Confederate will build just 45 examples of the Fighter, selling for $110,000 a pop.
Mat Chambers remembers the exact moment his vision for Confederate Motors took shape. "It was the night I graduated from law school," he says. "Me and my best buddy were driving down Highway 61 from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, around midnight. This was in the mid-'70s, and a bunch of Sons of Silence guys blew by us on skinny, stripped-down Shovelhead choppers. They looked so cool, and the sound of those old Shovels, right on the edge of blowing up ... I never got that image out of my mind."
Chambers left law practice in 1991 to found Confederate, and has dedicated the past 18 years to capturing that outlaw style and spirit with his utterly unique American hot-rod motorcycles. When the company's radical B120 Wraith streetfighter debuted on our April '05 cover, the New Orleans-based manufacturer seemed poised for its big break. But just a few months later, Hurricane Katrina changed everything.
"Our facility was completely destroyed-we lost everything," Chambers recalls. Production and development halted and, with all of New Orleans on lockdown (Chambers didn't even see his building until six weeks later), Confederate was forced to relocate 350 miles north to Birmingham, Alabama. Though devastating at the time, this interruption proved to be a blessing in disguise, giving Chambers an opportunity to make crucial improvements to every aspect of his company. Now, almost four years later, he's ready to share the fruits of that labor with the motorcycle world.
Forward foot controls on the Fighter define a different riding position. LED headlights ra
The revitalized Confederate's first offering is a substantially refined B120 Wraith, benefiting from multiple improvements to the unique double-wishbone front suspension and a re-engineered transmission and primary drive that earned the company a patent. There are also two new models-the Fighter and the XE155 Hellcat-that further extend the mega-motor/minimal-body streetfighter concept. The former takes the avant-garde styling of the Wraith one step farther with an industrial-looking titanium frame, while the latter combines an insane, 155-cubic-inch V-twin with the classic Hellcat chassis and Wraith front end
New financing will buoy development of these two new models, secured by Confederate's February 2009 merger with French Peak Resources Inc., and the resultant initial public offering (IPO) of company stock. While many might question the viability of such mega-bucks motorcycles (the Wraith retails for $92,500; the Fighter will sell for $110,000) in this recession-era economy, Chambers insists there is still a strong demand.
"It's a different market today than it was in September," he says. "But we have a strong product range, with exceptional quality, unmatched customer service and essentially no competition. Riding a Confederate is like riding nothing else."
To be fair, out-of-work autoworkers are not Confederate's target demographic, and limited production (250 Wraiths, just 45 Fighters) makes Chambers' modest goals seem reasonable-if not recession-proof. The company has already survived Katrina, after all. Odds are it can weather an economic storm.
Riding The Wraith
Pure Power, Pure Pain
There's not another bike made with as much visceral appeal as Confederate's B120 Wraith. The carbon-fiber frame, massive fork and seven-spoke wheels-all handmade by England's BlackStone Tek-are as gorgeous as anything in the MotoGP paddock, and the excess of hand-machined aluminum is overwhelming. An intricate starting ritual demands respect-neglect to depress both compression releases on the 120-cubic-inch (1965cc) V-twin and you'll be buying another battery, if not another primary belt. Thumb the starter and the motor erupts with a rebel yell loud enough to stop an elderly heart. The riding experience is as raw as the styling. The billet-and-leather saddle looks (and feels) like something sourced from an S&M supply house, and hard-edged levers-the left tugging what feels like the clutch from an Abrams tank-murder your hands. Fuel is carried under the bike, leaving only a hot, shaking cylinder head for your knees to grip. And you'll want to grip something-hard-before you unleash all 130 lb.-ft. of torque. That much force in a claimed 385-pound dry package makes the Wraith lethal at stoplights, and it's shockingly effective in turns too, thanks to a reasonable wheelbase, sportbike rubber and perfectly calibrated Penske suspension. The $92,500 Wraith ain't cheap-and it sure as hell isn't practical-but it's undeniably thrilling to ride. And absolutely unlike anything else on the road.