Oh behave baby!
IT HAS BEEN A LONG WAIT since the first official introduction in the fall of 2018.
When Bikebrewers colleague Vincent and I received the call from Indian inviting us to go out and test the FTR 1200, we obviously grabbed the earliest opportunity to get out there and ride this baby.
Just for fun sake we decided to dual test, adding the Scout Bobber (for post on this bike click here) to our mix. A nice way to compare two bikes that do not have a lot in common.
The bike clearly has its roots deep in flat track country. No other brand has succeeded in adapting a hardcore flat tracker into a street legal champion. Yes, Harley Davidson made a half-hearted attempt a decade ago with the XR1200, but failed at making this model a success.
From the moment the Indian was shown to press and public for the first time, reactions have nothing been but favorable. Our post on October 3 2018 was not an exception. It was love at first sight.
From the moment we got on the bike it was clear we were in for a real treat.
Everything about it is impressive, attractive and inviting you to behave badly. Just the way the Bikebrewers team like it.
Just a slight warning before releasing the clutch; go easy on it for the first time. This baby is a ‘Torque Master’ which is clear immediately. It takes of like a rolling thunder and just keeps on going. Getting used to all that power is quite easy actually.
The FTR 1200 handles phenomenally well under all circumstances. No matter what the road conditions are, it is a stable ride and is very forgiving should you misjudge a curve. Just lay her down and flick the right wrist.
In spite of its massive appearance and the long wheel base, the Indian is very nimble and a true joy cornering twisty roads. The torque is readily available in areas, making it a fun to challenge anyone on the road. In a review it was said this is “a bike for red blooded riders with a rebellious streak”. Hell yeah!
Indian really delivered on their promise to build a stylish motorcycle designed to be used in a variety of different riding conditions. It fills a gap in their line of bikes and any comparison to Harley Davidson bikes is irrelevant. This bike was born on the dirt track and it just oozes that heritage.
Having said that, the true natural habitat of the FTR is on the road, not in the dirt. With a weight of over 215 kg it is heavy for this kind of job. Contrary to other reviews we believe this would be a cool bike for longer distances. We understand that long, straight and boring US roads are no fun to ride this bike, but Europe is different.
Take it out on twisty national roads and you will be smiling all the way. On the highway the cruise control comes in as very handy and is very easy to use. It also gave us the opportunity to test the stability of the FTR by riding without hands on the handlebars. Absolutely no problems there. It just rides like a charm.
Fits any mood
Now what do we really like about the Indian FTR 1200 and what are things making us less enthusiastic?
Let is be very clear. We absolutely love this bike! It is sort of a Swiss army knife; you can use it in a variety of ways suiting your mood. Leisurely touring or challenging sports bikes to a sprint or slicing through corners. Just have it your way.
Earlier on we mentioned a comparison with HD does not make sense. We believe the Triumph T120 or perhaps even more, the new Triumph Scrambler 1200 are the ones which come closer in terms of performance, handling and power. This actually makes the Indian perhaps slightly more European than American.
Possibly Indian has built this bike with the rest of the world in mind. Harley Davidson seems to be struggling to innovate and Indian have grown over 40% abroad.
That looks like an opportunity right there.
• Unique looks
• Awesome power
• Fantastic handling
• Massive stopping power
• Easy to use TFT screen on the ‘S’
• Excellent riding position (once you get used to the slightly forward position)
Room for improvement
We rode the FTR on a scorching hot day. Riding is OK, but once you have to stop at a traffic light the heat of the rear cylinder is really off the charts. We understand that problem may be hard to solve, but we would really welcome some innovative engineering in this area.
The gearbox does what is required, but it is a bit on the rough side, especially when shifting gears swiftly.
The gas tank is located beneath the seat, which is great for the balance of the bike and the center of gravity. Unfortunately it leaves us with an average range of 150-180 km’s depending on your style of riding. That’s a bit on the low side.
We had a ‘round robin’ at the editors office and discussed what we would change if the bike were ours to keep. First thing out the window were the mirrors. They do what they need to do, but make the FTR look cheap.
Next in line were the pipes. We could not reach consensus on what to replace the with, but it was evident that something needed to be changed.
Verdict is still out on the rims. Some of us opted for the currently mounted set, others swore they would have chosen rims with the black rims and the aluminium spoke set that are available as an option. Perhaps even changing the aluminium spokes for stainless steel ones.
All in all this is the bike we all wanted to take home with us and add it to our respective personal collections.
We love what Indian have done and see a bright future for this star of the show.