Roland Sands De­sign’s FTR 1200 Dirt-track Racer

How do you trans­form In­dian’s re­cently re­leased fac­tory street tracker, the FTR 1200, into a track-ready dirt-spew­ing race­bike? You turn to the king of road bikes on the flat track, the su­per hooli­gan him­self, Roland Sands.

In­spired by the FTR750, which has dom­i­nated the Amer­i­can Flat Track Twins class since its re­lease, the FTR 1200 was de­vel­oped for the street, yet it evokes a cer­tain emo­tional re­sponse all race en­thu­si­asts can iden­tify with. Fi­nally a le­git­i­mate pro­duc­tion street tracker is well within grasp for con­sumers. It hits the nail on the prover­bial head in terms of styling, and the specs say it has the per­for­mance to back it up. And the $12,999 to $14,999 price point is very at­tain­able for con­sumers.

A proper chas­sis with steel trel­lis frame, qual­ity sus­pen­sion, stylish 19-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels, and DOT dirt-track-style tires all come equipped on the fac­tory FTR 1200. Out of the gate, the bike has the chops to snatch the check­ered flag come run-what-you-brung speed­way week­end. But it has so much more po­ten­tial.

No stranger to podi­ums, Roland Sands De­sign wanted more out of the stock In­dian Scouts it had pre­vi­ously con­verted into hooli­gan rac­ers. RSD mor­phed the In­dian Scout plat­form to un­par­al­leled lev­els in cre­at­ing race-ready mo­tor­cy­cles, but things change. Time begets im­prove­ments. And now that the FTR 1200 is out, RSD is mov­ing for­ward in sync.

“This bike has def­i­nitely been a long time com­ing. No mat­ter what, it’s a fast street bike. So we are tak­ing a fast street bike and turn­ing it into a flat tracker. It’s def­i­nitely a dif­fer­ent thought process than tak­ing a Sport­ster or a Scout and turn­ing it into a flat-track bike though,” says Roland Sands.

Be­cause the FTR 1200 is al­ready faster than the Scout, the RSD team had to ad­just its ap­proach to make just the right tweaks to han­dle the added ponies (120 hp stock, to be ex­act), and maybe even “de-tune” the bike to per­form more ad­e­quately around the oval tracks.

“This is a cool bike. See­ing the trans­for­ma­tion the last cou­ple of weeks that we made into a Hooli­gan bike re­ally kind of—yeah, it was a street tracker to be­gin with, but to turn it into a real dirt-track bike was a task. But I think the bike ac­cepts it re­ally well. I mean, it’s a rip­per. It just does all the stuff you want a mo­tor­cy­cle to do. It’s the first Amer­i­can mo­tor­cy­cle to cross over to that per­for­mance plat­form in a re­ally well-en­gi­neered bike. It’s a neat thing,” Roland says.

So where do you start? How do you be­gin the con­ver­sion process from le­gal street bike to full-on dirt-track racer?

“The one thing that we started out with for sure was do­ing the off­set triple clamps, and do­ing the ad­justable triple so we could mod­ify it a lit­tle bit. But that just gives us a lot more steer­ing. More lock-to-lock means that if you do get the thing out of shape, it isn’t go­ing to hit the lock. It’d spit you over the top, which is re­ally im­por­tant with this bike,” Roland says.

Roland Sands De­sign project man­ager Cameron Brewer ex­plains how much more in­volved the street-to-dirt-tracker trans­for­ma­tion process was.

“Well, it’s a whole dif­fer­ent plat­form, right? Sim­i­lar en­gine pack­age, but at the same time, com­pletely dif­fer­ent. It’s got new cases; it’s got dual throt­tle body. It’s got a bunch of stuff they pulled from rac­ing on the FTR750 and the Pikes Peak bike we built. We run in­di­vid­ual throt­tle bod­ies and dual in­take run­ners. A lot of the stuff helps de­liver real smooth power off the front and back cylin­ders. You can ad­just them in­di­vid­u­ally that way too, which helps with tun­ing, and with real smooth power de­liv­ery, which is kind of key,” Cameron says. “The FTR 1200 is ba­si­cally a com­pletely new bike. It might have the same crankshaft, but it’s got new cylin­ders, new heads, new cases. They took a bunch of weight out of the mo­tor com­pared to the Scout, which was good. It’s got a trel­lis steel frame now, which should add some more flex to it, which is good. You want

the chas­sis to flex through­out the cor­ner in­stead of be­ing su­per rigid, where the Scouts have cast-alu­minum frames, which are just very rigid frames. So then you’re re­ly­ing on just your sus­pen­sion and your tire pres­sure to kind of get the thing hooked up, where this thing will kind of bend un­der­neath you com­ing out of the cor­ner. Same with the swingarm. It’s got a side-mounted monoshock a lot like their FTR750 race­bike. And it’s all steel, so it’s opened up more to flex,” Cameron says.

