Harley-Davidson’s CVO Softail Convertible returns for the third year running in 2012. And with good reason. In essence, you get two motorcycles in one as it converts from tourer to cruiser in minutes without the need of any tools. The windshield detaches quickly, the saddlebags pop right off and you can remove the passenger pillion and backrest entirely. Best part is, it looks custom stripped down, too. Without the bags and windshield on, attention is drawn to the cool chrome mini-ape handlebars and the 200mm backside. The fender is draped in plenty of high dollar paint and chrome pulleys, a shiny chain guard and an 18-inch Mirror Chrome Stinger wheel look sharp uncovered.
Harley’s spent a lot of resources making the touring side of the CVO Softail Convertible more pleasurable, redesigning the windshield, going both taller and wider in an effort to reduce wind blast around the head and torso. The new design features the addition of two new lower wind deflectors as well. Its most noticeable result is less windblast to the head. They’ve also made it easier for riders to find their destinations with the inclusion of a Road Tech zumo 660 GPS Navigator with turn-by-turn commands. The nav is positioned so it’s easy to see, high between the bars. It is integrated into the back of the detachable fairing, which also holds two 3.5-inch speakers. It is tied into the audio
A Road Tech zumo 660 GPS Navigator with an MP3 player is integrated into the redesigned windshield of the 2012 CVO Softail Convertible.
system so it will give you turn-by-turn commands over the speakers and automatically pauses music for navigation commands. The fairing comes with a small amp hidden away and the audio system includes an MP3 player.
The 2012 CVO Softail Convertible uses a counterbalanced Twin Cam 110 engine mounted rigidly to the steel frame. The Twin Cam 110B engine is teamed with a high-flow Ventilator air intake. Being the only CVO not to tip the scales at over 800 pounds (close though, its curb weight is a claimed 788 lbs), the CVO Softail Convertible will flog any stocker. Makes me wish they used this powerplant across the board. It’s geared to give you that immediate hit, with plenty of available torque in the midrange. The added horses are encouraging me to rev the throttle and dump the clutch to squeal some tires.
Jumping off the Road Glide Custom, the rider’s triangle of the 2012 CVO Softail Convertible feels very compact. The bars are down and in and easy to reach. At a laden 24.4 inches, the Softail Convertible has the second lowest seat height among Harleys and its rear suspension has been lowered an inch. After getting spoiled on the CVO Road Glide Custom, the suspension on the CVO Softail isn’t up to par as some of the bumps in the road are absorbed in the abdomen. The combination of a 200mm wide rear and floorboards that touch down way too early cost the Softail Convertible in cornering.
(L) There’s enough custom paint and chrome trim on the rear of the 2012 CVO Softail Convertible to make it look sharp without the bags on. (M) Harley spent a lot of resources redesigning the windshield, going both taller and wider in an effort to reduce wind blast around the head and torso. (R) Without the windscreen, attention is focused on the cool mini-ape handlebars of the 2012 CVO Softail.
On the touring side of the 2012 CVO Softail Convertible are standard cruise control and ABS. Its detachable leather saddlebags are mid-sized, lockable, and seal up against the elements. It is the only Softail with cruise control and throttle-by-wire. Harley-Davidson’s Smart Security System and keyless ignition sweeten the deal. There’s always one color package that stands out more so than the others and for us on the CVO Softail Convertible it was the Satin Pewter with Catacomb Graphics. This is the only version you can get the cool distressed brown leather seat with, which looked really sharp. The skulls in the artwork on the tank have all been hand-painted. The bike happens to be the best-selling CVO among women riders. Its versatility is a strong selling point as Harley made sure it’s a sharp-looking bike whether you’re cruising Main Street Sturgis or touring the Black Hills. At a sticker price of $29,699, the cost of the 2012 version has only gone up $100. I’d take the new windshield and the GPS for a hundred bucks any day.