Lieback’s Lounge: FTR—The Savior From Winter Misery?

Lieback’s Lounge: FTR—The Savior From Winter Misery?

When I found myself cleaning the tire treads on my Multistrada 1200, I knew the winter madness had returned.

January and February helped prompt weird acts like cleaning tire treads due to consecutive days of snowfall. At one point, the skies remained dusty with white stuff for three days straight.

During that time, my front porch’s three steps disappeared, and the snowblower sucked down four gallons of gas (and a solar light fixture—sorry, Pam).

I’ve written often about my love/hate relationship with winter. When riding is impossible during the coldest periods, I get months’ worth of work completed in days. I just finished a 40,000-word first draft of my second book within six weeks. The outside may be miserable, but the lights are bright within.

I embrace these brisk months for focusing on bigger projects like writing books. But by this time of the season, it all gets to me intermittently; cleaning tire treads is all that needs mentioning.

The productivity delivers mounds of happiness—and on most afternoons during the workweek, mounds of sadness. During these cold months on the East Coast, I daydream about the simple things of the warmer weather, such as quick lunch rides when I’m chasing the perfect line at triple-digit speeds or slapping elbows off trees.

Sometimes we all need a savior, and one arrived for February—the 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S launch in Palm Springs, Calif. This would have been my first new motorcycle launch in nearly a year and transported me to much warmer weather.

A friend testing positive for COVID-19 prevented my presence. Thankfully, he’s back to full health. I had to quarantine, though I did not test positive. There was no time for selfishness; if I did carry that hidden nightmare, I wouldn’t want to drag down my fellow motojournalists.

Redemption is now on the Arizona horizon. My trip is booked for the early press launch of the 2022 Indian FTR lineup. The Grand Canyon State will host my first launch since exactly a year ago when I tested the Michelin Commander III tires at 2020 Daytona Bike Week.

FTR exhaust

The 2022 FTR lineup has all the necessities to rid the ride-less misery of the Northeast, including a 1203cc v-twin that produces 120 front-wheel lofting horsepower. Three of the four models also don 17-inch wheels; the Rally model the only one retaining the awkward 19/18 setup for off-road and nostalgic purposes.

The 17-inch wheel setup opens the bike to the world of high-performance street tires. Nostalgia looks cool, but performance rubber will feel much cooler. I’m craving the FTR R Carbon, which will further lighten my winter blues with Öhlins suspension and an Akrapovič exhaust that will make that V-twin sound as fierce as it will feel.

To aid in my success of not missing this one, I’ll self-quarantine ahead of the launch to prevent another missed opportunity like the Multistrada V4 launch.

I need some sanity back, and twisting throttles with friends while testing a revamped FTR in warmer weather is the only ticket available in the short term. And it sure beats cleaning tire treads.