Automakers develop new technologies with their experience in racing and the same help improve their daily road products. Apart from that, racing also elevates a brand's image across the world. Sixty years is a lot of time for a brand to be absent from flat track racing, but then Indian Motorcycle decided to step back in and developed a lethal race bike in the form of FTR 750. The bike ended up winning several championships for the brand, and from the same experience, the FTR 1200 motorcycle was born.
Road bikes which are developed from the racing inputs are masqueraded race machines which have been sedated a bit in order to make them more usable for everyday riding. With the FTR 1200, Indian Motorcycle has stepped into a brand-new segment which is meant to appeal to a younger set of audience which finds the Dark Horse or the Roadmaster too intimidating for the everyday ride.
Recently we got a chance to put our hands on the FTR 1200 S which sits in the middle of the base FTR 1200 and the top-spec FTR 1200 S Race Replica. Though the ride experience was short it was enough to answer some of our questions like if the FTR1200 S really stands true to its name and if this is really what younger riders need.
Our test bike unit came in the combo of black and grey paints. Unlike the 'RR' option, it doesn’t highlight the frame in red but most other details remain the same. Take a closer look and you’ll find the FTR 1200 S has some fine detailing done on the insides of the front LED circular headlamp and the tail lamp which also embeds the ‘Indian’ badging on it. Furthermore, the paint, and fit and finish are top-notch, as expected from a niche motorcycle of its kind.
Like the FTR750 it’s based on, the FTR 1200 has a dominating stance with a tank that flows smoothly into the seat, it gets a sharply pointed tail section, cast wheels with dirt track-style rubbers and chain final drive. When the FTR 1200 was revealed for the first time, some complained about it not having the high pipes as seen on the FTR750, but according to Indian, it is not feasible for a street-legal motorcycle to have such high pipes are they aren’t practical due to heat and the added width.
That said, the most intimidating bit on the motorcycle is the 4.3-inch Ride Command LCD touchscreen display which supports Bluetooth. First things first, the modern-looking screen has a very bright display which offers decent visibility under the full blazing sun. This screen features two display modes that can be easily flicked with the swipe of a finger. The menu is easy to navigate through and the touch is responsive which works with all kinds of riding gloves. Apart from this, the menu can also be navigated using the four-way joystick and buttons on the switchgear.
The S version gets a fully adjustable suspension, a six-axis IMU and an electronics package that includes lean angle-sensitive ABS, traction control, stability control and wheelie mitigation system. All that is in addition to three riding modes: Rain, Standard and Sport. Also, one of the best things about it is that the required modes can be selected on the go, and you don't have to pull over to make the changes.
The Indian FTR 1200 is closer to the European and Japanese naked sportbikes in terms of its nature than it is with any of the bikes from Indian Motorcycle or Harley-Davidson, and in a way, it doesn't feel like you are sitting astride an Indian. It is brilliantly fresh to ride, and astonishingly fast at the same time. It mounts a 1200 cc V-twin fire breathing engine which makes 123 horsepower and 87 lb-ft (118 Nm) of torque (claimed). Furthermore, bits like lightweight tubular-steel trellis frame, Brembo brakes and Sachs suspension only take the experience to a whole new level.
It’s not only closer to middle-weight naked roadsters on the paper but also rides like them. It doesn’t like to hide its wild nature even if you are dialled down to the lowest power mode, and if you think you are experienced enough, it also allows you to use the track mode which turns off the TCS and lets the front wheel catch some air time, even with minimal throttle inputs. The engine is always brimming with power, especially in the low and mid-range, and the bike accelerates fiercely from a standstill with so much force that it leaves you with a scared grin, and why not? It is capable of doing the 0-100 km/h run in close to 3.4 seconds, and that’s seriously impressive.
The engine does boil up if you are riding in the bumper to bumper traffic, but at the same time its cooling system is efficient enough to deviate all the hot air on to the lower side (closer to feet), and your thighs remain unaffected. The bike gets a thumbs up for that.
The Indian FTR 1200 S has an aggressive, hunched-forward riding position without being too extreme or uncomfortable. The reach to its wide and high set handlebar is just right, and the footpegs are thoughtfully positioned. The 33.1-inch (840 mm) seat will surely be a challenge for some but that was manageable for a guy like me ( 5'10").
Both the FTR750 and FTR1200 have much in common especially when it comes to the riding stance. The FTR750’s long and extended handlebar, flattish fuel tank, mid-set footpegs and a similar seat have been made to fit on its road version, and all this gives the FTR1200 the same authoritative riding position as its race cousin. For the road, the rider is a little hunched forward but that's quite important as it lets you grip the bike with confidence and that's exactly what you need to control a motorcycle that rides with so much character.
Although it has a large 19-inch front wheel, its 26.3 degrees of rake is considerably sharper for a bike of its class. This combination means the bike doesn't trade off stability for agility. It feels steady and well planted irrespective of the riding conditions and at the same time, throw some corners at it and you will be all smiles. It may feel like it’s resisting when you dip into a corner since its not a very lightweight machine, but once leaned in, the suspension works wonders to give the bike a planted feel. The only kink in the armour is that there isn’t much body grip available if you seriously wish to do some hard cornering and make good use of the knee sliders.
The Indian FTR 1200 S, priced at INR 15.99 lakh (ex-showroom India), is a serious performance motorcycle which is definitely one of the coolest looking bikes we've seen in a while. It is for those people who appreciate old school looks with some modern drama and are always brimming with the adrenaline rush to tackle every corner they meet on the road. This bike represents a corner-carving street tracker with a fire pumping heart and state-of-the-art technology which makes it quite a unique proposition and worthy of your first look if you are in the market to buy something as cool as this.