2013 Harley CVO Breakout

By the time you read this report, the 2013 Harleys should be filtering through dealerships across the nation and around the world. And 2013 marks the 110th anniversary of the Motor Company. Word on the street is that if you’re shopping for a new Harley-Davidson, you should get ’em while they’re hot because demand will certainly be higher than it has been in recent years.

Shopping early is especially important if you’re in the market for a 2013 CVO (Custom Vehicles Operation) model. As in past years, only four variations are offered in limited numbers, three of which cater to the bagger crowd. The sole nonbagger also happens to be an all-new CVO model, and that would be the Breakout, a turnkey custom that’s based on the venerable Softail platform.

Like the 100,000-plus CVO bikes that Harley-Davidson has offered during the past 15 years, the sum of the Breakout and its add-on components surpasses its MSRP, which is pegged at $26,499. If you were to duplicate the Breakout with your own Softail, you’d spend much, much more than the stated MSRP.

The basis for the Breakout is the same basic Softail frame (with a modified swingarm) that was used on the now-discontinued FXCW Rocker. The steering head angle and a 21″ front wheel account for slight differences in the final rake and trail dimensions, but otherwise the frames are rather similar. This chassis, of course, accounts for the Breakout’s whopping 240/40-18″ Dunlop rear tire, the same as found on the Rocker that debuted back in 2008 when the fat tire craze gripped the custom bike market. What’s different, though, is the all-new 8.00-18″ Turbine rear wheel found on the Breakout. The polished-and-chromed wheel was purposely developed for the Breakout (although, like all CVO components, customers can also order Turbine wheels from the Genuine Parts & Accessories catalog), giving the bike its distinctive look. As H-D Styling Manager Kirk Rasmussen explains, “We gave the Turbine wheel a good deal of drama by pulling the spoke ridges all the way through to the rim, which help make the wheel diameter look larger.”

The rear wheel is matched with the front 21-spoke Turbine, and its 3-1/2″ width accommodates a hefty 130/60-21″ Dunlop. A new, wider fork makes room for the fatter tire. The combination of front and rear uncommonly fat tires create the Breakout’s visual proportions, which is necessary for a sleek, lay-down, long wheelbase (67-1/2″) chopper such as this. And by eliminating the tank-mounted speedometer and selecting a low, TT-style 1-1/4″ diameter handlebar with internal wiring, the Breakout maintains a low, even sexy, silhouette.

But we’re only scratching the surface of this bike’s styling cues. There’s plenty more to tease and please the eyes. For instance, perhaps never before has a bike used braided AN-type lines for the gas cap vents, and both fenders have been trimmed to the absolute limit to remain legal in all 50 states. The two-piece seats have a special fabric that simulates alligator hide (rest assured, no animals were harmed in the making of any of the 1,900 Breakouts sold this year).

Gobs of chrome-plated, polished parts aside, the most striking feature on the CVO Breakout is the paint. Three color schemes are offered: two are truly special in the industry in terms of mass-produced models. Our test bike was trimmed with Black Diamond/Molten Silver and Crushed Slate graphics, and it’s the Molten Silver that deserves close scrutiny. At a glance, it looks like chrome, but in reality, the finish is clearcoated raw metal that’s been highly sanded, polished, and buffed. The process includes 10 stages of sanding, ending with 3,000-grit sandpaper to create a mirror-like finish. The same process is applied to the Hard Candy Gold Dust/Liquid Sun with Pagan Gold graphics, while the Crimson Red Sunglo/Scarlet Lace with Hammered Sterling graphics paint scheme is — and I use the term loosely — more conventional by comparison. In truth, all three color combinations are over the top, even by CVO standards.

Like all CVO models, the Breakout checks in with a 110″ Screamin’ Eagle engine. Its advertised 112 ft-lbs. of torque, coupled with the bike’s stated 697-pound (dry) weight, offers what project lead Jeff Smith terms “the best power-to-weight ratio in the Big Twin lineup.” He’s speaking of all
models, too, not just CVO bikes.

You’ll understand what Smith is talking about, too, the moment you snick the CruiseDrive six-speed transmission into first gear and accelerate down the road. The Breakout pulls smooth and hard through the gears. Clutch-lever action from the all-new Assist and Slip hydraulic clutch is nearly effortless, too, thanks to a redesigned mechanism that reduces lever pressure by nearly 1-1/2 pounds. The exhaust note from the stacked Screamin’ Eagle mufflers will only encourage you to hold the throttle open as long as you can. No doubt, these pipes broadcast a nice, low burble that warms the blood of anybody who enjoys and understands the world of hot rods.

And anybody who understands Softails equates the breed with low seat heights, and the Breakout’s seat specs are no different, set at 26.3″ (unladen) and 24.8″ with a 180–pound rider on board. The reach to the Slipstream collection handgrips and forward controls requires minimal stretch by the average-size rider, and if you prefer to ride solo, flip up the passenger pegs and a single thumb screw loosens the rear pad for removal. Cornering clearance is what you expect from a low-riding custom, and you can feel the slight push that the fat rear tire presents, especially over rough or uneven road surfaces. Even so, the Breakout exhibits rather neutral steering behavior for such a long bike sporting a 240-width rear tire. Obviously, the choice of a 130-wide front tire helps maintain this balance along with a well-thought-out rake and trail combination.

When it’s time to end the ride, a gentle tug on the brake lever and a firm push on the rear brake pedal prompt the four-piston (front) and two-piston (rear) brake calipers to grip their 11-1/2″ rotors. Like all CVO models, the Breakout package includes anti-lock braking system (ABS), Customer Care package, and a Commemorative CVO ignition key that you may never use because this also happens to be the only model of this exclusive quartet with a keyless ignition system.

No doubt, the Breakout is perhaps the most distinct model in the entire CVO lineup. It was developed for the custom-bike enthusiast who wants a bike that truly sets itself apart from all others parked in front of the local roadhouse. If you want saddlebags and sound systems, shop for any of the other three CVO models. But if it’s wild paint, snappy acceleration, and a long, low stance that you’re after, maybe you need to check in with the Breakout for 2013. AIM

NEW BIKE REVIEW By Dain Gingerelli

Story as printed in the November 2012 issue of American Iron Magazine.