Harley-Davidson Breakout 117 (2023) - Review


Price: £24,917 | Power: 102bhp | Weight: 310kg | Overall BikeSocial Rating: 4/5


Harley-Davidson has long been the undisputed king when it comes to ‘bad-ass’-looking, hot rod style, big V-twin cruisers and the historic American brand’s biggest, most definitive hot rod style cruiser of all has long been the Breakout – and, for 2023, it’s now bigger and better than ever.

The drag strip inspired Breakout, with its long and low looks and fat back tyre was originally introduced way back in 2013 and, with the then ‘Twin Cam’ 103ci (1690cc) version of Harley’s traditional 45-degree, air-cooled, pushrod V-twin, it proved a big success story particularly in the UK where it is one of Harley’s biggest sellers.

In 2018 it then received a significant makeover with Harley’s all-new, single shock ‘Softail’ frame, gained the new ‘Milwaukee Eight’ 107ci (1746cc) engine (while an even bigger 114ci/1868cc version was also made available as an option) and other largely cosmetic tweaks including blacked out brightwork and a smaller, more hot rod style fuel tank.

While for 2023, Harley has made it even bigger and brighter once again with a new, further enlarged engine now putting out over 100bhp, a significant cosmetic makeover including bespoke new wheels, a return to the bigger fuel tank, plus improved comfort and other detail changes. We rode one of the very first examples all the way over in Santat Barbara, California, USA, to see how much it’s improved and what difference those changes make.


Pros & Cons

  • 117ci engine is Breakout’s biggest yet.
  • Improved comfort via less extreme riding position
  • Bigger tank gives longer range.
  • Extra chrome and new wheels add visual appeal.
  • Hot rod style means it’s one of the least practical Harleys.
  • Fat rear tyre and kicked out forks give laborious handling.
  • Minimal style means not much equipment.
  • Orange paint choice already sold out.


Review – In Detail

Price & PCP
Engine & Performance
Handling & Suspension (inc. weight & brakes)
Comfort & Economy


2023 Harley-Davidson Breakout - Price

The new 2023 Harley-Davidson Breakout is priced at a basic £24,195, or £24,197 on the road, which will get you the Vivid Black colour option. If you want the other options of Black Denim, Atlas Silver Metallic or Baja Orange, they’re all £440 extra, although the orange version, as we write, has already sold out its UK and Ireland allocation.

That’s pretty hefty for any bike with only 102bhp, non-adjustable suspension, a single front disc brake, very little by way of electronic riding aids, only a small LED ‘dash’ and no fairing, luggage or much by way of pillion provision.

It’s even pretty hefty even by Harley standards. A Sport Glide, for example, with panniers, nose fairing etc, is under £18K, i.e., a full £6000 less, while both the Road and Street Glide Special baggers aren’t much more.

Which serves as a reminder that what you’re paying for with the Breakout is its big 117ci engine, which is currently Harley best performer, and all the hot rod style, whether that be the gorgeous 26-spoke wheels, lashings of chrome or fancy paint.

It’s also worth remembering that Harley-Davidson residual values are still some of the best around and that the Breakout remains in the UK one of its most popular models, so you’re always likely to get much of your money back.

PCP Deals

PCP deals for the Harley-Davidson Breakout are already available and an online calculator on the Harley-Davidson UK website allows you to work out a payment plan that suits you best.

A typical example paid over 36 months with a £5000 deposit and mileage limit of 4000 per year would as we write require monthly payments of £331.62 with an optional final payment of £13,791 on a fixed APR of 11.7%.



2023 Harley-Davidson Breakout - Engine & Performance

With hot rod or dragster style bikes like this it’s all about the engine and performance – particularly in a straight line – and that’s certainly always been the case with the Harley-Davidson Breakout.

The big news, accordingly, with this latest version is its new engine, which is currently Harley-Davidson’s largest version of the ‘Milwaukee Twin’ incarnation of its traditional, air-cooled, pushrod operated 45-degree V-twin.

The ‘117’ part of its name refers to the American convention of measuring capacity in cubic inches which equates in metric terms to a whopping 1923cc.

The numerical performance which results from that is peak power of 102bhp at just 5020rpm and peak torque of 124.6lb.ft at an even lower 3500rpm, with both being significantly up on the old Breakout 107’s 86bhp and 107lb.ft (the optional 114ci/1868cc engine had figures somewhere in-between).

That said, although decently punchy and with a fat midrange that squeals the equally fat rear tyre if you whack open the throttle, the big twin’s delivery is familiar, characterful. Generally speaking, it’s more flexible, friendly and versatile than you might expect and is still accompanied by a traditional Harley clunkiness and crude charm, but in this incarnation there’s also an extra macho raw punch that excites when you whack open the throttle, especially as the only electronics are ABS, switchable traction and cruise…

Overall, as with most old school air-cooled Harley-Davidsons, the Breakout 117 is all about easy, lazy, ‘potato-potato’, low revving cruising with little need for gearchanges or slipping clutches, but with the Breakout 117 you also get an extra dollop of snarling, tyre-squealing grunt when you snap the throttle when the need arises.



