[dropcap]S[/dropcap]o far, 2016 seems to be the year of the musclebike with the XDiavel and Octane getting much of the attention. However, Harley does not intend to let the competition have their way with the market even if the proverbial gauntlet has been thrown by some tough new guys on the block. These are the Ducati XDiavel (which is more of a competitor to Harley’s performance oriented V-Rod) and a more direct hit with Victory’s Octane, which was recently unveiled and covered last month in this column.
Harley may have made its mark on the track with its Sceamin’ Eagle Pro Stock bike, but it has been getting beat up lately in the stock market in recent months. In fact, analysts say it never fully recovered from the recession due to a number of factors like a highly unionized workforce with high overhead costs and shrinking demand for its products here in the U.S. but also overseas because of the strong dollar. Stock prices aside, the true character of this company is steep in history and deeply embedded as
All-American. Few brands have as much recognition or income generating power as Harley-Davidson. The elite bikes of its fleet are sought after, collected, cherished, and more importantly, ridden in honor of this uniquely American motorcycle brand. But the American way of life may be shifting these days (depending on who you listen to), and some other strong brands with great style and features of their own are coming into prominence (i.e., Victory Octane).
In Harley’s own press release about the 2016 CVO Breakout, it chose not to talk so much about its performance traits but about its new styling cues. Remember, they don’t make sportbikes and it’s not the V-Rod, so why focus on performance? Harley could brag more about it if it wanted, it just doesn’t need to because it knows customers are willing to pay for styling more than sheer performance. This is a lot of what the CVO line is about.
However, performance is delivered by a healthy Twin Cam 110 cid engine, H-D’s latest and most potent air-cooled torque monster. The engine is fitted with black blunt-cut mufflers, an open-element intake, and a high performance “Assist & Slip” clutch with hydraulic actuation. To help the rider take full advantage of the power, the CVO Pro Street Breakout is equipped with 43mm inverted forks gripped in a robust three-bolt triple-clamp, plus the added stopping power of dual front disc brakes with floating rotors, a reduced reach front brake lever, and standard ABS. The stiff front end and 19-inch front wheel enhance agility, according to H-D, while a massive 240mm-wide rear tire effectively transfers power to pavement.
There’s a lot of drag-racer influence found on the Breakout, from the flat 1.25-inch drag-style handlebar to the wind-cheating speed screen and the color-matched chin spoiler. The deep bucket seat and bolstered pillion combine to hold the rider in place when the clutch is dumped and its 112.1 ft.-lbs. of torque launch the Breakout off the line. Other styling features include a trimmed front fender, blacked-out accessories on hand and foot controls, black custom mirrors, and a low-profile console with smoked satin braided vent lines. Electronic cruise control and the H-D Smart Security System featuring a new hands-free integrated security and locking fob are also standard equipment. All of which should entice most muscle bike lovers to Harley dealer showrooms this year.
History of Harley-Davidson’s CVO Division
Around the time of writing this article, we received a copy of a new book written by our very own contributing editor Marilyn Stemp with contributions from her late husband Vincent Stemp on the history of the CVO line, which had never been fully chronicled until now.
While we claim Marilyn as our own, in reality she wears many hats with Iron Trader News online being her main focus along with producing publications for Sturgis Daily and others. We know first hand how talented she is, and the wealth of knowledge she has with Harley-Davidsons in particular, so we were eager to flip the pages of this gorgeous coffee-table book. For sale on Amazon.com, the book would look great in any Harley dealer’s showroom or service department.
Harley-Davidson CVO Motorcycles: The Motor Company’s Custom Vehicle Operations covers the complete history of this exclusive line with full color illustrations and detailed information about every CVO model ever built. Want to know what went into each bike design? Hint: it’s a lot about the aesthetics. CVO motorcycles push the boundaries of style and performance with high-impact paint, killer wheels, big engines, and exclusive technology. Designed in-house since 1999 at Harley-Davidson’s Willie G. Product Development Center, built by the factory, and available through Harley-Davidson’s dealer network, these machines set themselves apart from the rest of the H-D lineup.
“When the CVO motorcycle program was born with the unveiling of the 1999 FXR2 and FXR3 motorcycles, it fulfilled the dream of a dedicated core group of riders who wanted nothing more than a new FXR,” Stemp writes. “As the program grew and its range expanded, the mission stayed the same: fulfilling dreams through the experience of motorcycling.”
Stemp says that the CVO division, while relatively new, was built on a tradition of customization after the company released its first parts and accessories catalog at the beginning of the last century. This planted the seeds for individualizing a motorcycle to a customer instead of the other way around. Harley was not blind to the fact that customers from the beginning were making bikes their own and would swap fenders, heads, engines, you name it, to achieve the look they wanted. But it took Willie G. to bring true customization in-house. Ever since, CVO has capitalized on nearly everything a Harley customer could desire to produce bikes that are a cut above the rest, yet affordable to the masses compared to a completely custom one-off.