Indian Motorcycle finally unveiled not one but two highly interesting motorcycles today, inspired by their highly successful FTR750 flat tracker: FTR1200 and FTR1200 S. Adding the “S” on the order sheet, when bikes become available in the spring, will get you, in addition to the 1203cc V-Twin-powered basic street tracker: fully adjustable front and rear suspension, a 4.3-inch Ride Command Bluetooth-equipped LCD touch screen, lean-angle sensitive stability control, ABS, traction control, wheelie mitigation control – and three ride modes.
Know the S models by their gold fork tubes, in Race Replica ($15,999), Titanium over Thunder Black or Red over Steel Gray: $14,999 US.
As for looks, I’d say cool as hell. Definitely FTR750, but with overtones of Ducati Monster, a whiff of Yamaha V-Max and just a hint of Honda Nighthawk S. But those big bespoke Dunlop tires – a 19-inch front and 18 rear – give the new FTRs a style all their own really, and if you’re offended by the mufflers, blame the gub’mint. There are already a couple of swell Akrapovic slip-on alternatives.
Take up the styling with Indian Senior Designer Rich Christoph, who’s quoted in the press kit saying: “This is an extremely exciting platform for us, and after investing such a significant amount of time, expertise and energy in the design process, it’s an incredible feeling to finally show the world these motorcycles. Our primary focus was to ensure these motorcycles carried the same lines and form language as the FTR750 and 1200 Custom. We knew that’s what riders around the world fell in love with. I couldn’t be more proud to turn the FTR750 into a flat tracker for the street and help launch Indian into a new era.”
Or basic Thunder Black, $12,999 US.
It appears that we’ve bored the original 60-degree Scout Twin from 1133 to 1203cc via pistons 6mm wider (now 102mm), while the stroke remains the same 73.6mm. In the process, compression’s gone from a cruiserly 10.7:1 to 12.5:1, which boosts our horsepower to 120 at 8250 rpm, says Indian, and 85 lbs-ft. at 6000 rpm. Last time we dynoed a Scout, in 2016, it made 84.8 hp at 7200 rpm, and 65.1 lb-ft at 3300 rpm at the rear contact patch. Well, they’re not calling it Scout anymore, but this Scout should scoot like none before.
That engine’s bolted into a new steel trellis frame, with the 3.4-gallon fuel tank strategically located under the seat for a lower cg and centralized weight distribution. That leaves room for a big airbox positioned directly above the engine for maximum power within Uncle’s noise regulations, and leaves the rider in a sporty, upright riding position, backin’ er in to every Starbucks via the ProTaper flat-tracker aluminum handlebar.
If you can’t say something nice about the mufflers, know there are two Akrapovic alternatives already in the catalog. The new bored-out liquid-cooled 1203cc V-twin is supposed to produce 120 horsepower and 85 ft-lbs of torque, with a flat torque curve and loads of low-end punch, says Indian: 12.5:1 compression ratio, high flow cylinder heads, dual throttle bodies and a low-inertia crankshaft should see to that. Wide use of magnesium aids lightness.
FTR1200 S adds this 4.3-inch customizable Ride Command LCD touch screen with Bluetooth, upon which you can futz with your lean-angle sensitive stability control, ABS, traction control, wheelie mitigation control – and pick your ride mode: Sport, Standard, or Rain.
Some might prefer the more traditional gauge on the base model. I might be one of them.
Fully adjustable suspenders control both the S model’s wheels.
Full LED lighting, including this very distinctive headlight with Indian script running light, a fast-charge USB port and cruise control mean we are living in modern times.
A 43mm inverted cartridge fork, with gold tubes on the S, produces 5.9 inches of wheel travel and offers spring preload, compression and rebound adjustability.
Rear suspension design is similar to the racebike, with tubular steel construction and a side-mounted monoshock also with 5.9 inches travel. The swingarm pivot passes through the engine’s crankcase to keep the wheelbase more compact, and a hollow rear axle helps reduce weight. The FTR1200 monoshock has preload and rebound adjustments, while the S-bike monoshock is fully adjustable for preload, compression and rebound, and has a cool aluminum piggyback reservoir.
Dunlop and Indian collaborated to create an all-new flat track-inspired street tire exclusive to the FTR. Modeled after the ubiquitous Dunlop DT3 race tire, the DT3-R street version uses closer tread blocks, a shallower tread depth, and additional silica to increase grip on asphalt and improve wear. Both FTRs run 19-inch front and 18-inch rear lightweight cast aluminum wheels – the front 3 inches wide and the rear 4.5.
Dual 320mm discs mount directly to the wheel to decrease weight, where they’re clamped by Brembo Monobloc M4.32 4-piston front calipers. A single, 260mm semi-floating disc with a Brembo P34 2-piston caliper lives out back. ABS is standard on both models.
Both models use a power-assist slipper clutch inspired by the race clutch used on the FTR750 race bike. That design reduces rear-wheel slip on decel and provides light clutch-lever pull. A 6-speed sliding mesh transmission is claimed to provide easy, crisp gear changes. Primary drive is via gear, of course, and the drive chain is a 525 unit.
These things will hit the ground running in the first half of 2019, says Indian: “These bikes have gone through a rigorous, multi-year design and testing process to ensure that they perform as good as they look,” says Ben Lindaman, Indian Motorcycle Senior International Product Manager. “The process was incredibly robust, including over one million miles logged through simulated rides. We also accumulated tens of thousands of test miles on the street with input from racers, including our championship winning Wrecking Crew flat track team and former Grand Prix racers.”
Indian CEO Steve Menneto says he’s excited, too: “Our vision from the beginning was to be more than a traditional American V-twin brand. We continually seek to broaden Indian Motorcycle’s reach to a wider range of riders, and FTR1200 represents a significant step forward in that strategy. Indian Motorcycle was founded on performance and innovation, and we remain grounded by our founder’s mindset of constantly pushing forward. In light of that history, the FTR1200 is a natural extension for the brand that we couldn’t be more excited about.”
Flat track-style ProTaper aluminum handlebars put your thumbs in control the FTR1200 S’s Ride Command system, which is also a touch screen. Both base and S get cruise control. Yay.
I think I’m excited too, but I won’t know for certain until I clap actual eyeballs on the FTR in about seven hours from now, which is just about the time this story will be posted. All these words and pics were lifted directly from a nice press kit provided by Indian in advance. I’d requested to have the unveiling inside Koln Cathedral, just across the Rhine from the convention center, but we haven’t heard back from the Pope yet. So probably it will be in a nondescript meeting room, but I’ll shoot more photos when I can.
Race Replica vs Race for Real.
Anyway, we’re busy making comparisons to the last time anybody tried to sell a flat-tracker style bike to the American public, which I think would’ve been Harley’s XR1200 Sportster of just about one decade ago. For us journalist dweebs, it remains about the coolest Sportster ever, but buyers lined up to ignore the XR.
For the new FTR Indian, I suspect things will be different. If anybody cares about a racing pedigree, Indian’s proved itself over these last couple flat-track seasons. It meets the requirements of those who’d like to buy American but not H-D. There’s a nice tailwind right now from the buying public’s interest in naked bikes and scramblers, of which the FTR is a unique combination – and a certain segment of the public is drawn to anything with fat flat-track tires on it. On the other hand, 489 pounds dry, call it 510 with a full tank, isn’t exactly light and $13 to $16K isn’t, well, actually that’s the going rate for a premium ‘sicle with cruise control.
So, I guess we wait around to hear if the fat lady sings? Not to body-shame anybody. And to get an FTR or two into our hands to ride. In the meantime, Good luck Indian!