2023 Harley-Davidson Breakout - Handling, Weight and Suspension

As you’ve probably already guessed from its styling and tank badge, the Harley-Davidson Breakout 117 is not about conventional sports handling or even all-rounder manners and versatility – and as a result can take some getting used to!

The seat is a low 665mm, although its bulk is carried low there’s no attempt at minimizing weight, the Softail tubular steel twin loop frame, although new in 2018 (when it went from twin to single rear shock absorber), is very much ‘old school’ (the ‘Softail’ bit, incidentally, refers to the hidden shock rear end which is intended to mimic the hardtail, unsuspended look of 1960s customs without completely sacrificing comfort or handling), and, overall, this is a long, low, heavy machine with a raked out front end and a ridiculously fat rear tyre designed to look like a drag bike.

As a result, the Breakout has the most ‘kicked-out’ front end of Harley’s Softails with a rake of a whopping 34 degrees and trail of 145mm (when most sports bikes these days are around 90 degrees and 95mm respectively), there’s a big, 21inch front wheel which significantly adds gyroscopic effect compared to a conventional 17in item, its overall wheelbase is a whopping 1695mm (when most conventional bikes are between 1400 and 1500mm) and at the rear there’s a drag bike style 240mm wide rear tyre when few road bikes are usually over 190.

All of that gives steering characteristics which are utterly stable and secure in a straight-line but also not particularly willing to change direction. Nimble the Breakout isn’t: changing direction through a set of esses requires deliberate input and effort and, when you do manage to lean it over, ground clearance, due to its low ride height and forward ‘highway’ pegs, is limited, too. On the plus side, once accustomed, you can have fun, it’s not too unnerving and can still be fun, but this is an ocean tanker among speed and pleasure boats.

That heavy, long, low and straight-line specializing handling is also exacerbated by the Harley-Davidson Breakout’s suspension. Although the front forks are beefy and relatively modern, in being Showa’s latest 49mm Dual Bending Valve type, they’re also conventional and fairly basic in offering no adjustment. The rear end, meanwhile, partly due to the Softail, lowrider style, offers little suspension travel and only preload adjustment, although this is available via a handy remoter adjuster knob. The result of all this on decent surfaces in a straight-line is more than adequate without exactly giving a plush ride. But potholes jar the rear end and controlled sophistication through the turns isn’t its forte.



2023 Harley-Davidson Breakout - Comfort & Economy

As already stated, the Harley-Davidson Breakout 117 is primarily designed for straight line boulevard cruising, around town posing and traffic light blasting, so comfort and economy has never been a priority. That said, it’s not too bad and this latest version is better, in at least one respect.

Its riding position, it has to be said, is pretty extreme. The low seat places most of the rider’s weight on his or her backside; feet stretch out forwards to ‘highway’ pegs and your arms reach forward to straight ‘drag’ bars mounted on riders above the top yoke. The sum total of all that is you being contorted into a ‘C’ position that for the most part is tolerable, but never exactly comfortable. Compounding this, of course, is the complete lack of any wind or weather protection and the aforementioned limited suspension travel.

But, hey. We’ve all got to pay for our ‘posing value’, right?

On top of all that, of course, pillion provision, courtesy of a small, pad seat and high pillion pegs, is at best marginal and, at worst, a ‘relationship-breaker’. (Of course, we all like to fantasize about a West Coast cruising image of a lithe, vest and shades-wearing biker cruising down the highway with some athletic, flexible ‘friend’ wrapped around you on the back, but sometimes realities have to be faced up to…)

With all that said, however, the new Breakout 117 is significantly more comfortable than the old one. New handlebar risers are 19mm taller and nearer the rider than before which makes the stretch to bars noticeably less extreme while at the same time the new, larger fuel tank has necessitated a redesign of the seat which is now also plusher and more comfortable than before. As a result, the new Breakout 117, while remaining a long, stretched out, no-compromise drag bike, is also one that’s more comfortable and manageable than it’s ever been.

Clocks and instrumentation are minimal, too, in keeping with the style of the bike – in fact, they’re so minimal at first glance there doesn’t seem to be any at all. Instead, there’s a small, slim digital LCD strip attached to the top handlebar clamp which, although seeming virtually insignificant, actually displays everything you need ranging from speed to revs, fuel level, odometers and so on and is toggle-able through different information via a switch on the left-hand switch pod. I had no complaints.

As with other facets such as comfort and practicality, economy doesn’t rank too highly on the Harley-Davidson Breakout 117’s wish list, either and with its biggest, highest performing engine so far, you wouldn’t expect it to be great. In reality, it’s not too bad.

