2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide and CVO Road Glide

Women riders’ favorite touring motorcycles are lighter and faster than ever

By Tricia Szulewski, Editor, Photos by Brian J. Nelson and Kevin WIng

Harley-Davidson CVO

Harley-Davidson hosted journalists from around the globe to be the first to try the newest versions of women’s favorite touring motorcycles. The 2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide and CVO Street Glide motorcycles were introduced at the world press introduction in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in conjunction with its 120th Anniversary Homecoming Festival in July. As one of only three women moto-journalists there, I was excited to try out the bikes which were given a ton of significant upgrades.

Harley-Davidson CVO (“Custom Vehicle Operations”) motorcycles stand apart from other Harleys right out of the crate. The limited-production bikes often showcase the company’s latest and greatest parts and innovative designs which eventually trickle into its regular production models and accessories catalog. CVO customers pay quite a pretty penny extra to be the first to have them and for exclusive paint schemes.

2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide and CVO Street Glide — A New Look

The first thing you notice about an oncoming motorcycle is the headlight and style of the fairing. Most of us can easily differentiate between the Harley-Davidson Street Glide and Road Glide fairings. The Street Glide’s fork-mounted “batwing” fairing has a round headlight that moves with the handlebar. The Road Glide has a frame-mounted “shark nose” fairing with a larger cutout for the headlight that has, until now, housed two side-by-side headlights. For 2023, while the fairings and everything in them are totally new, these distinctions remain.

2023 Harley-Davidson Road Glide CVO woman rider
The 2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide’s frame-mounted fairing is highly recognizable even from a distance, as the “shark nose” has an all new look with its integrated LED headlights and turn signals. As with previous versions, the Road Glide’s headlights are much more pronounced than the Street Glide’s.
2023 Harley-Davidson Street Glide CVO woman rider
The fork-mounted CVO Street Glide fairing also has a new look that keeps its traditional single headlight but is more visible with integrated LED lights along the Batwing.

The 2023 Harley-Davidson CVO baggers’ new headlight shapes make them easily recognizable from previous versions. All the lighting is LED and integrated, enabling Harley to ditch the bullet-style turn signals (front and rear) which streamlines the look and saves weight.

2023 Harley-Davidson Street Glide CVO woman rider
The new CVO taillight and turn signals are seamlessly designed into a new shape that reminds me of brackets [ ] or what you see on some cars. They offer a large visual, which I like for added safety. I'm wearing a Klim Artemis jacket, Schuberth C5 helmet, Harley-Davidson Vardon riding shoes, and BMW City jeans.

2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Finishes

It’s hard to argue that Harley-Davidson paint is the best you can get short of a custom paint job. I find myself drooling over the CVOs year after year just for their extra-special attention-getting graphic cosmetic treatment. For 2023, the CVO Road Glide and CVO Street Glide come in two paint options: Whiskey Neat / Raven Metallic and Dark Platinum with Pinstripe and start at $42,999. The former comes with a $6,000 price tag but is stunning. A CVO Road Glide Limited is also available in 120 Anniversary colors and special emblems—Heirloom Fade—and starts at a jaw-dropping $51,999.

2023 Harley-Davidson Road Glide CVO
Savvy onlookers will notice subtle changes in the basic shape of the new bikes. The saddlebags are shapely (and larger) and new side covers and fairing lowers create a beautiful visual continuity while directing air flow well.
2023 Harley-Davidson CVO fuel tank
For the first time in Harley’s 120-year history, the teardrop design of the fuel tank has been given beveled edges which emphasize shadows and highlights that gives the gorgeous paint a richer appearance. The 6-gallon capacity is well-suited to touring duty.

Touring motorcycles need ample storage, and the new CVOs don’t disappoint. Continuing the bevel, the new shape of the saddlebags may appear more compact, but actually offer more storage and bigger speakers. From behind you notice how the bags curve and taper at the tail. The lack of antenna and new design of the taillights further tidy up the rear end.

New Harley-Davidson CVO TFT Touchscreen Display

The Motor Company has exceeded industry standards again by setting a new bar for motorcycle dashboard displays. An all-new infotainment system features a wide 12.3-inch touch screen TFT with a new interface called “Skyline OS.” A plethora of information is encased in a beautiful, easy to see, well-designed layout. There are several preset display setups for different riding situations: cruising, touring, or sport riding. You can further customize the widgets to see exactly what you want. High contrast mode toggles the mostly black display to mostly white.

2023 Harley-Davidson Street Glide CVO inner dash
The 2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide (shown here) and CVO Road Glide inner fairings are streamlined and modernized. Harley eliminated all the round analog controls by integrating all the information (and more) into the single 12.5 inch TFT display. There's also no more keyed ignition. Fewer parts mean less weight.
2023 Harley-Davidson Street Glide CVO dash TFT
The TFT’s long width allows for a number of customized screen displays, so you can choose to see exactly what you want.
2023 Harley-Davidson Street Glide CVO dash TFT
I’m a map person, so having navigation in front of me is always my choice. But I also like to see fuel level, a clock, and my speed. I’ve got it all dialed in with this display option. My only issue is that riders have to reach to the screen and pinch to zoom in and out. There’s no way to zoom on the hand controls.

