World ex­clu­sive pro­to­type ride on In­dian’s all-new FTR1200

O Pro­to­type ride re­veals FTR is retro brawler

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Contents - By Richard Newland DEPUTY ED­I­TOR

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.

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