The chassis, as with all the new Softails, is the standout news: an all-new steel double cradle now with a single monoshock under the seat (complete with natty remote preload adjuster) rather than the rather crude, dual items below the gearbox on the old Softails.
On the Breakout, to deliver its ‘drag bike’ poise, this is mated to a kicked out 34-degree head angle at the front (the other new Softails are either 30 or 28 degrees) bracing new telescopic forks which in turn hold a new design, skinny, 21-inch front wheel. While at the rear, a special, wide swingarm holds a simply massive, 240mm-wide, 18-incher. Turns, of course, thanks to that combination of kicked out front and dumper truck rear, come less, er, naturally: the Breakout takes some setting up, tillering in and all-round acclimatization. But once in the groove is still entertaining.
As with three other members of Harley’s new Softail family, the new Breakout now uses the four-valve, partially oil-cooled ‘Milwaukee Eight’ 107ci V-twin, as introduced in its 2017 touring range, with the option also of the 114ci 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.
Along with the new frame, uprated engine and cycle parts plus new equipment such as lights and clocks, the build quality of the new Breakout, and indeed all the 2018 Softail family, has been noticeably improved. This powertrain is based on the proven ‘Project Rushmore’ touring family and quality seemingly raised throughout, so we’ve little cause for concern as far as reliability goes.
Harley ownership never comes cheap and with prices starting at over £17K that’s certainly not changed here with the new Breakout. On the positive side, few motorcycles have more presence at traffic lights and its uprated performance simply begs to be unleashed at every tyre-squealing opportunity. The new Breakout is better is every way than the old; a hoot to ride and a pose like no other.
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Engine and chassis apart, the biggest news with the new Breakout is a 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 are new LED headlights, stylish new clocks and more. OK, there’s still no electronics and little by way of luxury but it is a classy machine and Harley have noticeably raised their game.