The P51 Combat Fighter is the latest creation from Confederate Motorcycles, and as usual it’s as much a work of art as it is a mode of transportation. Far from all show and no go, the designers at the Birmingham, Alabama factory built this striking ride around a massive 2,163 cc (132 cubic-inch) engine that boasts 18 more cubic inches than the next biggest production American mill; the 1,868 cc (114 cubic-inch) Milwaukee-Eight from Harley-Davidson.

As I spoke to Matt Chambers, the man who founded Confederate Motorcycles back in 1991, and designer Jordan Cornille, the enthusiasm was palpable as they discussed this current model that strongly reflects the core principles upon which the company is based; minimalism, primitivism and avant-gardism. Join me while I check out what this Southern-fried manufacturer has going on over there with its latest tribute piece that blends a rebellious attitude with homage for our country’s founders.

Continue reading for my review of the Confederate Motorcycles P51 Combat Fighter.

Design

2016 Confederate Motorcycles P51 Combat Fighter
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So here it is folks, a bike that most either really like, or really dislike, at first glance. Personally, I fall into the former category, and find a lot to like about the overall panache. The way the upper lines fall across the tank area to tumble past the afterthought-class solo seat and down to the point of the triangular swingarm lends the bike a strong retro flavor reinforced by the stylized, girder-looking front end.

This old-school base is transformed by the modern V-twin engine and round sight glasses. The overall effect is very Steampunk with a dose of post-modern Americana to mine eyes. Although interesting to look at, the bike comes with minimal appointments and actually falls into the naked-superbike category, or maybe power roadster if you prefer, and is very much a function-driven form in spite of the radical design.

Chassis

2016 Confederate Motorcycles P51 Combat Fighter
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A large part of the look comes courtesy of the monocoque frame assembly that forms a sort of exoskeleton while replacing areas normally made from sheet metal and tubing with billet aluminum. That’s right folks, each one of these rides starts out as a 1,500-pound chunk of aircraft-grade aluminum, and the factory mills and machines away everything that isn’t a P51 motorcycle. Is it the most practical way to go about it? Probably not, but there is simply no substitute for quality, and nothing says strength and quality quite like billet.

There is simply no substitute for quality, and nothing says strength and quality quite like billet.

A seven-inch backbone stiffens the assembly and serves to contain the 3.75- U.S. gallon fuel tank for a look that brings to mind the old “strap tanks” of yesteryear. The girder-looking front end? Yeah, it’s actually a double-wishbone, parallelogram fork tamed by the tucked-away Race Tech shock with high/low speed compression- and rebound-damping adjustments. In back, another Race Tech monoshock springs the aluminum swingarm with two-speed compression and rebound damping. Suspension travel at the axle is quite sufficient at 4.35 and 5.5 inches of travel at the front and rear, respectively.

Confederate tapped Beringer for brake components to tame the P51. Up front, we have a pair of 230 mm discs with four-pot, radial-mount calipers, and in back we see a single, 240 mm disc with a dual-pot caliper. Wheel weight is kept low through the use of carbon rather than any sort of metal alloy, and these rims come wrapped in Pirelli yummy-goodness with a 120/70 ZR19 Night Dragon hoop up front, and a fat, 240/45 ZR17 Diablo Rosso in back.

Drivetrain

2016 Confederate Motorcycles P51 Combat Fighter
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Now for the best part: the monster living under the bed. At 2,163 cc, the 56.25-degree V-twin mill is the biggest kid on the playground as it were, at least that I know of in the U.S. The air-and oil-cooled lump runs in a balls-on square layout with a 111.76 mm bore and stroke, and uses three cams and four pushrods to time the two-valve heads.

At 2,163 cc, the 56.25-degree V-twin mill is the biggest kid on the playground...

Induction control falls to a pair of 51 mm S&S throttle bodies with Delphi engine management, and it all rests atop a billet crankcase with a forged, one-piece crankshaft. The power figures are really remarkable for an American V-twin; at 5,100 rpm, it cranks out a respectable 145 ponies, but the 170 pound-feet of torque comes on at an astonishingly low 2,000 rpm. To put it in perspective for you, that’s just above idle speed, so this plant has some real testicular fortitude to be sure. That’s plenty of grunt, well measurable on the heinie-dyno, I have no doubt.

A multi-plate dry clutch couples the five-speed transmission to engine power, and a chain final drive makes the final connection to the rear wheel. The transmission itself runs in a “stacked” configuration that reduces the length of the gearbox, and the factory uses Andrews gears — a name associated with quality drivetrain components — to crunch the ratios.

At the top end, this engine and tranny will get the ride up over 165 mph, way faster than most of us need to go and definitely enough to add stupidfast to the categories this bike qualifies for. Not sayin’ it’s a bad thing, just sayin’ it is.

