Have you ever been out riding and known you just weren’t taking your motorcycle to its full potential? That was my first experience with the 2013 Harley-Davidson Breakout. I rode it in traffic from Deeley Harley-Davidson Canada in Concord to the Toronto core. I knew there was more to this heavy and incredibly well finished machine, but I just hadn’t been able to properly unleash it yet.
Hunter S. Thompson said “Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.” So I did. I waited until midnight. The night was cold. The temperature was in the single digits celcius (around 48 degrees Fahrenheit). Despite it being June I put on my snow pants. Welcome to Canada, Breakout, time to have some fun together.
The dog tilted her head as she watched me gearing up. When she saw the helmet come out she understood and flopped back down with a grunt. Despite her dramatic disinterest, I eagerly anticipated the ride ahead. The Breakout hadn’t been a pleasure to get home. It was hot and heavy, and it reminded me of all of the things I didn’t miss about my old Harley and all of the things I did. Time to take the city by storm.
At midnight the roads were empty. The air was crisp. Harley calls the Breakout an “urban prowler”, but in this set of ideal circumstances it was an urban destroyer. We completely tore through Toronto at a blistering pace. We flew across lake shores and high bridges, painting the skyline.
It has to be said: this 103 cubic inch (1,687 cubic centimeter) machine has torque. Harley-Davidson says peak torque is rated at 95.5 ft. lbs. at 3,000 rpm and I believe them. The power delivery is very smooth, as is the transmission. You’ll still hear the loud “clunk” sound as you switch through gears, but feedback to the rider is minimal.
Overall the Breakout’s performance is that of a refined machine. Any impressions of a rough, misfiring, potato-potato, oil dripping, clunky shifting hog are immediately put out to pasture. Which leads me to my next point. The bike was almost too smooth, almost too quiet. Dare I say almost… Japanese? Gasp.
That isn’t to say Harley’s turned their back on their roots or has come out with a bike that their core customer base won’t love. Au contraire, it means a more refined product for the Harley enthusiast. A better American machine. Having been on numerous Harley-Davidsons over the past I was pleasantly surprised to find the clutch lighter than I expected. Although we’re still talking about a 103 cubic inch engine so it wasn’t light, again, I took it as a good sign.
The only downside to the Breakout’s suave performance is that one little piece of magic has been subdued. You know what the Harley magic is, don’t you? Motorcyclists have amicably dubbed the Harley-Davidson exhaust note potato-potato.
It is the MoCo’s heartbeat and a signature sound. It seems to have been restricted to a hum, although you hear the engine just fine when you crack open the throttle when the light turns green. The Breakout’s idle is set at 1,000 RPM and that potato-potato sound just isn’t there as much as we’d like it to be.
To play Devil’s Advocate here I’ll admit that I wasn’t complaining about the Fuel-Infection precision at any point when I was riding the Breakout, and that EPA requirements are growing ever more stringent. A modification of the exhaust pipe and intake would likely not only wake up the neighbours, but also wake up a few sleeping horses for some extra power. Sounds like a fair trade, am I right?