Oh Yeah; Road King CVO… The Calfee of Harley-Davidson’s

Seriously, after getting acclimated to the big bike on yesterday’s 120 mi shake down ride with Debbie aboard and our friend Dave Ford riding wingman, my initial reaction reminded me of how thrilled we were with our Calfee tandem; what an awesome machine!!

1005246_10200313609818636_2028942972_nWe were finally able to pick it up on Saturday morning after we were thwarted by rain on Thursday.  I don’t mind riding motorcycles in the rain, as I do it all the time.  However, new tires and wet roads aren’t a good mix so we opted to wait until we had better weather.  Harley Davidson of Atlanta (HDA) opened at 9:00am on Saturday and we hit the door about 9:15 and, after posing for a Facebook photo, I was on my way  home with the big bike.

Now, I should note that I never test rode the Road King CVO before buying it; really. In fact, I made a point of not test riding my BMW R1100S or our first Harley — our 2011 Dyna Wide Glide — before writing those checks: I knew the first impressions would be bad and I’d pass on the buys.  My problem is, I always use my current motorcycles as a baseline and while it was easy to compare apples-to-apples when I upgraded from sport bike to sport bike for 30 years, the BMW and two very different Harley’s represented huge departures from my comfort zones.  So, truth be told, I hated the BMW once I got it home and took it for a ride: no power, noisy and horrible suspension and the Wide Glide was also a huge disappointment… at first blush.  But, with both of those bikes, each subsequent ride got better as I became more comfortable with those bikes and before long I was thrilled with them: they weren’t bad, they were just different.

Such was the case with the Road King CVO (FLHRSE5). My ride home from HDA was an OMG experience… in the wrong way. It was an OMG, what have I done experience.  I wasn’t comfortable on the bike, my left hand was going numb, I felt like I was sitting on a bike that was too small, but also too heavy and just WAY out of my comfort zone.  Yup, pretty much what I expected and that’s why I didn’t do the test ride.

IMG_20130810_111241_257So, I nursed the thing home with the lovely Miss Debbie following me and after getting it in the driveway she asked me, “So, how was it?” My answer did not inspire a lot of confidence: I said it was different, really different and I wasn’t smiling.

However, I reminded Debbie (and myself) why I never trust first impressions, avoid test rides and hold off on passing judgement until after several rides.  The same is true for bicycles and motorcycles in my book.  So, with that in mind, the plan was to do a quick turn back at the house, saddle-up and head out for an afternoon on the new motorcycle to see how “we” liked it.

Our first destination was The Red Eyed Mule for lunch, after which we’d meet-up with David at Earl Small’s and then head off for a couple hours on some familiar backroads to see how the new machine fit and handled.  Joe and Sabra from ‘The Mule” gave us a positive thumbs-up on the new ride after they both checked it out — no question that it was eye catching — and then we made out way down to Earl Small’s.

The Earl Small’s visit had the potential of being a bit uncomfortable since I bought the bike from a “competitor” but, at a price that I don’t think Earl Small’s could have matched.  In fact, our friend Brian S. — who was our sales associate for our first Harley — quipped, “If the police show up just hold our your hands for the cuffs, because you definitely stole that bike”.  But, I think all-is-good given that it wasn’t a deal that Earl’s would have been able to match, even if I’d ask them to.  I still consider Earl’s our Home Base since we know so many of the folks there and the service dept. is about as good as it comes, never mind that it’s like 3 minutes from work.  Yeah, can’t get more convenient that that.  AHD is also a great place with great folks and I’m really glad we were able to reconnect with Bob in sales after and he and Earl Small’s parted ways; just a great guy and he came through in a big way for us on this bike… but I digress.

After visiting with the regulars at Earls, we headed out with David for a 100-mile loop ride up through Cartersville then out GA 411 to Salacoa Road, through Reinhardt College, and then towards home down through Canton to get some saddle time in the big bike.  As we got closer to Woodstock we could see that we were going to get wet… really wet.  I think we were in a pretty good, cold and stinging downpour for about 4 miles before breaking into rain-soaked roads without rain falling from the sky: I’ll take it!  David split off for home as we headed down Church Street towards downtown Kennesaw and aside from wet roads, we had an uneventful ride back to the house.

