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Confederate X132 Hellcat Combat

Posted on November 19, 2012 by Scott in Bobber. 34 comments

By guest writer Ian Lee.

The Bonneville salt flats are a magical place. A sprawling wasteland that comes alive at different points during the year, with the sound of silence overcome by hard revving engines, and the ghosts of legends who have been there before. The whole nature of the place pushes bike (and car and truck) builders to the the edge of their engineering limits, and it takes some skills to come out on top. Confederate Motorcycles are one firm who have what it takes. After taking their X132 Hellcat Combat to 177.211 miles an hour on the flats, they have taken the landspeed record for the fastest big block V-twin ever. It’s an achievement that is 21 years in the making, through natural disaster and multiple learning experiences, but it sure is worth it.

Confederate motorcycles started out as an idea in 1992, the first 9 months of the company based on building a conception of what a good proper American motorcycle should be like. A move to San Francisco, by chance meeting up with America’s leading drag racing chassis engineers ended up with some good ideas and some direction for the first prototype. Using Confederate’s own principle of ‘skeletal minimalism’, the bike had to be bare bones, with a lack of flair for flairs’ sake. As much design and manufacture was done in house, with Confederate using their own engine and transmissions in their bikes. The first round of customer bikes were built, then Hurricane Katrina hit and made a mess of Confederates’ workshop, and the bike building firm were given a chance to reassess their second gen bikes. It also gave them a chance to reassess their goals, and something that came up was a run at the Bonneville Saltflats.

Using their road-going X132 Hellcat, little was required equipment wise to prepare a bike for a high speed saltflat run. Boosting the rake from 23.5 degrees up to 29 degrees pushed the wheelbase up to 66.5”, making for more stability at high speed. The 17” Pirelli Diablo Rossi shod Blackstone rolling hardware was carried over from the roadbike, as well as the frame, showing the quality of the build of the plain street (if you could call it that) Hellcat bike. Marzocchi 50mm forks up front, matched to a Custom race tech suspension setup, with both allowing for adjustability in rebound and compression, to suit high and low speed applications.

When you’re taking a bike to 177.211mph, you want a damn good braking system to pull you up at the end of your run. Confederate has raided the parts bins of the best in the friction business, to be able to stop this 490lb machine. Front end equipment includes dual Beringer 4 pot calipers biting into Aeronal floating ductile iron rotors. Back end is fully Brembo equipped, with a two piston caliper on a crossdrilled stainless steel disc.

Confederate are lucky in that they have the ability to design and build their own engines to use in their bikes, making sure nothing is left to chance in the majority of the build. Their fuel injected X132 street bike has been carried over, it’s presence dominating the Spartan frame. A one piece forged crank, working with a square 4.00” bore and stroke, produce a 2163cc capacity. Combat dual side draft intakes with 58mm throttlebodies, controlled by a ‘Combat’ performance ECU allow the bike to put out 160bhp, with 160 foot pounds of torque, exactly what you want when chasing a landspeed record.

Aesthetically, Confederate’s ‘skeletal minimalism’ principle  shows. No fairings, a simple Motogadget readout, the Combat reverse hide racing saddle being no larger than what is required to hold a butt, show that this is bike as more for go than show. Like many bikes on Pipeburn though, the end result is easy on the eye, sometimes more for beauty of engineering than anything else. The olive green 4.75 gallon fuel tank, as per pretty much everything else, is Confederate designed and manufactured. If you should happen to purchase one of the 36 customer supplied models, you get personalised tank graphics as well.

It’s a bike with a purpose, built with a philosophy of barebones engineering in mind, using the best parts available, whether they had to be outsourced or manufactured by Confederate motorcycles themselves. A world class bike, a land speed record, all coming from a workshop in New Orleans, that started up 21 years ago when the firm decided to build a motorcycle from scratch. And what a long way they have come.

I will let James Hoegh, the rider who took the X132 to the landspeed record, have the last word:

“A landspeed record is the culmination of countless hours of work, preparation, sweat and expense. There it’s very gratifying and emotional, even, when it pays off. It means our Confederate team is among the finest, the bike world class, and my skills adequate, though not complete. It validates that we belong at Bonneville, and that we are not only in the race, but at the cutting edge of performance”.

  • Like it, but Ian sure did miss alot of history there… Not capping on the bike- just the omission of important Confed history, and achievements prior to this particular bike, likely due to Confed’s own media-machine.

    • You used to work for confed didn’t you?

      • Yes, I did. Before Katrina, and the subsequent move to Birmingham, Alabama.

  • Sproggy

    OK, so 177mph is pretty quick on a naked bike, but there are naked streetbikes that’ll do that out of the crate if you remove their limiter. And fastest V-twin ever? I don’t think so. Confederate actually claim “fastest unfaired big block American V-twin ever” which is kinda different and kinda specific, isn’t it? Like “fastest Confederate ever”. Kudos to the rider for hanging on, though.

