New Engine Choices, New Chassis, New Attitude

Once again, the Motor Company takes what’s old and makes it new again with its revamped-for-2018 Softail lineup, and the drag-tastic “Breakout” is one of the models that made the jump to the new MY18 range. Harley offers this bobber-burner with the 109 pound-foot, Milwaukee-Eight 107 and the Mil-8 114 that boasts a total of 119 pounds o’ twist. The ground-up Softail-family rebuild contains myriad changes from the remarkable to the mundane that go way beyond a handful of re-arranged trim packages. We’re talking about the re-invention of the whole range with capabilities meant to offset the loss of the Dyna family, and technology that is more in line with the current industry standards. We’re talking a renewed focus on the Softails as H-D’s sole (or should it be soul?) cruisers. This is it; the drag-tastic sub-model of the range that Harley has pinned its mid-size hopes on for the foreseeable future.

Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Breakout.

Design

2018 Harley-Davidson Breakout
- image 729144
Plenty of that classic Softail look, and aside from the new tank and instrumentation, this ride would look familiar to fans of the genre going all the way back to '84.

So, I was looking at the base-model Breakout and yeah, it had the whole raked-out, hard-tail chopper thing going for it, but something was throwing me off. Something was wrong with the profile. The flyline was off. I was looking at a Softail that looked more like a Dyna around the fuel tank area. Then it struck me; the tank-mount panel that also encompasses the speedometer on the rest of the range and covers the gap between the old split tanks was gone. A clean, one-piece tank replaced it, and the instrumentation was digitized and integrated with the handlebar-riser cap. Not only is this about as clean as it gets, but it gets a great big hunk of chrome off the tank that seems to have been put there as a sort of torture device that bounces the sun up under your shades to lance into your eyes. Can you tell I wasn’t a fan? You can definitely pencil me in as liking the one-piece tank, though.

True to its bobber/gasser roots, the Breakout line has its fenders pared back to the minimum. The bobbed front fender is barely big enough to protect the rider from wheel spray, and the rear fender comes cut back to the struts. Short handlebars, forward controls and the typical, deep-scoop Softail seat form an aggressive windsock riding position that pulls both hands and feet forward. Some folks really like that, but I am finding myself hating my forward controls more and more every time I ride, so be sure to test ride it before you commit. Unladen seat height measures out at a low, 26.2-inches tall, and if you weigh at least 180-pounds, you can expect to push that on down to 25.6-inches off the ground.

From there the minimal pillion pad covers the chopped-down fender with a tucked-under LED taillight and short standoff turn signals to finish out the rear. Plenty of that classic Softail (hardtail?) look, and aside from the new tank and instrumentation, this ride would look familiar to fans of the genre going all the way back to ’84.

Chassis

2018 Harley-Davidson Breakout
- image 729142
Weight-loss was a big consideration during the redesign, and the frame construction plays a big role in the 35-pound overall weight reduction.

Weight-loss was a big consideration during the redesign, and the frame construction plays a big role in the 35-pound overall weight reduction. The factory reduced the number of components in the frame by 50-percent and hard-mounted the engine as a stiffening member. What about the vibration you ask? The Mil-8 runs counterbalancers to tame the shake, so even though there are no rubber mounts or adjustable links, the rider feels less vibration than from the previous gen. The new frame layout allows for greater lean-clearance in the corners and more agile handling though the 34-degree rake and 5.7-inch trail makes a much better dragbike and straight-line cruiser than any sort of a canyon carver, to be sure.

Suspension got a boost all around. up front, we have a pair of rwu, Showa Dual Bending Valve front forks that, while they aren’t manually adjustable, do provide an improved ride than one can typically expect from vanilla stems. To tame the redesigned triangular swingarm that creates the hardtail illusion, the factory used a coil-over monoshock that they tucked up under the seat rather than below the transmission. Just drop your hand under your right thigh (be careful not to grab the exhaust!) and you can quickly dial in the ride out back to compensate for changing passenger/cargo/whatever weight.

A nice, big 21-inch rim leads the way with a 130/60 hoop, but the Breakout shows its intended use with the wide 240/40-18 rubber putting the power to the pavement. ABS protection comes as part of the standard equipment package, so even though the Breakout only uses a single front brake, you can use that single front- and rear-brake with confidence.

