HARLEY-DAVIDSON BREAKOUT (2018 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Harley-Davidson character
  • High residual value
  • Distinctive drag-bike looks

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £240
Power: 86 bhp
Seat height: Low (26.2 in / 665 mm)
Weight: High (648 lbs / 294 kg)

Prices

New £17,245
Used £15,900

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Fans of the now deleted Harley V-Rod may have lamented the demise of the American firm’s stand out drag style bike, but with the arrival of the new 2018 Breakout, H-D came up with a ready-made replacement.

Basically a long, kicked-out, dragster-style cruiser with a ridiculously fat rear tyre, the Breakout uses Harley’s new lighter, stronger Softail frame as introduced in 2018 and is powered by the punchier, ‘Milwaukee-Eight’ version of the classic H-D, 45-degree V-twin which debuted in Harley’s touring range the previous year.

The forks are kicked out to a low slung 34 degrees and brace a new design, skinny, 21-inch front wheel. At the rear, a special, wide swingarm holds a simply massive, 240mm-wide, 18-incher.

While in-between is new, low slung, drag-style bodywork (including new 13.2litre tank) which plants the rider low and stretching forward to the virtually straight, one-piece tubular bars which hold an ultra-minimalist, digital instrument pod.

It all reeks of aggressive attitude and straight-line bad behaviour and boy does it deliver – for better and worse. As a straightline, American V-twin dragster there are few better (although Harley’s own, more recent, single seat FXDR is arguably more extreme still, and cheaper to boot).

It also looks fabulous, has the ‘right’ badge on the tank and is a hoot when blasting away from the lights. But the flipside of that is an extreme riding position that’s borderline agony on extended journeys (and we certainly wouldn’t recommend riding one on motorways) limited practicality and awkward handling through turns or traffic, due to the kicked out front and fat back tyre, that takes more than a little getting used to.

Build quality and reliability, as with all of this generation of ‘Milwaukee Eight’ powered, Softail chassised Harleys, is excellent and peripherals such as instruments (though minimal on the Breakout), lights etc are all much improved. Harley residuals are traditionally superb, too.

The Breakout, though, is far more extreme than most and, particularly in the UK, has niche appeal. But if you love the look and are undaunted by its extreme ergonomics, ‘unusual’ handling and minimal practicality – and we know of more than one buyer who couldn’t live with it – you won’t be disappointed.

Harley-Davidson Breakout on the road

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Breakout’s chassis, as with all Harley’s 2018 Softails, is an all-new, steel double cradle now with a hidden single monoshock under the seat (complete with natty remote preload adjuster) rather than the rather crude, dual items below the gearbox that was the case on the old Softails. Generally it’s a big improvement over the old delivering a reasonably plush ride.

On the Breakout, however, to deliver its ‘drag bike’ poise, that ride quality is overshadowed by its extreme geometry and ‘form over function’ wheel and tyre sizes. The forks are kicked out to a massive 34-degrees and hold a skinny, 21-inch front wheel.

While at the rear, a special, wide swingarm holds a simply massive, 240mm-wide 18-incher. The result is long, awkward and, in a straight line blast, a hoot. But turns, thanks to that combination of kicked out front and dumper truck rear, require setting up, tillering in and all-round acclimatization.

Much of the rest of the Breakout’s chassis is compromised for style and looks over performance, too. A bike of this weight and performance really requires more braking power than the Breakout’s single front disc, especially considering the bike’s skinny front tyre, so you’ll be using the rear brake as much as much as you will the front, the minimal pillion seat and high pegs demand a committed (and flexible) passenger and if you intend riding the Breakout as intended.

By treating every traffic light as a drag race, the addition of a sissy bar or backrest is probably vital to continue any meaningful relationship. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!

Harley-Davidson Breakout right side

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

As with three other members of Harley’s 2018 Softail family, the new Breakout now uses the four-valve, partially oil-cooled ‘Milwaukee Eight’ 107ci (1746cc) V-twin, as introduced in its 2017 touring range, with the option also of a 114ci (1868cc) version.

Both are modified for Softail use via a new oil cooler subtly positioned between the downtubes and, as they’re rigidly mounted in the new Softail frames (in the tourers they’re rubber mounted) come with two, not one, balancer shafts.

The 107ci version delivers 86bhp while the 114ci, as tested here, 93bhp. And while those figures may not sound that much and be dwarfed by the likes of Ducati’s 160bhp Diavel, both are significantly more than previous Harleys, benefit from bags of accompanying torque and simply begs to be unleashed at every tyre-squealing opportunity.

