Confederate P51 Fighter Combat Review

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Confederate P51 Fighter Combat Review: Introduction

Confederate P51 Fighter Combat
The Confederate P51 Fighter Combat. Basem Wasef

Imagine the wildest motorcycle possible, then take it up ten notches. If you’re a dreamer, those are the sorts of hyperbolic concepts that get your imagination going, the kind of stuff that keeps you up at night.

Confederate Motorcycles designer and founder Matt Chambers is that type of guy, an original thinker who disengages from every convention you’d expect from mainstream motorcycle manufacturers in the interest of creating something entirely fresh and new.

Confederate’s latest creation is the P51 Fighter Combat, a limited edition bike that combines the Birmingham, Alabama company’s signature streaks of madness with a few new innovations. The price for this wild bit of kit? $125,000—that is, if you’re one of the 61 people with the resources to take the six-figure plunge.

The Goods

Unlike traditional motorcycles that use plastic bodywork to cloak their mechanical guts, the Confederate P51 Fighter Combat wears its inside out, exposed through clear peekaboo windows of polycarbonate.

The soul of the Confederate P51 Fighter Combat is a 132 cubic inch (2,163 cc) V-twin that’s been CnC machined from aerospace grade 6061-T6 billet aluminum. Sourced from custom S&S Motors and built to Confederate spec, the 56 degree air and oil-cooled powerplant uses Kaase Racing heads to produce a claimed 209 horsepower at the crank (!) and 160 lb-ft of torque at the wheels (!!). Imagine superbike numbers in a power cruiser format with an air-cooled engine, and you'll start to understand why this bike is so bonkers. That power is routed through a drag racing-spec clutch and a 5-speed transmission with overdrive and straight-cut gears. Little to nothing about the P51 is unseen; though fuel is stored within the bare aluminum frame, engine oil sloshes around a visible cylinder beneath the minimalist seat. The airbox just aft of the steering head offers a clear top through which the butterfly intake valves can be seen opening and closing with the throttle. And the primary drive gears and belts can be seen just below the bottom of the engine "V".

Up front, radial dual 2-disc, 4-piston brakes by Beringer (known for their contribution to the aircraft world) provide stopping duties, while 4-piston units decelerate the rear. Front suspension is handled by dual wishbone Girders up front (with a coilover shock and an integrated reservoir), while the rear features a discreetly hidden multilink coilover with a remote reservoir. Both front and rear suspension, supplied by RaceTech, can be adjusted with high and low speed compression and rebound damping. Rounding out the visually stunning package are carbon fiber wheels by BST, with a solid carbon disc at the rear.

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Confederate P51 Fighter Combat Review: The Ride

Confederate P51 Fighter Combat
The Confederate P51 Fighter Combat's visible workings include a peekaboo primary drive and engine oil reservoir. Basem Wasef

Judging by the looks of it, you might suspect the Confederate P51 Fighter Combat is a surly beast of a bike... and for the most part, you'd be absolutely right. There's a sense of occasion to virtually everything about the experience of riding the P51, from the startup ritual to the art of arcing around corners. Touch the saddle (made by a local Birmingham artisan) as you reach for the controls, and you'll notice it's disarmingly buttery to the touch. Turn the key and the oil pump starts working, with tiny bubbles coming up through the visible oil supply. Flip the fuel pump switch and press the starter, and the big V-twin comes to life with a guttural roar, revving and chugging with the accompaniment of the butterfly valves, which translate wrist flicking to engine revving. The sound is intense and stance is serious, especially when you climb aboard the bike and realize that the seat is surprisingly tall (I'm 5'10", and nearly stood on tippy-toes at stoplights). 

Though the hydraulic clutch is easy to engage and disengage, it takes a bit of a firm foot to move the shift lever, which engages with a firm click. The engine's torque comes on thick and strong, and acceleration feels resolute but not wildly out of control or lightning quick like a superbike. There's an air of authority as the P51 rolls down the road, and a surprising level of suspension compliance (thanks, in part, to the fact that the folks at RaceTech dialed them in with softer-than-usual settings).

Riding the P51 through Angeles National Crest required a bit of forethought; the combination of the 240mm rear tire, the relatively long 62.5 inch wheelbase, and the mildly dialed-in suspension meant that tight corners demanded a bit of care, as this is a lot of bike to be hustling around through corners at speed. There's a sense of theater to watching the Girder forks moving up and down as they soak up bumps, and similar sensations of drama as traffic watches you roll by... seriously, if you ride a Confederate through any populated areas, budget extra time for answering questions at stoplights and gas stations. The brakes are surprisingly good at providing stopping power (thanks to those aircraft grade Beringers), and once committed to being leaned over, the P51 dispatches corners predictably and effectively.

Is the Confederate P51 Fighter Combat for everyone? Hell no. But those who seek an iconoclastic and undeniably extravagant expression of two-wheeled transport, this aluminum and carbon fiber creation fills a tiny niche you never knew you needed filled.

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Confederate P51 Fighter Combat Review: Specifications

Confederate P51 Fighter Combat
The P51's Girder-style forks articulation point with the frame. Basem Wasef

  • Engine: 132 cubic inch (2,163cc) 56 degree air-cooled V-twin
  • Transmission: 5-speed manual, straight-cut gears
  • Fuel Capacity: 3.75 gallons
  • Suspension: Girder-style front, multi-link coilover rear (by RaceTech)
  • Brakes: 4-piston, quad-disc front, 4-piston single disc rear
  • Curb weight: 582 wet (estimated, not final)
  • Price: $125,000

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