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2012 Confederate X132 Hellcat Review

2012 Confederate Hellcat X132 Review

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

By

Confederate Hellcat X132

The Hellcat in action.

Photo © Maria Gardin
Just as their name suggests, Confederate doesn't operate like most motorcycle companies: the Birmingham, Alabama-based builder approaches manufacturing with a bleeding edge attitude toward design, creating bold, original bikes that visually redefine what most people consider two-wheeled motorized transportation.

The last Confederate I reviewed was the Black Flag, and the $80,000 power cruiser was a head-swiveling, ear-pricking bruiser of a bike. How does Confederate's new $54,450 Hellcat X132 cover new ground while coming in at a significantly lower (yet still pricey) pricepoint? Keep reading for the answers.

Underpinnings: The Proof is in the X-Vault

For all its wild looks and impractical airs, the Confederate Hellcat X132's chassis and engine are designed and constructed significantly differently from mass produced "custom style" motorcycles. Confederate's new platform is called X-Vault and was developed with S&S motors. Unlike traditional engine mounts which attach a mill to a frame via bushings, this setup involves bolting the CNC-milled engine case directly to the frame, making it a stressed member. The air-cooled v-twin X132 Copperhead engine is also one helluva piece of engineering, displacing no fewer than 132 cubic inches, or 2,163cc, and is constructed of billet 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum; visible through a clear window of machined polycarbonate are the cam's belt drives. The mechanical peepshow continues with a visible oil reservoir that reveals the dark stuff sloshing and churning around as the engine runs. Output is rated at 132 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. A 5-speed close ratio gearbox drives the 190mm rear wheel via a chain, and suspension consists of a 50mm rebound and compression-adjustable Marzocchi fork up front, and a rebound and compression-adjustable Race Tech coilover at the rear. The frame is a hand Tig welded steel unit.

Visually distinctive components abound, from Confederate's proprietary 4.75 gallon fuel tank which is deep drawn in steel to the 5.75 inch LED headlamp and the minimalist instrumentation by Motogadget. The 17-inch wheels are constructed of carbon fiber, and the brake light is a discreet row of LEDs tucked in the tail of the saddle, which rests suspended over the carbon fiber rear fender. All in all, the X132 Hellcat weighs in at 500 pounds.

On the Road: See Me, Hear Me, Feel Me

Confederate Hellcat X132

The Confederate Hellcat X132's 2,163cc v-twin engine.

Photo © Basem Wasef
There's simply no way to disappear aboard a Confederate Hellcat X132; from the moment you swing a leg over to the instant you fire up its hulking v-twin, this two-wheeled mutant swivels heads and attracts attention-- and based on the intense decibel level of the engine during my test ride in Los Angeles, I quickly grew concerned that I would also draw the unsolicited interest of law enforcement types. Sure, it's possible to reduce the auditory footprint by going easy on the throttle and upshifting early, but with Darth Vader looks like these, there was no telling if I could avoid getting pulled over by the Po-Po.

This bad boy shakes and rolls at idle, largely due to the considerable reciprocating mass moving about within those humungous cylinder walls, but once you let out the heavy clutch, kick the stubborn shifter into gear, and allow enough slip to let the engine drive the bike forward, you get a clue as to all the bottled energy lurking mere inches from the insides of your thighs. Just like the Black Flag, this is a bike that feels alive in every sense of the word, and the visceral charisma of its barking, biting, snarling powerplant can't be matched by any two-wheeled contraption boasting less than eight cylinders.

My test route took me to the wide sweepers of Angeles Crest Highway, and I wouldn't have wanted to ride the X132 on roads more technical than these. Though nimbler than the Black Flag (thanks especially to more aggressive fork geometry, among other changes), the X132 is still no Yamaha R1-- and for that matter, its tiny perch of a seat and mid-rear controls don't make it a bike you'd want to straddle on an all-day excursion. Though plenty capable acceleration wise, there's an extreme level of commitment involved with riding the X132, and it is best enjoyed with all four senses tuned into every fiber of its being with utmost focus; after all, this may not be a track-ready sportbike, but it does come alive with disarming performance thanks mostly to that torquey v-twin. Producing 150 lb-ft of twist, this mill achieves forward motion with brisk, urgent effortlessness. And thanks to the way this two-wheeled spaceship looks, it also ensures that you'll be noticed by every sentient creature within a three block radius.

Bottom Line: A Burly Bike for the Well-Heeled Set

There are any number of ways to express outright maximalism in the motorcycle world, from all manner of small block Chevy-endowed cycles to even manlier two-wheeled specimens. The Confederate? Well, the X132 Hellcat is a unique blend of big-engined brawn and industrial chic design.

By braking well below the pricepoint of its predecessor and incorporating a chassis platform which will be integrated into other bikes, the X132 could elevate Confederate to more just a niche bike within a niche market; this $50,000 specimen might very well be the starting point for motorcycles with broader appeal and an even lower starting prices. Striking, potent, and impressively engineered, the X132's biggest achievement may very well be not how it performs for the few who can afford it, but rather for how it helps transform Confederate into a bigger player in the custom bike scene.

Specifications, Who Should Buy the Confederat X132 Hellcat?

Confederate Hellcat X132

The Confederate Hellcat X132, rear view.

Photo © Basem Wasef

Specifications

  • Engine: 132 inch (2,163cc), fuel-injected, air and oil-cooled v-twin
  • Output: 132 hp, 150 lb-ft of torque
  • Fuel Capacity:
  • Gearbox: 5-speed close ratio
  • Suspension: 50mm Marzocchi fork, Rear Race Tech Coilover; both rebound and compression adjustable
  • Wheels: Carbon fiber, 17" x 3.5" (front), 17" x 6" (rear); Pirelli Diablo Rosso 120/70 front, 190/55 rear
  • Brakes: Radially mounted 4-piston AEROTEC calipers with Beringer discs (front), Single 2-piston Brembo monobloc (rear)
  • Seat Height: 30 inches
  • Price: $49,500 (before 5/15/2012); $54,450 (after 5/15/2012)

Who Should Buy the Confederate X132 Hellcat?

Deep pocketed motorcyclists who already own every bike they've ever wanted to own, but crave a raw, minimalistic sport cruiser that looks like nothing else on the road.

Related: 2010 Confederate Black Flag Review, 2010 Confederate Black Flag Photo Gallery

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