2019 Indian FTR 1200 and FTR 1200 S: Blood Brothers
Ever since Indian teased us with the stellar FTR 1200 concept, we have been waiting with bated breath for a version that we can park in our garages. The idea was bold, brash, and right smack in the middle of the street-tracker craze. Now, two long years later, we have finally taken to the saddle of pre-production samples of the 2019 Indian FTR 1200 and FTR 1200 S.
Capitalizing on Indian’s triumphant return to American Flat Track, the FTR 1200 is directly inspired by the FTR750 factory flat track racer. With all of that dirt track mojo nicely whipped up into a suave V-twin powered roadster, it is fit for tackling anything from your daily commute to a rip through the canyons—its dapper looks are only matched by its versatility.
I packed my bags and headed off to the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, where I spent two full days flogging the 2019 Indian FTR 1200 and 1200 S. I took in majestic views, twisting canyons runs, and dirt roads alike to hit you with the Fast Facts.
- There are two flavors of Indian FTR 1200—one for the everyman and one for the man who needs everything. The two models are identical when it comes to chassis, engine, wheels, tires, and other bits. What does separate them is color options, rider-aid technology, and suspension adjustability. The standard FTR 1200 comes with Sachs suspension—a non-adjustable inverted 43mm fork and a shock limited to spring-preload and rebound-damping adjustment. The standard FTR makes use of wheel-speed sensors for its non-adjustable ABS and traction control systems, and it does it feature ride modes. Also, the standard model has a more-visually fitting simplistic analog and LCD dash. The S model gets the upgrades. It features fully-adjustable Sachs suspension, a full-color touchscreen TFT dash, defeatable IMU-supported traction control, ABS, and wheelie control. Both models boast cruise control.
- The FTR 1200s are powered by a 1203cc liquid-cooled DOHC motor oozing plenty of V-twin Americana with a few more tricks up its sleeve. The 60-degree V-twin is loaded to the gills with a sumptuous low-end wallop that any red-blooded motorcyclist requires when cracking the whip, and it pairs beautifully with its magnificent mid-range power. The party starts to kick off around 5k until the torque-tap shuts towards the higher spectrum of the rev-range. There isn’t a benefit in wringing its neck.
- The FTR encourages you to ride its broad midrange-wave that begins soon after dropping the clutch. Making 123 horsepower at a lofty 8250 rpm, and the torque peak coming in at 6000 rpm, the FTR motor lets you lazily roll the throttle on and off as you slingshot your way from corner to corner. When riding that brawny midrange-swell, all of that tractable punch is delivered with urgency and good vibrations. When pushing hard, you’ll feel those pulsations through the saddle and grips.
- Indian engineers had to be crafty to get the figures and characteristics I just raved about. The engine is one of the highpoints of the FTR. Indian engineers strived to make it more than a one-dimensional V-twin, though it still has some raw American character baked in. The fairly high 12.5:1 compression ratio and dual throttle-bodies give the engine some decisiveness. Another noteworthy consideration is the lack of a side-mounted air-intake that is ever-present on American V-twins. See that 3.4-gallon fuel tank? Well, that’s a much more attractive airbox cover. The fuel is housed under the seat and in the subframe, helping centralize the mass and lower the center of gravity. The downside is that the modest fuel tank curbs the range.
- The smooth ride-by-wire system accommodates three selectable ride modes. Although ride modes are unavailable on the standard FTR 1200, the ride-by-wire’s throttle response is equally predictable between models and has a good connection with the machine. FTR 1200 S owners get three ride modes—Rain, Standard, and Sport. Each mode adjusts the throttle mapping as well as the rider nannies—individual rider aids cannot be adjusted, nor is there a customizable rider mode. However, all rider aids can be disabled easily from the dash.
- Let’s get into the weeds with the ride modes, friends! Rain mode subdues the FTR beast quite a bit, giving it a slack throttle response and knocking the peak horsepower down to 93 while bumping up the TC and ABS settings to their maximum points. It didn’t rain a drop when in Baja, though I did use the Rain throttle map when riding off-road with ABS and TC defeated, which helped a good bit when getting bounced around the dirt. The Standard mode offers a robust throttle response and more relaxed intervention that never became an issue during average riding. Sport mode has a more connected and immediate throttle map, while still being quite amiable; it’s prompt, not abrupt. The rider aids are backed off noticeably, letting you exit corners hard without any penalties.
- A slick six-speed gearbox is part of the FTR 1200 repertoire. Here, you enjoy snickity-slick shifting that is more refined than your typical American V-twin. Its tighter gear ratios are good around-town brawling and weekend canyon-scraping, and fits nicely with the torque-a-plenty engine under your haunches. Leaving it in a tall gear when in the canyons will have you using all of that stick to lunge out of a corner without having to shift frequently, if at all. Even better, the engine rarely gets luggy at low rpm.
