Article by: Mike Jacobs
It’s no secret that the CVO unit of Harley-Davidson puts out some of the most coveted vehicles in North America. Massive torque, big V-Twin power, blacked out paint jobs, top-notch materials and every conceivable option all add up to some of the most impressive machines ever to come out of the Milwaukee brain trust.
While I’ve had the chance to ride the CVO touring bikes in the past, I’ve never ridden one of their pure street bikes, let alone two of them – and I had the perfect opportunity to test out just how much curb appeal these to fantastic machines truly had – at the final Bikers Reunion in New Liskeard, Ontario, Canada.
We picked the two bikes up from Harley’s new 1903 Café in downtown Toronto, which is truly a great motorcycle hang out and a welcome addition to the city core. The place just oozes cool, and there’s always a decent contingent of bikes out front, and fellow riders inside.
Making our way north, we escaped the nasty bits of the 400 and were soon past Gravenhurst, the point at which most Toronto cottage traffic starts to thin.
I traded bikes back and forth between my riding partner, but it quickly became apparent that, although I preferred the colour combo on the Low Rider S, the Pro-Street Breakout was better suited to my 5’11” 250lbs frame. They have the same engine, but there’s quite a bit of difference in handling between the two bikes; suspension, tire width, rake all contributed to noticeably different riding styles.
The Low Rider also seems to take more than a few cues from another famous HD – the 1977-79 XLCR, a bike said to have been designed to be Willie G. Davidson’s personal vehicle that eventually made it’s way to production – in other word, the Motor Company’s attempt at a café racer. While it had some issues, the styling with the bikini fairing, HD badge on the gas tank, blacked out everything and low slug style are all present. You be the judge.
My love for the Bikers’ Reunion is well known – I’ve been there every year for the last 6 and it just keeps getting bigger and better – but unfortunately all good things must come to an end and shortly before the event this summer, organizer Barry Phippen announced that this event would be the last community in New Liskeard.
Needless to say, that made our attendance all the more mandatory, and given that we were riding two top of the line Harley’s, we knew this would be an event to remember. I’ve ridden up on BMWs, Hondas, Suzukis and Yamahas, but nothing feels more…right than a big, blacked out Harley when you’re riding with the Bikers’ Reunion crew.
Our first day, riding up Highway 11 through rockcuts, over big lakes and rivers and into the agricultural area around the northern parts of Lake Temiskaming the Harleys were in their element. Long sweepers gently lifting and falling over the Canadian shield for hundreds of miles – this is what riding a Harley is all about. And with the seemingly unlimited torque on tap, passing big-rigs or economy cars in the hills added an extra dose of satisfaction to the killer style we were representing.
Riding around, stopping for lunch, hitting some back roads north of the event; wherever we went it seemed like all eyes were on us. Now, I know I’m handsome, but something tells me these detailed Harleys were to blame for all the attention we were getting.
On our second day we met up with country singer Larry Berrio who was riding a friends Heritage Softail dripping with more chrome and accessories than a 1959 Eldorado. Even though every detail, including the engine was kitted out, I have to say I preferred our factory customs. There’s something about the way the CVO folks tie a theme together that blows anything a garage custom job could ever aspire to.
It was on this ride too where we hit some patchy pavement and a couple of rough and ragged corners that the attitude of the two bikes came clear. The Pro-Street loved to float effortlessly over any obstacles, where the Low Rider was tuned for sport – or at least as sport at an air-cooled V-twin can get.
By the end of the event we’d had more saddle time than time at the Refugees Palace, or in Tent City, so we decided to take the last night easy and spend some time with all the people we’d gotten to know over the years attending this event, and it was a joy to be able to share the experiences with these two bikes.
While both were easy contenders for a spot in my imaginary garage, it was the Pro-Street that I found calling me back time and again – if it was black, I might have “forgotten” to return it altogether.