Fancy an Indian?

Oldest bike firm set to become more appealing for Brits

Fancy an Indian?

IF YOU'RE like me, you’ve maybe missed a bit of a trick with the Indian bike brand over the past few years. V-twins, made in America, kinda a bit like Harley-Davidson, and maybe not for me, has no doubt been the thinking for plenty of Brit riders. Even though the Indian Scout has done well in various road tests, and is clearly much sharper than many a lazy old cruiser.

But it seems like that could all be set to change, with Indian changing tack a bit in the EU, to build bikes a bit more in tune with the sort of stuff we like here. That’s a move that Harley’s never bothered to make really – and the recent death of the V-Rod power-cruiser underlines that a bit. Why do we say this? Well, three reasons really. One was the unveiling at the Milan show last autumn of the Indian Scout FTR1200 ‘concept’ street machine – a lightly legalised version of the firm’s flat track racebike that had swept all before it in the American Flat Track race series. The 1133cc Scout motor was bolted into a sweet steel tube frame with sensible bars and footpeg positioning, and the overall effect isn’t a million miles from something like Ducati’s Scrambler range, or a Yamaha XSR900.

Indian FTR 1200 3.jpg

The second reason? Well, the firm just this month announced that it had hired Ola Stenegard, BMW’s head of design, and the Swedish bloke behind the recent RnineT range of retro roadsters that have been selling out of Munich like sausage-flavoured hotcakes. Now, it’s possible that Indian has signed up this Stenegard fella to bring an IKEA tip to its bagger range. Maybe they like his meatballs recipe. Perhaps he’s got a pimp sauna in Gothenburg and they want to check it out.

Or, just maybe, they’ve got a plan for him to bring some of that retro-chic Euro design buzz to the firm’s very American range of bikes. There’s nothing inherent about a V-twin which says it has to be in a dull 55mph-friendly US cruiser of course. And, since the Scout engine is a pretty teched-up unit (it was build in consultation with Swissauto, who used to make 500cc two-stroke engines for sidecar and 500GP racing), we could definitely see it in a tasty modern retro machine, that’s more suited to winding UK backroads, nadgery urban city routes and Alpine passes.

Indian FTR 1200 2.jpg

The third reason? Well, you have to trust us here, but we’ve heard from some very good factory sources that the FTR1200 and Stenegard’s arrival do both point in the direction we’ve outlined above. Indian’s not content to stick to the Harley route of prioritising massive US sales figures over everything else. Instead, with the backing of its huge parent firm Polaris, it’s looking to carve out a new spot for itself in the burgeoning modern retro sector. A 110bhp 190 kilo classic-styled roadster, with the heritage of one of the oldest names in bikes (Indian started making bikes in 1901) would be A Good Thing we bet. And it may well be one of the more interesting new bikes at the Milan show this year round.

Indian FTR 1200 1.jpg

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