For the last quarter of a century Confederate Motorcycles has trickled out a stream of exotic, innovative, boutique bikes for the Hollywood set. But when its latest machine – the FA-13 Combat Bomber (pictured) – is sold out, the firm will close its doors. When they reopen it will be under a new guise of Curtiss, making some very different machines.
Confederate’s founder, Matt Chambers, has come to the conclusion that the brand’s V-twin-powered cruisers have reached the end of their development path. Now he’s planning to ride off in another direction with an electric-powered cruiser based around two of Zero’s motors.
The company’s name change not only represents the new direction but reflects the mood in America where the term ‘Confederate’ has become a shackle. Chambers chose the name to reflect the company’s Southern roots and rebellious attitude. It was founded in Louisiana and moved to Birmingham, Alabama when Hurricane Katrina damaged the New Orleans factory in 2005. More recently the word has been seen in a less favourable light, and Chambers believes the company has lost sales as a result.
When the company rebrands as Curtiss it will be in tribute to aviation and motorcycle pioneer Glenn Curtiss, famous for the Curtiss V8 speed record bike from 1907. A tie-in with Zero Motorcycles will give access to that company’s electric power technology.
The first new model will be the Hercules. It will be made in California rather than Alabama and could make as much as 175hp and 290lb-ft of torque thanks to its twin electric motors. IJordan Cornille, who most recently penned the FA-13 Combat Bomber, will handle the styling. The Hercules will still be a cruiser, but with electric power and the off-the-wall attitude of Confederate behind it, we’re confident it won’t look like anything we’ve seen before.