If you have even the slightest knowledge of hooligan racing you won't be surprised to learn that Roland Sands Designs are the first to convert the new Indian FTR1200 to hooligan race spec, and that's before the production bikes have even reached the showrooms.
I saw the FTR 1200 in the flesh for the first time at the recent Motorcycle Live in Birmingham, UK. I liked it a lot more in person than in the launch photos. When you're stood and the bike is at ground level you don't notice the wheelbase or wheel size that some people got hung up about when the bike spec was released. I had a sit on the bolted-to-the-floor bike, and the tank didn't feel as wide as I feared it might. Indian's rep told me demand is outstripping supply.
The RSD Hooligan is a different proposition entirely. Lightweight 19s front and rear. Road kit, like lights and licence plate hanger, removed. Oil cooler ditched. Low level RSD two-into-one fitted. The original battery is replaced with one from Antigravity and positioned low behind the engine. The bars are pulled back towards the rider with new risers and the foot controls are new too.
This side view of the bike gives me the impression the engine is held high in the chassis, something I didn't notice when the bike was launched. There seems to be a lot of ground clearance, which is no bad thing, but it's surprising to see so little protruding below the imaginary line between the two wheels spindles. The rear sprocket also looks high in comparison to the centre of the rear wheel. I've compared these elements to the FTR750 and they differ to the race bike. It's engine is lower. It's output shaft more inline with the wheel spindles. How does this affect handling? Not sure. Both road bike and hooligan have that 1524mm (60in) wheelbase too. But it is a road bike racing other road bikes, often on tiny tracks, so a lot of it will be down to the rider. It looks fit, though.
In other hooligan news, Roland Sands Designs also run the US National Super Hooligan National Championships (SHNC), which will continue for 2019. The popularity of this road bike-based flat track series is such that they plan to run an 'amateur' hooligan class at all their 2019 events. By definition, that means Super Hooligans is a pro class. In effect, the SHNC has become so well-funded and cut throat that there needs to be a springboard for new racers to cut their teeth before entering the main class.
We'll share the SHNC dates as soon as we get them.
Photos: joe Hitzelberger/Roland Sands Designs