Chassis: 2018 Breakout
Lean Angle, Right (deg.): 26.8
Lean Angle, Left (deg.): 26.8
Wheels, Front Type: Gloss black, Gasser II cast aluminum
Wheels, Rear Type: Gloss black, Gasser II cast aluminum
Brakes, Caliper Type: 4-piston fixed front and 2-piston floating rear

Drivetrain

2018 Harley-Davidson Breakout
- image 729145
No matter which size engine you get, you'll be glad for that deep scoop seat, 'cause it's the only thing keeping you on the bike when you grab a fistful of throttle and twist it like you mean it.

The base-model Breakout runs the new-to-the-cruiser-line, 107 cubic-inch (1,746 cc) Milwaukee-Eight, but it can also be upgraded to the 114 cubic-inch (1,868 cc) version. If you want the 115th Anniversary Edition, it is only available with the larger engine. As most of you know, the Mil-8 hit the scene in the touring bracket last year, and apparently the experiment was a success. The air-cooled Mil-8 107 has the brand-typical, long-stroke, 45-degree “V” layout with a 100 mm bore and 111.1 mm stroke for the usual, torque-heavy performance and plenty of bottom end. Specifically, the 107 cranks out 109 pound-feet of torque and the 114 predictably overshadows its smaller sibling with 119 pounds o’ grunt, both measured at a low, 3,000 rpm. All this power runs through a standard wet clutch and six-speed transmission. Though it isn’t relevant to performance, I’d point out that the Mil-8 engines have a five-quart oil capacity; the same amount you’d put in the big V-8s back in the day. Glad I won’t be footing the bill for that oil change.

Harley is still behind in the fancy, electronic engine-control fandanglery department. No traction control or rider modes, just electronic fuel injection to help manage the mill. Relatively simple by modern standards really, but good enough all the same. The Mil-8 has the strongest roll-ons yet, and no matter which size engine you get, you’ll be glad for that deep scoop seat, ’cause it’s the only thing keeping you on the bike when you grab a fistful of throttle and twist it like you mean it.

Engine: Milwaukee-Eight® 107 Milwaukee-Eight® 114
Displacement: 107 cu in 114 cu in
Engine Torque: 109 ft-lb 119 ft-lb
Engine Torque (rpm): 3,000 3,000

Price

2018 Harley-Davidson Breakout
- image 729414
Score a Breakout with the new Milwaukee-8 107 for $300 less than last year.

The Breakout 107 can be had in Vivid Black for $18,999 or one of the optional color packages for $19,399. Go for the larger mill and you can expect to pay $20,299 for the Vivid Black model and another four Benjamins for the colored package. Available only with the 114 version, the 115th Anniversary package brings the Legend Blue Denim package that sports a really cool-looking, asymmetrical, black eagle graphic on the tank. It’s a sharp-looking palette, but it tops the price list for the Breakouts at $21,199.

Pricing:Breakout 107Breakout 114
Vivid Black: $18,999 $20,299
Color: $19,399 $20,699
115th Anniversary: N/A $21,199

Competitor

2015 - 2017 Yamaha Raider
- image 729160
2018 Harley-Davidson Breakout
- image 729159
I hate to say it, but riders with short inseam- and sleeve-lengths won't feel secure or comfortable on either bike, in spite of the low seat height across the board.

Ya’ know, it’s not like the market is exactly awash with 70s-esque factory choppers. Lucky for me, Yamaha’s Star division figured out what the consumers in the American bobber-cruiser segment wanted to buy, and it put together the drag-tastic Raider to try and capture that slice of the market. For about 15-minutes there, the Raider had the largest mass-produced V-Twin in the domestic market at 113 cubic-inches, but the advent of the Milwaukee-Eight 114 (and H.O. Mil-8 117) saw the Raider knocked it off that pedestal. Still, the Raider’s plant ain’t nothing to sneeze at with 1,854 cc and 123 pound-feet of torque on tap. That’s right folks, even more than the Harley lump.

Looks-wise, the Raider doesn’t do a bad job of tying into the old chopper culture. The 39-degree rake and semi-stretched-looking downtubes help out a lot with that, as does the hardtail-esque frame geometry. The swoopy exhaust and angled rear-fender struts give the visage a decidedly modern vibe, as if the factory wanted to make sure you knew that it knew it wasn’t building a replica. Forward controls and short-pullback bars put the rider in that super-windsock position, and I hate to say it, but riders with short inseam- and sleeve-lengths won’t feel secure or comfortable on either bike, in spite of the low seat height across the board.

