Indian Indian FTR1200 (2019) review

We spent an arm-wrenching couple of weeks with the flat track-inspired Indian FTR1200 to find out if it’s a match for the naked competition

Details
Manufacturer:
Indian
Category:
Naked
Price:
£ 11899
Overall
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)
The Indian FTR1200 is like a cup of distilled motorcycling
Fast, fun and it never failed to bring a grin to my face
The five-minute pre-ride warm-up routine is a pain

WHEN Indian Motorcycle announced the Scout FTR750 for the AMA Pro Flat Track championship, the global motorcycle press began to salivate at the prospect of a road-going version of the bike hitting the streets. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait too long, as in 2019 the firm pulled the covers of the Indian FTR1200.

Indian FTR1200 first impressions after 100miles

Pre-ride impressions

Fast forward to the COVID-encrusted summer of 2020, and I’m stood outside my house giving the new machine a quick once over, before grabbing my riding kit and heading out for a blast. First impressions of the bike are good, despite this being the base model of the FTR1200 range, it looks to be well spec’d. Brembo calipers are paired with on-trend Dunlop flat track style tyres, and there is a neat looking multi-element LED headlight to show you the way. The only negatives I can find from sitting stationary outside my house is that the switchgear is typically American – a tad blocky in appearance, but it seems to have all you’d need. The other thing I notice is how slid it all feels, not from the suspension set up per se, but just the build of the bike and all the fixings give the impression this machine wasn’t built on a construction line by expensive robots. It feels more like it's been hammered out of solid ingots by burly men swinging huge mallets – or is that a Pet Shop Boys video I’m thinking of…

Anyway, I digress, lets ride!

Indian FTR1200 price and range options        

As mentioned above, the FTR1200 we are starting with is the bottom rung of FTR ownership, and for that, you’ll be paying £11,899 (although there is a huge saving to be had currently – full story here) Above the stocker is the Rally, a bike that’s similar in spec to this machine, although decked out with semi-knobbly tyres, higher bars, and some other off-road appendages. That machine comes in at £12,149. Next up is the FTR1200 S, now the range takes a big leap forward and the FTR1200 S boasts a touchscreen TFT dash, fully adjustable suspension at both ends, three riding modes, and lean-sensitive traction control and ABS. For that, you’ll be dipping £12,999 out of your savings. Topping out the range is the FTR Carbon, a bike that’s been making jaws drop since it broke onto the scene a couple of months back. That motorcycle has the same basic spec as the FTR1200 S, but it’s dripping in the sort of carbon fibre loveliness that makes my tinkle fizz.

Indian FTR1200 engine, power, and torque

At the heart of the FTR1200 is a thumping great 60°, 1203cc V-twin that boasts four valves per cylinder. With over 120bhp and 85lb-ft of torque on offer, it becomes immediately clear to me that any FTR1200 owner is never going to be left wanting more shove. The urgency of the bike under power is relentless, turning most of Warwickshire into a blur with just a few degrees of right wrist-twist. The throttle connection is good, with a small amount of American V-twin fluffiness low down in the revs.

The clutch on the test bike I rode was nice, light, and clinically direct, with a tiny amount of slip occurring early in the lever before the clutch engages totally and you get flung at the horizon once more. The gear shift too was good, with a neat throw that made clutchless shifts easy whether running up or down the gearbox.

Mated to the six-speed ‘box is an assisted slipper clutch that does its best to calm the overexcited downshifts into tight corners. Now, I’m not sure if it was the slipper clutch not being totally up to the task or the tyres becoming overawed, but you could easily get the rear end to chirp under hard downshifts. In my mind it kind of added to the flat track ethos of the bike, and once you had your head around it you could actually get the rear to step out a little under braking for ultimate pub bragging rights. I like that a lot.

