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Latest Motorcycle Book Rides Through Harley's CVO Program

The mystery and beauty of Harley-Davidson’s Custom Vehicle Operations is documented in a new motorcycle book from Motorbooks and its author, Marilyn Stemp.

We enjoyed this book, ‘Harley-Davidson CVO Motorcycles: The Motor Company's Custom Vehicle Operations’ but first a look at what a CVO motorcycle is.

While Harley-Davidson’s Custom Vehicle Operations could be considered a custom production line, or even referred to as a ‘program’, at the heart of the CVO is a deep love and passion for motorcycles.

Technically speaking, for every model year since the program's inception in 1999, Harley-Davidson has chosen a small selection of its mass-produced motorcycle models and created limited-edition customized version of those platforms with larger-displacement engines, costlier paint designs and additional accessories not found on the mainstream models.

However, anyone who has seen a CVO motorcycle in person or through the beautiful pictures collected for ‘Harley-Davidson CVO Motorcycles: The Motor Company's Custom Vehicle Operations’ will understand they are so much more.

A unique blend of performance and motorcycle art, CVO motorcycles will make any rider stop and stare, regardless of where their two-wheeled love may place them.

Bearing this in mind, we were surprised to learn this book is the first time the CVO program has been chronicled.

The official description of the book;

‘The pinnacle of Harley-Davidson customization--that's exactly what the Motor Company's Custom Vehicle Operations motorcycles are: custom-shop details that push the boundaries of style and performance with high-impact paint, killer wheels, big engines, and exclusive technology.

Designed in-house since 1999 at Harley-Davidson's world-class Willie G Product Development Center, built by the factory, and available through Harley-Davidson's dealer network, these machines set themselves apart from the pack.

Harley-Davidson CVO Motorcycles: the Motor Company's Custom Vehicle Operations is the first book to showcase these works of two-wheeled art and the story behind them.’

Readers of our last book review know the staff at Clutch and Chrome are fans of not only books in general, but certainly those described as ‘coffee table books’. It’s hard for any tablet or computer screen to replicate the joy of flipping through page after page of beautifully photographed motorcycles. Add the smell of a new book as it’s explored for the first time as well as the tactile sensation of turning those pages and we’re lost for hours.

This new title is large enough to be considered as a coffee table book and anyone who has heard the term ‘CVO’ should be curious enough to reach for it. Harley-Davidson has produced a rich palette of motorcycles, any of which could’ve have made for an eye-catching cover so we’re confused why Motorbooks chose what they did.

However, readers shouldn’t let the cover set the tone for the book. It’s well and truly a picture-type book with each 10 x 12 page featuring quality photographs from every possible angle, showing not just the motorcycle, but all the smaller details which enjoyed painstaking attention from the designers at Harley’s Custom Vehicle Operations.

The author, Marilyn Stemp navigates readers through these different details. Whether from writing about tubular frames or paint treatments, Stemp highlights not only what was featured on each CVO model, but why it was and more importantly, why a rider should love it.

As the CVO plucks models from Harley-Davidson’s current model year line-up, Stemp offers easily digested background information on the model, both with general production as well as how it related to the CVO program.

The book is organized by model allowing readers to focus on a particular style of Harley-Davidson.

The author knows her motorcycles. Marilyn Stemp is the current editor of Iron Trader News online and was founding editor in 1989 of the well-respected consumer magazine IronWorks with her late husband Dennis Stemp. Marilyn freelances for motorcycle industry and consumer publications and edits the Sturgis Rider Daily during the Sturgis Rally.

According to information supplied, when she's not promoting and inventorying the world's largest Evel Knievel collection she rides a mid-'90s Sportster and is restoring a 1954 Flathead.

Unfortunately no book or pictures can truly capture the insane beauty of a CVO motorcycle. The quality of paintwork alone can only be seen in person to appreciate the hard work and creativity that goes into these incredible rides.

Unless readers have a string of CVO owners on speed dial who will bring their motorcycles around at the drop of a hat, this book is the best way to understand what Harley-Davidson does year in and year out with this unique program. Further, readers of ‘Harley-Davidson CVO Motorcycles: The Motor Company's Custom Vehicle Operations’ have the advantage of an organized and documented ride though the program as well.

Whether a fan of Harley-Davidson or not, riders who appreciate beautiful motorcycles and those that have enjoyed loving creativity should consider buying ‘Harley-Davidson CVO Motorcycles: The Motor Company's Custom Vehicle Operations’.

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