Price

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I apologize if you folks are really digging this ride, because if so, you have done laid on the motorcycle equivalent of the five-thousand-dollar mattress. Yes, it’s a sexy beast, but it’s also rather exclusive. Not only because of the looks, which are certainly in a league of their own, or the fact that the 61 units scheduled to be produced are handmade by two highly skilled craftsmen, but mainly because of the price tag. Buyers are looking at $125,000 for raw aluminum and a $135,000 sticker for black, which puts it into a bracket far above the means of many of us and propels this family into the realm of legends and rock star/movie star/comedian’s garages.

Don’t bother looking for your local dealer. Business is conducted on the phone or online directly with the factory, and if you have the means and desire to own one of these works of practical art, you had better hurry up and have your people call Confederate’s people. (Let’s face it, if you have that kind of money to spend on a bike, you have people.) At the time of this writing there were only 17 units left for sale, so tarry not.

Competitor

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2016 Honda RC213V-S
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How does one find a direct competitor for something so unique? So powerful? I had to quickly abandon my usual angles of attack, and decided to focus on other bikes that could also be considered as something of a status symbol, and are likely to be constrained to life as a rich boy’s play-toy.

Right off the bat I just had to give a shout out to my favorite “bike I’ll never be able to afford,” the Lotus C-01. Lotus goes with a more Euro-centric look that seems to borrow heavily from the aircraft industry, and although it isn’t quite as radical as the P51, it’s just as unlikely to blend into any crowd. At $137 K, the C-01 will probably appeal to someone eyeballing a P51.

Another ride that delivers a powerful punch to the pocketbook and boost to the ego is the Honda RC213V-S race-replica bike. Stupidfast, and way more powerful than anyone will ever be able to fully use on the street, the Honda is also something of a status symbol, though more for the fiery-eyed peg-dragger crowd. This particular ego boost will set you back a cool $184,000.

So you see, there are rides out there that may appeal to the same sort of buyer, but nothing quite like the P51 in design philosophy and execution.

He Said

“One thing is for sure, whether you love it or hate it, you have to admire the guts it takes to stake your business on such radical designs. It seems to be working well for Confederate, you can’t argue with success after all, and honestly, this is just the kind of small enterprise that created the U.S. Motorcycle market in the first place. With only 17 models left (at this time), I expect the factory will be releasing information on its next project soon, and I can’t wait to see what Confederate has in store for us next.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "I love the look; I love the exclusivity. You can really tell where my head is when I’m looking at a $100k+ bike and the first thing I want to know is the seat height — meaning will my feet reach the ground. At 28.5 inches, that’s a check in the "Yes" column. It’s just.....wow. I notice, though, that the front brake discs are quite small — much smaller than I’m used to seeing. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing; I’m just sayin’...."

Specifications

Engine: Air/oil-cooled triple-camshaft ohv pushrod dry-sump 56.25º V-twin four-stroke, with one-piece forged crankshaft, two valves per cylinder, toothed belt camshaft drive, and machined 6061 aluminium billet crankcases
Dimensions: 111.76 x 111.76 mm (4.40 x 4.40 in.)
Capacity: 2,163cc (132ci)
Output: 145 bhp at 5,100 rpm (at rear wheel)
Maximum torque: 217Nm/170ft-lb at 2,000 rpm
Compression ratio: 10.3:1
Fuel/ignition system: Closed-loop Delphi electronic fuel injection and engine management system, with single injector per cylinder, and 2 x 51mm S&S throttle body
Transmission: 5-speed Confederate stacked gearbox with Andrews gears, 45mm/1.75in belt primary drive, and hydraulically operated Bandit multiplate dry clutch
Chassis: Machined modular aluminium monocoque, with 7.0in diameter backbone containing fuel load
Suspension:
Front: Double-wishbone parallelogram fork with tubular aluminium struts and direct-action RaceTech monoshock, fully-adjustable for high and low speed compression and rebound damping, and offering 114mm/4.35in wheel travel
Rear: Fabricated aluminium swingarm with cantilever RaceTech monoshock offering two-speed compression and rebound damping, and 140mm/5.50in wheel travel
Head angle/trail: 27.5 degrees/106mm
Wheelbase: 1588mm/62.5 in.
Weight/distribution: 575lb with oil + 3.75 US gallon of fuel, with 48/52% distribution
Brakes:
Front: 2 x 230 mm Beringer floating Aeronal cast iron discs with four-piston Beringer radially-mounted Aerotec calipers
Rear: 1 x 240 mm cross-drilled Aeronal stainless steel disc with two-piston Beringer caliper
Wheels/tyres:
Front: 120/70ZR19 Pirelli Night Dragon on 3.50 in. BST carbon wheel
Rear: 240/45ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso on 8.50 in. BST carbon wheel
Seat height: 724mm/28.5 in.
Fuel capacity: 3.75 US gallons/16.25 litres
Top speed: Over 165 mph
Price: $125,000 in Blonde and $135,000 in Black

Source: Confederate Motorcycles

Image Source: Confederate Motorcycles

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