2011 Harley CVO Road Glide | Review

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There is something cleansing about a ride through the tall pines in the thin mountain air. Wheels and gears spin, aerating the soul the same way the gray granite boulders churn California’s Truckee River into white and green froth.

The pulse from the 110 cubic inch Screamin’ Eagle motor distances me from the mundane and puts me in the moment. I consider the remnants of the winter’s snow above Squaw Valley. A flash of sunlight off the chrome laden 2011 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Ultra brings me back from my mental wanderings.

Making our way out of Tahoe, my wife Jane and I have the pleasure of riding the Road Glide Ultra. For the first time, the Road Glide designed by Harley’s now-legendary Custom Vehicle Operations group gets the Ultra designation, marking it as the pinnacle in its line.

Exclusivity is maintained with a limited production; approximately 3000 will be available in three paint schemes and a tome of impressive custom features, making the CVO Road Glide Ultra one of the most desirable motorcycles to come off an assembly line.

Turning west onto Interstate 80 in Truckee, we hit the inevitable road work that dogs mountain highways. Built as a serious touring machine, the Road Glide Ultra is constructed upon the latest Harley-Davidson Touring chassis, with its strong single-spar backbone frame and two-piece swingarm.

This rigid frame adds durability and maneuverability. Air adjustable shocks allow the suspension to be customized depending on the load and help minimize the effects of a rough road, while anti-lock brakes ensure a safe stop on crusty pavement.

Past the construction and over the infamous Donner Pass, Jane’s long hair billows out behind her as I open the throttle to hit highway speed. Making up the heart of the Road Glide Ultra is the Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110 engine, which pumps out 115 ft/lbs of torque at 4000 rpm.

Electronic Throttle Control coupled with Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection mix the perfect ratio of air and fuel for the combustion chambers-jerking, surging, or bogging do not happen.

The 45-degree pulse coming from the engine is pure American soul encased in chrome and granite powdercoat, buffered with rubber mounts. Chrome 2-1-2 dual mufflers, finalized by billet end caps with inlaid black spears, let everyone within earshot know you are riding a Harley.

I flip on the cruise control and stretch my legs out on the highway pegs, enjoying the new two-up touring seat with adjustable rider backrest. The dual-control heated touring seat has a hammock style system that suspends the rider and passenger above the seat pan providing isolation from the road and adding comfort.

The saddle is narrower at the front for improved comfort when stopped and the leather passenger backrest has adjustable lumbar support and model-specific embroidery. Long distance comfort is exceptional and worthy of both the CVO and Ultra monikers.

As we approached the off ramp onto California Highway 20-just east of the impossibly scenic Emigrant Gap-our Road Tech Zümo 660 GPS interrupted The Loft channel on the XM satellite radio to announce the turn. Through the 40-watt per channel Harman/Kardon Advanced Audio system, instructions from the GPS are loud and clear.

The integrated system produces its sound using a new amplifier with customized equalization for the four Boom! Bagger speakers. A diminutive Apple iPod Nano is included with the bike, along with two headsets for the CB/intercom.

A few miles down California 20, steering is light due to the frame-mounted fairing, so the bike handles admirably on tight mountain roads. Dunlop Multi-Tread dual-compound tires mounted on 18-inch mirror chrome Agitator wheels bookend the long-haul chassis that is successfully designed for handling and endurance.

Abundant traction allows me to confidently lean the bike two-up until the floorboards drag. Eventually, the tall trees started blocking the XM satellite signal so I switched over to the iPod, which has an interface and holder located in the right saddlebag.

Stopping in Nevada City for lunch at the Stonehouse Restaurant featuring 1849-style California, Jane and I stretch our legs and admire the shining opulence afforded by the CVO Road Glide Ultra. The exquisite Rio Red and Black Ember paint scheme of our mount is beyond comparison in its quality and precision.

The depth of the red metallic on black paint with quartzite pin striping is immense and draws the eye. Rumble Collection trim features black rubber with chrome highlights on the four footboards, shift and brake pedals, highway pegs, saddlebag latch covers, and heated grips with chrome end caps. Diamond-cut inserts are presented on the CB pod, intake cover and Tour-Pak lid.

The shark-nose frame-mounted fairing with dual headlights that recall classic muscle cars spreads out in front of the rider like an amphitheater. Analog gauges are set symmetrically around the audio system in the color-matched console.

The 16-inch windscreen nicely deflects air around the rider compartment, but the upper edge is right in my line of sight, distorting in my view. Saddlebag liners are provided and the Tour-Pak has a plush liner with CVO monogram and both can be remotely locked using the key fob.

Harley-Davidson’s CVO Road Glide Ultra is a no-compromise luxury machine designed to gap the vastness that lies ahead. Rider and passenger experience the elusive X-factor: exclusivity. Secure in the knowledge that their mode of transportation is on a level far removed from the ordinary-perhaps far removed from the extraordinary.

In the 2011 Harley Davidson CVO Road Glide Ultra, there is nothing lacking to come between you and the horizon.

2011 Harley Davidson CVO Road Glide Ultra (FLTRUSE) | Motorcycle Specs 


  • Length: 98.8 in. (2510 mm)
  • Overall Width: 38.0 in. (965 mm)
  • Overall Height: 55.4 in. (1407 mm)
  • Seat Height: 27.5 in. (699 mm) to 29.5 in. (749 mm)
  • Ground Clearance: 5.1 in. (130 mm)
  • Wheelbase: 63.5 in. (1613 mm)
  • Fuel Capacity: 6.0 gal. (22.7 L) (warning light at approximately 1.0 gal.)
  • Oil Capacity: (w/filter) 4.0 qts. (3.8 L)
  • Transmission Capacity: 1.0 qts.
  • Weight: As Shipped: 905 lbs. (410.5 kg), In Running Order: 943 lbs. (427.7 kg)


  • Engine: Air-cooled, Twin Cam 110
  • Valves: Pushrod-operated, overhead valves with hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters; two valves per cylinder
  • Bore x Stroke: 4 in. x 4.38 in. (101.6 mm x 111.3 mm)
  • Displacement: 110 cu. in. (1803 cc)
  • Compression Ratio: 9.15:1
  • Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)


  • Primary: Drive Chain, 34/46 ratio
  • Final: Drive Belt, 32/68 ratio
  • Clutch: Hydraulically actuated, 9-plate, wet, with high performance spring
  • Transmission: 6-Speed Cruise Drive


  • Engine Torque (per SAE J1349): North America 115 ft. lbs. @ 4000 RPM (156 Nm @ 4000 RPM)
  • Fuel Economy: (EPA urban/highway test) 32/47 mpg (7.40/5.0 L/100 km)

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