Breakout: A new Softail from H-D
It was late last year that US bike-maker Harley Davidson announced two new models, the Breakout and the CVO Breakout, in India. We got a chance to get acquainted with the former at Harley's Navi Mumbai showroom, and took it out for a long spin. Here is what we found.
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Essentially a softail, which refers to a horizontally mounted, concealed rear single shocker, the Breakout is very easy on the eyes, perhaps the most attractive machine in Harley's India lineup. It is not quite as full of chrome as the Fat Boy, its immediate sibling, but the metal flake paint-job more than makes up in ter ms of attracting eyeballs.
The bike is pleasing to the purist, with a straight handle bar, concealed cabling, a single seat, and a rear fender that fits snugly over the fat tyre and is chopped, as the company puts it, "down to the legal limit".
The the footpegs, also minimalist, invite the rider to play games with curvy roads and scrape the pegs on the road. Don't quote us on that.
The mirrors are rather stingy on the view they offer, but fit into the overall personality of the bike which is of restrained bling - as though to say, "I know I am good-looking, but I don't need you to gawk."
Security comes in the form of proximity sensors that let you keep the key-pod in your pockets. Walk away, and the electricals lock up. The engine is the 1,690cc V-twin that does duty on the best-selling Fat Boy as well, with performance slightly tweaked to offer a tad greater torque, but also at slightly higher revs.
Overall, the ride is smooth as butter, and one forgets for a moment that it is supposed to be a big bad road hog. The Breakout is quite wellmannered, and the only thing we would like to know more about, is how it would fare on tight Indian roads and traffic condi- tions - Harley engines are typically tailored for the sweet climes and unending roads of the US, and tend to heat up when thrown into the hurly-burly of 'traditional' Indian roads.
The trick of riding a cruiser is to just point and shoot, while sitting in the saddle as one would on a drawing room sofa. If there is a curve, just keep leaning, the bike will right itself as it leaves the bend.
But the Breakout, with its straight and forward pulling handle, allows the rider to take more liberties - within reason. So we found ourselves scraping the terrain on a few hair-raising occasions, while the runs down the straight, hanging on for dear life at 180 kph, were exhilarating.
Lending confidence to the whole deal is the ABS, which kicks in at 20 kph, and a new front brake system that is easier on the fingers.
All in all, the bike is an excellent addition to a bike enthusiast's collection. But would a regular rider want to turn a 'HOG', as Harley owners call themselves? At slightly over ₹ 16 lakh, it is costlier than the Triumph Thunderbird, and the Suzuki Intruder, both of which have more capable engines.
But if you are toying with the idea of joining the Harley bandwagon, the Breakout is a good place to start — if budget is not a constraint. Do remember, though, that you would need additions: a pillion seat for the wife or girlfriend, long-range footrests and a windbreaker shield at for cruising over 120 kph — all of which would add nearly ₹ 1 lakh to the bill.
And if you do go in for a Breakout, guard that paint job zealously. It attracts a lot of piercing stares and wolfwhistles.