Harley-Davidson brings back one of the most tenured models in its CVO program for 2012, the CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide. The Screamin’ Eagle Electra Glide made its CVO debut in 2005 and hasn’t missed the lineup since. The Motor Company thinks so highly of it they even offered a special blacked-out CVO version in 2010.
The 2012 CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide puts the “L” in luxury touring motorcycle. Harley took one of the comfiest seats around and made it even better by reshaping the rider area of the suspended seat. Both rider and passenger are in control of the independently adjustable heated seats while lumbar support will help those long miles pass by comfortably. Heated hand grips, cruise control that’s easily operable via controls on the right handlebar, and ABS contribute to its list of touring luxuries. Another luxury item is its power locking system. Owners can lock or unlock the ignition, saddlebags and Tour-Pak luggage using the key fob. The fob is an important device to the CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide as it also activates the Smart Security System and the bike won’t start unless the key fob is within range.
Touring’s also all about storage space and the CVO Ultra Classic has it in spades. Its King Tour-Pak offers 2.26 cubic-feet and is capable of easily holding a couple of full-faced helmets. It has nice chrome trim in the form of an Air-wing rack on the outside and new bass booster ports on the inside. The 2012 CVO Ultra Classic has a chrome wraparound LED which is highly visible when riders get on the brakes (I noticed while trailing the bike). Then there’s space in the hard saddlebags and pockets in the fairing lowers to boot.
(L) Between the saddlebags and Harley’s King Tour-Pak, the 2012 CVO Ultra Classic offers a bounty of storage space. (M) Harley took one of the comfiest seats around and made it even better by reshaping the rider area of the suspended seat.(R) The cockpit of the CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide has an attractive, functional layout.
Like the other CVOs, the 2012 CVO Ultra Classic also pumps up the volume with the addition of a Boom! Audio High Performance system which includes bagger speakers and “Audio Bass Booster Ports” in the bottom liner of the Tour-Pak. An 8GB iPod nano is part of the package and is now accessible via the hand controls. A Road Tech zumo 660 GPS, standard gear on the CVO Ultra Classic, will keep riders on the desired path. Harley mounts it on the upper left corner of the fairing so they didn’t have to rearrange the layout of the Ultra Classic’s gauges. It also makes it easy to see when in motion. And while high-end electronics and an improved sound system is appreciated, the bike’s most striking new feature is its Mirror Chrome Chisel Custom Wheels with matching Chisel brake rotors. It’s hard to
believe they put such cool custom seven-spoke wheels on a big tourer, but they did. I could easily see these wheels being used for other, more sporting applications.
The air-cooled 110 cubic-inch V-Twin is rubber mounted and is very vibey at idle but settles into a lumping cadence at speed. The powerplant features Harley’s Engine Idle Temperature Management Strategy where the rider can manually deactivate a cylinder to keep the air-cooled engine from running hot. The 110 on the CVO Ultra Classic was able to pick back up from a very low rpm without bogging down when an uphill hairpin turn caught us off-guard. It has a high performance clutch, which helps the transmission engage a touch quieter and smoother. But finding Neutral, especially on the Ultra Classic, was difficult at times.
With a 63.5-inch wheelbase, the CVO Ultra Classic feels compact. Ergos are very upright and comfy, good for the long haul. ABS helps haul this almost 900 pound behemoth to a halt, and we noticed the system on the Electra Glide is a bit more touchy than the others. But there’s a reason Harley has brought the motorcycle back for eight consecutive years. It’s fit and finish for a classicly styled luxury tourer is unparalleled, it offers plenty of storage, has excellent range and handles sharply after you get it above parking lot speeds. Harley’s premium luxury touring motorcycle comes at a premium price with an MSRP of $37,249. Exclusivity doesn’t come cheap.