Yamaha pulls out a win at the checkout — no surprise there — and the margin is about what one might imagine. The Raider rolls for $15,199, but the cheapest Breakout goes for no less than $18,999, and that difference is enough to grab buyers not already steeped in Harleyness.

He Said

“Love it for what it is, but I wonder about two things. 1) why isn’t there a CVO version with the HO Mil-8 117, and 2) wait, that was both things. So what gives, Harley? This is supposed to be your street-drag, stoplight-burnin’ bobber, so why not grace it with your absolute biggest and best? Maybe next year?”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "I don’t really see Harley doing a CVO Softail. The CVO line just lends itself to the luxury touring segment, but hey, who knows, yeah? I like the new lineup. I like the Milwaukee-8 engine, and I like that Harley is making headway into the future by realizing they have to get off their asses and appeal to the new consumer segment because the old consumer segment is no longer propping them up. The Breakout is the best of both old classic styling and new attitude. Now if we can just get some more technology in the mix, it’d be awesome."

Specifications

Engine:
Type: Milwaukee-Eight® 107 Milwaukee-Eight® 114
Bore: 3.937 in. 4.016 in.
Stroke: 4.374 in. 4.5 in.
Displacement: 107 cu in 114 cu in
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1 10.5:1
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Exhaust: 2-into-2 staggered; catalyst in muffler 2-into-2 staggered; catalyst in muffler
Performance :
Engine Torque Testing Method: J1349 J1349
Engine Torque: 109 ft-lb 119 ft-lb
Engine Torque (rpm): 3,000 3,000
Lean Angle, Right (deg.): 26.8 26.8
Lean Angle, Left (deg.): 26.8 26.8
Fuel Economy: Estimated City/Hwy: 47 mpg 47 mpg
Drivetrain:
Primary Drive: Chain, 34/46 ratio Chain, 34/46 ratio
Gear Ratios (overall) 1st: 9.311 9.311
Gear Ratios (overall) 2nd: 6.454 6.454
Gear Ratios (overall) 3rd: 4.793 4.793
Gear Ratios (overall) 4th: 3.882 3.882
Gear Ratios (overall) 5th: 3.307 3.307
Gear Ratios (overall) 6th: 2.79 2.79
Chassis:
Wheels, Front Type: Gloss black, Gasser II cast aluminum Gloss black, Gasser II cast aluminum
Wheels, Rear Type: Gloss black, Gasser II cast aluminum Gloss black, Gasser II cast aluminum
Brakes, Caliper Type: 4-piston fixed front and 2-piston floating rear 4-piston fixed front and 2-piston floating rear
Dimensions:
Length: 93.3 in. 93.3 in.
Seat Height, Laden: 25.6 in.
Seat Height, Unladen: 26.2 in. 25.2 in.
Ground Clearance: 4.5 in. 4.5 in.
Rake (steering head) (deg): 34 34
Trail: 5.7 in. 5.7 in.
Wheelbase: 66.7 in. 66.7 in.
Tires, Front Specification: 130/60B21,63H,BW 130/60B21,63H,BW
Tires, Rear Specification: 240/40R18,79V,BW 240/40R18,79V,BW
Fuel Capacity: 3.5 gal. 3.5 gal.
Oil Capacity (w/filter): 5 qt. 5 qt.
Weight, As Shipped: 648 lb. 648 lb.
Weight, In Running Order: 672 lb. 672 lb.
Electric:
Lights (as per country regulation), Indicator Lamps: High beam, turn signals, neutral, low oil pressure, engine diagnostics, ABS, security, low battery voltage, low fuel High beam, turn signals, neutral, low oil pressure, engine diagnostics, ABS, security, low battery voltage, low fuel
Gauges: 2.14-inch viewable area LCD display with speedometer, odometer, gear, tachometer and fuel level digital indication 2.14-inch viewable area LCD display with speedometer, odometer, gear, tachometer and fuel level digital indication
Color Options: Vivid Black, Black Tempest, Twisted Cherry, Silver Fortune Vivid Black, Black Tempest, Twisted Cherry, Silver Fortune (115th Anniversary: Legend Blue Denim
Pricing:
Vivid Black: $18,999 $20,299
Color: $19,399 $20,699
115th Anniversary Color: N/A $21,199

References

2015 - 2017 Yamaha Raider
- image 729160

See our review of the Yamaha Star Raider.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: harley-davidson.com, yamaha-motor.com

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