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Last Updated : Mar 14, 2020 04:01 PM IST | Source:

Indian FTR 1200 S Review: An exotic flat track racer brought to the streets

Indian FTR 1200 S does feel a bit stiff when riding straight lines for long hours but the corners really make up for it. What did get to me, however, was that the engine did not seem to hold low speeds very well.

‘Indian’, the auto maker, is mainly known for its big stately bikes usually used for touring in so much luxury, it makes a car seem rather unnecessary. But, what if I told you, there was something more? What if I said there is an Indian out there that does not promise uber luxury but extreme performance? Difficult to believe? That is what we thought, too. That is, until we got the FTR 1200 S.

Indian was in the business of flat track racing before but went into hibernation for nearly 60 years. When they finally decided to make a comeback, the manufacturer won the American Flat Track Twins titles back-to-back in 2017 and 2018. All of this on a machine called the FTR750 and this is what the company has brought to us — a flat tracker made to perform on the streets.

Let us talk about the looks first. The FTR 1200 S is flat track inspired motorcycle through and through. It gets a proper roadster design with a high tail, flat bars and a rear that is so neat and compact, sometimes you forget it is even there. The FTR completely blows away from the traditional cruiser and wide tourer that you would normally think of when someone said Indian Motorcycle.


The headlamp is a round LED unit and you cannot miss the detailing with the Indian logo inside. The instrument cluster is a 4.3-inch colour touchscreen panel and the big burly tank behind that flows neatly into the seat.

The bike is available in three colour options: a slightly boring black and grey, a more ravishing red and silver scheme that we received as our test bike. Then there is the Race Replica which gets even the chassis painted in red clearly marking out the lines of the bike. There is absolutely no doubt that the FTR 1200 S is not an attention grabber. If you catch the bike out of the corner of your eye, your head will turn to get a better, longer look at it.

Now, unlike Indian's actual race machine, the FTR 1200 S, as the name suggests, gets a 1203cc V-Twin that churns out 123 hp of maximum power 117.9 Nm of torque peaking at 6,000 rpm.

Thumb the starter and the motor growls to life settling at a soft purr while you take a moment to sink into the tune of the beautiful V-twin.

Now the bike does get three ride modes — Rain, Road and Sport — all of which can be set up to use or disable ABS and traction control with a track option. I used it in Standard mode for the most part and even with TC enabled, with the amount of low-end torque the bike gives you, it was so easy get off the line while spinning the wheel.

Riding around in the twisties is definitely a lot of fun. Now the long wheelbase and the fairly lax 26 degree rake does make you feel all 230 kilos of weight. To chuck it into a corner, you really have to muscle the bike in, but the wide ProTaper handlebars helps out quite a bit here. It gives you precise control on the large 19-inch front tyre while the bike holds its line beautifully. The suspension helps, too. With a 43 mm fully adjustable front fork and a side mount rear shock that is also fully adjustable, the 1200 will just fly through corners with ease even on undulating roads.

It does feel a bit stiff when riding straight lines for long hours but the corners really make up for it. What did get to me, however, was that the engine did not seem to hold low speeds very well. Try to rest the bike into a band between 2,000 and 3,500 and the bike would jerk, quite frankly, very annoyingly. But, maybe I could attribute that to a fairly freely used media test bike.

Coming down to rideability, the bike is tall. It does not look like it but the seat height of 840 mm could be a minor problem for shorter riders. It is comfy though. It offers ample amount of space to move around in is narrow enough at the front that you do not really feel the width of the bike. Seating position is a little on the aggressive side.

The handlebar is nice and wide and add in the mid-mounted footpegs, you stoop just a tiny bit to make you feel committed. But the setup is not so bad that it gets painful after a while. I spent hours at a stretch on the FTR and I had very little to complain about. Speaking about the footpegs, the 1200 S gets serrated metal pegs that are really wide. These give you plenty of grip as well as surface area to stand on and I had to do that quite a bit considering the state of most of our roads.

The bike is brilliantly well balanced, too. I crawled around at just under 10 km/h and I never found the need to put my foot down even while taking tight u-turns. The FTR also gets a ride-by-wire throttle, so along with the ride modes, you have cruise control. Setting up the speed and engaging is cruise control is simple and straight-forward. Two thumb presses and you could be riding at 100 km/h without having to twist the throttle anymore. But remember, this is a bike and not a car. It does not have lane keep or adaptive cruise control, so do not take your hands off the handlebar or your eyes off the road.

There is a slight issue of the heat however. If you are sitting in traffic, it is better to just switch the bike off than let it run and roast your thighs for dinner. Even so, the coolant temperature never touched the 100 degree mark and once you are moving you just need to spread out a little every once in a while to let your legs cool down a bit.

Remember the big burly tank we spoke about? Well, that is just for show really. Indian has placed the actual 13 litre fuel tank under the seat. Now, this does help with lowering the centre of gravity, but it also means that you get fewer miles on a full tank of gas.

So, should you buy one? Personally, if I had the money and I wanted something extremely niche, yes, I would go for it. It has got the look and it has got the speed. It is lovely in the twisties, pleasurable on the highways and fairly decent on bad roads to. But the bike is priced at Rs 15.99 lakh and Rs 17.99 lakh for the Race Replica (ex-showroom) and this is smack dab in the middle of some seriously powerful machinery out there. There is just a very small audience out there for something as exotic as an Indian FTR 1200.

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First Published on Mar 14, 2020 04:01 pm
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