World exclusive prototype ride on Indian’s all-new FTR1200
O Prototype ride reveals FTR is retro brawler
Indian’s all-new FTR1200S was unveiled at the Cologne show on Monday, and while the boldly aggressive 1200 Concept of 12 months ago has inevitably been watered down for production, the FTR is still very much the real deal.
As Senior International Product Manager, Ben Lindaman whipped the covers off one of the final-stage pre-production bikes at our private viewing of the new FTR last month at Indian’s Wyoming factory, he defined the difference between the FTR750 racer, 1200 Concept, and the production bike. “Born on the track, built for the road” was, he said, the mantra that underpinned the whole project, from the first FTR750 race bike through to the all-new road bike.
So where does it fit in?
Without direct flat-track inspired competition, it could be argued that the FTR has no competition, but with a 1203cc V-twin kicking out a claimed 120bhp, electronic rider aids, fully adjustable suspension, a racing pedigree and lashings of character, it could prove a serious headache for Triumph’s imminent Scrambler 1200, and Ducati’s Scrambler 1100 family.
So what’s it like to ride?
A day of spirited riding on the back roads of Wyoming and at Indian’s private test facility where the FTR was created proves to be a revelation.
It’s immediately apparent that Indian haven’t surrendered the FTR to its track roots. From the moment you release the light clutch and feel the surging drive build as you dance through the precise gearbox and revel in the exhaust note, it’s obvious that the FTR is every bit a street bike.
The riding position is superbly commanding, the bars are set wide enough that it feels aggressive without hindering filtering, the seat surprisingly comfortable and well placed back from the bars, and the footpegs nicely rearset. After hours in the saddle, neither wrists, feet nor backside can claim to be more stressed than each other. And with enforced fuel stops arriving every 120 miles or thereabouts from the 13-litre tank, this is an all-day comfortable bike.
Of course, that’s not its intent. The FTR is about refined street hooliganism. It feels solid and dense without ever feeling as heavy as its claimed 226kg, its mass giving it stability and inspiring confidence, but never getting in the way. It changes direction as fast and hard as you dare use the bar leverage, or trust the good Dunlop DT3-R tyres.
And the suspension balance encourages you to play hard. There’s remarkably little pitch- ing, with both ends working in impressive harmony.
Electronic safety net
With traction control, cornering ABS, anti-wheelie and three rider modes to choose from, owners will have plenty of choice for how much of an electronic safety net they want as back-up. Most will probably be more than happy just to have the more visceral settings engaged, where cheeky wheelies are allowed, along with a little bit of drift, and the full force of the engine is meted out by your own self-control.
Righting the wrongs
As good as the test mules felt, they did have problems. Many of the screen functions weren’t yet operational, the ABS wasn’t fully calibrated, and there were holes in the fuelling that you could have parked a bus in. But you only need to ride the firm’s Scout or Chieftain ranges to have complete confidence that Indian have the skills to ensure the production bikes will be faultless.