2011 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Ultra

July 27, 2010
Adam Waheed
By Adam Waheed
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His insatiable thirst for life is only surpassed by his monthly fuel bill. Whether rocketing on land, flying through the air, or jumping the seas, our Road Test Editor does it all and has the scars to prove it.

Comfortable long range touring is what the 2011 CVO Road Glide Ultra is all about.
Comfortable long-range touring is what the 2011 CVO Road Glide Ultra is all about.

The newest model in the line-up is the $35,999 CVO Road Glide Ultra. This luxury touring bike is based on Harley’s fantastic Road Glide, a motorcycle that we’ve spent considerable time aboard during our 2010 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Custom First Ride and Harley-Davidson San Diego ride experiences.
Some of the features it shares with the standard model are the wide frame-mounted front fairing with dual halogen headlamps. The CVO version ups the touring ante with its stretched 16-inch windshield and fixed hard case saddlebags. Each bag is lined with a soft liner with a printed CVO monogram and has interior lighting for use at night. There’s also a 12-volt cigarette lighter-style power plug for charging electronic devices. The saddlebags can be locked and unlocked remotely with the power lock system. The top case also has an integrated and color-matched LED brake/tail lamp. Above, a fixed rack allows you to strap additional or oversized cargo with you on the ride. Additional storage solutions come in the form of a fairing storage box located in the inner fairing.

To make distance riding more pleasurable, the CVO Road Glide Ultra has wind deflectors atop the engine guards that redirect turbulent air from the area between the fairing and the fuel tank. The one-inch diameter handlebar has a different bend and the wires that run the switch gear are neatly hidden within the bar.

The inner fairing is color matched to the exterior paint on the CVO Road Glide Ultra.
The CVO Road Glide Ultra gets a redesigned seat.
The CVO Road Glide Ultra is powered by a 110 Twin Cam V-Twin engine.
(Above) The inner fairing is color matched to the exterior paint on the CVO Road Glide Ultra. (Center) The CVO Road Glide Ultra gets a redesigned seat. (Below) The CVO Road Glide Ultra is powered by a Twin Cam 110 V-Twin engine.

Compared to previous H-D touring seats, this one has been reshaped slightly and has integrated dual-control heating elements and backrests with leather inserts. The passenger backrest also has adjustable lumbar support and an “Ultra Road Glide” monogram. On the road the reshaped rider seat didn’t feel any different to the previous iteration, but that’s not a bad thing as Harley’s touring seat is one of the best in the industry. 

The newest member of the CVO family comes with additional electronic gizmos in the form of a removable Road Tech Zumo GPS and a communication system with CB/intercom and XM satellite radio capabilities for both rider and passenger. Navigating through the radio’s features is a simple affair as is using the touch screen GPS, even while wearing gloves.

Styling-wise the CVO Road Glide has weapon-themed chrome billet muffler end caps. It rolls on a pair of 18-inch diameter, 7-spoke, mirror chrome Agitator wheels and is offered in three color schemes (Rio Red and Black Ember with Quartzite Graphic, Charcoal Slate and Black Twilight with Quartzite Graphic, Frosted Ivory and Vintage Gold with Quartzite Graphic) with a color-matched inner fairing and instruments.

Of the three color options our favorite is the Red and Black Ember colorway. However, we don’t like the look of the color-matched inner fairing as it makes the appearance of the cockpit cheesy. The topcase also detracts from its overall look and might have complemented the design more if it was modular. On the flipside, we do like the trim inset used inside the gauges.
Considering that our ride took place in and around Lake Tahoe, Nevada (elevation approximately 5000 feet) the Twin Cam 110 delivered a decent amount of pep under acceleration and climbed steep highway grades without the need to downshift to a lower gear. The added displacement generally negated the effects of operation at altitude and made performance feel essentially the same as a standard Twin Cam 96 engine operated at sea level.

Like all Harley’s we’ve tested lately, the transmission has a precise feel with its short lever throw between each gear and a reassuring ‘thud’ during engagement. Clutch lever pull is both light and smooth and since the engine offers so much low end torque, virtually no clutch slippage is required when launching from a stop.

Handling-wise, the CVO Road Glide Ultra feels more top heavy as compared to the standard model, which can be attributed to its extra heft and higher center of gravity. Yet it still surprises riders not only by how easily it changes course but how predictable steering feels for a bike that weighs 905 lbs.

The up-spec Twin Cam 110 engine delivers adequate acceleration performance.
The up-spec Twin Cam 110 engine delivers improved acceleration off the line.

The suspension sorts out rough pavement well and is very effective at shielding the rider from the effects of bumpy surfaces. Brake performance is adequate and for the most part the ABS is calibrated well although it does engage a bit early for my tastes which can compromise stopping distance in an emergency.

Overall we like the way the Road Glide Ultra performs. It’s comfortable enough to spend all day at the controls of plus it serves up a respectable level of performance. Only around 3000 motorcycles will be made so if you’re looking to get your hands on this bike you better do it soon.

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