2016 Harley-Davidson CVO Pro Street Breakout Review
The driving principles of the Harley-Davidson Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) line have been taken to new heights with the 2016 Harley-Davidson CVO Pro Street Breakout. Despite being a production model, if one didn’t know any better, the Pro Street Breakout would easily fit in with the top contenders at a custom show. It has a presence that commands attention. Long, low and sleek, with inspiration taken straight from the drag strip, it will turn more than a few heads on your favorite two-lane roads.Take a walk around the 2016 Harley-Davidson Pro Street Breakout and even the staunchest sportbike fan would have to give a nod of approval to its appearance.
The story begins at the front, as your eyes are drawn to the 43mm inverted forks that are pushed out an assertive 35 degrees. Next, your attention moves to the speed screen, up to the wide 1.25-inch diameter drag bars, across (in our case) the tri-color Gold Pearl/Starfire Black teardrop five-gallon tank (high-end paint is a primary focus of the CVOs), and through to the matching tail with blacked-out staggered, blunt-cut mufflers setting it all off. The final touches, driving its drag heritage are the Screamin’ Eagle Elite air cleaner and the skirt fairing, adding a bit of racing charm to the picture. That’s just the surface, and what makes the CVO Pro Street Breakout so special, so refined, are all of the tasteful additions that meet the eye.
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Harley-Davidson has gone for an aggressive look for the Pro Street Breakout, leaving the chrome on the shelf and opting for something far more alluring. Smoke Satin Chrome embellishments from the exhaust header shields, oil lines and covers give the Pro Street Breakout an enlightened look – Harley designers have listened to the trends, they’ve kept their ears to the ground and they are responding in kind. The big CVO also makes use of five-spoke Aggressor wheels, in Scorched Chrome to match its hardened image.As with any American cruiser, the engine is king. While several other Harley models make use of the Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110B powerplant, with a claimed 112 ft/lbs of torque at 3,500 rpm, none do so quite like the CVO PS Breakout.Where show bikes are meant to be ogled, the Pro Street Breakout is meant to be ridden, and that’s a fact. The 110ci Screamin’ Eagle delivers just as you would expect from a thoroughbred American V-twin. The power comes on early, moving the claimed 730-pound machine into speeds that violate any speed laws.At idle, the CVO sounds subdued, well aware of its roots, but certainly not loud enough to ruin any relationship with your neighbors—that is, until you open it up. With the throttle twisted, you get a quality note that still passes EPA sound tests—throaty, masculine and bold.Clutch pull is remarkably light, in comparison to other big-inch bikes thanks to the Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam Performance Assist clutch technology that uses the power of the motor to press the plates together, which allows for lighter springs.Getting on the throttle means lots of speed, and stability isn’t an issue. If this bike does one thing well, it’s that it defines what it means cruise in a straight line confidently. Sit back in the luxurious seat, roll on some throttle and let the twin rattle your soul. With a long 66+ inch wheelbase, a massive 240 rear tire, 19-inch front, and all that rake, the Pro Street Breakout goes down your favorite highway with ease.Around your favorite long sweepers, the CVO is at home. It feels sturdy, powerful, and the claimed 730 pounds doesn’t become cumbersome in the least bit, though you might need a bit of counter steering input for the twisties.Unlike some of the sporty Harleys that have been popping up, the Pro Street Breakout—being a straight-line specialist—puts up modest lean angle numbers, hovering around 25 degrees to each side. That isn’t an issue because this bike isn’t about that, it’s about stability rather than agility.Even if I was riding in a fashion a bit too “inspired,” one handy feature is the slip function of the Assist & Slip clutch. There was no locking of the rear end if I didn’t get a downshift right, and I was able to slow the bike down and make a corner.Up front you’ll find dual 300mm rotors doing the heavy lifting when it comes to braking and a single disc out back. Brake pull is smooth and predictable on the Harley-Davidson CVO, but does require a little more pull than what I’m accustomed to.The long chassis is stable under breaking. Even when trying to activate the ABS, I felt no jerkiness through the chassis. Emergency braking is nothing to worry about, because it’s smooth sailing in bad situations on the Pro Street Breakout.The foot controls are comfortable, wide without being bulky and in the case of the shifter, functionally sound. What doesn’t translate well is the rear brake. Perhaps it was the mounting but my boots do not mesh well with the configuration and I found myself relying almost exclusively on the front.Where the Pro Street Breakout falters is at low speed. Pulling into parking lots or maneuvering at low speed, the length and weight of the bike suddenly becomes apparent. A decent amount of force needs to be applied in order to prevent the bars from tucking.Is this a deal breaker? No, if you have the upper body strength to deal with it—I do, but not everyone will. Unless you’re ready to do a bit of muscling about while pulling into your favorite establishment, the CVO might not be for you.All things considered, the Pro Street Breakout has good suspension. Both ends are balanced and willing to knock off the edge of deteriorated roads.The Harley-Davidson CVO series first arrived on the scene in 1999 and from then on, the line established itself as the high-point of Harley-Davidson, adding a level of sophistication and aesthetic prowess that previously didn’t seem to be present with Harley and the cruiser world. With jaw-dropping looks as the centerpiece, the CVO line became the new “bedroom wall” bikes for fans of the American cruiser. With this much refinement, embellishment and class, Harley-Davidson has still found a way to retain what makes the brand so successful.Forget that the 2016 Harley-Davidson CVO Pro Street Breakout is a work of art and, dare I say it, rivaling the Italians in its own very American way. Consider that under all of that, the heart of an American cruiser is still very much present. The thrum and vibration of a true-blue air-cooled V-twin still lives, its signs of life dictated only by how much you’ll let it show the world with the throttle.Riding Style
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.