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Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide (2023) - Review

Freelance motorcycle journalist, former editor of Bike & What Bike?, ex-Road Test Editor MCN, author of six books and now in need of a holiday.



2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Roadglide 2023 Review Price Spec_02
2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Roadglide 2023 Review Price Spec_01
2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Roadglide 2023 Review Price Spec_03


Price: £38,795 (+OTR) | Power: 115bhp | Weight: 393kg | Overall BikeSocial Rating: 4/5


Harley-Davidson doesn’t do change very often, so the legendary American brand’s launch of its two, virtually all-new CVOs – the top-of-the-range CVO Road Glide here and, its sister bike, the CVO Street Glide, is big news.

And they’re a big step up from previous Harleys, too. Although at a cursory glance still a slightly old-fashioned, air-cooled V-twin powering a bagger style cruiser, virtually every aspect is new. The 40-degree pushrod twin is bigger than ever at 1977cc, has liquid-cooled heads, variable valve timing (albeit fairly basic) and, for the first time, riding modes – five in fact. The chassis may still be a steel tube twin loop with twin rear shocks but the front forks have been upgraded, there are improved, remotely-adjustable rear shocks, new Brembo radial brakes, fancy cross-spoke wire wheels and the whole plot is much lighter than before, too – 35lbs lighter in the case of the CVO Road Glide, 31 with the CVO Street Glide.

While everything else about the CVOs is new, too. There’s new bodywork which is a significant evolution from that of old and incorporates fancy new LED lights and indicators, a new tank and larger panniers. Plus, possibly most impressively of all, there’s an all-new, massive, 12.3in TFT touchscreen dash along with all-new switchgear to help you navigate the myriad information, entertainment and navigation options.

But is all that actually ‘better’ than the old and, with prices nudging a heady £40K, is it all worth it? BikeSocial rode both new bikes at their world launch in Wisconsin (Harley’s first global launch since 2019 due to the pandemic) to find out. First the CVO Road Glide.


  • 121ci, l/c, VVT engine is HD’s biggest and most sophisticated yet

  • 35+lb weight reduction and improved cycle parts

  • Fabulous 12.5in TFT dash/infotainment

  • Updated style more evolution than revolution

  • Some colours already sold out

  • Eye-watering price


Review – In Detail

Price & PCP
Engine & Performance
Handling & Suspension (inc. weight & brakes)
Comfort & Economy


2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Price

Harley-Davidsons are rarely cheap (let’s not talk about the short-lived, failed, Indian-built Street 750 here) and its CVO (Custom Vehicles Operation) models are traditionally the most expensive of all – but these two new CVOs take things to the next level.

While the CVO Street Glide, as defined by its smaller, handlebar-mounted fairing, starts at an already hefty £38,295, the CVO Road Glide, with its larger frame-mounted fairing, is £500 more at £38,795. That price is a full £11,000 more than Harley’s current ‘standard’ Road Glide Special, which is £27,795 and while the new CVO has more or improved everything, whether that be performance, handling, technology or spec, it’s debateable whether it’s nearly 40% more or improved.

What’s more, that’s just the beginning. As mentioned, the CVO Road Glide ‘starts’ at £38,795, that’s for the ‘Dark Platinum with pinstripe’ (silver to you and me) version. If you want the alternative colour scheme, ‘Whisky Neat with Raven Metallic’ (bronze to you and me), which is apparently mostly hand applied, it costs a further £6000 extra.

Harley’s own PCP and HP finance packages are already available via its website at 9.9% APR and its calculator lets you create a package that suits you but, for example, a Whisky Neat CVO Road Glide bought on PCP over 36 months with a £10K deposit will still cost around £610 a month.

Bikes are already in production with first deliveries expected in late summer.



2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Engine & Performance

This is the first area of significant change with the CVOs. At the bikes’ presentation, Harley’s VP of Design, Brad Richards, explained that, after 35 years of only minor visual changes, the company’s challenge for the future was what he called the ‘used park’ – that is the huge number of used Harleys that look virtually identical to its new bikes thus discouraging sales. “Our challenge was to create a motorcycle that was clearly superior to the previous generation in terms of performance and technology,” he said.

“We couldn’t go too crazy,” he was quick to add. “We couldn’t come up with something that didn’t look like a Harley, so getting that balance right was crucial.”

