By Bryan Harley, Cruiser Editor

One of the best softails on the market

Harley’s newest Softail, the 2013 CVO Breakout, continues the ultra-premium, long-and-low precedent set by the 2003 Screamin’ Eagle Deuce and CVO Springer. Everything within the stretch of its 67.5-inch wheelbase has been chromed, its gator-patterned seat looks pleasingly low at 26.3 inches, and the hand-polished steel is simply stunning. The tank is one of the sharpest-looking factory tanks I’ve seen from The Motor Company in a long time, from the tidiness of the flush-mounted console to its braided-steel vent lines arcing over the front. The 21-spoke cast aluminum turbine wheels, its pattern carried out to the edges of the wheel, are the best of the CVO bunch. All this and the potent Twin Cam 110B with a Heavy Breather intake spooned between its frame rails. It’s no wonder the Breakout not only looks racy, but also sports the best power-to-weight ratio of the CVOs.

The 2013 CVO Breakout has the same chassis as the production Rocker Softail but sports different suspension settings. Its fork is 1.75 inches wider to accommodate the new 21-inch front wheel. It also utilizes different springs and damping, which pays big dividends because the suspension and steering on the CVO Breakout are nothing close to the rigid feel and heavy steering of the Rocker.

Pulling out of the lavender-lined roads of Carmel Valley Ranch, a little finesse is required during clutch release because the lever is tight and it takes a few launches to get the feel for the point of engagement. Once you’ve got the friction zone dialed in, the CVO Breakout lunges out of first with a gratifying amount of torque. Though we’d like to stretch out more gears, tourist traffic is keeping bursts of self-indulgent runs through the rev range to a minimum, but the lower gears pull with such aplomb that a firm grip is needed on the bars.

Regarding bars, the arrangement on the 2013 CVO Breakout are set out just beyond shoulder width. It’s an honest stretch to the forward-mounted controls, and the body positioning tilts slightly forward. The 3.5-inch/21-inch combo on the front with a 130mm tire is a first for Harley, and the tall front hoop sticks out at a deceptive 37-degree rake angle despite looking like it’s tucked in closer to the frame’s downtubes. The tall front is balanced by the wide backside, a stubby fender and small bullet lights leaving a clear view of its meaty 240mm rear. Moving the license plate to the side helps, too.

As the roads begin to wind and climb along California’s Pacific Coast, the bottom-end grunt of the 1803cc TC110B keeps downshifts to a minimum. The 2013 CVO Breakout is steady when put on edge and holds its line well, but the 240mm rear limits quick transitioning as the center of gravity feels biased toward the wide rear wheel. The bike’s also slung so low that its pegs will start to grind even though the chassis could easily handle more lean angle.

As California Highway 1 rises a thousand feet above the pounding surf below, streams of morning mist are shooting up the cliffs and rush over us with a chilling breeze. With narrow roads and plenty of elevation changes, having the added security of standard ABS is reassuring. The big bore engine provides plenty of engine braking as the road leads down the mountain. The feel of the four-piston fixed front is reassuring on thoroughfares that aren’t kind to mistakes, but a bit more power to the two-piston floating caliper on the rear would be all right by us. The ABS assists the rear but continues to exert a noticeable pulsing when pushed firmly.

Highway 1 below Big Sur is not the place you want to be taking your eyes off the road, so Harley moving the speedo on the 2013 CVO Breakout up to the bottom of the triple clamp where you can see it better than down on a console is appreciated. Just above the speedo sits a strip with neutral and other indicator lights integrated into it. The internally-wired chrome handlebars look clean, the chrome treatment extending to the control housings and brake reservoirs. Having cruise control at the push of a button on the right handlebar is a helpful upgrade, the factory install a distinction the CVO Breakout holds over all other Softails.

Another distinction the 2013 CVO Breakout holds is its hand-polished metal finishing process. It begins with a 10-step sanding process where a black e-coated tank gets sanded down to bare metal to achieve the effect on the tank of the Breakout. The 10 steps go from 150 grit all the way up to 1,200 grit. After the 10-steps of sanding, it’s off for three rounds of hand-polishing to bring out the luster of the metal. The finished surface allows the hand-worked marks to show through, so no two CVO Breakouts will be exactly the same. Then it’s off for clear coating that still allows the sheen of the polished metal to shine through. The result is striking. Just check out the 2013 CVO Breakout in the Hard Candy Gold Dust and Liquid Sun with Pagan Gold graphics combo and you’ll see what we mean.

Only 1,900 people will have the opportunity to say they own one of Harley’s newest Softails. Exclusivity does not come without a price, though, as no matter what paint scheme is chosen the 2013 CVO Breakout is listed at $26,499. Damn the price, man the torpedoes and full speed ahead. As CVO Breakout Team Manager Jeff Smith said, “We really have something here.” We think once people see the stance, paint, power and wheels on this thing, it’s going to be a done deal.