2019 Harley-Davidson CVO Limited | First Ride Review

2019 Harley CVO Limited
We crossed the Land of 10,000 Lakes then stormed across Wisconsin aboard Harley’s apex touring machine, the 2019 CVO Limited. (Photos by Brian J. Nelson and Kevin Wing)

There’s a reason Harley’s top-shelf touring machine has been a staple of its CVO line since 2006. There are thousands of them. Go to Sturgis and try and count how many you see. Your head will spin. It’s a huge revenue generator for The Motor Company. But it’s also proven itself as a legitimate cross-country tourer. So offering one as a dream machine straight from the factory makes perfect sense. 

Read about Harley-Davidson’s plans for 2019 and beyond

Powering the 2019 CVO Limited is the Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 117, The Motor Company’s largest production engine, a CVO-exclusive powerplant that made its debut across the line last year. That’s 1,923cc at the disposal of your right hand along with a high-performance camshaft, intake and bumped-up compression ratio.

2019 Harley CVO Limited
Rejoice, all CVOs run the Milwaukee-Eight 117, the 1,923cc powerplant the biggest to date on a Harley coming straight out of the factory.

The motorcycle’s electronic throttle control is dialed and the hit off idle is immediate. But stump-pulling bottom-end torque is standard fare on Harley tourers. What benefits most is top end in the middle gears as the 117 continues to give where its predecessors sign off.

The 2019 CVO Limited hits its claimed peak of 125 lb-ft at 3,500 rpm but the standard Ultra Limited with the 114 maxes out at 3,000 rpm. It gets you up to highway speed quicker and has plenty of passing power on tap. While it didn’t skip a beat rowing through gears, engagement continues to be harsh and abrupt. 

Between its Batwing fairing and Tour-Pak top trunk, the CVO Limited’s presence can be intimidating. It looks like a whole lot of bike to handle. But as I climb aboard, the rider’s triangle feels compact for a six-foot-tall rider.

With a seat height of 30.1 inches, it’s easy to place both feet firmly on the ground, a good thing when you’re balancing a bike that tips the scales at more than 900 pounds. The bars fall naturally at hand, my legs have plenty of room to stretch and my back is straight. The relaxed riding position made my 260-mile test ride a cinch. I could have easily done 260 more without feeling beat down. You’d be hard pressed to find a bike with a cushier seat and friendlier all-day ergonomics.

2019 Harley CVO Limited
Who knew such a big bike would be so much fun at lean? Turn-in is surprisingly light on the CVO Limited, and it transitions more fluidly than expected.

Hustling through the hinterlands between Lacrosse and Madison, Wisconsin, we chanced upon a rural road of sweepers, one flowing into the next. The CVO Limited shines on this stretch as turn-in is light, even with its big fork-mounted fairing. It’s solid at lean and has no problem staying on the designated line.

Even with the Tour-Pak, its center of gravity feels low and it transitions with surprising agility. You’d think for a bike with such a Herculean physique it’d be a handful to toss around but, like a heavyweight boxer, it’s deceptively light on its feet. 

Reining in all that weight and power requires a solid set of binders, and Harley’s triple-disc Brembos and ABS-equipped Reflex Linked Brakes handle the job. When squeezing the front lever, initial bite into the two 300mm discs is strong but not grabby and doesn’t fade as the system administers a bit of squeeze to the rear as well.

2019 Harley CVO Limited
Harley CVO wheels are always custom quality, and for 2019 the 19-inch Tomahawk on the CVO Limited is the torchbearer of tradition.

Using solely the rear it takes a pretty good stomp on the pedal to get the ABS to engage, and overall the ABS is well modulated. Using the front and rear brakes simultaneously, the setup does a bang-up job of bringing the bike to a stop.

Bells and whistles. Check all the boxes. Gorgeous paint set off by the proper blend of shiny chrome, custom-quality wheels, a fresh assortment of bits and pieces from Harley’s new Kahuna collection and the upgraded Boom! Box GTS infotainment system, which boots up faster, is easier to see in direct sunlight and functions more like a smartphone.

The bike has a bounty of storage space, everything locks tight at the push of a button and a factory security system to protect your almost $44,000 investment comes standard. Harley offers three combinations of powertrain finishes and paint options to tailor your CVO Limited like a fine suit. Granted, its price tag puts it out of range for many of us, but those few who pony up will undoubtedly be pleased because despite its movie star good looks, the 2019 CVO Limited is ready to go coast-to-coast at a moment’s notice.

2019 Harley CVO Limited
2019 Harley-Davidson CVO Limited

Check out Rider’s Guide to New/Updated Street Motorcycles for 2019

2019 Harley-Davidson CVO Limited Specs
Base Price: $43,889
Website: harley-davidson.com
Engine Type: Air/liquid-cooled, transverse 45-degree V-twin, OHV, 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 1,923cc (117ci)
Bore x Stroke: 103.5 x 114.3mm
Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated wet assist-and-slipper clutch
Final Drive: Belt
Wheelbase: 64.0 in.
Rake/Trail: 26 degrees/6.7 in.
Seat Height: 29.9 in.
Claimed Wet Weight: 901 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 6.0 gals., last 1.0 gal. warning light on
MPG: 91 PON min. / NA


  1. 43K for a motorcycle. This is Harley’s comeback plan, because lots of young riders will pay that kind of money to get into motorcycling.

