Confederate Motorcycles has managed to create a product which, while it harkens back to the days when soldiers returning from the war and looking for thrills stripped down their bikes in search of speed and simplicity, is as modern and efficient as your iPod.
Ed Jacobs, the head of design at Confederate who once designed furniture at an architecture firm and spent a year seeking enlightenment in India, that’s who.
Jacobs was the philosopher and creative vision behind Confederate’s X132 Hellcat – a wild broadside aimed directly at the custom motorcycle building fraternity.
“We don’t cover anything. That structure is real, it’s not wallpaper,” Jacobs told Co.Design.
“I have a universal design philosophy that I’ve believed in for years: to listen to what the product wants to be,” Jacobs said. “Don’t force your aesthetic on it. Allow the intent of the structure to be the aesthetic. Usually the frame of a motorcycle is a just a cradle for the engine. With the Hellcat, we bolted the frame to the front and rear of the engine and the whole thing is a working structure.”
Jacobs went to work at Confederate six months before Hurricane Katrina wiped the company’s New Orleans shop and headquarters off the face of the earth. Once the company relocated to Alabama, Jacobs was on the road following Confederate and his dream.
“You really see the truth of what’s going on, not a candy coating.”
You might expect a guy who designs expensive custom motorcycles to be influenced by the deans of the industry, but that’s not what you get from Jacobs. What you get is a reference to the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu.
“Inspiration is a matter of lifestyle,” Jacobs said. “It’s about trying not to be a hypocrite. If you walk the walk, that’ll translate into your work.”
Tuning the Confederate X132 Hellcat
Bad things can happen to you and your bike, and your insurance needs can get complicated.