Launch: 2013 Harley-Davidson Breakout

Harley-Davidson Breakout Review
Florida's long, straight, smooth roads are perfect for the Breakout.
Harley-Davidson Breakout Review
Words: Costa Mouzouris   Photos: Brian J. Nelson



If you ride your motorcycle to faraway places, and stick mostly to tight, winding secondary roads while getting there, then move along, there’s nothing here for you to see.

However, if you ride primarily to make a statement, or if you do like to take the twisty back way to your destination and already have a capable motorcycle for that but are looking to add a custom bike to your garage for the short hops, then the 2013 Harley-Davidson Breakout might be for you.

The Breakout is the quintessential bar-hopper, or as Harley-Davidson puts it in perhaps more ride-friendly, non-alcohol-related terms in press literature, “The Breakout motorcycle is an urban prowler, a bike ready for a midnight ramble to the roadhouse or a rib joint rendezvous with the crew.”

Bar or rib joint, Harley invited me to the quintessential cruiser Mecca of Daytona Beach on the opening weekend of Bike Week to ride the new Breakout.


Yes, riding isn’t about the destination but about getting there. However, if your crew’s meeting place isn’t too far from home, and you plan on loading up on baby backs and beans when you get there, the Breakout will carry your lardy ass with little fuss, as it is powered by Harley’s torquey Twin Cam 103B V-twin.

The Breakout is powered by Harley-Davidson's Twin Cam 103B V-twin motor.
The Breakout is powered by Harley-Davidson’s Twin Cam 103B V-twin motor.

The air-cooled engine displaces 1,690 cc and is counterbalanced for smooth operation. A smooth-shifting six-speed gearbox transfers power to the rear wheel via a silent and low-maintenance belt.

Harley-Davidson Breakout review
The Breakout’s big rear tire means cornering can be an effort, but the bike is very stable in a straight line.

Designed at the same time as its heavily adorned CVO brother (which was introduced late last year), the regular-production Breakout retains several of the CVO’s distinguishing features, like the fat, 130-series 21-inch front tire, the mega-wide 240-series rear rubber, long, 1,710 mm (67.3-inch) wheelbase and raked-out fork. The rake angle is actually a very lazy 35 degrees, but the forks are kicked out an additional two degrees in the triple clamps.

What the Breakout doesn’t have is the CVO ‘s abundant chrome plating and bolt-on cosmetic bits, as well as that bike’s larger 110 cubic-inch engine.

As is, the bike has a somewhat sinister appeal, with sporadic chrome trim balanced out by abundant blackout treatment. This is a good thing if you appreciate an understated look, or if want to dress up the Breakout on your own terms, using the countless accessories available through Harley’s accessory catalogue, as I suspect a potential owner will do.

I see the Breakout more as an entry-level CVO model, and if I may wax poetic for a moment, it is a blank canvas on which an owner can break out his imagination and make a unique visual statement, wallet allowing.

They say the devil is in the details, and if so, Harley knows Beelzebub well. The paint finish is spectacular, and I’m especially fond of the ember red sunglo, which is deep, rich and smooth as glass. Even the gear-shaped crest on the fuel tank makes a statement with a jewel-like cloisonné inlay. The wheels are a tribute to the Gasser dragsters of the ’50s and ’60s with a machined finish on alternating spokes.

Harley-Davidson Breakout Review
It’s all about the look, but what about the handling?

To emphasise the Breakout’s fat tires, the fenders are cut short, and my U.S.-spec test bike is equipped with a side-mounted licence plate mount and turn signals that double as tail and brake lights. Almost all you see from the rear on this bike is tire. Canadian-spec bikes will have a centrally mounted licence mount and tail lamp to comply with our more zealous Transport Canada regulations.

Harley-Davidson Breakout Review
Daytona’s Bike Week is the perfect place to release a bike like the Breakout.

The Breakout starts at $20,329, and although it’s now the most expensive model in the Softail line up, it costs almost $10,000 less than the CVO. Despite the sticker price, ABS is only available as part of an optional, $1,360 package that includes a security system.


Daytona Bike Week is the ideal backdrop to launch the Breakout, not only because it’s the first biker gathering of the year, but also because Florida’s roads are smooth, flat and straight and there are a couple of factors working against the Breakout in the handling department.

For starters, the long wheelbase and fat rear tire make it prone to resist leaning, making it feel like it’s pushing onto a spring when leaning into a turn. Leave a stop into a sharp right-hand corner and you find yourself battling trying to keep the bike from running wide, having to put constant pressure on the inside handlebar to maintain an arc.

The benefit of this handling quirk, of course, is absolutely unwavering straight-line stability. Which makes Daytona a good place for it as it also has very limited cornering clearance and it doesn’t take much for the long footpeg feelers to touch asphalt.

Harley-Davidson Breakout Review
Costa’s a fan of the Sunglo red paint scheme.

The bike’s Easy Rider seating position would make Dennis Hopper proud; legs stretch far ahead towards the forward-mounted footpegs and it’s an equally distant reach to the flat, drag-bike bend handlebar.

