The Harley-Davidson Breakout is back! The muscular modern chopper returns to North America after a two-year hiatus and it has more grunt than ever. This year marks the 10th production anniversary of the iconic motorcycle. The new Breakout has received a major power upgrade and is packed full of hold-on-to-your-seat torque.
While a new model of the Breakout hasn’t been released in North America since 2020, it has continued to gain popularity in the U.K. and Australia. In fact, the Breakout has become Australia’s highest-selling H-D model. So, where better to put the 2023 Breakout through its paces than H-D’s official launch in Victoria, Australia?
At First Glance
The long 66.7-inch wheelbase, the 34-degree rake, and the low 26.2-inch seat height catch the eye. The forward-facing Heavy Breather intake, the extra-wide rear tire, and the new larger five-gallon tank scream muscle. And the chrome finish applied to the rear fender supports, side covers, muffler shields, turn signals, mirrors, and the aforementioned intake oozes style. Without even turning over the mighty Milwaukee-Eight 117 V-twin engine, you soon realize that the 2023 Breakout is one mean machine.
Faced with a choice of four colors—Baja Orange, Vivid Black, Black Denim, and Atlas Silver Metallic—I was instantly drawn to the Black Denim. The matte black finish really made the chrome highlights pop.
Start Your Engines
I rolled the beast from its parking area with much anticipation. Its 26-spoke cast-aluminum wheels, new for the 2023 model, are finished in gloss black with machined details. Out front is a noticeable 21-inch wheel measuring 3.5 inches wide, while at the rear, an 18-inch wheel with a whopping 8-inch width makes this bike look tough.
The Harley-Davidson-badged seat looks high-quality and, after jumping aboard, it instantly felt as good as it seemed. I was, however, interested to know if that would remain to be the case after being acquainted with it for several more hours.
Reaching for the handlebar was a breeze. The new handlebar riser is a ¾ inch taller than the previous model and minimizes the reach. Being 6 feet, 1 inch tall, the forward pegs were just as easy to reach, and I found myself comfortable and in a relaxed riding position with only a slight forward lean. While shorter riders did have to lean further in, this didn’t appear to detract from their riding experience.
With five gallons of gas and an itchy throttle hand, I was keen to hit the road, but the darkening clouds were determined to put a damper on the day ahead. Without further hesitation, we hit our electronic start buttons and the oil/air-cooled V-twin engines roared to life among a growing gathering of curious bystanders. The thunderous sound of the bikes mocked the impending storm as we headed off down the country road.
Within minutes, the heavens opened up and I was left contemplating whether I should have worn my wet weather gear or whether it was worth persisting with my jeans and leather jacket to try and look as cool as the bike. The jury remained out while the heavy rain came down.
While the jury deliberated, my next concern was the twisty mountainous roads that lay not too far out of town. How would a bike built for straight lines fair on wet and winding asphalt?
The speed limit sign read 100 km/h (60 mph) as we rode out of the small town and continued along the slender country road. And while I could feel the Breakout’s torque the moment I pulled away at the start of the ride, the 123 lb-ft planted me firmly in my seat when pulling on the throttle. Being able to access the bike’s maximum pulling power at just 3,500 rpm was an incredible rush, despite the rain continuing to fill my lap.
Although the Breakout was clearly willing to surpass the speed limit, with 102 horses eager to make a break for it, I was hesitant. It was evident that I had not set the preload correctly. I was sure that with the ill-repaired roads and only 3.4 inches of rear suspension travel, those extra horses would have loved to buck me off. Thankfully, adjusting the preload requires no tools and is as simple as twisting a knob at the side of the bike. Once adjusted, the bumps were no longer an issue and the ride became more enjoyable.
By the time we reached the mountain twisties, the rain had eased but also left a gauntlet of puddles and debris in its wake. Having ridden cruisers in the past that would slide easily at the mere suggestion of water, I was dubious about taking the corners too quickly. As it has a lean angle of just 26.8 degrees on either side and a ground clearance of 4.5 inches, the Breakout was not designed for great speeds around hairpin corners without clipping the pegs. But then, what cruiser is? I rounded the initial bends cautiously, eager to stay the right way up. However, I quickly felt that the Michelin Scorchers would remain firmly planted on the road and all was well. I relaxed back into the seat, which by now proved itself to be very comfortable, and continued on with ease.
The minimalist dashboard, which blends effortlessly into the handlebar, proved to be more than adequate while riding around the mountains. It displayed all the information I needed, like fuel level, gear indicator, and speed, although more options could be cycled through with the press of a button near the left hand. And with the display on the handlebar and not the tank, it meant I could easily view it at a glance without taking my eyes off the winding roads.
The 2023 Harley-Davidson Breakout is a bare-bones cruiser that doesn’t focus on technical gadgetry. But within those bones lies a 117 cubic-inch (1923cc) heart and a soul made up of instant hard-hitting torque. What it lacks in electronics, it makes up for in style and exhilaration. This is not a bike that shies away from the spotlight. While it isn’t fit for every ride, it serves its purpose extremely well.
+ comfortable seat, endless torque, simple preload adjustment, anti-technology
– pricey, mirrors offer limited visibility, anti-technology
MSRP: From $20,999
Engine: Milwaukee-Eight 117, single-cam, 4-valve, air/oil-cooled
Power:102hp @5,020rpm;123lb-ft @3,500rpm
Transmission: 6-speed Cruise Drive, belt final drive
Weight: 683lbs (wet)
Seat Height: 26.2in
Fuel Capacity: 5gal
Fuel Consumption: 47mpg (claimed)
Colors: Baja Orange, Vivid Black, Black Denim, Atlas Silver Metallic