Up to 70mph or so, should the mood take you, few bikes are more dramatic yet like all big Harleys the Breakout can also be happily gently cruised around on to a familiar Harley ‘potato-potato’ soundtrack.

The five-speed gearbox, though a little clunky and crude, gives a certain rustic charm and Harley’s traditional belt final drive is fault-free and proven and also has the benefit of requiring less maintenance than a chain.

Harley-Davidson Breakout front

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Along with the new Softail frame, uprated ‘Milwaukee Eight’ V-twin engine and cycle parts plus new equipment such as LED lights and clocks, the build quality of the Breakout – and indeed all of Harley-Davidson’s 2018 Softail family – has been noticeably improved.

The powertrain is based on the proven ‘Project Rushmore’ touring family and quality has seemingly been raised throughout, so we’ve little cause for concern as far as reliability goes.

Breakout owners report few problems and none mechanically so far although there has been the odd battery niggle and some parts, such as the small indicators, are described as ‘delicate’.

And although the Breakout is a very ‘niche’ proposition with limited appeal, particularly in the UK, many components, specifically the engine, new chassis and most cycle parts, are common throughout Harley’s ‘Big Twin’ range with very few reliability problems so there should be nothing to worry about.

Besides, most Breakouts, being out-and-out ‘poseur bikes’ are more than likely to cover only small mileages and are also probably polished and pampered far more than, say, Harley’s touring machines, so used examples should be expected to be immaculate.

With that in mind, however, cosmetic condition is paramount – especially as it’s not beyond the realms of possibility, considering how awkward the Breakout is to manoeuvre and manage, that an owner may have had a low speed or even static  ‘tipple’.

In addition examples may have been stored for extended periods without correct protection or maintenance or suffered some kind of novice neglect.

So, check all cosmetics and metal finishes thoroughly, look for any scuffs and dings, particularly on exposed components such as levers, indicators and so on, investigate the bike’s service and maintenance history and ensure that any aftermarket accessories that come with the bike – sissy bars, loud pipes, replacement rear tyres or cosmetic components – are not only appropriate and desirable (and, if not, are detachable or replaceable with the standard item) but have also been fitted correctly.

Harley-Davidson Breakout left side

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Harley-Davidson ‘Big Twin’ ownership never comes cheap. These are premium, luxury machines on a par with car brands such as BMW or even Bentley with the eye-watering running costs to match. And, with new prices starting at over £18K, a proposition that’s all about performance and an engine in excess of 1800cc that’s certainly not any different with the Breakout.

Whether you go for the 107ci or 114ci engine makes little difference, insurance-wise, while Harley servicing and accessory prices are on the premium side, too.

That said, for drag-style ‘hot rods’ like this, exactly the same is true of any likely alternative rival machines, the closest currently being the even more performance-orientated Ducati XDiavel, Triumph’s new, ultra-sophisticated Rocket 3 and even Harley’s own, single-seat, performance-enhanced (and even more uncomfortable) FXDR, all of which are hardly cheap to own, have a healthy hunger for consumables such as rear tyres and brake pads not to mention fuel and all also facing fairly high servicing bills.

But it’s not all bad news. In some other respects day-to-day running costs with a Breakout can be expected to be no worse than most other bikes.

Being belt drive means there’s no chain and sprocket maintenance or replacement costs to worry about, its comparatively sedate performance (compared to the Diavel and Rocket 3 at least) means consumption of the likes of brake pads (especially as the Breakout has only a single front disc), tyres and fuel is less of a concern while bikes like this are never likely to rack up high mileages either.

Nor does it end there: Harley residual values are traditionally among some of the best out there so, despite the Breakout’s high initial price, depreciation is encouragingly minimal. We’ve seen low mileage, two or three year-old used examples still priced at well in excess of £16K so you should get a big chunk of your money back when the time comes to change.

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

Engine and chassis apart, the biggest news with the latest 2018 Breakout is its styling makeover. There’s new, low slung, drag-style bodywork (including new 13.2litre tank) while along with the new frame and uprated engine there is a fancy new LED headlight, stylish but minimal digital clocks and more.

OK, there’s still no electronic rider aids of the type we’ve become accustomed to from the likes of Ducati’s Diavel, there’s also very little by way of pampering comfort or luxury and the whole bike, like most Harleys, still retains a somewhat crude, agricultural aura, but the Breakout is still a classy machine and Harley have noticeably raised their game.

Harley is also renown for their extensive, quality aftermarket accessories and it’s commonly known that few new Harleys depart dealers without succumbing to the ‘Harley tax’ – an assortment of accessories, led most likely by ‘loud’ pipes, that buyers usually festoon their bikes with before walking out the door.

