Harley-Davidson Breakout First Ride Review

They call it “The Loop” and it’s one of the few roads close to Daytona Beach that has any type of turns. With a squeeze on the taught wire of the Breakout’s cable-actuated clutch, we bang down on the shifter of Harley’s newest Softail and ease out just enough to let us know we’re in first gear. Revving the Twin Cam 103B beneath us, we wait our turn to make a flying pass by the photographer up ahead.

Once it’s our turn, we eagerly release the clutch out of the friction zone and into full engagement, the surge of power immediate and strong. The ribbon of asphalt cuts a grey snake through green palms and moss-draped oaks, the wide drag bars allowing for solid leveraging. The Breakout leans willingly into the first bend, its Dunlops grippy and the bike stable at lean. Heading into the next bend, the Breakout’s center of gravity is low but its back tire is wide, so transitioning rolls more than flicks. Once again, Harley’s newest Softail willingly dips into the turn until the footpeg feelers angrily scrape pavement. We continue our arc, grinding the peg the whole way, then twist the grip to power out of the turn.

Motorcycle USA recently traveled to Daytona Beach for Harley-Davidson’s debut of the latest edition to its Softail family, the 2013 FXSB Breakout. It was a momentous occasion for Harley, as the model launch was the first one The Motor Company has conducted at Bike Week, which is hard to believe considering you’re dealing with a 110-year-old company and a 72-year-old event. If the name Harley Breakout sounds familiar it’s because a CVO version already broke wraps back in August of last year. With the new production version, Harley dropped the flash for a darker, edgier look that it hopes will appeal to a younger demographic. In addition to being the first Harley to make its debut at Bike Week, the 2013 FXSB Breakout is also the first CVO model to be adapted as a production model. As such, it is the medium by which crews from both the CVO and standard Harley production lines collaborated for the first time to produce the two Breakout versions.

The Harley Breakout has wide drag bars that provide good leveraging in turns and sticky Dunlops that grip well.

A quick visual inspection of the bike reveals a long profile for the 2013 Harley Breakout, its stout fork kicked out at a 37-degree rake angle at the head of its 67.3-inch wheelbase. It’s slung low, the lower frame rails inches above the ground while the scooped-out seat sits at a laden 24.7 inches off the ground. Its aesthetics are well balanced, rolling tall up front and wide out back. In between, the powertrain has been compacted tightly within the tubular frame, the front jug of the cylinder skirting the downtubes, the shiny chromed cover of the big primary dressing up the right side leading to the six-speed gearbox responsible for spinning the belt attached to the back wheel. A new ribbed cast aluminum oil tank fills the rest of the void in the tightly assembled packaged.

The 2013 Breakout has a gloss black drag bar sitting atop chrome risers with the speedo integrated smartly into the risers.

The ribbed cast aluminum oil tank on the Breakout is a new twist.

Situating ourselves into its leather saddle, we reach out to the Breakout’s drag bars. The foot controls are far forward and our legs are almost perpendicular to the ground. Between the scooped-out saddle and the bar positioning, ergos are canted slightly forward on the Breakout’s rider triangle.

The rigid-mounted Twin Cam 103B V-Twin puts out a claimed 95.5 lb-ft of torque @3000 rpm.

The five-gallon tank of the Breakout has glass-filled tank medallions and graphics you’ll only find on this Softail.

Harley’s newest motorcycle is led by a wide 49mm fork, approximately 1.75-inches wider than previous Softails like the Rocker, paired to a 130mm wide, 21-inch tall wheel. The front fender has been cut down as much as legally possible. Above it rests a gloss black drag bar mounted atop chrome risers with a small round speedo integrated smartly into the top clamp. This keeps the bars clean and tidy. While the speedometer itself is analog, a small digital display can be toggled for handy features like an odometer, dual trip meters, a clock, and the most useful of the bunch, a digital rpm/gear indicator. The gauge itself is in direct-line-of-sight so it’s functional as well as cosmetic.

The 2013 Harley Breakout is offered in Vivid Black, Big Blue Pearl or our favorite, Ember Red Sunglo and lists for $17,899.

Blunt-cut mufflers with gloss black heat shields match the personality of the Breakout well. 

The fender brace on the rear of the Breakout is the first forged and polished aluminum support without a cosmetic cover. Wiring is concealed beneath the brace.

On the Breakout’s backside, Harley-Davidson chopped down the rear fender and side-mounted the license plate so there’s an unobstructed view of the 240mm rear tire. Damping duties are the responsibility of Harley’s signature hidden coil-over Softail shocks, albeit they have been re-tuned to allow a bit more travel out back. The fender brace on the rear is the first forged and polished aluminum support without a cosmetic cover, which allowed Harley to conceal the wiring for the rear beneath the brace. Chrome blunt-cut mufflers with gloss black shields run down the right side and help maintain the bike’s harmony between black and chrome.

This balanced approached extends to the Brakeout’s wheels as well. Claimed to be inspired by gasser hot rods and drag bikes, the appropriately named Gasser 10-spoke aluminum wheels are specific to the Breakout. With the Gassers, Harley took off some of the chrome by machining alternating spokes and the rim edge to expose the aluminum under the paint. This also helped give them less inertia than their CVO counterparts. The rest of the wheels are covered in gloss-black powdercoat.

