We see grandiose press releases every day here at Gizmag – but few of them use language which tickles us as much as Confederate's recent missive promoting its new C3 X132 Hellcat. How's this passage for an example: "This C3 Hellcat has the highest rear wheel torque to weight ratio, compared anywhere throughout the operating RPM range, in all of motordom, by far." Dig into 'em, those words are bold, aggressive and unmistakably American – much like the cyber-brute bikes that come out of the Confederate factory. So let's take a quick look at the Hellcat, which is at once the fastest, toughest, lightest and cheapest bike this bunch of Alabama madmen have ever produced.
You have to celebrate the sheer purity of vision in evidence at Confederate – no other manufacturer in the world is pushing out anything remotely like Confederate's Wraith, Fighter Combat and Hellcat models. This is motorcycling at its most raw and visceral – a celebration of metalwork and muscle and a monument to American individualism. It's vastly different to the rest of the motorcycling world and you're invited to kiss its rear hugger if you don't like it.
The new C3 X132 Hellcat takes Founder and CEO Matt Chambers' concept of the perfect motorcycle another step forward.
Chambers believes a bike needs to be "tough" – in every sense of the word. There's no doubt that the C3 Hellcat has this wrapped up in the appearance stakes; it's all gleaming motor and wheels, with a squat, fat, painful-looking seat the only nod to comfort.
But in functional terms, Chambers believes the C3 is nigh on unbreakable: "We have definitely made the toughest, most indestructible, long lasting motorcycle it is possible to create." He goes on to give examples: the 43-pound (19.5-kg), once-piece forged hard steel crankshaft, the 6061 aircraft grade aluminum engine cases, a front engine mount that's ten times the size of anything else in the motorcycle world, and a rear swingarm pivot that "could literally pull a train of a thousand cars."
Then there's the Confederate vision of speed – what it means to have a fast bike. Forget your 320kmh Hayabusa or your World Superbike racetrack champion RSV4, Chambers is making streetbikes – and fast on the street, in his eyes, means that whenever you goose the throttle, wherever you are in the rev range, you get access to immediate and Earth-shattering torque and propulsion.
To that end, Confederate has teamed up with S&S Cycle to create the new torque king of motorcycles: a 132ci (2163cc) monster V-twin with square 4.4-inch by 4.4-inch cylinders and a monolithic 145 foot-pounds (196.6 nm) of torque. Horsepower? "Sufficient." Heh-heh.
Chambers says this grunting beast of an engine, including that massive "forged in the fires of Mordor" crankshaft, can deliver big-time torque anywhere from idle upwards without batting an eyelid. We'd certainly enjoy testing its mettle.
Perhaps the best news is this: despite the fact that the C3 X132 Hellcat will be Confederate's quickest, toughest and lightest bike ever (at 475 lbs, or 215 kg), it's also an order of magnitude cheaper than previous bikes. At US$45,000 or so for either the sharp-steering Fighter model or the more relaxed, cruisy Roadster series, it's around about half the cost of the Wraith or just over a third the cost of the P120 Fighter Combat... so owners of those have a right to be a bit miffed.
What hasn't changed is the bike's exclusivity – while its price will put it within reach of a lot more buyers, the C3 is still going to be made in boutique numbers. After all, the factory only consists of a dozen-odd workers. Only 150 will be made, and latest reports are that 27 are already reserved, so if you want to rip up some bitumen with one of these evil American steeds, now's the time to get a deposit down. Delivery is guaranteed by the end of 2011.
We love the fact that guys like the Confederate team are out there proudly doing things differently, we love their obvious passion for the beauty of precision metalwork, and we admire their no-compromise approach to street performance and design. Most of all, we'd love to take one of these things out and give it a proper flogging to see if Confederate's passion translates to real-world performance. We fear it just might.