2011 Harley-Davidson CVO Softail Convertible

July 27, 2010
Adam Waheed
By Adam Waheed
Road Test Editor|Articles|Articles RSS|Blog|Blog Posts|Blog RSS

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.

2011 CVO Softail Convertible
If you can’t choose between a custom street cruiser and a long distance tourer, then the Softtail Convertible may be the bike for you.

Those motorcyclists seeking the best of both worlds would appreciate the $29,599 CVO Softail Convertible. It can quickly transform from custom touring to custom cruising within minutes courtesy of its removable front fairing, leather saddlebags, passenger pillion and backrest. Based off the standard Softail platform, the CVO Softail Convertible adds a clever detachable fairing that can be removed quickly without tools. Simply unlatch the two pins that hold the fairing, pull off the soft leather saddle bags, remove the passenger seat and back rest and you’re ready to hit the boulevard.

In addition to a short windscreen the fairing houses a simple two speaker audio system with a pocket for the included iPod nano MP3 player. The Convertible comes in three colors: Scarlet Red Pearl and Dark Slate Pearl with Metal Grind Graphics, Midnight Sky and Candy Cobalt with Blue Ice Graphics, and Maple Metallic and Roman Gold with Burnished Copper Graphics, our favorite being the latter. Additionally, both the frame and the swingarm match the exterior color. Lastly, it rolls on a set of 18-inch diameter Stinger chrome wheels.

As opposed to the other CVOs, the Softail uses a counterbalanced version of the Twin Cam 110 engine. It’s then mounted rigidly to the steel frame. Additional engine performance comes in the form of a high-flow Ventilator engine air intake, while spent gases travel through a chrome twin pipe exhaust system.

The CVO Softail Convertible has limited ground clearance.
Riding position on the 2011 Softtail Convertable is a bit more forward than expected and wouldn’t beias desirable for those longer weekend rides.

Once seated in its wide, thick saddle the first thing you notice is how low the seat is. Seat height is only two feet above the ground which makes this bike a good option for women or shorter riders. The seat sports Alligator-style inserts on it as do the saddlebags and passenger seat.

Reach toward the mini-ape style handlebar and you’ll notice that it’s much less of a stretch as compared to the larger dedicated touring steeds, but it does take a moment to get accustomed to how high your hands rest on the bar. The seat and position of the bars equate to a more forward-biased riding position and it isn’t that comfortable unless you’re only planning on going for a short ride.

Overall, the Softail doesn’t feel that big which makes it slightly easier to maneuver in the parking lot than the CVO touring steeds. Even though it feels smaller it still weighs a considerable amount, tipping the scales at a claimed 754 lbs. On the road the 2011 Softail Convertible doesn’t deliver as comfortable a ride as the dedicated touring bikes, even with the touring fairing installed. While the suspension does deliver a more intimate feel of the road, it comes at the price of overall ride quality. On rough pavement the Softail will wear out the rider quickly. It also has extremely limited ground clearance, evidenced by the dragging of hard parts at moderate cornering speeds.

The 2011 Harley-Davidson CVO Softail Covertible retails for  29 599.
The 2011 CVO Softtail Convertible is the jack-of-all-trades in the Harley-Davidson line-up.

While the Softail lags behind in handling and ride quality, it makes up for it in acceleration. While the engine vibrates a bit more, it also accelerates faster than the other CVO’S due to its reduced rolling mass. Equally as pleasing is the sound emitted from its twin chrome mufflers and the action of the transmission and clutch.

So who is the CVO Softail Convertible for? Riders looking to maximize their investment because in essence you get two motorcycles for the price of one, a bike that can be loaded up for the ride to your favorite rally then quickly stripped down to cruise the scene that night. For Harley purists looking to join the exclusive CVO ownership club, the Softail Convertible comes with the lowest sticker price of H-D’s 2011 CVO models.

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