Claremont (June 20, 2013) -
Monday 25 March was the day the European motorcycle press first got to grips with the new for 2013 Softail® FXSB Breakout™ and the very special FXDBA Dyna® Street Bob® Special Edition. The riding launch event, held in Marseille, France was attended by over 50 journalists.
The main introductory event, where nearly all of the journalists first set their eyes on the two new machines, was held on the evening prior to the riding day at the impressively spacious, two-storey Marseille Harley-Davidson® dealership. Lit up by ceiling spotlights, the new bikes looked even more inviting than any photographs could put across despite the glorious effect of multi-million pixel-laden images that can be seen on a Harley-Davidson® website.
Brilliant chrome, polished alloys and deep, shining paint had the same stunning effect the very next morning when riders gathered around the bikes for the pre-ride briefing. With so many journalists given the chance – and eagerly accepting their invites – to ride Harley-Davidson machinery in the sun, the riding groups were split over three days, with the winter-ravaged British and Irish journalists to go first.
The riding route consisted of a full seven hours of riding with superb photography locations. The 170km route flowed out of Marseille along the coastal road south of Marseille, and along an abundance of scenic, curvy roads and through the famous ‘La Route des Crêtes’, a road that takes in the highest maritime cliff of Europe (400m above sea level) and boasts extraordinary views. From there the group moved inland through scenic mountain roads and national parks before heading back down towards the coast to ride the last hour towards a glorious sunset.
Venturing out into French rush hour traffic onboard the Breakout wasn’t such the ‘new bike’ nervy experience that I’m sure most of us have to deal with from time to time. The stretch to the flat drag-style bars isn’t difficult for even we sub six-feet tall riders. This is made even easier with a seat and foot forward footpeg mounting that actually props you into a ready to ride stance. It’s the sort of position that makes steering light and easy as soon as the wheels are turning at pace.
What is immediately obvious is that the 240mm-section rear tyre is even more noticeable from behind especially with a rider onboard to put the width of the tyre into perspective. We’ve all seen customised Harleys with huge rear rubber attached and thought ‘wow’; Breakout has the same effect. As said, with the clutch home and the wheels turning, that rear tyre has little counter-effect on the bike’s ride quality. If there is then it aids stability along faster and bumpier sections. This ‘stable’ effect is minimised through the turns with low bars that gives the impression of a direct and immediate connection to the front tyre’s contact patch.
Armed with twisting roads and sunshine, it didn’t take journalists long to draw light marks in tarmac with the lean angle sensor pegs of the comfortable low-placed footpegs. If that doesn’t say something about the Breakout’s adequate chassis and running gear to inspire confidence then the fact every rider had a grin on their faces should.
Another delight is the lazy way the Breakout’s 103™ engine pulls from absolutely minimal revs to make town riding a simple joy. But at the twist of the throttle can barrel rider and bike forward on a wave of thumping torque. The same torque that can see fourth and fifth gear suit low speed roads and sixth as the genuine overdrive it is for the straighter sections. It is deceptively quick, too. The Breakout quickly builds up speed without any drama. Each gear used is swiftly despatched and legal limits are hit within seconds. Needless to say, the fitment of 292mm brake discs front and rear need to be worked hard and often to contain fun to the safe side of legal.
Of course, being a Harley-Davidson, there’s not one area of the Breakout that doesn’t catch your eyes. The black and plain alloy detailing of the engine cylinders grips you, as do the black muffler bodies that are highlighted by the deep chromed silencer pipes. The Gasser 10-spoked aluminium wheels are a fair draw too. But this author’s favourite, favourite touches are the speedo assembly that simply hangs off the handlebar clamp mount, and the overall low muscular look of the Breakout.
Think of the Breakout as a traditional air-cooled Harley in a slightly subdued V-Rod boulevard bruiser-style and that’s the Breakout – stylish, effective and Harley-Davidson through and through.
Street Bob Special Edition – very special for every reason
Harley’s Dyna Street Bob is hard to ignore. Its minimalist looks have always been a favourite with anyone who has biking blood coursing through their veins – and also to many people who just love to see America’s finest in the flesh. Street Bob was sharpened for 2013 with a revised rear end and subtle changes elsewhere to make it even more stripped. So where does the Street Bob Special Edition fit in?
Quite simply, with the wire-spoked wheel rims in red topped off with the bike’s two-tone scallop paintwork and highlighted with the blacked out forks, this Street Bob deserves the tag of Special edition on styling alone. It takes more than a few minutes to stand there and soak up the styling cues, which is one area that makes a Harley what it is. But, of course, there is more.
The addition of the 103 engine gives the Street Bob an altogether different flavour. Now the bike has even more punch to back up the ‘raw’ appeal of the Bobber look. This little beauty really does rock and, as we found through the mountains and uphill hairpins of southern France, there isn’t an incline that causes the Special Edition to run out of breath. Twist the throttle and go enjoy yourself. But let’s not forget that Harley’s finely prepared fuel injection system also means that in between open and closed throttle positions, there is a smooth, tractable torque delivery for every other occasion.
There are times in life where a snap decision over something isn’t worth taking the risk. There is even less times where a snap decision can turn out to be arguably the best decision you could ever make. Buying a Street Bob Special Edition is just one of these times.