The Breakout, being a pared-down ‘drag racer’ is less likely to be as affected as, say, Harley’s touring models, but expect the aforementioned ‘Screamin’ Eagle’ loud pipes, cosmetic embellishments such as fancy grips and levers, perhaps a ‘Screamin’ Eagle’ tuning kit – the Breakout is all about performance, after all – and even a sissy bar.

Also, be warned: genuine Harley accessories almost invariably add value to any used Hog, particularly if the bike also comes with the standard parts. However accessories from other aftermarket suppliers are less desirable and may actually damage the value of your bike.

Harley-Davidson Breakout dash

Specs

Engine size 1746cc
Engine type 45º pushrod V-twin
Frame type Tubular steel double cradle
Fuel capacity 13.6 litres
Seat height 665mm
Bike weight 294kg
Front suspension Showa telescopic forks, no adjust.
Rear suspension Mono shock, adjustable spring pre-load
Front brake 1 x 275mm disc, four-piston caliper. ABS
Rear brake 275mm two piston caliper. ABS
Front tyre size 130/60 x 21
Rear tyre size 240/40 x 18

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £96
Annual service cost £240
New price £17,245
Used price £15,900
Insurance group 17 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two year

Top speed & performance

Max power 86 bhp
Max torque 107 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

2013 – Original ‘Twin Cam’-powered, 103ci (1690cc) FXSB Softail Breakout launched along with high spec ‘CVO’ version

2018 – All new FXBR Breakout launched based on new Softail chassis and ‘Milwaukee Twin’ 107ci/114ci engine

2020 – Now only available with 114ci engine

Owners' reviews for the HARLEY-DAVIDSON BREAKOUT (2018 - on)

2 owners have reviewed their HARLEY-DAVIDSON BREAKOUT (2018 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your HARLEY-DAVIDSON BREAKOUT (2018 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 3 out of 5 (3/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 2.5 out of 5 (2.5/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Value vs rivals: 2.5 out of 5 (2.5/5)
Equipment: 3.5 out of 5 (3.5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £240
2 out of 5 Harley-Davidson Breakout
10 April 2020 by Gary Mac

Version: FXSB

Year: 2018

Annual servicing cost: £135

Stunning looking bike but rides like a tractor. Swapped for a Diavel. It doesn’t look as good but no comparison.

Ride quality & brakes 1 out of 5

No cooler looking bike on the market but doesn’t like roundabouts or tight bends ha ha! Not very pleasant on the motorway.

Engine 5 out of 5

All the power and low down grunt you need.

Reliability & build quality 3 out of 5

Battery problems and rear indicators very delicate.

Value vs rivals 1 out of 5

Harley dealerships drove me away, IMO no Customer loyalty whatsoever. The bike is the best looking bike on the road but Harley-Davidson dealerships are horrendous!

Equipment 3 out of 5

Everything you need.

Buying experience: Bought from independent but the PX offered by Preston Harley-Davidson was around £4000 below going rate.

4 out of 5 HD Breakout 114
13 June 2019 by Gary Lewis

Version: 114

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £350

Compared to something like a BMW R1250RT which costs around the same, the Breakout is a little sparse on creature comforts. But put the two side-by-side at a set of lights and the Breakout is the one getting the admiring stares.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

For a gentle cruise along a sweeping country rode, the Breakout is hard to beat. On longer runs, the smaller tank on the new models, (3.5 US Gallon down from 5 US Gallons on previous models) will mean more frequent fuel stops, but your pillion will welcome that, as the rear seat is far from plush.

Engine 5 out of 5

The 114ci "M8" engine is smooth as silk, whilst still retaining that typical Harley rumble and the low-end torque threatens to remove your arms from their sockets if you take a handful of throttle. HD's are definitely not for those that like high-revving power monsters though. Peak torque comes at 3000 rpm and the motor red-lines at 6k

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

So far so good. Coming from a Sportster 48, the Breakout has more of a quality feel about it.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Everything to do with Harley-Davidson is expensive. It's a premium brand like Porsche or Bentley, so you don't buy one if you're looking for cheap thrills and obviously, that 240 rear tyre is going to be costly.

Equipment 4 out of 5

ABS comes as standard and Harley-Davidson finally introduced a digital dash, albeit tiny, but perfectly legible. As with all HD's you need to pay "The Harley Tax". ie after-market exhaust, (or mufflers), if you're looking for that quintessential Harley sound.

Buying experience: Bike purchased from a Harley Dealer and the price, is the price. Going back to premium brand thing, HD donlt like to sell themselves cheap. Although, you can strike a decent deal on finance options and trade-ins as second-hand values hold up well.

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