In early August of 2016, a little known motorcycle manufacturer by the name of Confederate Motors took a one-off race spec machine to the Bonneville Salt Flats with their eyes on a land speed record run for the company.
They brought a P-51 Combat Fighter motorcycle with them, albeit a highly modified version intended for high speed tests on the infamous wet salts of Tooele county.
The high speed tests were a raging success (they hit 164.95 mph). So successful, in fact, that the team at Confederate Motors decided a production model of the high-performance P-51 should follow. Three years later, the FA-13 Combat Bomber entered production sporting some seriously heavy artillery.
What Is The FA-13 Combat Bomber?
The FA-13 Combat Bomber is a high-performance motorcycle built in Birmingham Alabama by the folks at Combat Motors.
There’s some history to explain there (they went by the name “Confederate Motors” then), but we’ll get into that later.
Combat Motors makes incredibly expensive limited production motorcycles that look like nothing else on the planet. The FA-13 is no exception with its $125,000 starting price.
What do you get for your money?
Well, like all current Combat motorcycles, the FA-13 sports a monocoque frame built entirely from machined aluminum.
Aside from dramatically increasing the production cost of each machine (each frame reportedly takes upwards of 1,000 hours to carve), Combat Motors claims these massive frames create the most “Robust, fatigue-resistant motorcycle possible.”
Of course the frame isn’t unique to the Bomber, so what sets the FA-13 apart from its P-51 stablemate?
For an extra $25,000, you get a larger displacement air-cooled V-twin engine, “race-spec” suspension components, black-anodized everything, a pretty bitchin’ bright-red exhaust exit, an optimized air-intake, and a horse-hide leather saddle.
You also get some serious exclusivity.
Only 13 of these motorcycles are planned for production. The 13th and final bike is currently available to reserve on their website here.
FA-13 Combat Bomber Performance
While the FA-13 shares most of its parts with the P-51, a few notable upgrades set the two bikes apart.
As mentioned above, performance upgrades include a larger engine, an upgraded exhaust, a redesigned air intake, and upgraded suspension components.
Power comes from a 132 cubic inch 56-degree “X-Wedge” V-twin engine manufactured by S&S. The standard P-51 model gets a “measly” 117 inch version.
At around 120 bhp and 145ft-lb of torque, the FA-13 is the most powerful bike Combat Motors has ever produced,
A unique double wishbone/monoshock setup handles suspension duty in the front while a cantilever single shock sits in the rear. Both units are fully adjustable.
You’d think Combat would list some specifics on those components considering the $125,000 starting price of the FA-13 Combat Bomber. We’re left to speculate based on previous models that RaceTech provides the shiny red suspenders on this particular hell-raiser.
Racing components from French manufacturer Beringer handle braking duties front and rear. The hydraulic setup features four separate disks and calipers delivering absurd stopping power at the front wheel.
Obviously we haven’t had a chance to ride an FA-13, and don’t see any opportunities coming in the near future. I’ll make an educated guess here and say the FA-13 is “fast” and “loud” and “an absolute hoot” to ride.
The History Of Combat Motors a.k.a. Confederate Motors a.k.a. Curtiss Motorcycles
Combat Motors was founded in 1991 under the moniker “Confederate Motors.”
After a few years of development, Confederate started cranking out prototypes from their Baton Rouge, Louisiana garage in 1994.
The company always focused on building hand-made, design-heavy “American motorcycles” which featured large displacement V-Twin engines and bespoke frame designs.
They made some waves with their original production model, the Confederate Hellcat, which ran between 1996 and 2001. The original Hellcat was unique, but it was a far cry from the far-out designs the company produces today.
You could almost mistake the first generation of Hellcat for a custom Harley Davidson if you didn’t know any better. In fact that may be why the company went bankrupt in 2001.
Confederate didn’t stay down for long though, and by 2003 had secured funding to produce an updated Hellcat model.
The Hellcat went through several design variations in the following years, each with its own unique flairs.
The F124 version, for instance, featured an exhaust header that routed directly into the swingarm, which doubled as the exhaust exit itself.
An XR132 Hellcat, on the other hand, got drag-bike styling, a clear viewing window for the cam pulley system, and a swingarm that looked like a pair of double-barreled shotguns.
Confederate followed the Hellcat with one of the most unique motorcycles ever built, the Confederate Wraith. The Wraith sported a circular chassis and girder fork both built entirely from carbon fiber. Its wild design immediately garnered media attention.
If you’ve never seen a first edition Confederate Wraith, check out the 2 minute video below. Cool doesn’t even begin to describe it. Cycle World magazine might have best described riding one in their October 2009 issue:
“Yes, riding this barely muffled oddity is a bit like putting a handle on dynamite, but you learn to enjoy it.”
Around 2017 Confederate Motors announced plans to close its doors for good in order to focus on the production of all-electric motorcycles under the new “Curtiss Motorcycles” brand name.
The announcement followed increased political pressure around the “Confederate” moniker and its association with the American Civil War.
Luckily for the motorcycling public, the folks at Confederate ultimately decided they just couldn’t part ways with internal-combustion machines. In 2020 Confederate announced production would continue under the name “Combat Motors” rather than walking away from their storied history.
Curtiss Motorcycles hung around as well. They currently produce an all-electric motorcycle reminiscent of early 1900’s production bikes called “The One.”
Combat Motors lives on producing two main models: An updated version of the Wraith and the P-51 Combat Fighter. An F-117 Combat Fighter is also available and serves as an “entry level” version, starting at just $85,000.
Verdict On The FA-13 Combat Bomber
Is it unique? Absolutely.
Combat Motors produced only 13 of these blacked-out, up-spec bikes. Chances were already close to zero that you’d ever pull up alongside another Confederate/Combat production model. Seeing another FA-13 Combat Bomber on the road? Forget it.
Does it look ridiculously cool? 100%.
There’s just no possibility of mistaking any Combat Motors machine for anything else on the planet. Their design utterly defies convention. From the billet aluminum frame covered in “speed holes” with its straight-from-the-void matte black finish to the big cylindrical fish tank under the seat showing off your remaining fuel level.
The FA-13 Combat Bomber looks like it came straight off the drawing board with zero compromises. The strange amalgamation of unique parts and design flairs transforms from a cluttered exercise in industrial engineering to something approaching an actual piece of art the longer you stare at it.
Does it cost $125,000 dollars? Unfortunately, yes.
But is it worth $125,000?
Naturally, that depends on who you ask.
See, Confederate, er, I mean, Combat Motors knows their target audience. Combat customers pay for their FA-13 Combat Bombers in cash.
Who buys a Combat motorcycle? Here are a few of their more well-known customers:
- Keanu Reeves
- Tom Cruise
- Anthony Kiedis
- Nicholas Cage
- Brad Pitt
- David Beckham
…to name a few.
Which is to say that if money is no object and you want performance and style at any cost, you may want to consider an FA-13.
However, if you’re keen on owning a piece of American motorcycle history and don’t have to have the latest and greatest, some of the original Confederate Hellcats are going for $20,000 or less online now so… Stick to your guns and you may find yourself an affordable FA-13 Combat Bomber in a few decades.