It’s probably difficult to mass-produce a motorcycle with true character these days, mostly because “character” can often be construed as a lack of refinement. Yes, we have amazing performance and an approachability that gives most modern bikes their mass appeal, but an unfortunate side effect can be motorcycles that don’t speak to us.
While I still get a lot from riding “superior” modern bikes, when I want more of an experience, I usually turn to my vintage Moto Guzzi. That solid, all-metal feeling, exposure to the wind, intimacy with the engine, direct chassis feedback and the general sense that you are required to be a constant, fully engaged participant with the machine makes me happy. I feel closer, more viscerally connected to the experience of sitting on top of a contraption harnessing the power of fire to hurtle you down the road than I do on a highly polished modern machine.
With the Confederate Hellcat, you’ll get no sense of disappointment in that department. In fact, you may just get more than you bargained for. The X132 is a Motorcycle, capital M. Loud and throaty, with firm, sporty suspension, minimalistic rider “attachment points” and a rigid-mounted, 132-cubic-inch S&S X-Wedge V-Twin engine (heavily re-engineered), there’s no mistaking you’ve harnessed the power of fire. It rips, snorts, lurches and lopes, and as the pilot, you need to shut up, pay attention and hold on. Eventually, you may bend it to your will, but when you do, you get the sense that you’ve actually just accommodated its needs, not the other way around.
The $50,499 machine’s uncompromising raw and utilitarian design focuses squarely on amplifying the elemental functions of a motorcycle. The result is a unique riding experience. There’s no throttle by wire or electronic rider aids to save you from yourself, but this third-generation Hellcat does now feature fuel injection. The throttle response isn’t twitchy, but the claimed 150 foot-pounds of torque means the bike explodes forward at your will, so control is required.
In fact, when this beast is spinning below 2000 rpm, it will settle into a leaping gait that throws the bike forward in rhythm with the engine’s lope. In any gear or at any rpm, the throttle is essentially a speed dial. Rolling on gently produces a satisfying (and loud) exhaust note accompanied by a pull that feels like an irresistible force. I found myself chopping the throttle just so I could repeat this grin-inducing process.
It may not measure up against the latest sportbikes in terms of stats, versatility or refinement, but you won’t swing down that kickstand at the end of a ride and walk away without feeling like you just rode a Motorcycle. In fact, let’s call this one a MOTORCYCLE.