Returning for 2011 is the $36,499 CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide. Based off one of our favorite long-range touring bikes, this Electra Glide is the ultimate in terms of luxury touring and performance and is also the most expensive model in Harley-Davidson’s line-up. Only around 1500 bikes will ever be made which raises the exclusivity factor further.
All Electra Glide CVO’s come in only one single colorway: A special Black Ember & Rio Red with Flame graphic paint scheme. The inner fairing assembly, inner fairing cap, rear fender filler strips, are all color-matched. The paint scheme is understated and we adore the burgundy red hue the bike was painted with, however we aren’t sold on the gaudy flame graphic. The Roulette-style wheels (17-inch diameter front, 16-inch rear) feature an elegant contrast chrome finish and the exhaust muffler end caps appear to be weapons grade.
A cocoon-like fork-mounted fairing and short windshield protect both rider and passenger from wind and road debris. Like the Road Glide Ultra, the Electra gets the same reshaped seat with adjustable backrests for both the rider and passenger. The passenger seat also has an “Ultra Electra Glide” monogram. The big luxo-tourer has a separate heating element for both seats. Further rider comfort comes in the form of heated grips.
(Above) The 2011 CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide is avaliable in only one color. (Center) The CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide uses a fork mounted front fairing. (Below) The gauges have a cool diamond cut inset.
The seating position is slightly more upright compared to the Road Glide Ultra and even though the fairing is attached directly to the fork, there is no perceivable difference in steering effort. The instruments are easy-to-read and feature a visually pleasing diamond-cut inset in each gauge pod.
Like the Road Glide Ultra, the Electra gets a modular handlebar-mounted Road Tech zumo 660 GPS. But this one is integrated into the Harmon/Kardon audio system, feeding you step-by-step voice directions through the speakers which makes it that much easier to reach your destination.
The controls to operate the audio system are integrated into the handlebar-mounted switch gear, plus the wires are tucked within the bar which gives the cockpit a clean, refined look. It’s a nice touch and this attention to detail sets Harley-Davidson motorcycles apart from the competition.
Like the Road Glide Ultra, the Electra features three fixed hard case storage solutions. Each bag is lined with a soft CVO monogrammed carry-out liner which makes it easier to lug your belongings around when you reach your destination. Each bag also has internal lighting to make it easier to see at night. There is also a 12-volt cigarette-style power plug to power electronic devices. The cases 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 and a fixed chrome rack. Additional storage solutions come in the form of fairing storage boxes located in either side of the fairing.
On the road the Twin Cam 110 V-Twin has adequate power to get you moving forward quickly. The added engine displacement was much appreciated during our ride through the Sierra Nevadas at upwards of a mile above sea level. Engine throttle response and the fuel injection settings are well calibrated with the engine running spot-on. The transmission shifts though each gear without fuss and offers a ‘tight’ yet reassuring engagement feel.
The Electra Glide steers easily for a bike that weights nearly 900 pounds and generally feels slightly more agile compared to the heavier Road Glide Ultra. There is also a surprising amount of available ground clearance for a bike this size and requires a considerable lean angle to get hard parts to touch down. The suspension’s damping characteristics are well tuned and do an admirable job of isolating the rider from the effects of bumpy pavement.
A good quality and easy to manipulate braking system complements the Electra Glide’s friendly handling manners. The brakes offer acceptable stopping power plus incorporate ABS so you never have to worry about locking up either tire in a panic stop or when riding in inclement weather or on slippery surfaces.
Like always, the Electra Glide continues to impress us. Its timeless styling and effortless performance make it one of our favorite bikes to pile numbers on the odometer. However, its road worthiness comes with a lofty price tag.