Indian FTR 1200 & FTR 1200 S Analysis

October 1, 2018

The much anticipated FTR 1200 has finally and officially broken cover and now it’s clearer to see why Indian were upset about the FTR1200 spy shot that was leaked. While the bike on the ramp is clearly the same model, the seat was partly off, and perhaps even a thicker, optional aftermarket part. The angle of the spy shot didn’t do the bike any favours, neither did the matt black exhaust and red rear shock spring. The production models, and there are two: regular FTR 1200 and FTR 1200 S, have none of that. This is what they do have.

 

ENGINE

The heart of the bike is an all new 1203cc, 4v/cylinder, DOHC, 60-degree, liquid-cooled V-twin that makes a claimed 120bhp at 8250rpm and 85ft.lb of torque.

 

That is a big horsepower figure for an American V-twin, while the torque is 9ft-lb more than Harley claim for their 1200cc Roadster. Harley don’t publish a horsepower figure, but the 1200 Roadster will be below 70bhp, pointing to the Indian being a revvier engine with a high 12.5:1 compression ratio. The Ducati Scrambler 1100, the biggest of the Scramblers, makes 85bhp, so the FTR 1200 will eat it for breakfast, but Indian’s power is way short of the frankly nuts 152bhp Ducati Monster 1200R, that produces a 125Nm of torque. It makes me wonder, who needs that from a naked?

 

The FTR operates with a ride-by-wire throttle arrangement and twin Mikuni fuel injectors.

Exhaust is a low-level 2-1-2 arrangement, with twin silencers angled up like Howitzers expecting a bombing raid. Indian say the exhaust is ‘flat track inspired’, personally I don’t see that and that’s nothing to do with huge collector and catalytic converter, as required by law, below the swingarm.

 

Low and high mount Akrapovic exhausts are available as a factory-approved aftermarket choices. At the time of writing images of the Akrapovic exhausts hadn’t been released, but using the Slovakian company did make me wonder why the official option is not from S&S, who have been instrumental in developing the FTR750 race bike and are linked far more closely to flat track than Akrapovic is.

 

There’s a six-speed gearbox, slipper clutch and final drive is chain, not a belt drive normally associated with modern American V-twins.

 

The S has traction and wheelie control, and three switchable modes, Sport, Standard and Rain. It seems unusual that both bikes make the same power and torque, but only the S is deemed worthy of a rain setting. If it’s necessary for safety why not fit it to both? If it’s not necessary, then it’s just a gizmo, right?

 

CHASSIS

While the FTR750 race bike has a traditional and very simple duplex perimeter frame, the 1200 road bike has a composite of streel trellis and cast aluminium swingarm pivot plates, the like of which other manufacturers have been using for some years and, as plenty of people have pointed out, appears very similar to Ducati’s current Monster chassis. The Indian production bike frame is heavier both in mass and visually and, for me at least, than the concept bike’s and is the biggest leap from the race bike. The radiator shrouds also add to the visual weight of the bike. The swingarm is closer to the race bike’s, with a single, side-mounted shock.

This is a big bike. Wheelbase is 1524mm - that's 60 inches! (Ducati Scrambler is 1445mm, Monster 1200 R is 1509mm). Dry weight it 225kg (496lb), that is 45kg, 100lb more than Ducati claim for the Monster 1200 R!

 

Rake and trail are fairly conservative 26.3 degrees and 130mm. As I keep using the Monster 1200R as a comparison, I’ll note that it has a rake and trail of 24.3 degrees and 88.9mm.

 

WHEELS, SUSPENSION, BRAKES

Front forks are 43mm cartridge internal USD. The concept had Ohlins RWU forks. From what I gather the 1200 forks have no adjustment, while the S has rebound, preload and compression adjustment. The gold finish on the S doesn’t do it for me, the black forks look much better. The rear shocks are both adjustable, but the S has a higher spec.