So, while retaining the basic air-cooled, pushrod, 45-degree, V-twin, ‘Milwaukee Eight’ engine architecture, Harley has certainly achieved exactly that. A longer stroke gives the capacity boost, a new liquid-cooling system (complete with rad between the frame tubes) now cools the head in place of the previous oil-cooled system; the compression ratio has been raised from 10.2:1 to 11.4:1; there’s a bigger airbox and revised inlet tract and on the outlet a larger diameter exhaust.

On top of that there’s a new, fairly rudimentary ‘Variable Valve Timing’ system whereby a phaser, positioned between the cam drive sprocket and cam itself at the bottom of the vee varies cam timing according to rpm.

The overall result is a 10% boost in peak power to 115bhp and peak torque of 139lbft while mpgs are also claimed to be improved by 3-5%.

From the saddle you can certainly feel it, too. Although conspicuously still a lumpy, charismatic Hog, the new Road spins more freely and powers forward more urgently – and that’s whether you’re in Road, Sport, Rain or either of the two Custom riding modes, depending how you configure the latter.

That added zest and litheness is compounded, admittedly, by the bike’s significant weight loss, but there’s no denying that, while still characterised by its ‘potato-potato’ delivery and exhaust note and punctuated by its slightly clunky heel-toe gearchange (deliberately so, Harley says), there’s now an added dynamism and sharpness, especially in Sport mode (in truth, the slightly smoother Road is sufficient most of the time) the old Milwaukee Eight lacked.



2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Handling & Suspension (inc. Weight & Brakes)

While the CVOs’ new engines, styling and tech grab most of the headlines, it’s true that the new bikes’ chassis have had a major makeover, too. Although the twin loop frame is largely unchanged, there’s new inverted 47mm Showa forks up front, the twin rear units now have 50% more travel and new remote preload adjusters, there’s new radially-mounted Brembo brake calipers biting onto larger 320mm discs and there are fancy new wheels, too.

From the saddle, though, the biggest change is the reduction in weight. Thanks to a variety of measures such as thinner gauge steel being used for the new tank, a lighter dash and fairing and 12lbs shaved off the powertrain, the new CVO Road Glide is a full 35lbs lighter overall than the current Road Glide – and you certainly feel it.

Although still a hefty beast fully fuelled, there’s an all-round sense of weight loss, as if what was once iron is now steel, that is welcome whether manhandling around a car park or carving through turns. Sure, ultimately, it remains a nigh-on full dress tourer but it’s now more acceptable than pointlessly excessive; the ride remains plush but seems slightly more controlled; the steering is sharper and less vague and, best of all, the new brakes give power and control that would have seemed unimaginable on a Harley of a decade ago.



2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Comfort & Economy

With the CVO Road Glide’s new bodywork has come a new ergonomically designed seat, says Harley. In addition, this CVO Road Glide’s handlebars are also wider and flatter than the non-CVO version, to give, Harley says, a more natural riding position. In truth, without the benefit of a side-by-side comparison, I couldn’t tell.

From our 150mile test ride, however, I could ascertain a couple of things: one, with its more forward, frame mounted fairing, the CVO Road Glide provides a significantly roomier riding position than its sister CVO Street Glide, something I, as a taller rider at 6’3”, preferred. And, two, whatever the nuances between old and new, the CVO Road Glide’s riding perch is a more than satisfactory and, yes, natural place to be if you want to cover decent miles.

The new fairing is claimed to be more aerodynamic and, although there’s no screen adjustment (instead only an adjustable vent below the small screen), I had no complaints. If you do, Harley says a tall screen accessory will be available. New standard heated grips are another welcome addition (although not in a 28º Wisconsin summer) while rider cooling is also claimed to be improved via new adjustable vanes (although again, without a back-to-back test, it’s hard to confirm.



2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Equipment

This is one of the areas where the new CVO impresses most of all – although the cynic in me thinks that, at £38K, it bloody well should!

