The media rides for the 2018 Harley-Davidson Softails at Spain were an opportunity for us to taste the new Harley-Davidson Fat Bob, Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic, and the H-D Street Bob. We rode all of them with the smaller 1,750cc engine, the Milwaukee 8 107 because that is what we are getting in India. But in the mix was a Breakout - not coming to India this time - with the larger 1,870cc engine. So naturally, I hopped on.
The large 21-inch front wheel with a 34-degree steering angle and the 240-section 18-inch rear tyre clarify the Breakout's focus on straight line speed
The Breakout is a pretty extreme motorcycle. At 34, the steering angle is the laziest while the 240-section tyre at the rear makes it pretty clear that hard cornering is not on the agenda. From that perspective, as with all the new Softails, the Breakout does a more than good job of managing when the road cannot go straight anymore. You get used to the riding position and at least on smooth roads, it isn't a problem.
The refinement and capability of the new Showa suspension front and rear also means that bumps are absorbed better. But in the middle of all that is the consideration of what happens when this motorcycle comes to India. The last time around, sales were slow and the Breakout, wonderful to look at, proved hard to ride in our conditions for most prospective buyers. And that's the 2018 Breakout is not scheduled to join the fun in India.
The difference between the 107 engine and the bigger 114 is immediately obvious
But this story is about the bigger engine. And the difference is immediately obvious. The limited cornering clearance means that keeping up with the Fat Bobs that we had in our group is hard work. You have to hang off as much as possible while slowing more for corner entries and try and get the gas back on as early as possible. This raises the bike up a bit and gives you extra acceleration as well. It's the only way to keep up.
Unless they have the 107 (1,750cc) and your Breakout has the 114 (1,870cc) engine. Then you can demolish any gap the Fat Bob 107s can make at will. The 114 with 161Nm, you see, makes 8.78 per cent more torque than their 107 and that shows. Open the gas hard and the Breakout 114 telescopes the distance to the Bob very rapidly.
When you back off the pace, you also spot the other attributes of the Milwaukee 8. In the twin counterbalancer guise, this is a smooth engine. There is some vibration at idle, well, because but the engine revs out smoothly and it revs out well. So you can ride a wave of torque or ride higher up in the revs if you choose. It is one of the things I like about the eight-valve, part oil-cooled Milwaukee 8.
The Breakout is a motorcycle for straight roads in good shape. And in that sense, it's not coming to India is neither a surprise nor really a problem. That said, I really did enjoy how much of my skill and body english I had to use to make the Breakout go around a 90km ride in the mountains on machinery that is far happier to corner.
The Milwaukee 8 114, though, is seriously impressive. It makes enough extra torque over the 107 for it to be a superb upgrade. The reason why it isn't coming to India, really, is that the Indian customer tends not to want to pay for extra displacement and the smaller engine sales are overwhelming.
But Harley-Davidson India does point out that the US$3,000 approximately that is the additional cost (in India, post duties) is what makes the 114 a hard sell. However, Harley will offer tuning kits all the way to stage 4 which will more than overcome the performance deficit. Harley India says the final cost of these mods is likely to work out less than getting a 114 in the first place.