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Muscular, slammed, sleek, stylish, and with stump-pulling torque, I have long dreamed of owning a Harley-Davidson Breakout.

Okay, they may not be to everyone’s taste, but then I guess to some riders neither is any model of Harley. However, as a member of my local HOG Chapter, friends often comment: “Why haven’t you got a Harley in the garage?”

I have had – quite a few, in fact. Three Sportster 883s; a Superlow 1200 T; a Heritage; a Fat Boy; a humungous ElectraGlide Limited. I have tested numerous bikes on behalf of Harley, from Street Glides to Pan Americas, Fat Bobs to, umm, can’t remember. They all have their foibles. They are Harleys, after all. I recall my Indian Scout looking down imperiously on the Heritage when I purchased it. Snobbery, eh. Heavy and cumbersome some may be, but without doubt Harleys exude a unique presence.


I only experienced a brief spell on a Breakout a couple of years back, just after I had ridden a rather splendid Sport Glide. As the delivery van rolled up and the back doors were swung open, there was that fat 240 rear staring back at me. The bike boasted a 103 cubic inch engine, the same as the 2015 model I have just purchased from CooperB Motorcycles (

I am going to give the latter a heads up, because they have never yet let me down on any bike I have purchased from them. They don’t buy in bikes unless they are in superb condition, and the Breakout is pristine in every sense. Eight years old and with only 2850 on the clocks.


I had been looking for another Harley. Having been let down by a seller on FB (quel surprise!), Neil Young of MotoMovers pinged me about a 2008 Sporty that had just landed. I called sales supremo Ian Cooper at CooperB and a deal was struck. Cash. It was in lovely condition. I took it to the petrol station, rode it home, and was amazed how smooth it was. Other 883s I have ridden have almost vibrated my teeth out. Anyway, I owned it for a couple of weeks and then, sod’s law, I noted the Breakout on the site. F**k! The 883 went back, along with my Ducati Multistrada S, as PX, plus a few quid.

Harley-Davidson first introduced the Breakout back in 2012. Eight years later it was discontinued for the American market, yet sales continued in other markets. Then last year it reappeared with a host of new features.


The appeal of the Breakout is instantaneous, with its slammed, low-slung power profile inspired by classic Gasser dragsters of the 1950s and 1960s. Driven by that thunderous air-cooled Twin Cam 103 engine, like mine, it provides six-speed cruise drive transmission with bags of performance and a low cruising RPM for more comfortable cruising.


As for that rear, the 240 is the widest you’ll find on any Harley production motorcycle. I had one on my Ducati X-Diavel S, but that’s gone now, too, but parked side-by-side at the time, they look damned impressive.


What else to love? How about the drag-style handlebars which are low and wide and offer an aggressive, lean-forward riding position, placing the rider in a clamshell position? Some owners stick one-and-a-half inch risers on to lift them up a bit, but I’ll see how I get on. I realise that the Breakout handles a little differently than other bikes. Its design drew inspiration from drag bikes, and, as I say, having ridden a Breakout previously, it certainly isn’t the most user-friendly machine out there. For starters, it corners like a pig. I did come across one comment from a Harley employee that “the Breakout has all the lean angle you need… for riding in a straight line.”

Writing about straight lines, I’ve always had an aversion to right-hand turns. I don’t know why, I simply tense up when approaching a junction. That might have something to do with the fact that I managed to drop a Honda doing a tight U-turn on a skills day run by Bennetts at Donington. It’s not that I haven’t had the saddle time over the years on bikes large and small, but every bike presents its own set of unique challenges, especially a big twin. On this occasion I was riding too slowly, I was not looking where I wanted to go, I dipped the accelerator more than I should have and employed the front brake. BIG mistake.


But back to the big H. So I’ve experienced riding a lot of Harleys. But owning a Breakout? I am not blinded by enthusiasm, but more likely this is a case of the heart taking precedence over the head. I appreciate and respect the quirks of this machine and, yes, the weight and handling of a big bruiser cruiser will take some getting used to. So, that said, what’s left? Only to ride it…

A week on, and I’m still awaiting a dry spell. In fact, it can continue raining a spell more if it wants, ‘cos I’m in no hurry… I’ll simply continue to admire it in the garage for now. And if perchance you don’t hear back from me for a while, it’ll be because I’ve screwed up on that first right-hander… Or sold it on for something far more practical. Didn’t Annie Lennox once sing something about ‘Sweet dreams are made of this…’ Well that might turn out to be a load of bollox. Who knows…


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