A fortunate series of events leading to my new Harley

posted: June 22, 2024

tl;dr: How being in H.O.G. helped me buy a 2023 CVO Road Glide...

I’m currently the Assistant Director of my local Harley Owners Group (HOG) chapter, Scottsdale 3160. It’s fair to say that, if I were not active in HOG, I would not have had the opportunity to purchase the bike I just bought, a 2023 CVO Road Glide in the Whiskey Neat paint scheme. In fact, I still can’t quite believe how it unfolded.

I was very happy with my 2020 Heritage Classic 114, but had been thinking for a while about upgrading to Harley’s Grand American Touring line, the bikes which are most capable for long distance, multi-day trips. Being in HOG, I am well-connected with the dealership and aware of the many events they put on. One of them, in February, is factory demo days. A tractor trailer from Milwaukee shows up at Harley-Davidson of Scottsdale loaded with the latest models. For several days they are lined up and people can go on demo rides, one after another, to try out as many models as they want.

My HOG chapter gets members to volunteer for leading the rides and helping with registration. I always attend, and of course ride as many of the bikes as I can. That got me acquainted with the entire product line, including the Road Glide. Some people prefer the batwing fairing of the Street Glide, but I liked the Road Glide when I rode it. Also, having taken a lot of physics, I understand the benefits of a frame-mounted fairing that can distribute forces to the bike’s frame instead of the front forks. So I was leaning towards the Road Glide, and had ridden it several times.

But what Road Glide model to get? In the past year Harley has launched a new generation of their touring bikes, starting with the 2023 Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) models and continuing with the 2024 Road Glide and Street Glide. The new generation is getting many positive reviews, with improvements in multiple areas including the suspension, which is important to me. So I was definitely leaning towards a new generation model, which meant I would be buying a new bike, since they just came out. For my two prior Harleys I followed my preferred strategy of buying a slightly used bike, which yields an almost new bike, typically with some extras installed by the previous owner, for a nice discount.

A large orange and black motorcycle, viewed from the left side, parked on an asphalt parking lot with mountains and desert vegetation in the background

2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide in Whiskey Neat

In looking at the 2024 models I was tempted to get a CVO, Harley’s top-of-the-line with the best stock engine, components, and features. One nice thing about buying a CVO is that you are done: there is no other model to upgrade to. But they are expensive, and when you spend that much money on a bike, you need to love it, which means loving the paint job. I wasn’t wowed by the 2024 CVO solid color paint job, called “Copperhead”, and the higher-end paint job (which adds $6,000 because much of it is hand-painted) looks like a Harley racing bike, which isn’t quite my style. I much preferred the 2023 higher-end paint job, an orange and black scheme called “Whiskey Neat”, but that was no longer available in 2024. One of my buddies in the chapter has one, and I was an admirer. But that paint scheme was history, or so I thought. Thus I was leaning towards a standard 2024 Road Glide, and was trying to decide which color was my favorite.

What accelerated my interest was a ride I went on with the HOG chapter after a monthly meeting. Unbeknownst to me, our group was stopped at an intersection near the dealership, and my wife was in her Jeep at the front of the line for the cross street. She watched our group ride by, and saw me on my Heritage alongside the rest of the chapter members, most of whom were riding the larger Harley touring bikes. At home later, she recounted this episode and told me “You need a bigger bike!” That was it - I had the permission I needed to move forward.

A few weeks later I showed up at the dealership on a Saturday morning for another HOG chapter ride. The dealership was open, and I went inside to grab a chilled bottle of water. When I walked in, right at the front of the showroom floor was a slightly-used 2023 CVO Road Glide in the Whiskey Neat paint scheme, complete with a touring pack, which is an extra I definitely was interested in, for additional storage capacity on longer trips. You know how they say that a new vehicle loses 20% of its value the moment you drive it off the dealer’s lot? The price tag was 20% below what a new one would cost. A 2023 CVO Road Glide in Whiskey Neat wasn’t even on my radar, as I didn’t think it would be possible to find one. But there it was, ready to be snapped up. I knew it wouldn’t last long.

I quickly asked a few questions about it, including why the previous owner would trade it in after only 1,300 miles. The story I got made sense. The previous owner was a wealthy motorcycle industry person and former racer who collected motorcycles. The racing-oriented paint scheme on the 2024 CVO appealed to him, so he traded in his 2023 for a 2024. Scottsdale has some wealthy people, so this didn’t surprise me. I still wanted to go on the chapter ride, which I did, and during the ride I decided that, if the bike was still available when I got back from the ride, and I could get a decent deal on it, I’d trade my Heritage for the CVO Road Glide. And that’s what I did. I didn’t have to delay the process by asking to do a test ride, because I’d already ridden the Road Glide, albeit not the CVO Road Glide. I just knew it would be even better, and I was already happy with the base Road Glide.

Fortune favors the bold: I went for it and I got it. I’m very happy with it - there will be a review forthcoming. It wouldn’t have happened this way if I hadn’t been in HOG.