Harley-Davidson Breakout review
You don’t have to go to jail to buy a Breakout, but you’ll have to save your dough.

But don’t forget, the Breakout isn’t being marketed as an Iron Butt candidate and it isn’t about carving corners; it’s about riding in short spurts and taking long breaks in between, chatting up your buddies and eating ribs.

Then again, none of this really matters to me as I head northbound along Highway A1A with the Atlantic Ocean to my right. If I want to scrape knee sliders, there are other bikes and other places for that. Here, I just want to take in the scenery, which mercifully includes the occasional bikini-clad sport-bike rider.

The Breakout chugs along comfortably at 45 to 50 mph (U.S.-spec bike, remember?), and the smooth asphalt doesn’t tax the short-travel suspension, though after about 40 minutes in the saddle I begin to fidget, moving my butt from one cheek to the other on the seat. The seating position might look cool, but it places all of your upper body weight on your coccyx, which needs regular relief.

Rolling on the throttle provides a substantial kick in the pants, as the big twin produces its peak torque (95.5 lb-ft) at just 3,000 rpm. The engine is also remarkably smooth, and the transmission shifts with great ease and a light touch, even by Japanese sport bike standards.

I turn left onto High Bridge Road, just south of Flagler Beach, taking the only road in the area that has a few bends in it (there are six of them). Here, even at a gentle pace, it’s all too easy to touch the footpeg feelers to the pavement, so I slow down and strike poses for the pair of roadside photographers taking pictures of passing bikes on a rare Floridian corner and selling the images online.

Harley-Davidson Breakout review
Those cast aluminum wheels are supposed to be throwbacks to the days of gasser dragsters.


Harley makes no illusions as to what type of customer it is targeting with the Breakout, stating during the technical presentation that it is meant as a second bike. This is not a beginner bike, it’s not a travelling bike and it’s by no means a road-carving motorcycle. It is a top-of-the-line boulevard cruiser for the affluent biker.

Harley-Davidson Breakout review
Here in Canada, we have a standard set of brake lights and license plate mount.

There are pullback handlebars and passenger backrests available to improve comfort, but those things also detract from the Breakout’s low-profile looks and badass attitude. We were also shown some touring accessories including saddlebags and a windshield, but those will probably be the least popular accessories for this machine, especially since the potential buyer should already have a bike in the garage for travelling.

Some will add chrome, some will add high-performance engine parts; all will add some attitude. And for those riders, attitude and style trumps comfort and practicality.


Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.


Bike 2013 Harley-Davidson Breakout
MSRP $20,329
Displacement 1690 cc
Engine type air-cooled Twin Cam 103B V-twin
Power (crank)* n/a
Torque* 129 Nm (95.5 lb-ft) @ 3000 rpm
Tank Capacity 18.9 litres – 5 gallons
Carburetion electronic sequential port fuel injection
Final drive belt drive
Tires, front Dunlop Harley-Davidson series 130/60B21 63H
Tires, rear Dunlop Harley-Davidson series 240/40R18 79V
Brakes, front four-piston caliper, 292 mm disc (optional ABS)
Brakes, rear two-piston caliper, 292 mm disc
Seat height 660 mm
Wheelbase 1710 mm
Wet weight* 322 kg (710 lbs)
Colours red, blue or black
Warranty 2 years unlimited mileage
* claimed


  1. 2013 Breakout is my first serious bike! I have always admired the older style 50’s and 60’s drag style bikes the breakout was based from. My first ride was 4700 km across the US from Toronto Canada to Vancouver Island. I rode a couple 10 hr days in complete comfort. This bike is not just a badass around town, ride the strip bike. I have rode 10,000 km in the last 5 months, and I would take it anywhere! Awesome power and comfort, rock solid bike! Really happy

  2. 2013 Breakout is my first serious bike! I have always admired the older style 50’s and 60’s drag style bikes the breakout was based from. My first ride was 4700 km across the US from Toronto Canada. I rode a couple 10 hr days in complete comfort. This bike is not just a badass around town, ride the strip bike. I have rode 10,000 km in the last 5 months, and I would take it anywhere! Awesome power and comfort, rock solid bike! Really happy

  3. Right! I rode piped and pumped fire breathing 200 Horses on the wheel beasts for many years and loved every minute of it.

    Bought this and LOVE every minute of it too… It is a sweet scooter.

  4. I’m riding one and loving it. Over the years, I’ve won a regional superbike championship and ridden many long distance tours. I bought the Breakout because it makes me want to NOT do either of these things … been there and done that. I love just takin’ it easy for a few hours on this style’n visceral ride. In fact, I think my blue Breakout has more style than the overly flashy CVO. I love this bike.

  5. Just did a horsepower calculation. ((torque x RPM) / 5252) Wow, 54.5 hp. Now that is truly Harley badass. Underpowered and uncomfortable.

  6. Another Hardly-Ableson parts bin special. Nothing new here. Just another uncomfortable, slow, heavy and noisy lump of arse jewellery.

    There! I said something nice.

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