Wheels are 19x3in front, 18x4in rear, cast multi-spoke alloys. The rear tyre is a high profile, 150/80 Dunlop DT3-R, likely to give the rolling diameter of a 19 fitted with a lower profile tyre. I don’t know enough about cutting edge road chassis development to know why Indian didn’t go 19-19in, but I’m going to ask. Dunlop has developed road legal, race pattern tyres for this bike. The tread blocks are closer and shallower than race rubber and is a different compound, with more silica, they say, to improve wear and grip, say Indian.

Brakes are superbike spec radial mount 4-piston Brembos with twin 320mm diameter discs. ABS is standard, as EU homologation demands, but it’s only switchable on the S.

 

STYLING AND DETAILS

Fuel tank is under the seat for packaging and mass centralisation reasons. The ‘tank’ actually covers the airbox. Fuel capacity is just 13 litres (3.4 US gallons). The tank’s shape is very close to the 750 race bike’s and is especially reminiscent of the race bike in the S’s replica colours.

The subframe is alloy and has a very short tail. There is an easily removable rear fender and licence plate holder at the rear of the wheel, mounted off the swingarm, that has only been fitted to comply with regulations. I’d be very surprised if there wasn’t a ‘Not For Highway Use’ fender eliminator kit already to go as an optional bolt-on.

The rear overhang is pleasingly short, but the stepped seat is another move away from flat track aesthetics into roadster territory, again, because Indian are making a proper road bike, not a compromised, hardcore custom machine. This thing is built to be ridden by people used to regular road bikes.

Lights are LED front and rear.

The regular 1200 has a 4in diameter analogue speedo with a digital panel, very similar to the Victory Octane, with an added USB charger. Another key difference between the regular model and the S is the flagship model’s rectangular 4.3in touchscreen display with Bluetooth to control smartphone from the display.

The FTR1200 is available only in Thunder Black...

...while the S model comes in Titanium Metallic over Thunder black pearl, plus ‘Indian Motorcycle Red’ over Steel Grey (above) and...

...race replica.  

 

CONCLUSION

This is all written before I’ve had chance to ride the bike, but I’m confident the FTR 1200 is going to be a sales success. Indian have a growing dealer network, great marketing and a good reputation for reliability. The US prices, the only prices released so far, are $12,999 for the base model, while the plain colours S model is $14,999, and the race replica is $15,999 (all prices are plus local taxes and subject to change). For comparison, the Monster 1200R is $19,395 in the US (£16,395 in the UK), the regular Monster 1200 is $14,995 (£11,795 in the UK).

 

I’d say it’s the best looking, mass production performance bike to ever come out of America, a reminder of just how bad the finish and some of the materials Buells left the factory with.

 

But, and I risk upsetting Indian again, is it really a street tracker? And if it is, what makes it one?

 

The frame is remarkably like a Ducati Monsters, and makes the bike a flat track inspired roadster rather than a bonafide street tracker. Yes, I’m splitting hairs and yes, I do realise how difficult it is to make a 2019 homologated 1200cc V-twin road bike have the simplicity of a race bike. It’s debatable that there is any kind of market for something as hardcore as a 1200 street tracker anyway. The people who really want one are building their own. Is it closer to the FTR750 than Harley’s XR1200 and XR1200X was to an XR750? Probably. Given the choice of FTR or XR1200 I’d go Indian every day of the week.

 

I’ve spoken to one journalist who has ridden the production FTR1200 and he was impressed. And if it has decent steering lock it could be a hooligan racing weapon, for anyone with the budget to take one onto the dirt.

Still, if this bike was red with a Ducati logo on the tank, I don’t think people would be pointing to anything fitted to it and saying it had strong flat track roots. I’m not getting hung up on that, but the whole flat track for the street thing is the message coming out of Massachusetts to tap into the Win on Sunday sales. I’m sure it’s going to work. Indian have gone far enough with the styling without ruining the machine as a practical motorcycle. I look forward to riding it.

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