- The 2019 Indian FTR 1200 assist-and-slipper clutch pull is light, but has an extremely narrow friction zone right at the beginning of the stroke. It’s an odd choice for a standard street machine, though a trait that you can get used to quickly as it isn’t snatchy. Also, the slipper clutch will certainly help riders keep the chassis on the straight and narrow when backing through the gearbox aggressively.
- Indian ditched the belt drive this time around. Belt drives have a clear advantage over chains on bikes built for touring—they require far less servicing. In a first for the brand, and to keep the flat track theme at the forefront of the FTR, belt drive was left by the wayside.
- If the FTR isn’t turning heads because of its appearance, perhaps the 2-into-1-into-2 exhaust will. We rode the Race Replica editions, which come with the factory slip-on Akrapovic cans. They offer no performance gain—just an auditory benefit that I approve of whole-heartedly. Even in stock trim, the 1203cc has a nice snarl too it and is only heightened with the Akrapovič canisters.
- The 2019 Indian FTR 1200s can be described as relatively caliente motorcycles when traveling at lower speeds—not scorching, but it’s certainly felt. Indian is aware of the issue and is working on creating more positive airflow through the chassis to decrease warm air from pooling behind the rear cylinder and under the seat. Once you’re at pace, it’s not much of a concern. Still, even at freeway speeds, it will pop-up, depending on the direction of the wind.
- Upright ergonomics will keep you in the saddle all day. In a first for Indian, the 2019 FTR 1200 features an upright, neutral riding position that doesn’t shy away from letting you get your elbows out in the twisty stuff. It offers up a decidedly commanding riding position between its somewhat tall stature and wide ProTaper handlebars.
- Coming in with a seat height of a hair higher than 33 inches, the FTR 1200 is one of the tallest bikes in the segment. Combined with its width, its height did have my 32-inch inseam reaching to the ground, but I was still able to touch the balls of my feet to the asphalt. The cockpit is spacious and roomy, making this a good option for taller riders. Those on the shorter end of the spectrum may have to sidesaddle at stops. Currently, there isn’t a low seat option to help alleviate that issue. There aren’t any gripes with comfort, though the kickstand is difficult to get around the footpeg. My solution was to kick straight down and flip it into position.
- Don’t let the conservative spec-sheet numbers fool you; the 2019 Indian FTR 1200 is ready for a little bit of everything. On paper, the lengthy 60-inch wheelbase and relaxed 26.3 degrees of rake make it seem that the FTR would be less than sporty in the twisty stuff. Let me assure you it’s more than up for it; that wide stance pays off in dividends when it comes to stability. The FTR is relatively neutral handling, requiring little input to get around the corner, when at pace or trolling the streets.
- Great feedback is felt through the steel trellis frame. The FTR is predictable on corner entry, striking a balance when it comes to handling. It has gentle, neutral handling that transmits a whole lot of information to the rider. Physically, the bike is one of the largest in the class, but its 500+ pounds are never called into question unless you are maneuvering at a snail’s pace at full-lock.
- The FTR 1200 is set up for everyday riding. The two flavors of the FTR share spring rates and six inches of travel, what can separate the experience is the ability to crank up spring-preload and damping on the S. The standard FTR 1200’s suspension is set up for casual riding and soaks up most of the bumps and bruises of Mexican urban roads, which can be just as rough the roads in our Nueva California backyard. When the pace picks up in the canyons, the standard FTR 1200 loses some of the sharpness of our S models due to its softer damping and less spring-preload. That can also add a small amount of dive in the fork. However, it’s trading comfort in the name of sporting ability in a fair way.
- For those that want to hunt down the sportbike lads, the S is your weapon of choice. The fully adjustable S model is capable of settings that edge towards sportbike levels of stiffness, which is exactly how our test units were set up. While those settings gave me more confidence in the twisties, the pangs of the road are far more readily felt through the seat. It’s about finding a setting that is right for your needs, skill level, and road conditions. Overall, the Sachs suspension feels sorted, performing admirably under hard acceleration, braking, and mid-corner.
- Eighteen- and 19-inch wheels help complete the flat track look. Indian staff claimed that they used standard 17-inch wheels during testing, but nailing the street tracker look was crucial for the platform. Luckily, there aren’t too many downsides to this decision other than a limited choice when it comes to street rubber—although, if you’re buying this motorcycle, you are probably already sold on the flat track motif. The wheels do elevate the bike a bit and increase cornering clearance. Fortunately, they don’t detract from the handling, which taller wheels can do.
- I rode 40 miles off-road, and the wheel size had to have helped. One side effect of taller wheels is that it gives the FTR a bit more dirt-road capability and, yes, we rode a street motorcycle roughly 40 miles in dirt that ranged from hardpack to loose gravel, pure sand, and topes, which means ‘speed bump’ in Spanish. At the time, I translated it into ‘sick jump.’ Why would we ride a street bike in the dirt? Because when you’re in Baja, that’s what you do—and maybe you want to take a run at the factory seat of Jared Mees. That said, the FTR 1200 did about as well, if not better than some of the motorcycles that claim to be scramblers. Regardless, I consider this a substantial departure from normative behavior for this motorcycle.
