Custom Vehicle Operations FLSTSE3 Softail Convertible ride review Thunder…

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Custom Vehicle Operations Softail Convertible ride

Terry Roorda

February 20,

Consider the loneliness of the CVO Convertible. It is a without peer, a cohort of an outlier, a motherless child. this: Among its ostensible in the Custom Vehicle Operations it is the sole non-Touring platform and has been for a couple of years, and the model in the history of the exalted that was cut from whole having no foundational model in the Harley-Davidson Softail collection to as a starting point for the CVO’s tarting up.

And among all Softails it is the model equipped with the “Convertible” complement of touring as well as the only model with an electronic throttle, system and cruise control. And all Harley-Davidson models, CVO or otherwise, it is the machine equipped with a ignition and lockable soft-sided Oh, and it’s the only bike by the counterbalanced TC 110B motor.

broadly speaking, with the of the once-vibrant production custom in America—a casualty of the recession ravaged the high-end of the motorcycle since 2007, taking it the likes of American Ironhorse, Big Dog and Big among many others—the something of a last-man-standing in the big-inch, big-chrome, big-tire, sick-paint, sticker price genre.

all of that and add to it the fact that 1,500 CVO Convertibles will be for 2012 (down from last year), split three paint and graphic and you have an unmatched level of and a positively heartbreaking degree of It’s enough to make a man weep—or a savvy collector run out and buy

The Convertible was first introduced in and it was a unique stunner right out of the It wasn’t just the first model to emerge from in a decade, it was the first time the had been applied to a Softail. In the of the CVO designers, though, the convertible had changed considerably.

Whereas in usages, the concept had been one of utility—taking an able if doughty and giving it some sport-touring became one of creating a hybrid of a pro-street Softail and a reasonably long-haul custom bagger. and creatively executed, the model an instant winner in the eyes of ourselves included.

There plenty of laurels to rest on, but the CVO were having none of and when the second iteration of the appeared in 2011 it had been a raft of equally unique and innovations. Easily the oddest was the keyless ignition, but the other were all about function.

the model an electronic throttle only Touring models had previously not only cleaned up the of the handlebar but also permitted the of a cruise control in addition to the ABS. That cruise was, and remains, unique in a single control switch on the hand grip cluster deployment and adjustment a one-thumb

A rudimentary sound system was on the fairing, one with 20 watts of a pair of speakers aimed at the and an iPod dock. Additionally, the saddlebags were replaced larger units using lids in place of straps and and a pair of locks.

Those were the touring upgrades. The model’s underlying cruiser elan got some as well with the fitment of a new handlebar, one that housed conduits to keep the internally wiring from crimping at the bends up top. Yet another first for the model.

The CVO’s development that resulted in the Convertible tested here on the fairing. Feedback had been by the CVO from existing Convertible (something they do a lot for all their and topping the list of suggestions/complaints was the Put succinctly they said: wind protection, please.

Ask and ye receive. Improved wind for 2012 is achieved by adding a of wind baffles to the fairing’s portion, and by scrapping the previous outright in favor of one that’s two wider and an inch taller, and features a vent cut into it to some updraft to further the air effects on the operator. It’s now, too, which the previous clear screen’s at times, blinding—reflections of the chrome

Addressing another weak in the Convertible’s touring amenities, the sound system received a rethinking as well. The rather iPod dock setup has replaced by a Garmin GPS/MP3 one that’s actually powered by the electrics to keep things up to all day long. The upshot here is Convertible buyers no longer get a iPod with their they get a free Garmin/MP3 integrated such that commands from the GPS override the so you don’t miss a turn riveted to Pumped Up Kicks.

The drill

There are two ways to what we have here the CVO Convertible, depending on how, and where you ride. The bike’s a sweet custom barhopper a suite of touring accoutrements—saddlebags, pillion and sissy bar/backrest—in the for quick fitment should the highway call, or it’s a bagger that can brave the haul the groceries and a pillion pal and strip down to its glamorous for boulevard profiling when Street is on the itinerary.

Then the third option, and that with the simple realization you can have any number of combinations of the After a month with the my default setup became just the fairing and bags, for a head-turner of a solo pro-street

Whichever approach you choose, it can be in mere minutes, whether the bike up or stripping it down, and without any tools. Some (that comes with practice) is called for to master the and a can of WD 40 for the grommets on the fairing docks. incredibly snug, as they be.

The details

As noted, one of the Convertible’s attributes is the keyless ignition. no conventional ignition switch on the and the act of turning it on and off is executed by means of the switch. So long as the bike’s Security key fob is in near proximity to the flipping the switch to the “Run” brings the circuitry to life and the position shuts it all down.

If you’re in the habit on any other of hitting the kill switch turning off the ignition, and then the switch to the “Run” position for start-up, lose the habit. a gee-whiz bit of tech with no benefit, save that of that you don’t ride off your fob. You do get an actual though.

It serves only to the fork and saddlebags.

Harley-Davidson FLSTSE CVO Softail Convertible

With the fob in settle yourself down the saddle of the Convertible. And keep With a seat height of a 24.4 inches, it’s a way down. Once there, the to the Z-bar is close but comfortable, as is the to the footboards.

The absence of a heel-shifter for ample space for fidgety over the distance. It’s a compact ergonomic triangle strikes a good balance for of a range of sizes. It works enough for my long frame, and is appreciated by shorter ones, in large part why the Convertible is the popular CVO model among riders.

The pull on the hydraulic lever is firmer than on OE clutches and engagement is quick to take some getting to. Better get used to it too, the TC 110B doesn’t like to be waiting. It packs a 105 ft/lb and fairly lunges off the line.

It’s also a buzzy emitting more vibration either the TC 96B or TC 103B motors. vibration is sufficiently tamed for steady-state operation but quick of the throttle bring a pronounced when the revs are below 3000 rpm. As a practical sixth speed is a 75 mph-plus

Below that speed, gear is a more satisfying and selection.

There’s enough vibration going on at cruising to knock some of the luster off the Collection chrome/hard rubber and after a couple hundred the effort to keep your from subtly creeping on the surface becomes annoying. rubber-soled boots or Chuck are the way to roll on this machine.

The suspension that gives the its dashing profile and lowdown height has its downside as you’d The ride quality isn’t plush by touring standards, but not exactly harsh either over really jarring conditions. There you’ll to rise out of the saddle if you spot a blip on the radar.

Cornering suffers as well with the grounding out regularly on twisty and again that’s to be expected.


The touring gear improvements to the CVO Convertible over the last two particularly for 2012—have succeeded in the model’s touring capabilities the aforementioned reasonably serviceable of the original version to downright The more expansive fairing conditions in the cockpit considerably. the previous fairing did a decent job of the blast off the upper body, the new unit provides a good for the head as well, making it to ride in a half-shell helmet—a which can then fit into one of the saddlebags and be locked up.

The question that continues to is when—if ever—the myriad of features possessed solely by the will find their way to the OE Softail models. We speculated year that the electronic and cruise control might appear on the 2012 models. didn’t. We’d also that the flip-top lockable saddlebags would be a natural on both the Heritage Classic and King Classic.

Wrong There’s always 2013.

The CVO Convertible is available in three and graphic combinations for 2012: the Red Sunglow with Scarlet Graphics shown here, as as Abyss Blue with Graphics and Satin Pewter Catacomb Graphics. The MSRP is

Harley-Davidson FLSTSE CVO Softail Convertible
Harley-Davidson FLSTSE CVO Softail Convertible
Harley-Davidson FLSTSE CVO Softail Convertible
Harley-Davidson FLSTSE CVO Softail Convertible

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