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Breaking Out With Harley-Davidson

The Harley-Davidson Breakout is long, low and devoid of any unnecessary motorcycle 'furniture'.

Long Forks

The long forks add to the bikes presence and the minimal looks are accented by a set of handlebars that gently curve back towards the rider. The new digital ‘clocks’ are cleverly ‘hidden in plain sight’.

The original wheels were new for a production Harley and had been, we were told, inspired by 1950s hot rod racing cars. Called 'Gassers', they have ten round spokes all of which are painted gloss black. These are then machined away on alternate spokes and the wheel rims before being lacquered. The exposed aluminium adds to the bikes 'stripped down' look. The mudguards front and rear are short, showing off the tall and thin 21 inch front and the gigantic 240-section rear. The riders’ seat is comfortable while the unused pillion seat looks like an afterthought. The front indicators hang from the bars, below the mirror stems and the compact headlight sits in the square formed by the fork legs and clamps. 

It’s frame and swingarm are black and frame the chrome engine, exhaust, and oil cooler. The fork lowers are all black and compliment the chrome finish on the details well. The engine is visually the centre of the machine. A big 1690 cc V-twin, it produces a little over 95 foot-pounds of torque at only 3,000 rpm. The oval air filter cover sits in the centre of the 'v'.

Styled to perfection

There are no panniers, screens, stereos, queen seats or backrests. This is a clean bike, devoid of all unnecessary extras, a classic and indeed very beautiful motorcycle.

Despite its simple looks it is, however, a very cleverly made piece of kit. The Breakout is from the springer family, the same as the Fat Boy, so it looks like a vintage hard tail in some respects but it has a very effective rear shock hidden behind the frame rails on the rear of the bike. It also comes as standard with an excellent and utterly unobtrusive ABS system.

As a machine it needs to be stopped frequently, not because it’s uncomfortable, on the contrary the riders seat is deep enough and the ergonomics excellent. No, the bike needs frequent stops so that the rider can park it up and watch the admiring glances of passers-by with more than a little sense of satisfaction!

When you sling your leg over the bike and sit all the way down, down and down to the saddle the bike feels incredibly low. Which, at only 660mm, it is! The afore mentioned ignition switch sits on the left hand side of the frame and once turned the simple looking clock lights up with a pre check of all the warning lights at which point I begin to get a sense of how sophisticated this machine is in spite of its looks. There is what feels like a momentary pause when I hit the starter button before the giant V-twin wakes up and shakes to life. As I blip the throttle the snarl from the street legal exhaust is more than satisfactory and produces enough noise to announce it’s presence. I think, however, that I’d want to complete the bike and replace it with an aftermarket system.

Easy on the riders frame

From a start point of having both my feet on the floor I pull in the clutch, lift my left foot up and push the gear lever into first. I'm rewarded with a wonderfully positive action and feel from the gearbox. I lift my right foot onto the peg and as I move off I 'get' the low seat and forward pegs. Combined with the handlebar position they make for a very comfortable ergonomic arrangement. The road out of the city is heavy with traffic and features an outstanding amount of roundabouts.

Ten minutes later I’ve cleared the suburbs and start climbing into the hills. Hard right hand turns are followed by hard left hand turns and the riding is brisk and somewhat technical. This is where the Breakout offers its first real surprise. The ground clearance is much better than expected and the engine is punchy enough to pull the bike and rider out of the corners without having to constantly drop gears. The handlebars, which look stylised, are highly effective and functional. The chassis reacts well to counter steering and engine braking.

Several hours later and I’m back in the hills. I lift my 'crashed too often body' off the bike and I'm struck by how fresh I feel. No backache, no tingling hands, no discomfort at all. I may as well have just gotten off a Goldwing.

Orange is the new black

This is truly a very usable and easy to live with bike. It's also light on the 'Americana'. I don't feel like I should be listening to some god-awful BonJovi music, joining the Republican Party or shooting robot assassins from the future. The simple functionality of the Breakout makes it seem almost like, dare I say it, a European bike.

If you’d like to test ride one then you’ll find a wonderfully prepared used one in Waterford HD. Give any of the team in the dealership a call and start putting some shape on your dreams…

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