Although displacing a monster 1923cc and producing this engine’s highest bhp and torque figures so far, the Harley-Davidson Breakout 117’s engine, compared to more modern, more potent rivals, isn’t extreme, remains low revving and fairly docile and 50mpg+ is easily attainable. That, combined with the new, larger, 18.9-litre fuel tank is capable of returning up to 200 miles between fill-ups.



2023 Harley-Davidson Breakout - Brakes

Another area where the designers of the Harley-Davidson Breakout 117 seem to have failed to take things too seriously. Let’s put it this way: the Breakout has Harley’s highest performing air-cooled engine and also has a hefty kerbside weight of 310kg and yet it’s been equipped with just a solitary front disc brake (presumably for styling reasons) which in turn has to haul up all that weight through a fairly skinny 130 x 21in front tyre. Surely somebody somewhere is having a laugh.

In reality, yet again, it’s not that bad. Harleys are always recommended to be ridden by using the back brake in conjunction with the front and, if you do that, it’s largely tolerable – besides, as we’ve said before, this is no sports bike. Or, in fact, anything near it. There’s also ABS, although it’s not the latest cornering type…



2023 Harley-Davidson Breakout - Rivals

While it’s fair to say that not many bikes rival the authentic appeal of a Harley-Davidson hot rod like the Breakout, there are a few bikes that attempt to give a similar experience and that are worthy of your consideration…


Indian Chief Dark Horse | £17,495

Harley-Davidson’s revived American rival has made big inroads into Hog territory since it arrived back on the scene in 2013 and the latest Chief Dark Horse, although lacking extreme drag bike style has plenty of appeal and similar performance at a more affordable price.

Power/Torque: 90bhp/126lb-ft | Weight: 304kg 


Triumph Rocket 3 R | £21,995

British monster 2458cc triple hot rod arrived in 2020 and impresses not only for its blistering performance but also its size-defying handling, sophisticated electronics and specification and even decent practicality. At this price it makes the Breakout seem basic.

Power/Torque: 165bhp/163lb-ft | Weight: 291kg


Ducati Diavel V4 | £23,595

All-new for 2023, Ducati’s take on the performance cruiser has morphed from V-twin to V4 power and also raises the bar in terms of performance, electronics sophistication and even the handling such bikes are capable of. Some may say it’s not a true US-style cruiser, but it’s astonishing, nevertheless.

Power/Torque: 168bhp/93lb-ft | Weight: 236kg



2023 Harley-Davidson Breakout - Verdict

It’s easy to look at the updated Harley-Davidson Breakout 117 and write it off as an extreme American-style hot rod with limited appeal. But that’s ignoring how strong that very appeal can sometimes be and how well the Breakout satisfies it.

Harley pretty much got the original Breakout spot-on way back in 2013 (when it was immediately popular in the UK). It improved upon that, certainly in terms of performance, chassis and so on in 2018 (although some think that’s year’s smaller tank was a retrograde step) and now it has substantially improved upon it yet again.

So, although the Breakout recipe is fairly simple, Harley delivers it exceptionally well and, this time round, it’s the best yet: It’s got the biggest engine; it’s got extra brightwork and style and it’s got a longer range. The fact that it’s (slightly) more comfortable is the icing on the cake.

The Breakout certainly isn’t for everyone. Most, in fact, will probably have made their minds up about it on seeing the first picture. But if you’re after an American style hot rod from the most famous American marque nothing else will do.



2023 Harley-Davidson Breakout 117 - Technical Specification

New price

From £24,917



Bore x Stroke

103.5 x 114.3mm

Engine layout

45-degree V-twin

Engine details

Pushrod, 2 valves per cylinder, air cooled, electronic fuel injection


102bhp (76KW) @ 5020rpm


124.6lb-ft (168Nm) @ 3500rpm


six speed, belt final drive

Average fuel consumption

50.4mpg claimed

Tank size

18.9 litres

Max range to empty

210 miles

Rider aids

ABS, Traction Control


Tubular steel double cradle

Front suspension

Dual Bending Valve Showa 49mm forks

Front suspension adjustment


Rear suspension

Showa monoshock

Rear suspension adjustment

Preload only

Front brake

300mm disc, 4-piston caliper with ABS

Rear brake

292mm disc, 2-piston caliper with ABS

Front wheel / tyre

26-spoke cast alloy 21"/Michelin Scorcher 130/60 R21

Rear wheel / tyre

26-spoke cast alloy 18"/Michelin Scorcher 240/40 R18



Seat height



310kg (kerb)


24 months unlimited mileage


5000 miles / 12 months

MCIA Secured Rating





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2023 Harley-Davidson Breakout 117 Review Details Price Spec_10a


What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars (three stars for bikes of 125cc or less), based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.