I’m sure if I tell you to recollect something or someone offbeat, you’ll have a vivid picture in your mind. It’s quite natural for most of us to remember something quirky we’ve seen for a long time. It is the same case with the new Indian FTR 1200 S – a motorcycle inspired by Indian Motorcycles’ flat-track champion, the FTR750. Developed for the streets and everyday use, we’ve seen nothing like it in India or, for that matter, by Indian motorcycles. It breaks away from the stately designs of the bike maker’s big cruisers and ushers in a new kind of Indian.
If I had to sum up the way the Indian FTR 1200 S looks, ‘purposeful’ would be the right word. However, there’s a finesse in its design and quality that’s reminiscent of more stately Indian motorcycles like the Chieftain.
Powerful full-LED headlamp looks cool, works well.
From the detailed, round LED headlamp to the shape of the fuel tank and the stubby tail, the FTR 1200 is a lovely fusion of functionality and style. Speaking of, the fuel tank is not located in its usual position, but is instead placed under the seat for better mass centralisation. But you simply can’t tell that from looking at the bike, can you? What you will notice is way the dual exhausts snake their way from the headers to a compact collector box, from where they emerge to conclude in sharply upswept dual end cans.
The chequered pattern on the handlebar grips, the slick 4.3-inch LCD touchscreen instrument display (operable with gloved hands) and the shimmering paint job are indicative of the hours gone into infusing a degree of premiumness into the FTR. At the same time, the FTR 1200 doesn’t really have a lot of presence. You’ll appreciate the finer details up close, but this is not a bike that will make you stop in your tracks with your jaw on the floor; and that may well be a problem, given the price point this machine is playing at. Nevertheless, the aggressive motor may well make up for it.
The 1,203cc, liquid-cooled, V-Twin engine is a brand-new development for this machine and it develops 120hp and 120Nm of torque, which is in the same ballpark as some sport-nakeds. What I personally like is its aggressive nature, especially when you wring the throttle. This is more to do with the way the FTR gathers speed rather than the way it sounds and I can’t help but imagine that louder pipes would’ve elevated the experience to a whole new level. Indian does offer a Race Replica version that gets Akrapovic slip-ons, but that will set you back by a substantial amount. I’ll get to that later.
1203cc V-twin is refined, but has a wild side when you want it.
Nevertheless, the engine really feels alive and kicking with an underlying sense of mischief to it. Get past 3,000rpm and there’s a strong surge, all the way to 9,000rpm redline, and you end up getting up to some serious speeds very quickly. The four riding modes – Rain, Standard, Sport and Track – tune the power delivery, with ‘Track’ being the most aggressive. I, however, wasn’t happy with the overall throttle action, as it felt slightly disconnected, especially the throttle openings. It’s not a disaster, but Indian does need to fine-tune the ride-by-wire system.
In Mumbai’s infamous rush-hour traffic, this bike takes its race heritage seriously. Crawling past chock-a-bloc traffic, my thighs were being slow-roasted by the immense heat from the aft cylinder head. Its proximity to the rider’s perch makes things very uncomfortable, and, at times, I had to resort to standing on the pegs to distance myself from the oven! That said, the coolant temperature never crossed the 100-degree mark and a few minutes in free-flowing traffic restored everything back to normal. Out on the highway, the engine feels much happier, but the real fun and games begin when you’ve got the road and a deserted beach to yourself.
From the moment you swing your leg over the tall 853mm seat and grab the wide handlebar, you know this is a street motorcycle with a difference. After all, this is a motorcycle that’s meant to slide around dirt tracks as much as it’s supposed to tackle city traffic or carve corners. And Indian Motorcycles has done a pretty good job of developing a bike that offers the best of both worlds.
Whether it’s on city roads, the highway, or around a set of corners, the trellis frame as well as the fully adjustable front and rear suspension offer a great balance comfort and handling prowess. Despite the deplorable state of our roads, the FTR tackled everything with aplomb. There is, however, a slightly stiff edge to the suspension but you appreciate it when you chuck the FTR around corners, where the bike stays true to the intended line. This is extra impressive when you consider the Indian’s strange choice of wheel sizes. Its flat-track heritage is to thank for a 19-inch front and an 18-inch rear, which is not something you see very often on any style of bike.
1203cc V-twin is refined, but has a wild side when you want it.
This may be great on the flat track, but I doubt too many customers will go sliding their FTRs around. The drawbacks on the street include a slightly heavy steering as well as the fact that you’re not going to have too many appropriate aftermarket tyre options. Happily, the grip levels from the specially developed Dunlop DT3-R tyres are high, despite their block-pattern design, although I wonder how long they will last on tarmac.
We don’t have dirt tracks readily accessible, but a beach can be fun too, and it’s easy to get the bike spinning and sliding once the traction control and rear-wheel ABS are turned off. It’s as if you’ve flipped a switch and all of a sudden the otherwise restrained FTR has slipped into Hooligan mode. Doing this on the road will result in a wheelie-happy hoon, but the bike always feels controllable, despite its porky 231kg kerb weight.
The Indian for Indians?
The FTR 1200 is stand-out piece of machinery in the Indian’s portfolio, but I see a very niche set of customers who’d gravitate to it – those looking for a left-of-field option (one with a real hooligan streak) but without a wild design or a screaming multi-cylinder engine. What I can’t wrap my head around though is the Rs 15.99 lakh price tag for this FTR 1200 S (Rs 17.99 lakh for the Race Replica), which puts it bang in the middle of some seriously capable, and much more powerful, motorcycles. This bike is one for those who really know what they want.
Indian FTR 1200 S image gallery