' Eagle motor. The hydraulic clutch reduces the strain on your left hand for those high-profile rides in heavily trafficked areas. With a choice of six gear ratios and a motor that pulls convincingly from idle, cruising the twisties is a matter of selecting a gear that feels comfortable and letting the throttle do all the work. Engine braking is good, which is fortunate, as the rear brake requires significant effort to retrieve an effective result. The single front disc produces more pronounced deceleration, and the amenable damper-assisted springer front suspension has virtually no dive during straight-line braking. Caution should be exercised when operating the front brake in turns, as the springer system does not have the same secure feel as a set of forks.

Buying the CVO Screamin' Eagle Softail Springer is not an end in itself. Although it is highly customized from the factory by skilled designers, the bike still depends on the rider to personalize it to his needs and taste. Fortunately, there is an entire industry devoted to making the task of making your bike yours as enjoyable as the ride itself. | 414.343.4056


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