Long-term update: 2024 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide

Harley-Davidson Road Glide

James Oxley is handed the keys to the 2024 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide to begin life with his new long-term review bike.

Regular readers of Adventure Biker Rider will know I’ve undergone something of a motorcycling awakening over the past few months, having had my eyes opened to the wonderful world of bagger touring. And while I’ve got no intention of turning my back on adventure bikes anytime soon, I’m happy to tell anyone who will listen that I’ve relished broadening my motorcycling horizons, and I’d highly recommend you give it a go to.

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The change came upon me last November when I spent a few glorious days exploring South Africa on a gleaming BMW bagger. The experience of crossing wide open plains on roads stretching to the horizon with 350kg of throbbing metal between my legs left an indelible mark. I couldn’t get enough of it. So, a few months later, I didn’t need asking twice when Harley-Davidson invited me to the international press launch of two of the most desirable baggers on the planet, the 2024 Road Glide and Street Glide, in the South of France.

Let’s take a moment

Harley-Davidson Road Glide

Now, at this stage, it’s worth pausing to answer a couple of questions you might have: what exactly makes a motorcycle a bagger, and why have I been riding them for ABR magazine? To answer the first question, the term tends to be used to describe any bike equipped with a large, wide fairing and rigid saddlebags that slope downwards at the rear. The bikes often feature powerful engines and are known for being comfortable to ride over long distances. Oh, and they look achingly cool.

Which brings me to the second question: why did the editor of Adventure Bike Rider fly to the South of France to test ride these sensational bikes? The answer is simple: baggers are hugely popular and capable touring bikes, particularly in the USA, where their combination of power, comfort, storage, and style has fuelled cross-country roads trips for generations.

And while you’re not going to be taking a bagger greenlaning anytime soon, here at ABR we live by the mantra that ‘you don’t need to go off road to have an adventure’ (although we’d always recommend giving it a go). So, as a motorcycle travel magazine, testing two bikes designed to explore long-distance on two wheels makes perfect sense.

Long-distance tourer

Harley-Davidson Road Glide

I came away from that press launch beaming from the sheer pleasure of riding both bikes, but it was the Road Glide that really got under my skin. It’s higher bars and laid-back riding position were perfect for long-distance cruising, and its combination of comfort and power made the bike an excellent touring machine.

But I was also seriously impressed at how well a bike of its size, weight, and power handled when I got a hustle on in the twisties. OK, we’re not talking Multistrada agility here, but there was something exhilarating and hugely satisfying about commanding the big Road Glide through tight twists and turns. Dare I say, it all felt rather manly, and I swear my jaw line became more pronounced during the ride.

Read my full review of the 2024 Harley-Davidson Road Glide and Street Glide in the May/June issue of Adventure Bike Rider magazine. Get your copy today with free UK postage HERE

Back home, I genuinely found myself browsing the Auto Trader website dreaming of owning my own Road Glide, which is high praise when you consider that, in my job, I have the privilege of riding many of the world’s best motorcycles on a regular basis. But there was something about that gleaming hunk of American metal that was gnawing away at me.

Dumb good luck

Harley-Davidson Road Glide

So, call it serendipity, call it fate, or simply dumb good luck, but when a chap from Harley-Davidson phoned last month to offer me a 2024 CVO Road Glide as a long-term review bike for ABR, I didn’t procrastinate.

The letters ‘CVO’ in the name made the offer all the more appealing. They stand for Custom Vehicle Operation and are given to limited edition machines that represent the pinnacle of Harley-Davidson style, design, and engineering. In the 2024 CVO Road Glide, this includes packing the most powerful engine ever to be factory-installed by Harley-Davidson, the Milwaukee-Eight VVT 121, which goes some way to explaining the £38,995 price tag.

With the CVO Road Glide as my new long-term loan bike, not only was I looking forward to indulging in my new found passion for riding big baggers this summer, but the motorcycle journalist in me was also curious to discover what it was like to live with one of these machines, and what it feels like to put some serious miles under its belt drive.

You see, while it’s easy for a bike to shine while exploring South Africa’s Western Cape or cruising the French Rivera, I wanted to know how the CVO Road Glide would perform in less exotic surroundings, like on my commute to work along the A46 on a Monday morning. Or how about on the four-hour motorway blast during my regular weekend pilgrimages to Cornwall.

CVO Road Glide

Harley-Davidson Road Glide

Well, I’ve only had the bike for a couple of weeks, but so far so good. Yes, there’s no getting away from the fact that it is unashamedly big, heavy, loud, and brash but that’s what makes the Road Glide so much fun to ride. I’ve genuinely never enjoyed my daily commute as much as this. Rip open the throttle and a maelstrom of torque is unleashed, but the bike is also surprisingly well-behaved when puttering through traffic.

It looks great, sounds great, and most importantly feels sensational to ride. OK, so it’s not as practical or nimble as the adventure bikes I usually travel on, especially when it comes to filtering, but I’ve found myself not caring. Instead, I’ve been content to slow the pace and relish spending more time in the saddle rather dashing through every gap that opens up ahead of me.

But fear not, I know few, if any, people will be buying a £38,995 motorcycle and subjecting it to the daily grind, so I’ll be logging plenty far more satisfying miles over the next few months to get a better feel for what the CVO Road Glide is like to live with as a touring machine.

However, over this first couple of weeks, my biggest takeaway has been thus: riding this motorcycle simply makes me happy and it never ceases to make me smile. I know, this isn’t particularly incisive motorcycle journalism, but it’s true.

Trust me, if you gun the throttle and blast out a few tunes through the onboard audio system, the CVO Road Glide can make the A46 feel like Route 66, and therein lies the magic of Harley-Davidson.

You can read my full review of the 2024 Harley-Davidson Road Glide and Street Glide on the May/June issue of Adventure Bike Rider magazine. Get your copy today with free UK postage HERE