One of RSD’S pri­or­i­ties was weight re­duc­tion, as well as an over­all bal­anced feel. Ac­cord­ing to our cal­cu­la­tions, RSD shaved 53 pounds off the fac­tory bike with an over­all run­ning weight of 456.

“We re­lo­cated the bat­tery from be­hind the front tire to in front of the rear tire, so be­hind the chas­sis, we moved that stuff to open up that area up front and try and get some ex­tra bal­ance into the bike. When we moved that, we needed to keep the reg­u­la­tor, rec­ti­fier, starters, and all that stuff up front, so we made a new panel out there with all that stuff,” Cameron says.

RSD also re­moved the oil cooler. “It kind of seems maybe like some­thing back­ward for rac­ing, but the oil cooler is re­ally made for get­ting a long life out of your mo­tor,” Cameron says. But for the aver­age con­sumer who’s look­ing for a flaw­less 50,000-plus, you’ll prob­a­bly want to leave that part alone. For do­ing short stints, he says, it’s just fine. “Our races are be­tween two and four min­utes. We come out, there’s plenty of cool­ing in the ra­di­a­tor to keep the mo­tor oil cool enough, but if you’re on a long ride across the desert and it’s 125 de­grees and you’re out there for eight hours, yeah, you prob­a­bly want to keep the oil cooler on,” Cameron says, laugh­ing.

So how do you build your own RSD In­dian FTR 1200? The good news is that RSD and In­dian are col­lab­o­rat­ing on a com­plete line of ac­ces­sories, avail­able di­rectly from In­dian deal­er­ships in 2019. While specifics are still be­ing sorted out, you can most likely ex­pect brake ped­als, shift levers, en­gine cover pack­ages, crash slid­ers, bar ends, grips, ig­ni­tion cover plugs, and all kinds of other bil­let ac­ces­sories. Look for a new set of Rsd/in­dian col­lab wheels in fac­tory FTR 1200 sizes (19-by-3-inch front, 18-by-4.25-inch rear) too. See­ing how many wheels RSD has de­vel­oped over the years, Cameron is es­pe­cially ex­cited about th­ese. “They’re prob­a­bly the rad­dest wheel that we’ve ever built. Ev­ery­one’s su­per ex­cited about them, and we’ve de­signed a lot of wheels. So all of us are stoked on them,” Cameron says.

Get­ting into the gen­e­sis from the Su­per Hooli­gan Scouts to FTR 1200 hooli­gan rac­ers, Cameron is ex­cited

about the FTR 1200 and is an over­all fan of street track­ers in gen­eral. Who wouldn’t be? They’re badass! Cameron sees the FTR 1200 as the per­fect plat­form for folks who have al­ways dug the look of dirt-track bikes but are yearn­ing for some­thing street le­gal.

“This [bike] is mak­ing a lot of dreams come true for a lot of peo­ple be­cause the FTR750 isn’t street le­gal, they’re $50,000, they’re sold out, and they’re all on the race track,” Cameron says. “I mean, street track­ers are the rad­dest bikes to ride. Your bars are up­right, top-mounted right in front of you, your feet are right un­der­neath you, they’re not hung out for­ward. You have ul­ti­mate con­trol of the mo­tor­cy­cle with a street tracker type of setup.”

Track­ers (dirt or street) have long been a part of the Hot Bike fab­ric. There’s some­thing so in­her­ently cool about mo­tor­cy­cles that go against the grain of con­ven­tional wis­dom. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see the crop of FTR 1200 cus­toms that starts pop­ping up when the mo­tor­cy­cles hit deal­er­ship floors in 2019. Hope­fully RSD’S lat­est brain­child gets you pumped to build your own. Keep us posted. HB

OP­PO­SITE Roland get­tin’ it on the track at Black­more Ranch, an undis­closed lo­ca­tion only cer­tain folks have ac­cess to.LEFT One of RSD’S car­bon­tipped stain­less muf­flers was stuffed onto the fac­tory stain­less head­ers. BE­LOW RSD’S FTR 1200 Su­per Hooli­gan, which looks fast as hell stand­ing still, was tested for the first time dur­ing this shoot.

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