- The Dunlop DT3-R tires are exclusive to the FTR 1200 platform. Dunlop and Indian worked hand-in-hand to develop rubber for the FTR 1200 that looked like the Dunlop DT3 rubber used on Indian’s factory FTR750 racers. Dunlop created the DT3R with shallower grooves, a closer tread pattern, and more silica to improve grip on the asphalt. The rubber compound leans towards the softer side, giving the tires loads of grip on the street. Impressively, they hook up decently in the dirt, too. The casing feels uncharacteristically soft for Dunlops, which are typically quite firm. When accelerating hard on corner exit, you can feel the blocky tread flexing under you. I wouldn’t peg them as long-distance tires, but they’ll be fun while they last.
- Brembo provides some serious stopping power. Up front, there are 320mm rotors clamped down upon by radially mounted Brembo M4.32 calipers paired with a Brembo radial master cylinder. This exact set up has been on the market for several years and is a page ripped directly from the page of How to Build a Sportbike. As you would expect, they work impressively well. Feel at the lever is quite good, without any harsh initial bite and loads of power. In the rear, a 265mm rotor works with a Brembo P24 dual-piston caliper that offers up a soft initial application and great feel that comes in handy when at low speeds or in low-grip conditions.
- The fit and finish are impressive—full stop. Either model of the 2019 Indian FTR 1200 is going to set you back quite a pretty penny. The good news is, this is a case of you get what you pay for; that is especially true of the S model in the Race Replica trim. It’s the type of bike that requires a bit of time in the garage sitting on ye ol’ flipped-over bucket to appreciate all of the detail put into it. The trellis frame looks exquisite, as does the tubular swingarm. The subframe and flat track style seat are a lesson in tasteful design to some of Indian’s competitors.
- LCD or TFT dashboards—which do you prefer? The standard model uses a round analog and LCD clock that is far more in line with the retro look of the FTR 1200. Meanwhile, the S model has gone in for the full-color touchscreen TFT display. It is similar in functionality to what we saw on the latest Chieftain touring bikes. A gloved hand can operate them, or you can easily interact with it via the controls at your thumbs. In either case, the TFT display is impressively intuitive.
- A bevy of accessories is available. Earlier this year, we reported on the curated collections available for the FTR platform—the Tracker, Rally, Sport, and Tour. The collections themselves do not carry an MSRP, as the components are sold individually – but the parts counter will give you the contents of a collection should ask for any them by name. Using these collections as inspiration gives the consumer a little more flexibility, mixing and matching accessories to build the perfect FTR for your specific needs.
- The 2019 Indian FTR 1200 boldly goes where no Indian has gone before. Product concepts will often take their places in history as quaint, if not ambitious, gems that never come to fruition. Indian made good on its promise to expand the lineup outside of the rigid confines of the cruiser world, while still being true to the brand. There is much to like about the FTR 1200, and I applaud them for doing well on their first go at a standard bike, but it’s not without its foibles. The engine is tastefully raw with a roughness and soul in it, the chassis is solid, the brakes are beyond great, and the finish is up there with the best of them, making it more than a styling exercise. Now, I can’t wait to see how it stacks against the competition.
Photography by Barry Hathaway
2019 Indian FTR 1200 and FTR 1200 S Specs
Type: 60-degree V-twin
Displacement: 73ci; 1203cc
Bore x stroke: 4.016 x 2.898”
Maximum power: 123 horsepower @ 8250 rpm
Maximum torque: 87 ft/lbs @ 6000 rpm
Compression ratio: 12.5:1
Valvetrain: DOHC; 4vpc
Fueling: Closed-loop EFI w/ 60mm throttle body
Final drive: 525 chain
Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable Sachs inverted 43mm Sachs cartridge fork; 5.9 inches (1200 S: Fully adjustable Sachs inverted 43mm Sachs cartridge fork; 5.9 inches)
Rear suspension; travel: Non-linkage, spring-preload and rebound-damping adjustable Sachs shock; 5.9 inches (1200 S: Non-linkage, fully adjustable Sachs shock; 5.9 inches)
Wheels: Cast aluminum
Front: 19 x 3”
Rear: 18 x 4.25”
Tires: Dunlop DT3-R
Front tire: 120/70 x 19
Rear tire: 150/70 x 18
Front brakes: 320mm discs w/ 4-piston Brembo M4.32 calipers
Rear brake: 265mm disc w/ 2-piston Brembo P34 caliper
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
Wheelbase: 60 inches
Rake: 26.3 degrees
Trail: 5.1 inches
Lean angle: 43 degrees
Seat height: 33.1 inches
Fuel capacity: 3.4 gallons
Curb weight: 508 pounds (1200 S: 518 pounds)
COLORS and PRICES
Thunder Black: $13,499 MSRP
FTR 1200 S
Indian Motorcycle Red over Steel Gray: $15,499 MSRP
Titanium Metallic over Thunder Black Pearl: $15,499 MSRP
Race Replica: $16,999 MSRP