Motorcycles are machines. They offer transportation and supply functionality to their commander. But they are also independent creations. Marvels of their engineers and owners. They are the output of hours of consideration, crafting and creation, of welding, oiling and inking.
So when I first saw a picture of a Confederate motorcycle, I was stuck by the railyard ruthlessness and industrial inspired construction of these machines. They appear conceived not from a director’s chair in Hollywood, but from a revolutionary living in a left-for-dead town as he struggles to put pieces and polish on scrap metal and left to his warehouse and his genius creates an unapologetic beast that breathes fire and design and looks like no one else. And I want one.
The current year’s production include the Wraith, the Fighter and the Hellcat. My personal favorite is the Wraith, although I’ll have to wait a few years before I can cash my entire 401k to cover the $92,000 list price. What strikes me about Confederate, besides their mission statement to “deemphasize volume” which feels sorta throwback American in its effort to sell fewer, higher priced items than the consumerism jungle created by Sam Walton is their ability to actually maintain a business.
I’m all for expensive toys. And I’ve already admitted that I’d love to ride one of these untamed wildebeests. But what this tells me is that while functionality is important, I’m sure the 1967cc engine fires on the first go, that the chain powers the rear wheel and that the bike certainly lunges forward, design, from concept to visual, thought to appeal carry a very real sense of value. So while not everyone may be in agreement over the Wraith’s design, there is a truth to how design affects our decisions, attitudes and perceived worth. Car manufacturers continue to roll out almost identical designs with Siamese-like trim and engine options, but motorcycles have found a way to transcend this monotony with unique approaches to the same problems.
Nesbitt, of Confederate comments,
But I’ve come to realize what I was yearning for was to study vehicle design, which they didn’t have in the curriculum and I didn’t know to ask. But I’m so fortunate I didn’t find out it existed because if I’d run through the mill like everyone else I’d wind up doing stuff like everyone else’s, too. My design approach is much more art-form-based, more inspirational.”
- JT Nesbitt
Confederate Motorcycles is a fresh reminder of the new America, the idea that copying only creates more of the same, that craftsmenship is a dedication to building a better planet and that innovation as a concept is for everyone even if the final product is only in the hands of a few.