They got it right, by God! They actually got it right! Indian Motorcycle Monday pulled the cover off the long-awaited FTR 1200 and higher-spec FTR 1200 S – finally revealing the kind of wildly fun not-a-cruiser motorcycle that many have been calling for since Polaris first took stewardship of the brand more than seven years ago.
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Weighing in under 500 pounds*, loaded with tech, and promising 120 horsepower and 86 pound-feet of torque, the FTR 1200 vanquishes the ghosts of Polaris’ Victory Motorcycles fumbles. This, as far as I’m concerned, is the real deal.
As someone who has long been a fan of Polaris, the FTR 1200 feels like the fulfillment of a promise, as well as an exciting step toward building an American brand that can really compete against the European makes that are serving as the heart of motorcycling at the moment (sorry, Japan).
“Our vision from the beginning was to be more than a traditional American V-twin brand,” said Steve Menneto, Indian Motorcycle president. “We continually seek to broaden Indian Motorcycle’s reach to a wider range of riders, and the FTR 1200 represents a significant step forward in that strategy.”
Drawing its original inspiration from the FTR750 flat track racing machine that has been absolutely dominating American Flat Track over the past two years – both in the hands of Indian’s factory team and privateers – the FTR 1200 and 1200 S are powered by a souped-up version of the Scout’s 1203cc liquid-cooled V-twin engine, housed in a new trellis frame. Chain drive, Brembo brakes, inverted forks, and mono shock rear suspension all speak to a bike designed to be ridden with enthusiasm. And the 1200 S suspension is fully adjustable.
The bike’s sub-500lbs weight is benefitted by a petrol tank located under the seat, thereby keeping weight centralized and helping lower the center of gravity. Seat height is adjustable – ranging between 31.7 and 33.1 inches (805-840 mm), and Dunlop have produced a special street-focused version of its DT3 flat tracker tires for the bike.
The element I absolutely was not expecting is the amount of technowhizzbangery to be found on this bike. Both models benefit from full LED lighting, a quick-charge USB port, ABS, and cruise control as standard. The 1200 S adds three riding modes (Sport, Standard, and Rain), lean-angle sensitive stability control, traction control, “wheelie mitigation control,” and a 4.3-inch LCD screen running Indian’s admirable Ride Command system.
The FTR 1200 starts at US $12,999, while the FTR 1200 S starts at $14,999. For those of you reading in Her Majesty’s United Kingdom and Europe, I will try to get prices as soon as possible. The bike is set to reach North American dealers “in the first half of 2019;” I don’t yet know when they’ll be hitting UK/European dealerships.
If You Don’t Love This Bike There’s Probably Something Wrong With You
I mentioned previously that upon seeing pictures of the FTR 1200 I immediately got in touch with my local Indian Motorcycle dealership, seeking to put down a deposit. This bike is more than I hoped for – more power, better tech, and lighter. It’s faithful enough to the FTR1200 Custom in my opinion, with the differences between the two bikes being improvements. There are better brakes, the seat looks more comfortable, there’s more tech, and if you’re that damned desperate for thigh-burning high pipes just about any dealership/custom shop in the world will be happy to accommodate you.
Over the past week, Indian has offered more and more teasing glimpses of the FTR 1200 and I’ve been surprised by the handful of people choosing to shit on it. I have decided they are trolls; there is no way you can look at this bike and truthfully say Indian hasn’t done what it said it would do.
As I say, this is a real-deal motorcycle. It has the real ability to appeal to riders who aren’t necessarily brand loyal; you don’t have to start from the position of already being an “Indian guy” to want to ride and own this motorcycle. I haven’t ridden it yet, obviously, but on paper it easily holds its own against a number of competitors. The bikes that I see it going against directly are the BMW R nineT Scrambler, the Ducati Scrambler 1100, Yamaha XSR900, and the not-yet-unveiled Triumph Scrambler 1200.
Indian does not call this a scrambler (perhaps because it doesn’t want to have to give me credit for the idea), but that’s effectively what it is. It would be unfair to try to pit the FTR 1200 against, say, a Ducati Monster 1200, or Triumph Speed Triple – those bikes have a different spirit and different purpose.
Going on US pricing, the FTR 1200 stands level with the BMW R nineT Scrambler and Ducati Scrambler 1100 – its price tag being a nominal $4 more. Odds are it will also be on par with the Triumph Scrambler 1200. The Yamaha XSR900 beats the group in terms of cost but falls short in a number of ways – fit and finish, aesthetics, and, especially, intangibles. If we assume Triumph stays true to form in power output of its 1200cc parallel twin powerplants, the FTR 1200 beats the whole group in terms of ponies. It also comes near top in terms of rider aids; I’m guessing the Triumph will have as much or more technowhizzbangery.
A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME: An Ode to the Scrambler
Meanwhile, Indian’s European team are bullish on their prospects with the bike and the cogs are spinning to increase the brand’s dealership coverage in Europe so as to be able to capitalize. I had a few beers with the EMEA team here in Germany last night (the first members of the public to see the FTR 1200 will be those attending Intermot this week), and they are palpably excited to get this bike into the hands of European riders. Their mood is infectious; I’m excited, too.
Probably the only thing I’m not that excited about is the rear tire of the FTR 1200. Its 150/70/R18 sizing precludes it from being able to accommodate sport-touring tires like the Michelin Road 5, but I’ll concede that throwing sport tires on this thing probably would have altered the look/spirit of the FTR 1200 a little too much. As is, the FTR 1200 will take just about every dual-sport tire on the market, which will be good news for people eager to hustle it down a dirt road.
Regardless, my tire moan isn’t enough to keep me from putting down money for an FTR 1200 S. The future seems very bright for Indian right now and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.
FTR 1200 S IMAGES
FTR 1200 IMAGES
* Well, that’s dry weight. Indian have stolen Triumph’s trick of giving misleading weights here. Probably best to add at least 20 lbs to get the actual running weight.