    • Terry, first, a new biker won’t pay 43k to get into motorcycling. Second, some of us have worked hard all of our lives (40+yrs), served our country, raised families, and feel we’ve earned the privilege of owning a cvo limited. If you’re fortunate enough to grow old maybe you too can buy a dream machine, or what ever you want. Hating will only send you to hell for eternity. Whatever you ride, be safe, enjoy, and be grateful for all things good in your life. Be grateful for your struggles for they will make you stronger. Be happy for others.

  2. With all the new/updated models, you choose to first ride a Harley CVO at $43,000 dollars? Get in touch with your readership. You think maybe 5% are interested, or are in the financial market for a ride this expensive? Seems like all the bikes you ever test anymore are at this end of the spectrum, or the < 500cc end. Again, you should get more in tune with your readers.

    • David, sometimes our options are limited to motorcycles that are available. For 2019, the only truly new model that Harley-Davidson introduced is the FXDR 114, which we’ve already tested. When we were invited to go on a Harley-Davidson press ride to The Motor Company’s 115th Anniversary, they provided the motorcycles, and what were available were the FXDR and various CVO models. We opted for the Limited because it is similar to other, less premium (i.e., expensive) touring models in Harley’s lineup. If you can suggest a Harley-Davidson model that’s <500cc for us to test, please do so. If you read our magazine or search our website, you will see that we test nearly every new/updated street-legal motorcycle sold in the U.S., and that includes plenty of sub-500cc, affordable, entry-level models from Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki, and Yamaha. For easy reference, check out: https://ridermagazine.com/2018/10/26/riders-guide-to-new-updated-street-motorcycles-for-2019/

  3. My recently purchased KTM 790 Duke offers vastly more value than that ridiculous rolling juke box. Harley’s target demographic of bearded, aging, leather swaddled ass clowns is in steep decline as time takes its inevitable toll.

  4. You know Daryl, us Harley riders generally do not belittle or berate others riders and their choices of bikes to ride, to each his own and its a free country as they say. However, I take great exception to your “bearded, leather swaddled ass clowns” comment as I have a beard and I have ridden Harley’s for over 46 years. Perhaps you should try making that statement in the company of these folks you so easily insult and then see who the “ass clown” will be?!

    • “Us Harley riders generally do not belittle or berate others riders and their choices of bikes to ride”, we only burn them at bike rallies. Sorry, just joking! I ride a 2007 Harley Softail Custom and four other bikes including a KTM 1190 R and a KTM 500 EXC. I love ’em all.

  5. I am just like all of you. A motorcyclist. Pure and simple.
    I grew up and road whatever my Dad could afford.
    Life is short, enjoy what you ride.
    Time is our judge, jury and executioner.
    I am six decades old now.
    I am grateful for my father’s guidance.
    Keep the shiny side up, no matter what brand you ride.
    As my Dad always stated, “Semper Fi”
    Even to other who ride on two wheels.

  6. I have been riding Harleys since 1992 and still am.
    But terry cox’s comment is true. I could not afford to buy a new one today, too expensive.
    Harley should find ways to reduce the price of their motorcycles instaed of adding glitter and gadgets.

  7. Just bought a new CVO Limited today, due to the cold temp I only put about 20 miles but loved every minute of it despite the temperture. This bike is fun to ride, beautiful to look at, comfortable and has a pretty nice stereo. I know it was pricey, but this was the bike I wanted and I`m glad I bought it. Love the bike! Signed, Aging Bearded Leather Saddled Ass Clown That Can Afford A CVO.

  8. I purchased my first CVO Ultra Limited in 2015. It was a barely used 2012. I live near Sacramento, CA and have put 30K miles on it riding to Sturgis twice and to Arizona Bike week. BEST motorcycle I have ever owned (I have owned seven total, 5 Harleys). With routine maintenance the only failures have been a battery and a regulator. The fit and finish on the motorcycle are superb (and I am very picky). Should I ever feel the need to replace this bike, it will be with another CVO. New or used, they’re worth every penny.

  9. I started riding in the early 70’s when my father gave me a 50cc honda. I was in 4th grade. I have owned every major brand since then and currently average about 4k miles a month. I loved every bike I have owned. I ride all year in heat, rain, light snow and nice days. I turned 50 when I was finally making enough to afford a new Harley Tour model in 2017 and it is all they say and more. I am 2 months in on a 2019 CVO Limited. Fit and finish is unmatched. The attention to detail and the lack of cheap plastic tabs holding things together is something you don’t see anymore. Every time I removed something from my 2014 Honda CTX I made sure to have epoxy on hand so I could repair tabs and clips. Harley’s hold their value for a reason. I would guess that the accessory market for Harley employs more people than all the other brands put together. The author is correct that this behemoth handles well. I would also like to add that after riding 1000 miles in a day , I couldn’t wait to get back on the road the following morning. I changed out the curved windshield for a taller flat style and the brackets for the highway pegs to fit me better. There is nothing more I want or need for this bike as it came with everything.

  10. I didn’t buy the CVO, but I did buy the Ultra Limited, and love it. I traded up from a 2014 Road King. Can’t beat the comfort and handling of this bike!!! Riding up north in the later months (before the snow flies) having heated grips is nice. And add the detach kit and you have versatility.

  11. Beautiful bike! I am currently looking at a slightly used limited CVO, it is still expensive but the more I ride the more I come to welcome all the benefits the bike has to offer. I agree with terry, 43k is too much for a bike….even at $30k it is still too high. I don’t know of too many new bikers that can afford that for a car let alone a bike. I sure hope Harley Davidson can come up with a strategy to stay in business. I love their bikes!


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