Here’s another road hog from the Big Daddy of motorcycling – the Breakout from Harley-Davidson. A glitzy, muscular cruiser, it attracts a lot of attention and the 1,690cc V-twin never runs out of steam. Go further and read our Harley Davidson Breakout.
When I first saw it, I couldn’t quite figure out how to slot Harley-Davidson’s latest member – the Breakout. I must confess that my first impression of the motorcycle wasn’t entirely complimentary, as the ‘Hard candy quicksilver’ reminded me of bridesmaids in shimmering silver outfits. But credit must be given to these gutsy women who wear these garish outfits and add considerable colour to the big fat Indian wedding. I’m not saying that the Harley Davidson Breakout looks a middle-aged aunty, who’s desperately trying to look hip by squeezing into an outfit that’s at least two sizes smaller. On the contrary, the Harley has the typical DNA of the Softail family – a lean, yet muscular, profile.
The only way to get over the dazzling aura was to simply to start this metal steed and take a ride. To my surprise, the seat position was quite low, merely 660mm, though it provides ample back support. The seat squab itself feels has a snug fit and ensures that the ride, whether short or long, is a comfortable one. The pillion seat, though, is quite hard and it’s slightly elevated as well – so it’s not the happiest place to be. Twist the throttle, and the exhaust note is on the mild side, which is a little disappointing as it just doesn’t go with the Breakout’s macho image. If you want to make your presence felt, and awe your friends as well as pretty strangers, then get a Screaming Eagle exhaust.
This low-slung cruiser is like an enigma when it comes to its design, as it unifies fat styling with agile handling. It is has a 21-inch, 130mm, front wheel and a massive 240mm width, 18-inch wheel at the rear. Based on the 50s’ and 60s’ Gasser drag bikes, the Harley Davidson Breakout gets short retro fenders and a straight handle bar, which provides a stretched riding stance. On the centre of the dash is a chrome-coated single dial speedometer with a multi-function LCD display. Its minimalistic design beautifully complements the chrome strip on the fuel tank, and the bling continues to the engine cover and thick front forks.
It was quite obvious that the Harley engineers have worked overtime on the chassis, as the Breakout was more than willing to tackle the wide turns on the road. But, due to its limited ground clearance, you can’t take a free flowing turn without the foot pegs scrapping the tarmac, which can be quite irritating. The rear wheel provides a lot of grip, complementing the chassis – so it can get quite frustrating that the bike is prevented from achieving its full potential. It is a confident handler on sweeping corners, minus the foot pegs scraping, but cutting through traffic is out of the question.
There are times when you feel that attitude has been given precedence over effectiveness. Taking a U-turn can be a nightmare, as the bike needs a lot space to accommodate its wide turning radius. Keep in mind that while taking a turn, the weight of the bike makes itself known as well – so you do have to make calculated manoeuvres. And there’s a good chance of bottoming the bike as well, so beware of tall speed breakers.
Contrary to popular belief, Harleys aren’t as lazy to put the power down as you’ve been led to believe. The Twin Cam 103B, the 1,690cc engine, has a crisp response and strong pulling power – especially at the lower end of the rpm range. The Breakout cruises from 30-100km/h without any fuss at all. The engine easily adapts to slow start-stop traffic, and you never feel any lag in response. It is a very flexible engine, allowing you to ride it according to terrain and traffic. It was very much at ease on inclines as well, since low-end torque is plentiful.
Unfortunately, the six-speed transmission is anything but smooth. Changing gears means literally stepping on the shift lever, and then waiting for a loud thud. Harley seriously needs to step up its refinement levels, as it’s lagging behind the competition. Another sore point is that around 80km/h you do start to feel the vibrations – and they become even more pronounced once you exceed three-digit speeds.
Riding on straight flat tarmac is where the Breakout excels. So stick to the open road as much as possible, and avoid broken roads if you can – since the bike will crash into potholes and make your spine scream. The Breakout is a typical cruiser that’s built for straight American highways rather than our narrow chaotic roads. Though it might not be as imposing as other Harley-Davidsons, it still is macho and guarantees a lot of attention – especially with a short fender and a fat rear tyre. Yes, I did get over the silver colour, but a lot of that has to do with strangers giving me the thumbs-up and telling me that it was a great colour choice.
At the end of our Harley Davidson Breakout, we would like to say that the engine is a gem and can cruise at any speed, which makes it easy to ride in the city. The biggest challenge with this bike is its limited manoeuvrability, as it’s virtually impossible to take tight corners. The Breakout is a great weekend getaway bike, but given a choice the Fatboy remains a more practical. Plus, it comes with a far more iconic image!
- Harley-Davidson Breakout
Engine: 1,690cc / Air cooled / V-Twin / DOHC
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Torque: 130Nm @ 3,000rpm
Price: RS. 16.28 lakhs (ex-showroom. Delhi)