The new display is compatible with Apple (Carplay) and Android, and has Wifi and Bluetooth built in. Wifi connectivity allows traffic, weather, and navigation to stream directly to the display as well as keeping software updated. Using the H-D App, users can configure routes on the Harley-Davidson Trip Planner web site and transfer them to the motorcycle.

Harley-Davidson CVO Controls

The TFT touchscreen can be used with any glove but most of the controls can be manipulated without taking your hands off the grips. That’s good for me, because the reach to the Road Glide display is too far for me while riding.

2023 Harley-Davidson CVO left hand controls
The left hand controls include the usual suspects such as cruise control, horn, and high beam, in addition to everything you need to navigate through the TFT display.
2023 Harley-Davidson CVO right hand controls
The right hand controls have the volume and music buttons now. Heated grips are standard on the CVOs and are now controlled through the instrument display rather than the dial on the grip itself.

Premium Sound System

Premium sound is achieved through Rockford Fosgate Stage II audio which includes a 4-channel 500-watt RMS amplifier. A 7-band equalizer offers custom settings whether you want to rock out or dance in your saddle like I do. Testing the sound quality out with a variety of tunes, I’m truly impressed with the output, even at higher speeds.

2023 Harley-Davidson CVO saddlebag speakers
Each 5 x 7-inch saddlebag and 6.5-inch fairing speaker puts out 150 watts each. A Stage III 6 x 9-inch, 250-watt saddlebag speaker upgrade is available that works with the 500-watt amp and is designed to fit the new saddlebag lids.
2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide dash drawer
The CVO Road Glide has a USB-C connector inside a drawer that spans the length of the TFT display (10 x 8 inches). You can plug in your phone or other small devices to charge while riding without fear of it flying out.
2023 Harley-Davidson Road Glide CVO fairing compartment
The CVO Road Glide still has a compartment on each side of the fairing. The right side is where the USB-C connector lives.

Performance-Driven Upgrades

Revolutionizing motorcycle racing like never seen before, MotoAmerica’s King of the Baggers racing series highlights the battle between the two big American motorcycle baggers—Harley-Davidson's Road Glide vs Indian Challenger. The showdown has transformed racing and is a big reason why the baggers we consumers can get our hands on are improving so rapidly.

The 2023 Harley-Davidson CVOs are a perfect example of this. Highly influenced by H-D’s racing team, most of the team members are doing two jobs at once—racing development and OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) development. The team takes what it learns from the track directly to the OEM product. Harley’s King of the Bagger champions Travis and Kyle Wyman work with Harley engineers offering direct feedback on the ride and handling of the new products.

Kyle Wyman Screamin Eagle Road Glide
Kyle Wyman powers the Screamin’ Eagle factory Harley-Davidson Road Glide at New Jersey Motorsports Park in the final round of the 2023 series. He won the race and placed 3rd in the series overall. Harley took first, second, and third places overall. Even cooler, Kyle himself led my group on the CVO press ride!
2023 Harley-Davidson Road Glide CVO 121 inch engine
The CVOs introduce Harley’s new Milwaukee-Eight VVT 121 engine. The 121-cubic-inch 45-degree V-Twin has 139 foot pounds of torque at 3000 rpm and 115 horsepower at 4500 rpm. The washable air cleaner is twice as large as the on previous CVO M-8 117 engines, allowing more volume intake, translating to more power.

Riding the New Harley-Davidson CVO Glides

I’m a long-time fan of the frame-mounted Road Glide in all its iterations, and was thankful for the 2022 Road Glide Limited I rode on the 2000-mile Chix on 66 AMCA ride. The riding position is perfect for my 5-foot-7-inch frame. The 2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide sports a taller wider handlebar that is a bit too tall for my liking, however. Harley makes it easy to pivot the bar toward you without having to replace any parts, but smaller riders may prefer to replace it altogether. The CVO Street Glide, however, retains its low handlebar position.

2023 Harley-Davidson Road Glide CVO Tricia Szulewski woman rider
The CVO Road Glide is 35 pounds lighter and both bikes have 8 percent more torque and 9.5 percent more horsepower than their predecessors. The incredible power and great handling makes these bikes easy and fun to ride.
2023 Harley-Davidson Street Glide CVO Tricia Szulewski woman rider
The 2023 CVO Street Glide’s handlebars are lower and more relaxed. I like looking over a windshield, and both bikes come with low shields with an adjustable vent that helps riders dial in aerodynamics to remove wind buffeting.
2023 Harley-Davidson CVO floorboard Whiskey Neat
Both bikes have large rider floorboards that allow you to adjust your knee bend for long-haul comfort. A two-piece heel toe shifter is standard equipment on the CVOs but if, like me, you prefer the extra room on the floorboard, you can easily remove the heel attachment. I love how the Whiskey Neat color is carried throughout the design, inset into the floorboard and the pegs (as well as the grips and other subtle places.)
2023 Harley-Davidson CVO seat
The 2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide and Street Glide seat shape and materials are designed to rotate the rider’s hips in order to reduce fatigue on the lower back and neck. Spending only about 150 miles in the saddle isn’t long enough for a real test, but as someone who suffers from lower back pain frequently, I’m pleasantly surprised with the comfort level.
2023 Harley-Davidson Street Glide CVO woman rider Tricia Szulewski
The CVO Street Glide is 31 pounds lighter than the 2022 CVO. Even at 838 pounds, it feels incredibly flickable and easy to manage.