The Breakout is led by a wide 49mm fork, approximately 1.75-inches wider than previous Softails like the Rocker, paired to a 130mm wide, 21-inch tall Gasser wheel.

It’s a powerful looking bike, made for cruising down Daytona Beach’s Main Street and short blasts between venues like Destination Daytona and the Iron Horse Saloon. But stoplight-to-stoplight action isn’t cutting it, so we jump on I-95 to ramp up the speed and bang through the gears.

A rip on the throttle quickly elicits a smile on our face as the Twin Cam 103B delivers the goods. Power is punchy as first gear taps out around 45 mph. By the time we hit second gear redline between 5400 – 5500 rpm, the speedo is cresting at 65 mph. During highway roll-ons to pass big rigs, the Breakout’s powerplant delivers a nice top end hit in fifth gear at about 3200 rpm. It’s equipped with Harley’s proprietary “Cruise Drive” transmission so switching into sixth gear saves a bit of stress on the engine as it drops a few hundred rpm. Cruising along the highway, the front end rises high and wide enough to provide a little buffer from the wind, but at higher speeds buffeting hits about mid-face.

Harley is hoping that making the production Breakout a little darker and edgier will appeal to a younger demographic than its dressier CVO version.

Soon we’re out of town on a scenic side road and headed through Ocala National Forest. The ribbon of asphalt we’re on winds through sand pine scrub forest, a combination of oaks, pines and palms coloring the landscape in various shades of tan and green. We roll over countless bridges as water in central Florida is everywhere, from springs to rivers to canals. When we hit precarious steel grate bridges, notorious for the floaty, unsure footing it provides motorcycle tires, we’re grateful for the 240mm wide patch of Dunlop rubber on the rear of Harley’s 2013 Breakout and the new 130mm wide front that has been developed for stability and maneuverability. Leery of the gators known to frequent the waterways in these parts, the reliability of the Breakout’s tires is reassuring as we ride.

Braking duties on the 2013 Breakout are the responsibility of a single 292mm floating rotor with a four-piston caliper on the front and an equally large single rotor on the back with 2-piston floating calipers. The motorcycle doesn’t come with ABS standard, but is offered as an upgrade in the ABS/security package for an extra $1195. The model we rode was equipped with the ABS, an addition we’d recommend after testing the brakes. On an isolated strip we were able to get on them hard, which requires a firm squeeze on the front brake lever to get the calipers to bite. Even then, if riders have any type of speed built up, they’re going to need the help of the stronger rear. There’s just too much mass trailing it to be ultra-effective and stopping distances using only the front were long. Used in tandem with the back, the combination does an efficient job of bringing the bike to a halt because the rear has better feel and power, especially if the ABS cuts in. The ABS engages at just about the right point for our taste, not too early like other systems we’ve experienced, and didn’t seem as pulsy as the set-up on Harley’s touring bikes.

We rode in ten strong to Daytona Beach Main Street to park the 2013 Breakouts in front of Mikey Luv’s for its world debut.

Drag bars are positioned down at about 4 o’clock, foot controls are far forward and ergos are canted slightly forward on the Breakout’s rider triangle.

The 2013 Harley Breakout is stable in the twisties but could benefit from a bit more lean angle.

Rolling back into Daytona Beach, we had the privilege of riding the Breakouts into Mikey Luv’s for their official public debut and the accompanying kick-off H.O.G. party. We barely got our kick stands down before Harley enthusiasts and passers-by were clamoring around the bikes, nodding approvingly at the styling and stance, many jumping in the saddle to try them on for size. Initial public reaction was positive, as was our day in the saddle after about a 110-mile spin through the Florida countryside.

Cruising down the boulevard on a bike with a menacing profile is what the Breakout is all about.

The 2013 Harley Breakout lists for $17,899 in Vivid Black, with the Big Blue Pearl or Ember Red Sunglo paint schemes selling for an extra $400. As mentioned, the ABS/security package is offered for $1195 more. There’s already a slew of Genuine Harley aftermarket parts and goodies available for the model. Owners could give it the full custom treatment and hook it up with the Turbine Wheels and chrome accents like the CVO Breakout or make it more accommodating for long rides by switching out for a Sundowner Seat and Pillion and an adjustable two-up luggage rack. After about an hour-and-a-half straight in the stock saddle, we’d recommend the touring saddle if you plan on road trippin’ because the spot in our lower back just above the waistline did start to go a little numb. One of the smartest accessories Harley offers for the Breakout is a Reduced Reach Seat that drops the height an inch. Combine it with Harley’s Reduced Reach Handlebars and it allows for three inches of adjustment.

The 2013 Harley Breakout, the latest Softail from The Motor Company, combines the power of a Twin Cam 103B with a low slung chassis.

The 2013 Breakout is a welcome addition to the Softail family. Its styling is more aggressive than other family members and has the power to match. It launches with authority and feels planted at lean. Transitioning is a bit heavy, but that’s to be expected from a bike with 37-degrees of rake, a spread of 67.3-inches between wheels and a 240mm rear. If it was ours, the peg feelers would be ground off in no time, but the bike could easily handle more lean in our opinion. Styling is spot-on though, from the paint to the chrome to its blacked-out bits. It’s got drag bars for a reason because once in the saddle you’re going to feel like the stoplight-to-stoplight king. So spool it up, drop the clutch, and enjoy the ride.


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