The addition of rider modes and Brembo radial brakes has already been mentioned. What hasn’t is the sheer bold brilliance of both CVOs’ new 12.3in TFT touchscreen dash (which, incidentally, is a full 90% larger than the old 6.5in version). In a word it’s astounding: expansive, comprehensive, customisable but just as impressively also clear and coherent. The brand new switchgear that goes with it is equally impressive – even though Harley has insisted on retaining its Big Twins’ trademark separate indicator buttons. Oh well, you can’t have everything…

There’s a great deal of common sense being applied here, too. All the audio controls have now been moved to the right hand ‘bar pod where the indicator button also acts (the other way) as the riding mode selector. So far, so straightforward. The left pod, meanwhile, serves mostly to navigate through bike settings, information, navigation screen etc and all is quickly intuitive. Both pods, as usual with Harley stuff, looks solid and durable as well.

And that’s just the start. There’s now WiFi as well as Bluetooth connectivity, a voice recognition system which, via the embedded navigation system can do things like ‘Take me to Starbucks’ (to be honest, I didn’t get the chance to test it), larger panniers and a further uprated audio system whereby a four-channel 500w amplifier now operates through four new higher spec speakers – two in the dash, two more in the front of the new side cases.



2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Rivals

In truth, at around £40K, the new CVO Road Glide has no direct rivals. It’s been created more as a flagship letter of intent for what is to come in the future. As an American bagger with a frame mounted fairing, however, these are what it should be compared to.


Indian, Challenger Limited, 2022 | Price: £25,595

Power/Torque: 100bhp/126lb-ft | Weight: 373kg


Harley-Davidson, Road Glide Special, 2023 | Price: £27,795

Power/Torque: 101.5bhp/124lb-ft | Weight: 388kg



2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Verdict

The Road Glide and Street Glide baggers are Harley-Davidson’s best-selling and arguably most important models so it’s easy to understand why they got this ‘CVO treatment’ first.

And, unless you’re the most traditional and inflexible of Harley fans, there’s no denying it’s a success. The new CVO Road Glide may have swoopy new bodywork and sophisticated technology but it’s also both unmistakably a traditional Harley V-twin in style, character and vibe AND the best one yet – and by quite a way – in terms of performance, handling and modern riding aids.

But the best bit for me – and again by a long way – is its all-new 12.3in TFT dash and associated switchgear and electronics. It’s very easy these days to plonk a big TFT dash on a bike and yet fail to design and develop its interface such that it works pleasingly and effectively. The new Harley one does just that. It’s clean, comprehensive, intuitive and covers a magnitude of functions from navigation to riding modes, machine status or simply listening to Waylon Jennings wound up to 10. It does all that brilliantly. And isn’t that high on the list of priorities for a bagger designed to cover 100s of miles of Interstate in bliss? The fact that the CVO Road Glide is also faster, better handling, better braking and better looking than any Road Glide before was almost a ‘given’.

But even with all that, the new CVO Road Glide’s ticket price of around £40K seems too much. It IS better – a lot better – but not £11K or near 40% better. While the £6K premium on top of that for the Whisky colour option is simply obscene. That said, in the US at least, that colour option is already sold out. Maybe Harley buyers know something I don’t after all.


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2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide - Technical Specification

New price

From £38,795



Bore x Stroke

103.5 x 117.5

Engine layout

45-degree V-twin

Engine details

Pushrod, 2 valves per cylinder, liquid/air cooled, electronic fuel injection, VVT


115bhp (86KW) @ 4500rpm


139lb-ft (189Nm) @ 3000rpm


6 speed, belt final drive

Average fuel consumption

47mpg claimed

Tank size

22.7 litres

Max range to empty

235 miles

Rider aids

Cornering ABS, Cornering traction control, 5 x riding modes


Tubular steel double cradle

Front suspension

Dual Bending Valve Showa 47mm forks

Front suspension adjustment


Rear suspension

Twin Showa shocks

Rear suspension adjustment


Front brake

320mm discs, radial four-piston Brembo calipers

Rear brake

300mm disc, four-piston Brembo caliper

Front wheel / tyre

130/60-19 Dunlop Harley-Davidson series

Rear wheel / tyre

180/55-18 Dunlop Harley-Davidson series

Dimensions (LxWxH)

2410mm x N/A x N/A



Seat height



393kg (wet)


24 months unlimited mileage


5000 miles / 12 months

MCIA Secured Rating

Not yet rated



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What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars (three stars for bikes of 125cc or less), based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard

  • An ignition immobiliser system

  • A vehicle marking system

  • An alarm system

  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.