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Friday, April 17, 2015

Harley-Davidson FXSB Softail Breakout

There are cruisers and then there are CRUISERS. Some are designed to make you look like a biker with the saddlebags and tassels hanging from the handlebar (which frankly I have not understood why till date) and then there are cruisers that are just plain badass and make you look good, even if you wore a lungi on it (A lungi also known as a sarong, is a traditional garment worn around the waist in many parts of Asia including India – incase Michael Neeves was reading this article). 

When the folks at Harley-Davidson, handed over the keys for me to try out the new Softail Breakout, I thought this was going to be another big burly cruiser that’s going to take me to places comfortably. Yes anything past the Sportster range is very, very comfortable to ride long distance. I was so wrong in my thought process….this offering from Harley was unlike anything out there that I (or you) would have ridden before. 

Motorcycles are designed for various reasons, some with fairings to go fast, some without, that were meant to look beefy and some meant to travel. At first sight, the Breakout grabs one attention as a part cruiser, part drag. The main design elements coming in from the drag motorcycles from the late 1950’s. 

With its low slung look, big wheels, straight and stretched drag style handle bar and flaked paint job, this has everything covered to make you look good on the road. 

The fuel tank remains untouched with Harley placing the speedometer console over the handlebar riser. The Breakout comes with staggered, straight cut chrome mufflers with gloss black muffler shields that give it a unique look. The sound as any other stock Harley is quiet and muffled so depending on your age group you may want to look into Harleys accessories for a louder set. 

The handlebars are placed low and wide which put you in a reach-forward riding position. While maintaining a clean look design philosophy, Harley has routed their wiring internally. 

The rear sports a clean low center number place mount plate, a low slung muscular profile with the ride height at a very low 660mm, ground clearance comes at 120mm, front steering rake is stretched at 35 degrees (generally the rake angle effects steering ability, the smaller the rake angle, the easier the bike is to corner but will be less stable in a straight line). 

The Breakout is powered by a 1,690 cc air-cooled Twin Cam 103 cu in engine. Harley developed and released the 103 cu in for its 2012 Softail models. Again no official figures from Harley on the horsepower but I would peg it in the range of 75 to 80 HP. This engine produces up to 100 foot pounds of peak torque and per Harley offers 130 Nm of torque at 3000 rpm. This offers effortless cruising at lower gears when riding in the city with less vibration and better fuel economy on the highways. 

The engine is mated to a 6 speed cruise drive transmission which has the unique Harley clunk sound when you shift through the gears. But I’d have to admit, is not too challenging to change while on the run though lacks refinement and sounds mechanical but that’s the whole point right, you want to be able to feel when you change gears while looking badass. The Breakout cruises very easily at low speeds. In 6th it will run smoothly at the rpm ranging between 1600 to 3000 with no issues at all. At 5’10, I did not feel the bikes stretched out foot controls too inconvenient but if you’re not that tall then they may pose a problem while turning and negotiating potholed roads. The engine comes with a unique black and chrome styling with a classic edge as result of the well designed cooling fins.

The Breakout rides on 21” 130mm tyre’s fitted on gasser styled alloys in the front and an 18” massive 240mm tyre in the rear. It's one of the widest tire's Harley uses on their motorcycles coupled with gasser styled rims; this one looks the part as a classic drag-bike. The tires provide good grip and are very stable at triple digit speeds as tested. The Softail true to its name is as you can imagine fitted with suspension only viewable from underneath to give the rear a clean look. 

The ride is comfortable and placing those sweet cheeks on the perfectly crafted seat is bliss on long rides, especially on some of our roads. 

There is enough of bite in the brakes and I know this first hand as I tried to come to a standstill from triple digit speeds as a result of a gawk jumping the pavement and making a U turn where you would least expect someone to. I saw my life flash in front of my eyes, but thanks to the braking and handling on this big boy, I get to finish my article today. 

Stopping power comes from an ABS assisted  4-piston fixed caliper with 32 and 34 mm pistons, premium caliper piston coating to minimize initial displacement and a larger 300 mm rotor. Harley claims that the 2015 models deliver a 40 percent reduction in the amount of lever force required at peak braking. At 320 plus kgs wet, the Breakout is no feather weight but surprising feels light when I flicked it through traffic. This is a motorcycle meant for the highways, just like most of the product offerings from Harley and it does a pretty good job at that. It also negotiates turns quite well unless you leaned a little too much, it will end up scraping the pegs faster than any other Harley. 

This is not designed to carve corners but to cover long distances in a straight line and make it as comfortable as possible. If you ask me, I think this motorcycle is pure bling and is a definite head turner so even if you’re not into long distance riding and just get out over the weekends for a short ride to the local grub/pub then this is probably the best one for you.

Electronically you get the standard fanfare of gauges and switches standard on other Harleys. The left switch module houses the trip switch that helps toggle between the various readouts such as gear/ rpm ratio, trip A&B, fuel range etc. The Ignition is located on the left, under the fuel tank between the V-Twin blocks, a nice touch from Harley. This particular model came with the H-D Smart Security System with a key fob. This is a small security hardware device with built-in authentication used to control ignition. Park and lock your motorcycle with the confidence that it will not be touched or moved or a loud alarm is set off. 

The electronic display on the speedometer console displays High beam, neutral, low oil pressure, turn signals, engine diagnostics, security system, 6-speed, low fuel warnings and ABS.

At Rs. 16,30,500 ex-showroom, the Breakout is a motorcycle that will get you all the attention that you need irrespective if you’re in the city or opening the throttle on our highways. The Hard Candy Quicksilver flake paint job is hard to miss and gives any bike in this category a run in the looks department. Having problems getting a girl, being accepted into motorcycle groups, buying an ice cream? Get the Breakout!

A shout out and thumbs up to Harley-Davidson India & the great team at the Indian Force Museum for providing us with this opportunity.

Text By : Sheldon D'Cruz

Image Courtesy : William Chang & Sajal Chakraborty

Location: Indian Force Museum 

Here are some more pictures from the shoot - 

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Item Reviewed: Harley-Davidson FXSB Softail Breakout Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Unknown
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