Harley-Davidson buyers face perhaps the biggest paradox in motorcycling: the challenge of maintaining their individuality in the face of roughly 360,000 other "individuals" who purchase Hogs each year. However, dedicated Harley acolytes determined to stand out from the ever-thickening crowd can find solace in the company’s Custom Vehicles Operation line. In the 16 years since its inception, CVOs have grown from a barely known niche product to an eagerly anticipated stable of special editions.
The sportiest of the four 2008 models anointed with the special treatment is the Screamin’ Eagle Dyna. An exuberant expression of the model that started life 16 years ago as the Dyna Glide Sturgis, the 2008 CVO Dyna is a hot-rodded and heavily adorned power cruiser with a striking flame metal paint job, copious amounts of chrome, and custom bits everywhere—from slotted six-spoke wheels to its color-matched chin spoiler, frame, and swingarm. Flamed and marbled graphics splash across the fuel tank and rear fender, and chrome hits all sorts of detailed parts in between, including the obligatory straight cut mufflers. Lowered and chromed front forks are inverted in order to reduce unsprung weight, aid handling, and, of course, differentiate the CVO model from standard issue Dynas. Covered adjustable rear shocks also serve to enhance the bike’s maneuverability.
Helmet: Bell Sprint
Eyewear: Mercedes Benz MB50701
Jacket: Vanson Mark 2 Cobra
Gloves: Vanson Technical Sport Rider
Pants: Earl Jeans E-Jean
Boots: Harley Davidson Dipstick (Click image to enlarge)
When you throw a leg over the low, perforated leather seat and stretch your arms and legs forward to reach the Dyna’s controls, you’ll be struck with a visceral impression of the model’s moniker. Riding the Dyna is, indeed, a dynamic experience, and the machine never puts the rider in danger of growing numb while piloting the bike. Steering geometry makes it relatively easy to track the bike in a straight line, but slow speed turns beget an occasional tug that requires attentive input; once this bike wants to turn, it must be actively refrained from overturning.
Maneuverability requires less conscious effort at higher speeds, and while the Dyna’s involving road manners will not allow it to be confused with a more mildly tuned cruiser or an upright touring bike, a small bit of acclimation goes a long way towards becoming familiar with its distinct personality. In spite of its potentially endearing handling characteristics and unique performance traits, the quality that requires the greatest ergonomic concession is the forward-positioned footpegs. Tilt the toe of the right foot too far down, and it threatens to drag the rear brake pedal. Lean the heel too far back, and the foot might slip off. The same goes for the left foot; finding a restful position can be preoccupying during rides that extend beyond a few short miles.
Day trippers might also find annoyance with the bike’s lack of wind protection. In keeping with its devil-may-care stylishness and the implied irreverence of the Dyna range, the CVO version—just like a standard Dyna—offers an exposed riding experience. The sensation is pure and liberating during short jaunts, but can become wearying over longer distances. A windshield may well be something to consider adding if touring is a part of your riding experience. (Click image to enlarge)
While the CVO Dyna’s suspension is carefully calibrated for improved handling, the bike’s least subtle component is its Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110 powerplant. Featuring high flow ports and an increased compression ratio of 9.3:1, the 1,800cc V-twin challenges the limitations of air and oil-cooled technology and produces thrust that matches the bike’s wild, stainless steel flake enhanced paint. The engine thumps 110 ft-lbs of torque to the rear wheel at 3,000 rpm, and the bike eagerly responds to throttle application with thrilling immediacy, particularly when revving from low rpm.
A solidly constructed 6-speed Cruise Drive transmission handles the power well, and engine revs are conveyed via a 4-inch spun aluminum tachometer sitting just ahead of the internally wired, chromed handlebars. Velocity, apparently a less crucial piece of information in the eyes of Harley designers, is displayed less prominently at the top of the full-length chrome console. To the right of the speedometer is a chrome, flush-mounted fuel cap, that emerges from its resting position with a push and a twist. Similarly unobtrusive is the chrome gas gauge to the left, which hides a discreet series of tiny LED lights that disappear as fuel levels drop. (Click image to enlarge)
The Dyna’s accelerative forces can be considerable when the throttle is pegged, and a so-called "reduced reach" saddle cups the anterior of the rider’s posterior in order to prevent the body from slipping back as the bike lurches forward. Velocity reduction is facilitated by effective 4-piston front and rear brakes, though two other members of the 2008 CVO family—the Ultra Classic Electra Glide and the Road King—receive the reassurance of standard anti-lock brakes, an impressively forward-thinking choice from the notoriously traditionalistic manufacturer.
At the end of the day, scoring one of the 2,600 Screamin’ Eagle Dynas will provide an exclusive, entertaining, and visually distinctive motorcycle that stands a comfortable distance away from the hundreds of thousands of other Harleys manufactured for 2008. Not a bad way to distinguish oneself in a very large crowd.