Confederate partners with Zero Motorcycles and goes electric
After 23 years of creating unique high-end customs, Confederate Motors will rebrand as Curtiss Motor Company and turn its focus to building electric motorcycles in co-operation with Zero. At the same time, Confederate unveiled what might be its last petrol-powered bike, the FA-13 Combat Bomber.
Confederate Motors made its name by designing and hand-building impressive and quite expensive custom motorcycles in limited quantities. Since the 1994 F131 Hellcat, the first model to roll out of its workshop in New Orleans, the company managed to stay afloat through all kinds of hardship. Bankruptcy in 2001, damaged facilities by hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the ensuing relocation a year later to Birmingham in the neighboring state of Alabama didn't stop Confederate from selling out its limited annual production, despite the fact that its cheapest model cost more than US$50,000.
During the unveiling of its latest custom at the Quail Motorsports Gathering, Matt Chambers, Confederate's founder and president, revealed that his company's future lies in electric motorcycles.
"We can't go any further than this, we've hit the ceiling," Chambers said to the Los Angeles Times. The next motorcycle to come from Confederate will be called Hercules, it will run on two electric motors from Zero Motorcycles, and will be reportedly produced in the latter's facility in California.
It won't even bear Confederate's logo, as the name will also change to Curtiss Motor Company. Apart from paying an obvious tribute to Glenn Curtiss, the American aviation pioneer and holder of the first ever land speed record, the rebranding echoes Chambers' marketing woes.
"I think we lost a lot a business with that name. We've missed out on branding opportunities. So, it's time to retire it," explained Chambers.
Instead of an appellation that can easily be misinterpreted as endorsing a certain part of the political spectrum, the new branding refers to a legendary man who is undisputedly recognized in USA, and mirrors ideally the kind of craftsmanship and technology that Confederate describes as the "art of rebellion."
In view of this news, the newly unveiled FA-13 Combat Bomber might be a bit more than just another take on Confederate's luxury power cruiser, the P51 Combat Fighter. As the name suggests, the new model will be built in only 13 examples, each priced at a jaw-dropping $155,000.
The almost 40 grand it costs over the P51 buys a series of cosmetic changes, such as drilled and carved frame elements, leather seat, red exhausts and matte black finish, as well as the limited status of its very small production run. It also includes a brand new air filter structure that will be available to retro-fit on the P51 as well.
Although Confederate hasn't released any technical details of the FA-13, the main running gear of the P51 is probably unchanged, including the main frame that is carved form a solid block of aerospace-grade 6061 aluminum. The engine also appears to be the same, a 132 ci (2,163 cc) 56-degree air-cooled V-twin that evolved over the years from an S&S X-Wedge unit, putting out some 200 hp (149 kW) and 170 lb-ft (230.5 Nm) in the latest P51 version via Confederate's proprietary CX4 transmission.
Above all though, the dizzying price tag reflects the mere fact that this is probably the last gas-powered motorcycle from Confederate's workshop, and the last one to bear its current logo.
Source: Confederate Motors
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Voltra is an interesting ebike design (https://i.imgur.com/xaMFXip.jpg ) and there are a few others. I suppose there could be worse news than learning that Confederate is just going to make electrics from now on. I'm looking forward to see the designs they come up with.