Words: Mikko Nieminen Photography: Felix Romero, Ula Serra
American bikes are big, brash and bathed in bling, right? Not this one! The new FTR1200 from Indian Motorcycle is sleek, stylish and, well, rather European-looking.
The FTR1200 is inspired by Indian’s FTR750 flat track racer, and has similar looks, but shares virtually no components with its fire-breathing sibling. Like many top-level bikes, the FTR1200 comes in two different guises: the standard and the S. The engine, chassis and the majority of all components are shared between the bikes, but there are a few key differences.
The 1203cc 60° V-twin engine is brand new for this bike, and shares only a handful of parts with existing Indian powertrains. It boasts a 12.5:1 compression ratio, 4 valves per cylinder, high-flow cylinder heads, dual throttle bodies, magnesium engine covers and a low-inertia crankshaft. All that makes the engine powerful (121bhp), grunty (87lb-ft) and quick revving.
Drawing immediate comparisons with the Ducati Monster, the tubular steel trellis main frame and aluminium subframe have been designed as separate parts, giving the bike distinct looks and leaving the door open for further developments that could give the package a whole new appearance.
Brembo brakes provide high-quality stopping power front and rear, while the lightweight cast aluminium wheels (19in front/18in rear) and the Dunlop DT3-R tyres (exclusively designed for the FTR) keep the bike’s looks true to the FTR750 racer.
The first obvious difference you notice is the instruments. The stock bike has an analogue speedo with an LCD screen for tacho, fuel gauge and gear indicator. Meanwhile, on the S you are welcomed on board by a full-colour, touch-sensitive TFT dash, which also grants access to the bike’s Rain, Road and Sport ride modes (the standard bike has the Road mapping). Also selectable via the dash is lean-sensitive ABS and traction control, exclusive to the S model.
Suspension is fancier in the S variant too. Although the hardware and factory settings are the same in both models, the S allows full adjustment of preload, compression and rebound damping at both ends.
The final differences are colour schemes and prices. The standard bike is available only in black (£11,899) while the S comes in Red over Steel Gray or Titanium Metallic over Thunder Black Pearl (both £12,999), or in Race Replica colour scheme (£14,099, which also includes an Akrapovic exhaust).
Riding the FTR, you instantly notice the sweet nature of the engine. This is not a muscle bike with crazy power figures, but the big V-twin has ample torque across the range, making it super-easy to ride regardless of whether you can be bothered to select the right gear or not. If you run a gear or two too high, the bike will still accelerate happily right from the bottom of the range, and if you hang onto the gears and let the revs build there’s no feeling of the engine running out of steam of getting breathless.
With a wheelbase of 1524mm, rake of 26.3° and trail of 130mm the geometry of the bike is a bit more relaxed than its European counterparts (yes, I’m thinking about the Monster 1200 in particular, which has 1485mm wheelbase, 23.3° rake and 86.5mm trail). In practice all this means that the bike needs a little bit more of a nudge to drop into corners, but once it’s there it keeps the line perfectly with very solid and planted feel through the bend. On straights you can enjoy a bit more stability than more aggressively shaped bikes, and looking over your shoulder doesn’t instantly cause a wobble.
I spent most of the launch ride on the S model, but for the final stretch I jumped on the standard bike – and I was very positively surprised by the ride quality on it. On paper it should be exactly the same as the S on Road mode and factory suspension settings, but to me it felt a little more gentle, soft and relaxed both in terms of suspension and throttle action. If anything, it was even easier to ride than the S. It’s difficult to imagine many people not liking the The FTR1200: it looks good, it has the heritage, and it’s great fun to ride.
To check out the full launch, pick up a copy of Motorcycle Sport and Leisure. For more information on how to get your hands on a copy, visit: www.mslmagazine.co.uk
Indian FTR1200 (FTR1200 S)
Price: £11,899 (£12,999)
Engine: 1203cc 60° V-twin, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, graded buckets
Power: 121bhp @ 8250rpm
Torque: 87lb-ft @ 5900rpm
Transmission: 6-speed, chain final drive
Frame: Tubular trellis steel mainframe, aluminium rear sub-frame
Brakes: (F) Dual radially mounted 320mm discs, Brembo M4.32 Monobloc 4-piston calipers; (R) Single 265mm semi-floating disc, Brembo P34 2-piston caliper
Suspension: (F) 43mm USD cartridge forks, 150mm of travel (fully adjustable on the S); (R) monotube, 150mm of travel (fully adjustable on the S).
Tyres: Dunlop DT3-R Radial (F) 120/70R19 60V; (R) 150/80R18 70V
Fuel tank:13 litres
Dry weight: 221kg (222kg)
Seat height: 840mm