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Redefing "special""...


“Not a nudie-bar in sight…sigh…”

This is one shut-yer-mouth, slap-arse, sass-filled, sumbitch of a motorcycle. It’s a statement. A declaration of both bling and bang that really is pretty special – both in how it goes and how it makes you feel when you’re riding it.


And that is exactly as it should be, because Harley is celebrating its 25th anniversary of making CVOs (Custom Vehicle Operations), and if it didn’t produce the bossiest of all hogs on this occasion, the gnashing of perfect American teeth would be heard from space.

Nothing has more front-presence than a Road Glide.

Perhaps a little context? The new generation of Harley touring beasts – the Road Glide and Street Glide – are already game-changers for Milwaukee. You may read about them HERE. Thoroughly modernised, with major improvements across the board – suspension, gearbox, brakes, rider aids, electronics, you name it, Harley has improved it.


It then hit some of them with the CVO wand. That meant a 121-cube VVT engine, better suspension again, and a killer Rockford Fosgate sound system.

All the red bits...

But it did not rest. It then made the CVO ST (And ‘ST’ clearly stands for ‘Special Thang’ not ‘Sports Touring’ as some seem to think), but only in limited numbers (I’ve heard 400 world-wide, but I cannot confirm this) which sold out within 45-minutes of going on-sale.

Now you see me…

And it made the CVO ST very special indeed, in just about every place Harley can make it special…

…now you don’t…

There’s an 11kg weight-saving. The diet was ruthless. Milwaukee even deemed the VVT to be one kilo too many and turfed that, making for a more efficient engine at higher revs. The footboards have been lipo-suctioned, there are no pillion anythings (no seat, no pegs, because she can get a taxi if’n she wants you bad enough), there’s just a mad-looking carbon-fibre hump where the pillion would sit. That carbon-fibre is repeated throughout the bike, and it’s injection-moulded, so it looks very different to what carbon-fibre normally looks like. Up close, it’s like stunning dappled marble. At a distance it looks like you may have forgotten to wash that bit, which will draw you closer to have a better look, and then you will see its glory.

Note the ground clearance.

The paint is incredible. And you can have it in white if there’s something wrong with you. Everyone else will buy the metal-flake black. In sunlight, it’s the night-sky with extra stars.

Suck it all in, baby…

Screamin’ Eagle everything is on it. From the red-kissed Stage Two heads, to the bull’s horn air filter which now no longer smashes your knee each time you ride and sucks in 26 per cent more air than the standard intake, to the carbon-fibre tipped titanium pipes. They didn’t make as much thunder as I expected them too, but I am convinced that’s only a two-beer solution there.

Showa fully adjustable suspension front and rear.

What was really trick was the remote-reservoir adjustable rear suspension. The reservoirs sit very neatly just in-board of the panniers and you can easily mess with the dials like you know what you’re doing. In all seriousness, this is the best-suspended Harley ever made.

Perfect for all your Beyonce needs up to about 120km/h.

It is also the smoothest, most powerful, and best-braked Harley ever made. It bangs most righteously, as you’d expect something that is grunting out a tad south of two-litres of displacement. And it owes much to the burgeoning King of the Baggers racing series. Consider the ST comes with two Track Modes (Track and Track-Plus), and the throttle-mapping for these is a cut-and-paste from the factory’s Screamin’ Eagle Road King race bike.

Injection-moulded carbon-fibre looks amazing up close.

The numbers are 127bhp at 4900rpm and 196Nm at 4000rpm. That is some real red-meat sumbitchery right there. And it’s quite astonishing to ride. It spins up very quickly – far faster than you’d think if you’ve ridden Harleys before, even tweaked ones. And its supernaturally smooth doing it. It’s still got that Big-Twin feel, it just no longer feels like it’s trying so hard it might explode.

The tank-strip is a work of art.

And what if I told you it handles brilliantly? No, not even in relative terms. There’s loads of ground clearance, and it tracks sweetly even when you’re being a dick and maybe riding it like there are police involved. Gone is that arse-weave so many Harleys tend to get when they’re over-tyred at the back, undersprung all over, and encountering anything other than smooth bends. So, the ST is not just a great Harley that can only be compared in greatness to other Harleys. It’s a bloody great bike in its own right.

That’s an angry hog.

If ever a Harley truly deserved the Fast Johnny decal on its side – the angry hog symbol of the legendary Wrecking Crew that raced Harleys back in the day –the ST is it.

Here’s me being special…

I first saw the CVO ST at the recent press launch of the standard Glides. The Australian boss of Harley, Nigel Keough, was riding it, which was only right and proper because he’s the boss. But Nigel would not share. He made sure the key-fob was always on him at every stop, so there was no chance some tattooed bastard could finish his coffee quicker and claim the ST until the next stop. I stalked Nigel anyway. I was open about my lust.

Titanium and carbon-fibre…

“Giz a go,” I’d say.


“No,” he’d smile.


“I will beg,” I told him at lunchtime. “Don’t think I won’t.”


“This is the only one in the country,” he said.

Someone really should build a nudie-bar out here…

“I don’t care,” I said and got on my knees in front of him.


“Look,” Nigel said. “I will give you a ride on it, but not today. If I let you ride it today, then I have to let the others ride it today, too.”


“No, you don’t,” I said. “I won’t give them the keys. I’ll beat them with chairs if they ask. I have more tattoos than they do, and we both know those Ulysses blokes can’t fight.”


But I made my peace with the situation. I’d get a ride on it. Just not that day.

It was a golden afternoon.

True to his word, the bike was made available to me shortly after I got back from the launch. And didn’t I just feel magnificent riding it. I took it to show all my mates. They would wander around it oohing and ahhing, even the ones who didn’t like Harleys. One of the Singo publicans I know gave me a free beer because I parked it in front of his pub.

It’s pretty majestic from here.

Like, I know it wasn’t mine and never would be, for I cannot afford such a thing, but the sheer pleasure I derived from riding it was very special. It’s the same feeling I get whenever I ride anything special – and I have ridden a few special things over the years. That is the entire point of bikes like the CVO ST. Yeah, they work and all that – and that’s important. But it’s how they make you feel when you ride them that is even more important. It’s intoxicating. Each ride is an exaltation. Each arrival somewhere is an occasion.


Verily, this is the Boss Hog.


HOW MUCH IS IT? The game begins at $62,995.

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Boris Mihailovic

Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.

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