    • Now&Zen

      Yeah the claim is a bit weak and in fact the speed is a bit slow when compared to equal machinery on the Salt . But its still kind of cool and Confederate does put out a mighty fine product for the road as long as comfort isn’t a priority

      • Have you ever ridden a Confederate?

        • dougphoto

          You can’t go as fast on the salt as you can on pavement, check out the top gear where they are running on the salt they are struggling to get there cars near the rated top speed of the cars they are running. The reason people run fast on the salt is because there is A: nothing to run into and B: there is miles of ground to slow down in, there is no pavement where you can do that.

          • Correct, Sir! I have gotten tired of trying to impart that information every time a Bonneville bike is posted… Unless you *know*… You don’t know. Speed on the salt is FAR different than speed on tarmac. Last time I was there, a ‘supposed’ 212mph ‘busa was struggling with 130mph.

          • Now&Zen

            If I may add . Everything is different on the ‘ Salt ‘

        • Now&Zen

          Yes as a matter of fact I have . Looks an performance ? Top marks .Comfort and reliability ? Not so much .

          • I will concede to the reliability portion of your comment… They *are*, after all, high-performance machines, that require a bit more attention than mass-market vehicles. But- on the comfort side: Which model have you ridden? What is *your* definition of ‘comfort’? Seriously. I have done many miles on G2 Hellcats, and more than a few on the first gen Wraith. While they are not GoldWings, they are leaps above any other v-twin street cruiser, even with the old Carbon Seats.

          • There is an episode of TechToys 360 that covers one of the Confederate bikes. Check it out.

  • Стефан ‘Dobermann’ Петров

    At the beginning we read a description of a uber extreme machine specifically built for a trip to the moon… and then… 177mph… 160hp… not street legal… At that speed you can sit in a M5 estate wagon, with AC on, listening Beethoven, while transporting your washing machine from Munich to Nuremberg, arguing with your wife on the phone about why you wanna buy yet another motorcycle… That could be a speed record too, btw…

    • Damian

      Funny! Possibly irrelevant fact: the Guzzi 500cc V8 (designed and built by a very small race team) did 178mph on a public road in 1956. 1956!

    • blueline

      Mr Petrov, I think you are comparing apples with oranges. At 322kmh Jay Leno was so comfortable in a Mclaren SLR he almost put the window down for some fresh air. Even at 150mph Rollie Free’s leathers began tearing (hence the bathing suit), so that gives you an idea of the forces involved in getting bikes up to that speed.

      • Стефан ‘Dobermann’ Петров

        Yes, my comparison was not exactly correct, but calling 177mph on a 2 liter bike a “land speed record” in 2012?

        • blueline

          What the Hellcat did must be worth something, or else everyone would be doing it.

          Makes me wonder what the guy riding the Moto Guzzi in 1956 was wearing.

          • Sproggy

            Presumably better-made leathers than Free tried wearing 8 years earlier……

            And the Guzzi V8 had a fairing which must have helped him keep his clothes on 🙂

      • neoleaver

        Any idea what the motorcycle land speed record is in the un-faired categories?

  • Video makes the posts much better. Throw some lights on and that’s my daily commuter. And thanks for not wearing a speedo in that last pic.

  • Mgmue mgmu

    First thing I’ll do when I win the lotto is to get a Confederate. They have made some stunning motorcycles over the years. And I’m not even a fan of HD.

  • Swisscoyote

    American Masturbation bla bla bla…

  • Confederate bikes are the real thing designed and constructed their way. I’d love to have one – they are the Broughs of our time. The Bonneville record is icing on the cake.

  • Ugh

    Regardless of anything else about the bike, am I the only one who thinks the army green tank and the ‘Combat’ nickname is just kind of little boy childish?

    • Yeah, it should be desert tan.

      • arnold

        I agree, Some of the desert tan fades out to a nice pink. Probably just missing the nice toothy smile of superiority.

        • Cool P-40!

          • arnold

            Yup we are many things, and speaking for myself, I like what little boy childish I’ve got left. Don’t forget to start your Santa’ s stocking list. I do not believe, based on past performance, he (Santa) can tell a v-twin from a rotary, however.

  • Little Butch

    I was initially drawn to this website, begause it inspired me to work on bikes I can afford. This bike represents mediocrity at it’s over-priced worst. . En expensive wet fart that achieved mediocrity I could beat with a visit with my local Suzuku dealer, but wouldn’t be able to afford by any legal means.
    This bike is a crock.

  • Damian

    “Front end equipment includes dual Beringer 4 pot calipers biting into Aeronal floating ductile iron rotors.” Biting where exactly?

  • ugh

    my RC51 does this speed with 1000cc. (i personally did 167 and I weighed over 200lb at the time) I am sure this speed could be achieved with the right rider and sprocket combo on the RC.

    Cool bike though. Fared and Japanese yes but its a twin. and down1000cc.

  • Sean Ahner

    Man! This is awesome. The design was great. It looked very adorable. Thumbs up to the designer.

  • holmes

    This is like trying to relive the 50s. Dumb!