Up-Close with the Indian FTR1200

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The belle of the INTERMOT ball, the Indian FTR1200 made its debut in Germany this week to much fanfare. We should all make note that the American brand has released its first non-cruiser motorcycle…and it did so on foreign soil. This is not an accident.

The FTR1200 marks an important moment in the Indian Motorcycle Company’s history, as it is the first of several machines to come from this historic marque that will take it into the future.

As I have said before, we should all pay attention, because Indian doesn’t want to be the next Harley-Davidson…it wants to be the next Honda, and that means worldwide domination.

Cologne was not our first time with the Indian FTR1200, as our A&R Pro readers already know, Asphalt & Rubber was invited to ride an early prototype version of the street tracker. The machine was fun to ride, handled better than we expected, and the engine has a tabletop flat torque curve that is really going to impress.

We are not sure that Indian fully groks the sport bike scene just yet though, but the Minnesotan company has made a strong first effort, and we will be curious to see how the polished final result rides, early next year.

Seeing the bike in its finished aesthetic, there aren’t too many surprises from our ride a couple months ago, and the race replica remains our favorite. 

The comments on the FTR1200 seems to be polarized, with some loving the look and the others disappointed by the design. To my eye, I think Indian did a good job paying homage to the flat track background that this bike is trying to channel, but the compromises for a street bike get in the way.

Throw on a high-mount pipe, change out the “daymaker” LED headlight, and I think you have a machine that looks a great deal closer to the Indian Scout FTR750 race bike. I have heard talk of a Super Hooligan race bike from Roland Sands, so I am curious to see what the FTR1200 looks like in that guise. I think that could make some believers out of the haters.

As for the machine at the show, the fit and finish is strong. It doesn’t come out well in the photos, but the paint on the FTR1200 bikes shown has a metallic flake that looks better under less critical light. Seeing the bike in person too helps  show off the bulldog stance that Indian has created for the FTR1200.

The special tires DT3-R from Dunlop complete the look, and help mark the FTR1200 as more of a street tracker than roadster. A sportier tail with a number plate might have helped make that link to riders as well, especially those who see a Ducati Monster/Scrambler in this bike’s lines.

As for the specs, it is hard to place the FTR1200 in a single category, mostly because Indian is creating a category here. There are no true street trackers on the market, with the Ducati Scrambler perhaps being the closest to that ideal. 

The machine is fun to ride, though I worry about the limitations of the Dunlop tires for those who want to do knee-down riding. Sliding around gravel roads seems to be this bike’s natural habitat, or just generally hooning through city streets.

It is of note that Indian showed one bike with the fitted Akrapovic exhaust, which is just the tip of the iceberg of what is to come from Indian’s performance catalog. I was hoping we would see that revealed at INTERMOT, but it looks like we will have to wait.

Photos: © 2018 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – All Rights Reserved