By the time we’d logged about 120 miles, or 135 all told for me since picking it up, I’d come full circle and was completely enamored with the new machine: it was amazing!!!  Yes, the riding position was very different and foot boards were hard to get used to, but by the end of the day everything made sense and felt really good… I mean really good. I had far more foot positions than I had on our Wide Glide and the riding position was actually a lot better from a posture / long-term comfort standpoint.  Debbie was equally thrilled with the riding experience from the back seat.  Interestingly enough, we’ve got a lot more interference issues between her feet and my legs than we have on the Wide Glide — go figure — but we’ll work through that.  The handling was outstanding, far more predictable and solid than the Wide Glide.  The rear suspension may or may not need the Ohlin’s treatment: TBD.  Debbie says it definitely needs some pipes as it doesn’t sound like a Harley with the stock exhaust. David echoed that when he noted that he couldn’t tell when I was speeding up or slowing down since he couldn’t hear our exhaust note over his own H-D Duece with Vance & Hines Street Sweepers.


Sunday was spent going-over the bike in detail, since I’d pretty much ridden it home on Saturday and didn’t ever do that.  In addition to the CVO cover that got pinched from HDA while it was sitting in inventory, it looks like someone also pinched the nice H-D seat bolt and replaced it with a cheap-o model, and there were a few scratches near the left hand back-rest mount on some trim pieces.  The security system is also throwing a “needs service” signal which jives with some issues that one of the sales associates was having when he attempted to demo the security code by-pass feature on Weds night before I’d even signed the papers.  The drive train seemed a bit “clunky” on the ride home, almost a ‘shaft-jack-like’ feeling when you went on and off the power, but that subsided as the bike put on more miles.  There was also a pretty good “clunk” coming from the frame on bumps that has subsided. So, there will be a couple things that I’ll have to have HDA look at when it goes back for service in a few weeks, as none of these things seem to be serious enough to warrant an immediate return.  Well, I say that… I’ll call my sales POC & the Service Dept on Tuesday just to make sure and perhaps I’ll do a “stop and go” visit next Friday to see if they can’t take care of at least the security system while I wait.

One of the other “tricks” was figuring out how to park three motorcycles in the bike bay such that I would still be able to get the bikes in and out, get to our bicycles, and also be able to get in and out of my truck.  We still have an “extra” tandem sitting in garage that was dropped off for a pro-bono tune up last April and that complicated things, but I was able to get all four tandems up and shift around my track bike and a mountain bike to free up some floor space for the Wide Glide. So, at least for now, I think I can manage all of the bikes without having a major headache every time I go to pull out a motorcycle or a bicycle:

IMG_20130811_172435_758 IMG_20130811_172601_168

Yeah, we have a lot of bikes…  but I like bikes!!!  And so does Miss Debbie… What could be better than having a lovely, sweet Georgia Peach as a wife who’s about as much of an equipment freak as I am!  Oh yeah, she wanted the Road King CVO just as much as I did.  In fact, she’s still not ready to let the Wide Glide go!

So, the Road King CVO has been given the Zaino treatment, the iPod system has been uploaded with our playlists, including five new songs that were just published by Pretty Twisted from Friday night’s show at “The Place” (yes, we were there).  The saddles are soaking in the leather conditioner, and I’m working up my list of add-ons.  Can’t wait to get back out on it with my Sweetie!  Looking forward to many, many miles of smiles on this bad-boy!

Bottom Line: The Road King CVO is an amazing machine that’s perfectly suited for us. I probably should have started with a Road King instead of the Wide Glide, but at least I can now appreciate the difference.  I don’t see us ever needing a “bigger” bagger like a Road Glide or Street Glide with fixed fairings, as being able to pull off the windshield in a nano-second is one of the things I love about the Road King CVO.  In fact, I have yet to ride it with the windshield installed!

Thank you Bob!


About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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