By Buzz Buzzelli
[This 2007 Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle CVO Road King Road Test was originally published in American Rider magazine]
If you’re like most buyers of new Harley-Davidsons, you begin the customization process as soon as you take delivery of your bike-if not before. For performance you start with cams, a carburetor or fuel-injection chip, exhaust system and ignition module to let the big guy breathe and rev. Next come comfort items such as a custom seat, grips, footboards, foot controls and hand levers. Mix in some function items including aftermarket brakes and suspension, then more style items including wheels, a high-tech headlight and gauges and bolt-on chrome-lots of mother-lovin’ bling-bling chrome!
If you’re serious about performance you might split the cases for a stroker crank, bore job, high-compression pistons and a six-speed transmission. Top it all off with a spiffy paint job and you’re likely to be into this baby for over 30 large after many months and many thousands of dollars. The downtime may have cost you half a riding season waiting on parts and painters and such, but at least you’d have yerself a ginuwine custom bike, a personal statement making at least 25 percent more power than stock‚ but at the further expense of perhaps irritating people with the bike’s window-rattling exhaust decibels, and you’ll likely void that precious warranty. Now if the bike breaks in half‚ both halves are yours.
If that sounds all too familiar (and like too much work), Harley-Davidson has a deal for you! If you want something that looks and runs and sounds better than your usual run-of-the-mill stocker (specifically in a new 2007 Road King, Electra Glide Ultra, Dyna or Softail Springer format), but do not wish to invest the months and downtime necessary to bring it together, this bike represents what The Motor Company’s Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) line can deliver, right to your dealer’s floor from the factory.
For 2007 H-D’s CVO division will deliver approximately 3,500 of these third-generation 2007 Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle CVO Road Kings from the plant in York, Pennsylvania, along with about 9,000 other CVOs based upon the other models above. Not only are the bikes adorned with acres of paint and brightwork, but they come with an air-cooled, 45-degree, 110-cubic-inch (1,800cc) Twin Cam engine, the largest-displacement engine Harley-Davidson has ever offered, and it’s mated to the new Cruise Drive six-speed transmission that debuted on the 2006 Dyna series. At Rider we’ve dynoed stock TC88 motors consistently at about 64-65 horsepower; our Screamin’ Eagle model here, however, cranked out 83 horses on the Borla dyno-a 30 percent increase in power from a 25 percent increase in displacement, and a lot more beans than the old 88-incher (which has been discontinued) ever had. The standard Harley Big Twin motor in ’07 will now be a 96-incher (see Kickstarts), but we have not yet strapped one to the dyno.
Where does the power come from? It’s bored and stroked to 101.6 x 111.1mm (from the TC88’s 92.25 x 101.6mm), and the mixture is squeezed by forged pistons with a compression ratio of 9.3:1 (formerly 8.9:1), with the tried-and-true two valves per cylinder actuated by pushrods and hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters that never need adjustment. The valves, of course, are larger on the CVO.
This TC110 certainly runs the fun meter much farther up the scale than the ol’ 88 ever did, and it does so without any of the common obnoxious side effects of objectionable noise and vibration that often accompany these upgrades. Turn the ignition switch (located on the dash) and the Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection buzzes into action; the key is not needed unless the ignition had been locked. To better facilitate turning over this big-incher, H-D has equipped it with a high-torque 1.4-kilowatt starter motor. Hit the switch (it requires neither choke nor fast-idle control) and the engine comes alive with a sharp bark.
You may ride away immediately, but instead let’s perform a walk-around. Here’s that blacked-out engine throbbing on its rubber mounts with its many chromed bling-bling pieces including valve covers, derby cover, left engine cover and much more. What differentiate the CVO Road King from its lesser brethren are those leather-covered saddlebags with their raised flame pattern and the mini tinted windscreen. As on a custom bike the frame has been painted to complement the sheet metal, and Harley has cleverly hidden some of the bag brackets from the rear by extending the rear fender to the sides for a cleaner look. Don’t mistake those flames on the fenders for decals; H-D informs us they’re actual pearl inlays, and they’re nice!
Take your seat and you’ll find that like most Harleys with rubber-mounted engines, the bike throbs at idle in the seat and grips, only this one has a throatier, more aggressive rumble and shakes enough to be mildly irritating in stop-and-go traffic. Chunk the six-speed into gear and notice that clutch effort is moderate. Be careful, as with their high-performance springs the friction point on the two CVO bikes we’ve ridden is narrow and engagement is immediate. With a minimum of 79.7 lb-ft of torque already on tap at 2,000 rpm, there is sufficient power to whisk this 788-pound motorcycle right out and away. What’s especially impressive is that while a stock TC88 peaks at around 67-68 lb-ft of torque, this Screamin’ Eagle TC110 offers a twistin’ 96.1 lb-ft at 3,100 rpm, and horsepower peaks at 83.1 at 5,000 rpm! The bike smoothes out at speed, and your seat-of-the-pants dyno takes notice! H-D assures us that it’s legal in all 50 states, too.