Power and Ride Modes

Twist the throttle and you get a satisfying rev thanks in part to the larger diameter mufflers. The exhaust note is signature Harley sound, and the temptation to rev it up is hard to deny. Build a powerful motorcycle, and you’re going to get plenty of riders who want to take it to its limits.

Ride modes are included for the first time on the CVO Road Glide and CVO Street Glide. These include Road, Sport, Rain, and two custom modes. Each ride mode consists of a specific combination of power delivery, engine braking, cornering ABS, and cornering traction control system settings.

Technology and Safety

Thankfully, the 2023 CVO’s get a host of new technologies that assist riders in maintaining traction and stability. These safety features include Cornering Electronically Linked Brakes (C-ELB), Cornering ABS (C-ABS), Cornering Traction Control (C-TCS) with modes, Cornering Drag Torque Slip Control (C-DTSC), and Vehicle Hold Control (VHC), which helps with starting on a hill.

TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) is another convenience included in the CVO package. Not having to crawl around under saddlebags to check air pressure is a real perk. The reality is that most of us skip this incredibly important pre-ride check because of inconvenience.

2023 Harley-Davidson CVO front wheel
The 2023 Harley-Davidson CVO baggers get combination cast/laced wheels with Dunlop Harley-Davidson spec tires. The front is 19 inches and the rear is 18 inches. The black machine-cut cast aluminum rim with laced spokes are snazzy and look custom.

Upgraded Suspension

A new sporty front suspension suits the high-performance characteristics of the Harley-Davidson CVO baggers well. 4.6 inches of suspension travel on inverted front forks are held by a new triple clamp that is 7 pounds lighter. The new setup provides more stability and offers more consistent tire contact with the road.

Rear suspension has also been significantly improved. Three inches of travel is 50% more than previous versions. SHOWA dual outboard emulsion technology shock absorbers feature a new remote hydraulic preload adjustment knob located forward of the left saddlebag. Rebound damping is adjustable but requires removal of the saddlebags.

2023 Harley-Davidson CVO suspension preload adjuster
The exposed knob is perfect for adjusting preload for those times when you add a passenger or up to 100 pounds of luggage.

Better Braking

Front and rear brake systems on the Harley-Davidson CVO baggers is upgraded and well-suited for the high-performance machines. Premium Brembo brake components include dual front disc brakes that feature radially mounted four-piston Brembo calipers. The front brake rotor diameter is increased to 320mm from the 300mm on previous models. The rear brake uses a four-piston Brembo caliper on a 300mm rotor.

2023 Harley-Davidson CVO adjustable brake lever
Using the brakes is even easier now that Harley has included an adjustable-reach front brake lever.
2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide woman rider
For a premium price, riders get to experience the best of what Harley has to offer on its 2023 CVO Street Glide and Road Glide.

Go Test Ride One!

It usually takes a couple years for many of the great new features to make it into production of the non-CVO motorcycles. So if you just can’t wait to try out the best that is currently available, visit your dealership today and ask to check out the new Harley-Davidson CVO baggers.

Visit Harley-Davidson.com for more eye candy.

Specs at a Glance

2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide and CVO Street Glide
Engine Size: 121-inch (1983cc)
Seat Height: 28.1 inches
Fuel Capacity: 6 gallons
Wet Weight: 862 pounds (Road Glide); 838 pounds (Street Glide)
Colors: Dark Platinum with Pinstripe; Whiskey Neat / Raven Metallic ($6,000)
MSRP: Starting at $42,999

WRN Recommendation

Women riders have long-favored Harley’s Street Glide with the Road Glide coming in a close second as Women’s Top Touring Motorcycle. Both baggers are excellent options—even if your version of touring is just cruising around with your best riding buddies.

Both the new 2023 Harley-Davidson CVO baggers are better than ever, packing in technology that makes the ride more tailored to each individual rider. The tall bars, extended reach to the touch screen, and higher weight makes me think the CVO Street Glide is the better bike for most women. But if you like the tall bars, the CVO Road Glide’s fork mounted fairing offers excellent stability (there’s a reason why the Road Glide is the racing bagger.)

Either way, you can’t go wrong. The 121-inch engine rips and the comfort level and TFT display features are top notch. Who is going to join me in the Queen of the Baggers club?

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