Back Street Heroes
– YES, WE KNOW IT’S A STOCKER, BUT WHAT A BEAST!
Carved entirely from a solid billet of military-grade aluminium, it has a look like no other production machine – it’s a vee-twin streetfighter that not only has the obligatory ‘big shoulders’ that the best ’fighters always had/have, but’s also angry enough to, to coin the old phrase, rip yer ‘ead off an’ shit down yer neck.
First produced towards the end of 2015, based on lessons learnt from the production of their first two models, the conventionally-forked Hellcat, and the over-sized girdered Wraith, the Combat, as it’s affectionately known, was a (very) limited production run beastie (numbers vary, depending who you talk to, between 61 and 65), most of which, it’s feared, have gone to museums and private collections and so, probably, won’t often feel the blacktop under their wheels. Most, but not all…
The one you see here belongs to Len Rinaldi, an ex-pat American who lives and works in London. If his name sounds slightly familiar, it’s ’cos we featured his absolutely glorious genuine Exile Cycles Pure Sex Dragster back in issue 404, and he now also has this, probably the only one in the UK, Combat too. Don’t get the idea that it, or the Exile, are molly-coddled, vacuum-packed investment bikes though – he rode the Exile to Cumbria and back the other year, and pops down to the Ace every so often on it, too.
As at the time this issue was going together he was off on ’is ’olibobs, so I can’t tell you of the circumstances in which he was to become the owner of one of the most exclusive production bikes in the world, but I can at least tell you about the bike. Made in Confederate’s Baton Rouge premises in Louisiana in the deep south of the US of A (as you maybe have guessed from the name), it’s powered by a 2,163cc, 56.25-degree V-twin that’s both an air-and oilcooled lump, and runs in a square layout with a 111.76mm bore and stroke, and uses three cams and four pushrods to time the two-valve heads. Induction control’s by way of a pair of 51mm S&S throttle bodies, with Delphi engine management, and it all rests atop a billet crankcase with a forged, one-piece crankshaft. It’s definitely no asthmatic cruiser – at 5,100rpm, it cranks out a very respectable
145 ponies, and its 170 foot-pounds of torque comes in at an astonishingly low 2,000rpm (just above tick-over!), and that means that this thing’s a bloody animal. To give you a comparison, the new BMW R18, an absolute torque monster, puts out just (just!) 116ft-lb, and that thing accelerates like a cat with a Roman Candle up its rectum, so what 170 at 2,000rpm feels like I can only imagine!
A multi-plate dry clutch puts down the power through a five-speed gearbox – it’s in a ‘stacked’ configuration that reduces the length of the gearbox, and uses Andrews gears (a highly respected name when it comes to quality drivetrain components). Exhausts snake around the left side of the motor, and exit (loudly!) behind the left rear-set.
This all means that one of the first Combats hit 164.93mph on the salt at
A large part of that look comes courtesy of the monocoque frame assembly that forms akindof exoskeleton that the bike hangs from. Each Combat starts life as a 1,500 pound (680 kilo) chunk of aircraft-grade aluminium, and the factory mills and machines away everything that isn’t part of the design. A practical way to build a motorcycle? Not really, but nothing says quality like billet aluminium, does it? The seven-inch backbone also contains the 3.75 gallon fuel tank, and gives a look that brings to mind the old ‘strap tanks’ of yesteryear, and the girder-looking front end? Yep, it’s a doublewishbone parallelogram fork with a Race Tech shock (high/low speed compression, rebound-damping), and another Race Tech monoshock controls the alloy swingarm. Confederate-badged Beringer brakes (230mm front discs with four-pot radial calipers, a single 240mm rear disc with a twin-pot) sit on carbon fibre wheels, and the fuel and oil’re immediately visible through the windows in the frame, and you can watch the crank doing its thing through its window too.
In all it is, as I said, a motorcycle that instantly deserves the term ‘bad attitude’, and rides as it looks too. It is, I think, one of the great motorcycle designs of the modern era, especially that front end, and the windowed frame, and I’m insanely jealous of Len for having it in his garage to see every time he opens the door…