Suspension, brakes, and handling

Doing it’s best to keep the overexcited engine at bay is a set of Sachs USD 43mm non-adjustable forks and a Sachs mono-shock, both with 150mm travel. The ride is firm, but fair, soaking up the worst of the bumps with aplomb and giving you a sporty yet stable base to go out and play on. Braking is tasked to a set of Brembo M4 calipers and 320mm discs up front, with a single Brembo two-piston caliper and 260mm disc at the rear. The brakes are superb, with masses of bite and a solid and reassuring lever feel. The rear brake to is well above par, with a strong bite that aids low-speed control or the obligatory rear wheel skids which please the inner teenager that lives in all of us.

With its long wheelbase (1542mm) and flat track-stylee wheels sizes (19” front and 18” rear), you’d be forgiven for assuming that the FTR was a straight line fiend or boulevard cruiser. In truth, it’s actually rather good if pointed down a twisty road. The Dunlop DT3R rubber looks every inch a flat track tyre, although they actually provide a decent amount of grip, in the wet and dry. The rear does have a penchant for stepping out under power, especially while exiting roundabouts, although to instigate this you have to push the bike beyond what is considered a natural lean angle, and get on the gas extremely hard and very early. But the movement from the rear isn’t the kind of bum-clenching exercise you’d expect, it’s all very serene, controllable, and wickedly good fun. It’s a bit like drifting in a big American station wagon that’s had a methanol munching drag car engine slotted into it for shits and giggles.

The bikes low centre of gravity, thanks to that low-slung engine and under-seat fuel tank, means that the flat track DNA of the FTR750 racer lives on in the road bike, turning every roundabout you see into your own personal flat track course. After taking the FTR1200 out for a first blast I think I managed to burn a third of a tank of fuel just razzing around roundabouts for nothing more than the thrill of it. If you’re into this kind of tomfoolery, the FTR is definitely going to be up your street. And if you’re not, don’t fear, you have to ask the bike to perform its tricks, the rest of the time it’s as easy to ride as any other big V-twin naked.

Low speed handling around town is good, aided by the direct rear brake, and other than having that typical V-twin trait of always wanting to go 10mph quicker than it’s moving at any given time, daily riding on one shouldn’t pose any nasty surprises for an owner.

Equipment

The FTR1200 gets the bare minimum of auxiliary systems, with the two-channel ABS being about the only ‘extra’ the bike needs to pass Euro muster. The large speedo has a small LCD mounted in the lower section that can cycle through trips, MPG info, RPM, and some other snippets of information you’ll probably never need to look at. In truth, I liked the lack of all the other systems and things to mess around with. It makes riding the FTR1200 a much more pleasurable experience. Modern bikes for some are getting too technology-driven, too technical, and in some cases, too self-aware. If like me some modern bikes baffle you with their complexity, the little Indian FTR1200 will be right up your street.

We like:

  • Distance comfort is incredibly good
  • Brakes are superb
  • The exhaust note, engine character, and delivery
  • Tail happy handling - on command

We don’t like:

  • Bike needs a five-minute pre-ride warm-up - I'm impatient! 
  • Allen keys required to remove the seat – 5-min job
  • Mirrors get a bit vibey at motorway speeds

Indian FTR1200 Verdict

The FTR1200 might just be the end of a special era of motorcycle manufacturing. As I mention above, bikes are becoming more technologically ‘clever’ with every model update, having an analogue machine in a digital age is quite a refreshing prospect.

Aside from the lack of tech, the FTR is a superb little bike and one that for me seems to transcend genres a bit, not quite being a full fat super-naked, but also not quite being a full-on, big-bore power-cruiser. It delivers the straight line thrill of bikes like the Ducati Diavel 1260 S, but with a flat track handling trait that I genuinely believe you don’t get anywhere else.

The Indian FTR1200 is like distilled motorcycling, and if that sounds like your high-concentrate cup of chai, get down to an Indian dealer for your shot!

For more information on the FTR1200, head to: indianmotorcycle.co.uk

Fast, fun and it never failed to bring a grin to my face
The five-minute pre-ride warm-up routine is a pain