ROAD TEST: 2018 Harley-Davidson Breakout Review

Story: Koz Mraz Photos: Brian J. Nelson and Mraz

A  meaty 240mm-wide 18-inch rear tire, tall 21-inch front tire and 34 degree rake make this long, low thoroughly modern 2018 Harley-Davidson Breakout a renegade in the two-wheeled world.  Last year’s bulbous 5.0 gallon fuel tank has been replaced by a smaller 3.5 gallon tank making the Breakout “THE” sexy bar hopper. With the addition of the 114 model’s Milwaukee-Eight this modern chopper packs more power and torque. The new Breakout is bad to the bone! Come on, if you’re a chopper guy and want a bad-ass bike circa 2018 what are your options?  A Honda Fury? Didn’t think so. I was on the Harley Softail press ride and I kept eyeballing the Breakout everywhere I went. 

   Case in point:  The Digital speedometer that’s melded into the handlebars looks illegal. The cool looking headlamp from the Livewire project. The gloss black, Gasser II cast aluminum rims to the blacked-out 2-into-2 exhaust pipes, looks so damn custom.

   Part of the overall Softail revamp, the Breakout’s frame has been redesigned and is 65 percent stiffer, with 50 percent fewer component parts which overall helps reduce the weight of the Breakout by 35 pounds. The esthetically cool “hardtail” look of a shockless rear frame triangle is, after all signature Softail. The new hand adjustable mono-shock rear suspension preserves the classic hardtail look, while the revamped geometry improves ride quality, traction and control. This easily adjustable mono-shock enables a 240 pound range of payload capacity for increased passenger comfort and better handling. The low-slung seat (25.6 inches) has been modified to be more forgiving to one’s back end while riding.

   I love the forward controls, bobbed rear fender, drag bars, blacked-out pipes, handlebars and rims. I rode this baby like I stole it.  The 114 ci Milwaukee-Eight is a head-snapping torque monster that leaves pursuing pests in the dust. My only criticisms apply if you are a distance rider or canyon carver.  The 3.5 gallon tank mandates more fuel stops and I was hitting hard parts via the limited 26.8 degree lean angles in the mountain twisties but hey, that’s not why you buy this motorcycle.

   The breakout comes standard with a 107 ci Milwaukee-Eight but I had the good fortune to test ride the muscular 114 ci.   Harley claims it is 9 percent faster from 0-60 and 13 percent faster from 60-80 in fifth gear than the Milwaukee-Eight 107. I think anyone who gets on the new 114 will agree it’s the perfect getaway vehicle.

   Other suspension improvements include a Showa Dual Bending Valve fork.  The new fork reduces weight and provides linear damping characteristics to provide a more comfortable, better controlled ride and improved handling.  A single disc up front exposes the gloss black, Gasser II rims and ABS is standard.

   The hand adjustable suspensions are a game changer. Within seconds you can literally tune your ride to your riding style.  Prior adjustable shocks required a tool and Harley realized that riders just weren’t going through the effort to adjust the shocks. Perhaps riders should have read the owner’s manual, but either way, customers complained about the rough rides. Hence, the hand adjustable shock.  They’re in an easily accessible location with a large knob that adjusts preload. The higher the number, the stiffer the ride becomes.  There are six clicks of preload and clicks tell users they’re locked and loaded. If you want a tighter more aggressive solo ride the higher the number. The owner’s manual provides a weight/preload graph taking the rider’s weight and luggage into account.

   A keyless ignition with Harley-Davidson Factory Security System for theft protection comes standard. And there’s a USB port to keep your device charged on the road.

   If you’re ready to jailbreak complacency and escape convention, the 2018 Harley-Davidson Breakout may be just the motorcycle for you. Its looks custom off the showroom floor and on the street, delivers the goods.

   The Breakout 107 can be had in vivid black for $18,999 or one of the optional color packages for $19,399. The 2018 Harley-Davidson Softail Breakout 114 starts at $20,299 in vivid black, and goes up to $20,699 for other paint schemes. ABS is standard.