If you like brightwork (and the CVO buyer certainly must), note its chromed headlight shell, handlebar, dash strip and how the speedometer and tachometer are combined in a single instrument with a very bling spun aluminum face. Accelerate hard and both upper and lower gauge needles quickly swing in an arc to the right as the speed and revs build. You may not be able to view the dash on a sunny day as sunlight sparkling on the chrome gives the visual impression of firecrackers detonating in your lap.
On the right side the air cleaner cover (with its attractive emblem) forces the rider’s leg outward and the foot toward the board’s outer edge. Footboards are rubber-mounted to the point of being squirmy, so it can feel precarious depending upon your boot size. Settle into that cushy seat and the small but effective pivoting backrest (it has some slight upward adjustment) is a welcome addition, providing a pleasantly upright seating position with the rider’s elbows slightly bent. The passenger perch, though narrow, is equally cushy with spread-out pegs and welcome backrest.
In addition to the lighter clutch pull (which was introduced on all 2006 Harley Big Twins) the six-speed transmission shifts lightly and easily without the usual clunk associated with the five-speeds, though it is difficult to pop into neutral from first gear. We found it necessary to shift up to second, then down to neutral. The heel-and-toe shifter’s chrome and rubber Ironside Accessories Collection rubber pads match those of the footboards, which likewise match the pads on the passenger pegs and the mustache engine guards and grips. Not only is there proper gearing for starting out, but at an indicated 60 mph in sixth gear the engine is only turning a lazy 2,100 rpm.
What appear to be twin, round, flush-mounted chromed filler caps on the tank are actually some very clever styling touches. The left disc houses a fuel gauge in which a series of LEDs illuminate in a crescent pattern when the tank is full, then disappear in sequence as the fuel supply is depleted. Rotate and press down on the right disc and it will pop up; it can then be unscrewed in the conventional manner. Don’t overfill the 5.0-gallon tank; some fuel will dribble from the cap.
With its newfound power and comfort, riding the CVO Road King is quite an enjoyable experience. The transmission shifts quickly and with low effort, and with 30 percent more power and torque the improvement in acceleration and passing is easily noticeable. Throttle response is instantaneous compared with the previous 88-incher, and the engine offers just enough throb to give it character‚ but it stops short of eliciting the dreaded V-word of vibration (except at idle). The short windscreen keeps the wind off the torso, but is so low it creates a lot of head buffeting. It’s easily detachable with a tug, and goes back on just as easily.
One particularly pleasing enhancement is H-D’s very bling chromed Road Winder wheels, an 18-inch front and 17-inch rear shod with Dunlop Elite tires. Sight through them and the wheel spokes nicely complement those on the brake rotors for a very high-tech effect. And there’s no longer any need to upgrade the brakes, as the standard items include three four-piston calipers that offer good power and feedback.
Despite the bike’s 63.0-inch wheelbase and lowness it offers more cornering clearance than one would expect before the footboards begin grinding the pavement. Its air-assisted rear suspension provides just 2.1 inches of travel, which will abuse the rider on rough pavement. Steering is certainly stable if a little slow, but that’s what we’ve come to expect from big-inch Harleys.
Get ‘er on the highway, set the electronic cruise control and let this baby eat miles. We experienced a little over 40 mpg for our overall use; you’ll likely do better from the 5.0-gallon tank during highway cruising.
If you like the Screamin’ Eagle CVO’s looks, chances are a lot of others will, also. Should they wish to obtain a five-finger discount, be relieved that the bike comes with the Smart Security System with Smart Siren. It includes a black key-fob disc with electronics that disable the starter and ignition when it’s out of range-farther than 8 feet from the bike. Should the owner lose the fob, he or she can disarm the system with a PIN number entered via the turn-signal switches. Don’t ask us how it works; ours was disabled.
While fit and finish on our test bike was high, we found that the braided-steel lines contacted the instrument nacelle when the bar was turned full right lock. Also, the right turn signal likewise left a tiny divot in the tank’s lovely paint. Both problems could likely be solved with zip-ties and a handlebar adjustment.
The 2007 CVO Road King will be available in the Razor Red with Burnt Gold Leafing graphics shown here, Candy Cobalt with Burnt Gold Leafing graphics, or Black Ice with Pewter Leafing graphics. Suggested retail is $28,495, and $100 additional in California. The price includes the Smart Security System with siren, saddlebag soft liner bags, an indoor storage cover with CVO logo and a commemorative brass CVO key in a presentation box.
Granted, if you get one of the 3,500 Screamin’ Eagle Road King CVOs you won’t exactly have a unique bike, but you will have a full warranty, official Blue Book value and no downtime waiting for paint, mechanical work and the like. Of course, you may have to wait in line for delivery. And if you enjoy hearing such comments as “That bike is slick!” as we did from many of the folk out there, this bike is worth considering. With its paint, wheels, chrome and the rest, the Screamin’ Eagle CVO Road King has got to be the new King of Bling!
If you’re interested in the 2007 Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle CVO Road King, you might also be interested in checking out Harley-Davidson’s 2011 CVO line.