In the gritty industrial sector of DTLA where art walks and murals have given new life to old brick buildings, Harley-Davidson rolled out its latest two-wheeled art for the 2018 model year. The Arts District served as the backdrop for our first look at five new Big Twin touring machines from Milwaukee: the Street Glide Special, the Road Glide Special and three new CVO models.

The Custom Vehicle Operations started in 1999, mixing bold paint and graphics with lots of chrome for what Harley-Davidson refers to as the "alpha" customer who wants nothing but the best and is willing to fork out whatever dollar amount it takes to get it.

"CVO owners want something that everyone else can't have, which is why CVOs are limited and come with the best finishes and the most power," said H-D Product Manager Paul James.

Orange Lava and Black Denim color combo is as bright as it gets for the 2018 CVO Street Glide. (Harley-Davidson)
Orange Lava and Black Denim color combo is as bright as it gets for the 2018 CVO Street Glide. (Harley-Davidson)

For 2018, Harley-Davidson puts a twist on that CVO formula by taking aesthetics to a cleaner, darker side with nonmetallic paint options including our favorite called Gunship Gray. This glossy finish is anything but the unemotional noncolor that people associate gray with. Combined with the black trim and color-matched wheels, this "dialed-down" color screams wicked.

The new-for-2018 Gunship Gray on the CVO Road Glide sans metallic or graphics gets the point across: less flash, more performance. (Harley-Davidson)
The new-for-2018 Gunship Gray on the CVO Road Glide sans metallic or graphics gets the point across: less flash, more performance. (Harley-Davidson)

"It was time for an evolution of the CVO," said Brad Richards, vice president of styling and design, as he explained the reasoning behind the radical shift away from flashy colors and chrome.

Each of the CVO bikes will be available in nine colors, including a metallic paint and chrome finish combination for those who still favor flashy and bright over dark and sinister.

New higher-output infotainment systems, and more power in the form of the largest-displacement production Big Twin that H-D has ever offered from the factory, are also part of the CVO package. Up 3 cubes from 2017, the new 117-cubic-inch Milwaukee-Eight has a factory rating of 128 pound-feet of torque, which is 5 percent more than last year's 114-inch CVO engine.

Black Earth and Vivid Black is the middle ground, letting a little more CVO style come through with graphics and a splash of color. (Harley-Davidson)
Black Earth and Vivid Black is the middle ground, letting a little more CVO style come through with graphics and a splash of color. (Harley-Davidson)

The CVO Road Glide returns for 2018 with the Motor Company's first factory-installed 21-inch wheel, reflecting what stylists are seeing on the street and at bike shows around the world. Suspension travel is reduced by an inch with the larger front wheel, a loss that was compensated for by a retune of the Showa Dual Bending Valve fork internals.

Orange Lava and Dark Alloy CVO Road Glide sees the first-ever tank with no Harley-Davidson name or Bar and Shield logo. (Harley-Davidson)
Orange Lava and Dark Alloy CVO Road Glide sees the first-ever tank with no Harley-Davidson name or Bar and Shield logo. (Harley-Davidson)

The CVO Street Glide boasts the top-of-the-line sound system with 900 watts of power and a bi-amped six-speaker system rated at 75 watts per channel that will have you rockin' through the supplied Wireless Interface Module and Headset. A color-matched inner fairing, Turbine wheels (19-inch front and 18-inch rear), and new medallions complete the package.

CVO Limited is the high-end luxury bagger that's less about profiling and more about long-haul touring comfort. With ample power on tap from the Twin-Cooled 117-inch Milwaukee-Eight mill, Reflex linked Brembo brakes with ABS are standard on the CVO Limited along with the H-D Smart Security System. The CVO Limited comes in three colorways including a new Burgandy Cherry Sunglo Fade that required a total retooling of the robotic painting machines to get the special fade perfectly consistent on every part, bike after bike.

Dodging the cost and inconsistency of human-applied custom paint, the CVO Limited required a special robotic paint process to apply the fades evenly onto each part of the bike. (Harley-Davidson)
Dodging the cost and inconsistency of human-applied custom paint, the CVO Limited required a special robotic paint process to apply the fades evenly onto each part of the bike. (Harley-Davidson)

If you want a CVO parked in your garage next year, it's going to cost you. Pricing starts at $39,949 for the CVO Street Glide, $41,399 for the CVO Road Glide, and $42,949 for the Motor Company's ultimate touring rig, the CVO Limited. Exclusivity doesn't come cheap.

THE NEW SPECIALS

The Street Glide and Road Glide continue to rank at the top of Harley-Davidson's best-seller list due in large part to the up-spec Special versions, considered by many Harley owners as the better value for the dollar. Forking over the additional $5K for either the Street Glide Special or Road Glide Special now gets you a bagger with a meaner, darker look.

The up-spec Street Glide Special may cost an addition $5,000, but this package will save you several trips to the H-D parts and accessories department looking for upgrades. (Harley-Davidson)
The up-spec Street Glide Special may cost an addition $5,000, but this package will save you several trips to the H-D parts and accessories department looking for upgrades. (Harley-Davidson)

Both Specials get new stretched saddlebags that visually change the proportion up from the base model with a slightly longer, lower profile. Following suit with the Road King Special that was introduced earlier this year, the new 2018 Street Glide Special and Road Glide Special get the dark treatment on the engine guard, front forks, handlebars and hand controls, mirrors, turn signals, tank console, engine covers, air cleaner cover, mufflers and exhaust shields. New 19-inch front and 18-inch rear Talon wheels are also blacked out.

Stretched bags, 6.5 GT Infotainment system, Reflex linked Brembo with ABS, security system, blacked-out finishes, and painted inner fairing are standard on both the Street Glide Special and Road Glide Special for 2018. But only the Road Glide Special gets this sweet Bonneville Salt Denim finish. (Harley-Davidson)
Stretched bags, 6.5 GT Infotainment system, Reflex linked Brembo with ABS, security system, blacked-out finishes, and painted inner fairing are standard on both the Street Glide Special and Road Glide Special for 2018. But only the Road Glide Special gets this sweet Bonneville Salt Denim finish. (Harley-Davidson)

On the infotainment side, the Specials get the standard Boom Box 6.5GT Touchscreen system with upgraded Stage 1 Boom Audio speakers and enhanced bass. Of course you can always visit Harley-Davidson's extensive P&A catalog should you wish to upgrade the sound system, but much of the appeal of buying into the Special line is that this is a package designed to give you a factory custom bike without the need to invest heavily in accessories.

The 2018 Street Glide Special comes in Vivid Black, Wicked Red, Bonneville Salt Pearl, and Hot Rod Red Flake Hard Candy Custom with a starting MSRP of $25,999. The 2018 Road Glide Special can be had in Vivid Black, Twisted Cherry, Bonneville Salt Denim, or Hot Rod Red Flake Hard Candy Custom with a starting MSRP of $26,299.

This piece originally appeared at MotorcyclistOnline.com.