Indian Motorcycle has released a series of videos on YouTube showing the reactions of influencers and media types who have already been given a sneak peek at the production version FTR 1200. Whereas many of the reactions are generic – eg, pro skater Christian Hosoi asks: “When can I ride it?” – there are a few clues as to what the rest of us will be seeing when the bike is revealed later this year.
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Back in June, Indian officially announced it would be making a production version of the Scout FTR1200 Custom that it first revealed at EICMA 2017. That announcement was made at France’s Wheels and Waves event and a handful of VIPs were given the opportunity to see the bike in the flesh. The 11 short videos released Friday come from interviews with attendees of that event.
Keen observers will note that only one of the interviewees, pro skater (and personal hero) Steve Caballero, is American. The rest are Europeans… at a European event… talking about a bike inspired by a custom first revealed in Europe… Wanna guess the target market for the FTR 1200?
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According to Caballero, though, Indian’s existing customer base will be happy with the bike. He should know; he owns a Scout Bobber that he’s customized himself.
“Seems like [Indian] listened to their riders, you know, the people purchasing bikes,” Cabellero says in his video. “They definitely made a beautiful bike.”
The “beautiful bike” sentiment is one echoed by most of the people interviewed, with Krazy Horse Race Team member Leah Tokelove describing it as “sexy, fast, and fearless,” and Sultans of Sprint mainstay Andreas Staschewski enthusing: “I love her. Is it a her? Yeah, a bike is a her. I love her. I’ll marry her.”
That’s exactly the sort of thing FTR 1200 designer Rich Christoph will want to hear. In the September 2018 issue of Bike he’s quoted as saying: “I was trying to sculpt the most beautiful woman I could. She’s the one you fall in love with and it’s wild – sex, parties, sleepless nights. But you’re never going to marry her. She’s not the marrying type. What we had to do is capture the spirit of the Custom but make it something you want to marry.”
What he means by that, is the FTR 1200 will lose some of the unnecessarily expensive elements that exist on the Custom, as well as gaining features necessary for the real world.
“The Custom has less than a gallon of gas and you’re sitting on carbon,” Christoph explained. “You couldn’t ride more than 35 miles.”
Suggesting that the production bike has managed to hit its “marrying type” brief, artist Robert Vargas describes the bike as “functional,” whereas French photographer Dimitri Coste says he can see it being put to practical (but fun) use.
“I commute every day in Paris… with a bike like that, it looks like the green-light devil, you know?” he says. “I keep being impressed by Indian.”
In two of the videos there are tiny, tiny glimpses of the bike – in the form of its bar-end mirrors. Those aren’t a huge giveaway, since you’ll spot one bar-end mirror on the press shots of the FTR1200 Custom that came out last year.
Although Christoph says there are differences between the FTR 1200 and the Custom he stresses that the bike is “still going to hit all the emotional cues.” There seems to be conflicting evidence as to what that means. After the Victory Octane hullaballoo of a few years ago, a lot of critics are concerned the FTR 1200 won’t look enough like the bike people have fallen in love with.
In a conversation that’s since been deleted from his Instagram account (but thankfully preserved by Indian’s EMEA team), Indian Director of Product Design Ola Stenegard appeared to be telling those folks they had nothing to worry about.
“What you see is pretty much what you gunna get bradda,” he wrote. “Add blinkers, legal exhaust, license plate.”
Thing is, though, there’s evidence elsewhere on his Instagram account that Ola isn’t above some gentle trolling. Additionally, he will have had little to no input into the bike’s design, having been hired several months after the decision on a production version had been made.
But Ola’s version of events does seem to be supported by Wheels and Waves VIP and custom builder Brice Hennebert, who says in his video: “She’s so close to the Custom bike… She’s so close to the concept.”
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Contrasting that somewhat, however, are the observations of photographer Merry Michau, who in her video describes the bike as “chunky” – not an adjective I’d use for the FTR1200 Custom – and suggests it’s shorter than I would have guessed.
“It’s perfect for women as well as men,” she says. “So many bikes I see coming out, and I’ll be, like, ‘Yeah, I’d love to ride that,’ but because I’m quite short I can’t get on them. But with the [FTR 1200] I just want to get on and ride it. It looks like it’s going to ride beautifully.”
The potentially short-rider-friendly nature of the FTR 1200 appears to be supported by images of Caballero straddling the bike in his video. At 5 feet 3 inches tall, Caballero is more of a giant in spirit than physical reality. I am guessing from his physical stance that he is standing in those images, with at least one foot touching the ground.
As a 6-foot-1 rider that raises a bit of a red flag for me, but, when I think about it, the FTR750 race bike after which this is modeled isn’t exactly huge and I can think of plenty of bikes that are low to the ground while still maintaining good ground clearance and being comfortable for a rider of my size, eg, the Triumph Street Scrambler.
But, uh, don’t use that word, I guess. Scramblers may be “in” right now, and although some of the videos Indian has put out about the FTR1200 Custom suggest it has distinctly scrambler-esque abilities, the brand has avoided connecting that term to its forthcoming model – perhaps because it doesn’t want to have to give me any money for having come up with the idea. Instead, Indian seems more comfortable with folks viewing this as an asphalt-machine.
“It’s going to be a super seller for the roadster customers,” says Sultans of Sprint organizer Sebastien Lorentz. “It is bringing the old story of the brand into something completely new.”
Roadster? Like the way the BMW R NineT is a roadster? Yes, please!
However, of all the videos, the observation that has me most intrigued is the one that comes from moto-blogger Natasha Paz, who says: “I like the glitter.”
Wait. What? I’m guessing this means Indian has chosen a somewhat sparkly paint scheme, on par with the sort of thing you might normally see on a Chieftain Elite. Certainly that would fit with Caballero’s suggestion that existing Indian riders will welcome it into the fold, and it could potentially mimic the look of carbon, which won’t be on the production bike because that’s expensive and unnecessary. But what if the bike is actually glittery?
You know what? I’m down. Bring on the glitter bike, y’all. I can’t wait to ride it.