2013 Harley-Davidson Softail CVO Breakout

A Gleaming High-Performance Softail From Harley

By Jamie Elvidge, Photography by Tom Riles, Brian J. Nelson

They say: “The Breakout is a chrome-plated fist punching the air. ”
We say: “Hooyah!”

Eyes turned from the roiling blue Pacific to follow our gleaming procession of Harley-Davidson Custom Vehicle Operations models along the magical Pacific Coast Highway. The group included the returning-with-new-bling, super-premium Ultra Classic Electra Glide, an extra-bad-ass Road Glide bagger, a heavily revised Road King and the department’s newest crowd pleaser, the 2013 Softail CVO Breakout. And it wasn’t because we were riding loud or rude. These Harleys are just that good looking.

We all know the HD Motor Company will be celebrating 110 years of adoration in 2013, but did you know its Custom Vehicle Operations department has been turning heads with its brawny, uniquely accessorized and limited-production offerings for 15 years now? Even though some models—say, the Electra Glide—are expected to receive the magic wand perennially, the CVO division always manages to spring something new on us. This year, it was the CVO Breakout Softtail.

In Softail tradition, the Harley Breakout is lean and low-slung, with clean lines that mimic those of a vintage hardtail. The biggest difference is that the factory-customized Breakout is riddled with artistry, and like the other CVO models, it sports a Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110, which gives it the highest power-to-weight ratio in the H-D line. That only adds to its glam’d up sex appeal.

Harley-Davidson’s CVO team is proud of the finishes on its bikes, and especially on the Breakout. Two versions—the Molten Silver number and the Liquid Sun edition—feature polished steel sections on their tanks and aggressively chopped fenders. (In Harley CVO speak, the gold headliner is actually Hard Candy Gold Dust and Liquid Sun with Pagan Gold, while the silver-accented bike is dubbed Black Diamond and Molten Silver with Crushed Slate.) There is also a Crimson Red Sunglo and Scarlet Lace with Hammered Sterling version. Yes, that’s all on one bike.

Okay, so the names may be a little grandiose, but the paintwork is worthy of the verbiage. The silver is especially appealing, as well as the red, which features a tastefully matched brown-leather seat. The Gold, while the Harley-Davidson CVO team’s favorite, takes on a greenish hue in the sun that makes it lose a few points for me, and the sparkling gold flakes on the fenders look a little like an elementary-school art class glitter project. Because every element of the bikes’ finishing and de-finishing processes is done by hand, each CVO finish is subtly different, which is a huge perk for those customers who want something truly unique.

While the paint on these bikes is certainly something to talk about, it’s the Softail Breakout’s new wheels that are the true show stoppers. The Mirror Chrome Turbine wheels, with matching brake discs and drive sprocket, are just stunning, and the team did a spectacular job widening the front end (there’s a new 49mm fork), and shortening the front and rear fenders to visually frame the 21-inch, 21-spoke polished and chromed cast aluminum wheel up front, and meaty 18 x 8 in. number out back.

The most gorgeous detail on the 2013 Breakout is right there in the rider’s view: a low-profile chrome console strip, embellished with dual chrome elbow outlets and braided steel fuel tank vent lines, which run over the forward edge of the five-gallon tank and disappear, infinity-pool style.

In the amenities department, the Breakout comes with all the usual CVO goodies, such as electronic cruise control, ABS, key-fob security, and new for 2013, an indoor/outdoor bike cover. Performance-wise, a top reason to buy one of these limited-edition beauties is the factory-installed Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam engine, and this year there’s an all-new clutch-assist package to more efficiently transfer the mill’s burly torque to the ground.

Dubbed the Assist & Slip Clutch Pack, the “slip” feature is designed to diminish load on the driveline, while updated hydraulic clutch actuation is said to reduce lever effort. Upon riding the Breakout and other CVO models with this new system, I didn’t notice an easier clutch pull or hold feel, though tests say effort has been reduced by as much as 17 percent.

What I did notice riding the Breakout is that it’s incredibly fun to rip around on, especially in a straight line around town. At highway speeds, that cool, forward-mounted footpeg position with no windshield is mostly good for a deep core workout, and on the backroads, well, the Breakout is a Softail, and as we all know, these low riders like to drag—early, often and hard.

For a more versatile riding experience, and especially if you’re thinking of parading your Harley-Davison CVO on some actual journeys, the factory customized Road King, with its hard bags, detachable, vented windscreen and wicked stereo, might be for you. This year, the CVO Road Glide Custom also received a very innovative Daymaker headlamp system that uses high-output “white” light for increased visibility and improved light spread.

The 2013 Harley-Davidson Softail Breakout, which will have a limited production of approximately 1900 units, is certainly the sexiest HD CVO for 2013, and at $26,499 it’s also the least expensive. If you’re looking for the substance offered by a Road Glide, Road King or Belle-of-the-Ball, Ultra Classic Electra Glide, you’re looking at dropping $30,000 to $37,500. For 2013, Harley-Davidson is also offering Anniversary Edition paint choices for the latter three models, which will tack on an extra G-note.

By Jamie Elvidge
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