Words: Gary Inman
Photos: Jonathan Falkman
Blixt und Dunder – Swedish for thunder and lightning – is a bike parts and clothing store set up by DTRA and Euro hooligan Jonathan Manfalken and his friend, Mattias Malmgren in the city of Malmö, Sweden.
Jonathan is a former motocross rider who caught the flat track bug as the sport sunk its claws into Europe. He raced his own Sportster and 450 DTX bike, before being given the opportunity by Indian and Krazy Horse to compete on a modified Scout in the DTRA’s UK and Euro Hooligan championships. He’s an all-action rider, who loves the cushion. I always enjoy racing him, though he has crashed heavily a few times and would always ride in a T-shirt if the authorities would let him, which makes my skin crawl. Jonathan and his girlfriend, Clara, once drove from Sweden to Spain to race Wheels and Waves' El Rollo event on a pop-up short track, only to be wiped out by a fellow racer. That’s a 2600-mile (4000km) round trip on really expensive toll roads for a purely amateur race, by the way.
Then this Indian FTR 1200 project fell in his lap. ‘What better feeling than to cut into a brand-new bike and start modifying it for flat track racing?’ he asks. And cut he did.
‘It started out as an Indian FTR 1200, the base version of the FTR line-up. The first cut was into the swingarm to make it shorter and turn better on dirt. It’s now around 7cm (2.75in) shorter than stock. I got some good help from my friend Markus Warngård with the welding.’
Shortening the swingarm has knock-on effects, as S&S Cycle found out when they developed their Hooligan kit for the new Indian: the wheel can hit the underseat fuel tank. Jonathan planned a new subframe anyway, so, with the help of Kajjan
Andersson, he made a small gas tank that holds the stock fuel pump.
‘The rear subframe was welded with the base of the Saddlemen tracker seat in mind. Since the fuel tank is located under the seat, and the air filter is converted to accept motocross-style foam filters, the tank-covers could be narrowed. The battery was placed under the covers, and, together with the removal of the oil cooler, it cleans up the front of the engine.’
Jonathan wasn't finished. ‘There is something about conventional forks that just look right on a tracker, so the upside-down front end was swapped for Yamaha R6 forks.’ The bottom clamp is stock R6, the top is an aftermarket one with bar clamps, but Jonathan can’t remember the make. The front end is topped off with a Neken flat track handlebar.
The FTR’s original alloy wheels, that are 19in front, 18in rear, where swapped for spoked 19s. The rear is built around a Sportster hub with a 520 PBI rear sprocket and a custom-made caliper bracket. The front sprocket is a 520 conversion. 'The rear wheel took some thinking about, getting a spoked wheel to work with the swingarm and brake,' says Jonathan.
The stock cat’ and muffler was swapped out for a Bassani slip-on and a Dynojet hooked up to a Power Vision module was hooked up. ‘I got some help from Dynojet
to get a tune fitting the bike and raised RPM levels, but I’m still working on the throttle response to take away any delay and get it to act more like a race bike than a street bike. Compared to the Sportster it has so much more power. When I raced the Sportster it was more about keeping the speed and using the torque, the FTR is more about getting the traction down. It’s scary fast as well, which is good.’
The wiring was cut down to a minimum, no ABS, no safety switches other than the lanyard killswitch, which UK and European race organisers demand. ‘The wiring was the most time consuming and challenging part of the build. Making sure it would run with the minimum wiring,’ says Jonathan.
He painted the frame a purple holographic flake and Clara Landtmanson designed the graphics that were made into vinyl wraps.
‘Because of the shorter swingarm the shock was too long,’ Jonathan explains, ‘Hyperpro Suspension delivered a custom-made shock to suit both the new swingarm and the weight of the bike, which is175kg.’
Wait, 175kg? Indian claim the stock FTR 1200 weighs 225kg. So you’re saying you’ve cut 50kg (110lb)? ‘Correct, 175kg. I was quite surprised when it got on the scale, but when all the parts we removed or changed are added up it makes sense.’
Jonathan thanks Indian, Blixt&Dunder, Parts Europe, Neken and Icon.