Piloting the 2022 Indian FTR 1200 S along Arizona’s 117-year-old Apache Trail, the subtle updates are immediately felt, especially in the curves. The refinements clarify what Indian Motorcycle attempts to achieve—cool nostalgic looks with a modern sportbike feel.One day aboard the FTR, from galloping across town to triple-digit highway cruising to cowboy-country twisties that resemble some of Spain’s finest southern roads, and I walked away easily with some insight.Yes, I walked away easily because the rod in my right femur usually has me limping away after tearing around on most upright bikes. Here’s what I found out about the 2022 Indian FTR 1200 S, which sits between the standard FTR and the FTR R Carbon in the line.
1. The 2022 FTR 1200 S arrives with 17-inch wheels versus the previous model’s 19-/18-inch setup, which dramatically increases cornering performance. I never complained about the 19/18s, but the only quick way through some corners was aggressively backing it in. Of course, that type of riding produces grins, but sometimes I get lazy and want the bike to do most of the work. The 17s help provide the solution here. They also add to comfort/control on the highways, and a more planted feeling in town, especially during a few mock emergency-braking experiments. No worries, cool nostalgia lovers, Indian continues to offer the 19/18 combo on the FTR Rally.2. The FTR’s 17s are shod with Metzeler Sportec, which provided endless grip throughout the day. The use of 17s also allows for an infinite variety of tires, from super grippy sport tires to sport touring tires that will go the distance while providing enough handling. Check out my Metzeler Sportec M9 RR tire test at Spain’s Circuito Ascari.3. Besides the tires, the suspension travel is shorter to lower the chassis. The suspension travel was reduced from 5.9 inches to 4.7 inches, front and rear, giving the FTR S a feel more like an all-day upright sportbike. Dare I say the bike had a Monster 1200 feel to it? The shorter suspension and revamped triple-tree shorten the trail (3.9 vs. 5.1 inches) and steepen the rake (25.3 vs. 26.3 degrees). That allows me to flick the bike quicker into and out of turns.4. Like the base FTR, the S has fully adjustable ZF Sachs suspension and only needed a quick tune for my ride. The bike initially felt like it had too much rebound damping. However, after some slight adjustments, the chassis responded better to my style of loading the front brakes and riding the rear brake on the endless tight, decreasing radius turns. In short, the lower travel and fully adjustable suspension make this motorcycle outhandle the previous FTR in every way.5. The new 2022 FTR’s seat height drops from 32.1 to 30.7, which inspires a feeling of control due to being flat-footed when stopper. Though 1.4 inches doesn’t sound like much, it makes a drastic difference when talking about a motorcycle’s seat height. The lower seat height also helps lower the center of gravity, which aids in sharper handling. Further, it makes the FTR more accessible to riders with shorter inseams.6. The 1203cc V-twin engine remains the same at its core. However, it is now producing 120 horsepower and 87 ft-lbs of torque that delivers happiness in town, in the twisties, or on the highway. That’s down three horsepower from the previous model, but I didn’t notice one difference in power. Most noticeable is the added smoothness. Gone is the annoying surge found on previous FTRs. Indian attributes the fix to “optimized electronics” that smooth throttle response. Indian didn’t go into much technical detail here, but it sounds like they simply remapped the ECU.7. The six-speed transmission is geared for everyday street duty, with short first- and second gears, and a tall sixth gear. During the spirited sport riding, I short-shifted, allowing the transmission to stay in third or fourth gear and let the natural wide torque curve of the engine do the work.8. Heat is drastically reduced compared to the previous models. Though the temps didn’t go above 80 while testing in Arizona, the heat soak in some stop-and-go traffic on the thighs was barely felt. This is due to a simple redesign of the air reflectors on the right and left sides of the front of the radiator, and something that many modern cruiser riders know about—rear cylinder deactivation while at a stop. If you don’t like rear-cylinder deactivation, it can be turned off.9. The three riding modes—Sport, Standard, and Rain—worked as they should for each situation, although I didn’t experience any rain during the launch. I used standard in town for the noticeably softer throttle response. The rest of the time, I kept it in Sport, which provided a much more aggressive throttle response. Although bold, it’s not so fierce that it dilutes the smooth feeling when abruptly transitioning to wide-open throttle.10. Traction control saved me twice in sandy corners in Sport mode. I did feel the tire slip out about a foot while transitioning into full throttle out of a corner. In Standard mode, this would not have happened. In Rain mode, you can feel the traction control working across loose dirt.11. Other electronics include cruise control, wheelie control, and rear-wheel lift mitigation that are independently integrated into each riding mode. No worries for the hooligan types; when in Sport mode, wheelies are easy while clutching the twin.12. The handlebar is narrower than the previous FTR, tucked in from 33.9 to 32.5 inches. This gives the FTR an upright sportbike feel rather than flat tracker ergonomics. Like the decreased seat height, the change improves psychological confidence.13. Thankfully, Indian stuck with the much-respected Brembo braking system on the FTR. The 320mm discs up front squeezed by four-piston calipers produces all the grip and feel needed at the lever for the sportiest of riding. The rear 260mm disc and two-piston caliper have the feel needed to tighten up the line while carrying too much speed into Apache Trail’s decreasing radius turns. As for the cornering ABS, it also worked flawlessly. My only complaint—it’s not switchable, so you can’t have hooligan fun with the rear wheel under braking.14. The dash is a 4.3-inch full-color TFT touchscreen. It features an intuitive layout that allows you to choose between two gauge views, including my favorite with a giant circular track and the gear position in the upper right-hand corner. An easy-to-reach switch from your throttle hand’s index fingers allows you to switch from the main gauge to the first settings page. From there, it’s a simple one-finger push to switch off traction control or change riding modes while on the move (close the throttle to activate). The screen also automatically adjusts based on sunlight input. I read the display clearly throughout the day. A few moments in direct sunlight that would reflect and distract on many other motorcycle gauges was handled effortlessly by the FTR’s display.15. The 1200 S gets an Akrapovič exhaust system. The sound over the base model increases the audible balls of the V-twin, delivering a sound that competes with the best of the Japanese upright sportbikes. Although I didn’t ride a base model, I know the upgrade is worth it just for the noise and looks.16. You have a choice of two colors for the 2022 Indian FTR 1200 S—White Smoke and Maroon Metallic. I spent my day upon the Maroon Metallic and got nothing but compliments from passersby wanting to soak up the Arizona skies at Tortilla Flat, a community where I stopped for lunch. The fun part? The most compliments arrived from those riding Harleys. There is a heritage feeling involved in the Maroon Metallic because it carries the Indian head versus the White Smoke’s simple Indian script logo.17. I didn’t limp away from this first ride aboard the 2022 Indian FTR 1200 S, which says much about how much I respect this motorcycle. How a bike of this genre reacts at spirited paces is what I seek first. Next, though, is comfortable ergonomics that don’t cause me to limp after a long day of spirited riding. The genius of the FTR 1200 S design is that it does both. Whether you want to head home and sip some bourbon to chill the mindset after ripping the canyons, or settle into bed after looking cool all day in town, the new FTR 1200 S delivers. And, for me, all without a limp.Photo Credits:
This week Teejay chats to Tyler Poppe. Tyler works on the TV show Mayans MC–and yet he doesn’t ride an American V-Twin. Wassup with that?? Also, Arthur finds out from friend Mike Cardillo about his thoughts on the full-size version of the Kawasaki KLX 140R F trail bike.