A motorcycle from Confederate combines a rebel spirit with an uncompromising commitment to quality. No wonder everyone from Beckham to the Boss is a fan.
n an early morning at the Confederate Motorcycles headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama, Matt Chambers—the company’s CEO and the visionary behind the highly coveted X132 Hellcat and R131 Fighter bikes—is doing what he does best: not compromising. “The people who work here all share a non-cynical defiance. We are, in essence, rebels. We are here because of a need to express ourselves outside the boundaries of what society expects of us.”
Founder Matt Chambers, the visionary behind Confederate’s rebel spirit
It was a lifelong obsession with motorcycles coupled with an overwhelming dissatisfaction with American car design that led Chambers, a successful Louisiana lawyer, to leave the courtroom in 1991 to create something fiercely unique. “I wanted to make a machine that would be the most desired of all, and have it be an American machine,” he says, “which was funny, because at the time I had no idea what I was doing.”
The mechanical prowess and sophistication of Confederate bikes is unparalleled
What Chambers did have, though, was a clear mission to establish the ultimate rebel motorcycle company. He founded Confederate Motorcycles on a set of “iron laws”: Never compromise passion, intensity, time or money; invest absolute faith; relish the challenge; persist eternally. He ended up creating a road machine with a soul: a metal sculpture of heirloom quality that is so visually striking that some buyers purchase one purely for its aesthetics. Every component—from lightweight carbon-fiber wheels to the smallest stainless steel bolts—is made using the world’s finest materials. Parts are never cast; instead, they are machined out of solid aluminum.
“I wanted to make a machine that would be the most desired of all, and have it be an American machine.”
The result: some of the most intimidating, revolutionary American-made motorcycles on the market, which grace the garages of such celebrities as Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Bruce Springsteen. Confederate customers have two things in common: unflinching confidence and an entrepreneurial spirit, which is why most clients order their bikes over the phone, sight unseen. Because each motorcycle is handmade, it can take anywhere from six weeks to six months to craft, depending on the number of machines on back order. Since each bike is already extremely rare and distinctive, Confederate does not create one-off editions. “The most common customization is paint scheme,” says Clay Morrison, Confederate’s head of marketing, who recalls one client’s request to match the color of his motorcycle to that of his Rolls-Royce.
Confederate Motorcycles are beautiful examples of pure mechanical prowess. To achieve such detailed perfection, they keep just three models on the roster: the limited edition X132 Hellcat Speedster is currently available, while the second-generation Wraith and the P51 Fighter will launch this summer.
he X132 Hellcat is the lightest, tightest, fastest, most affordable incarnation to come out of the 19-year-old Hellcat series. The 500-pound, $69,500 machine goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds with an S&S V-twin engine cranking 121 brake horsepower and 140 foot-pounds of torque. The case of the bike is carved entirely from CNC-machined 6061 aircraft-grade billet aluminum, and like every other Hellcat before it, every inch of the machinery is on display for everyone to see. “A true rebel,” says Chambers, “believes in 100 percent transparency.”
The forthcoming P51 Fighter will be constructed from aircraft-grade billet aluminum, stainless steel and carbon fiber like the previous iteration, the extremely rare R131 Fighter (which David Beckham reportedly owns), but with the help of Jon Kasse, the P51’s engine promises to be “the most explosive Confederate yet.”
Riding a Confederate bike feels “like the most ferocious beast you’ve ever saddled”
The riding experience is parallel to the bikes’ visual allure. As Chambers puts it, “The sound is authoritative, confident and powerful, and [the motorcycle] feels like the most ferocious beast you’ve ever saddled. One client described riding his Hellcat like riding a rhinoceros. The machine, while exuding an individual life force like only something blood-touched can, rides with luxurious smoothness, high stability, nimbleness and precision. There exists a transcendent, all-informing energy field that grows as the owner spends more time in the saddle.”
- All photographs courtesy of Confederate Motorcycles