Breakout Opens up

 CVO Breakout Opened-Up

It has to be said, the Harley Davidson CVO Breakout is a serious piece of kit but there is always room to improve.

The Breakout has loads of power, stunning looks and Harley have done a great job with it... but there is always ways to put your personal stamp on it.

Most folk are content with the odd bolt-on accessory, but Big Dave doesn’t do things by half.

I’ll admit, when he originally came to us looking an open primary fitted to his nearly-new CVO I tried to talk him out of it. But what would I know!!! Big Dave stuck to his guns and threw down the challenge.


Normally an open primary conversion is straight forward, we’ve done loads of them.

Open Primary in full glory
Erm... Just a little overhang

You buy the kit, remove the old primary and fit the new kit and its job done. Not the case when it comes to the CVO Breakout.

"none of the aftermarket suppliers provided a kit for this model of CVO Breakout"
 none of the aftermarket suppliers provided a kit for this model of CVO Breakout.

Despite much research and many calls to my mates in the industry, we couldn’t turn up a kit that would fit.  

At the time, none of the aftermarket suppliers provided a kit for this model of CVO Breakout.

The closest we could find was a BDL kit from our friends at Zodiac which fitted a Softail and had the correct number of teeth front and rear.

Having worked on many Softails we knew the offset was totally different to the Breakout and this job would take a bit of figuring out and some lathe-hours to make it work. 

We got the Breakout on the ramp and set about pulling the primary and clutch apart.
First thing to note is, the BDL clutch is a smart piece of kit which among other things uses a series of small bearings to reduce friction.

Note to self: When doing this again, make sure you have a magnetic dish to catch the bearings!!!

Also the Breakout clutch doesn’t use a swivel bearing at the end of the pushrod... the BDL clutch does require one. Make sure you pop it in there or you will melt the end of the clutch pushrod.

As far as lining things up, there were two glaring problems. First the inner primary cover didn’t sit flush against the housing and second the front crank sprocket needed to sit wayyyyy out to keep the belt in line.


"BINGO! Nobody lost a finger or an eye!!!" 

We mocked it up to where it looked like it was all in line then spun up a few nylon spacers on the lathe and mill that were fitted temporarily.

A couple of thou shaved here and there then we fastened everything into place and spun the motor to make sure the belts were all running true... BINGO! Nobody lost a finger or an eye!!!

Having found where everything needed to sit, we then set about machining the spacers for real using our nylon mock-ups and the outcome was pretty cool.

With the correct spacers and front shaft extension machined up, it all bolted together with frightening ease.

In the middle of the mockup
Primary Case Gap

I always get a little scared when things go together so easily, but in this instance my fears were not justified.

When we ran the motor, even under maximum load, there was little or no deviation between the pulleys and the belt worked a treat.

The finishing touch was to remove the rear fender extender and fit one of our bespoke custom side-mount plates.


At Big Dave’s request we used the original CVO number plate light!

The bike has since toured Europe and despite one minor mishap on a Sunday run when the open primary picked up a rusty old bolt off the road, causing the belt to snap and damage to a few of the teeth, she has performed flawlessly.


Harley done a great job to begin with but it's always nice to do a one-off job, and at the time of writing we are not aware of any other CVO's running an open primary... Nice



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