Indian FTR 1200 and S test


Born on the earth, built for the road

V-Twin of 1,203 cm3, 120 hp and 115 Nm, 221 kg dry, Sachs suspension, Brembo brakes, from 14,690 euros

It had to happen. After two full seasons of Indian Motorcycle supremacy in American Flat Track racing for its return to competition after a 70-year hiatus – in which its FTR 750 racing motorcycle won the # 1 plaque two years in a row , winning 17 of 18 races in the 2018 season just ended – America’s oldest motorcycle manufacturer almost inevitably launched a production version of this title-winning motorcycle.

Clearly inspired by the FTR 750 in terms of styling and engineering, the base model of the FTR1200 costs 14,690 euros to climb to 15,990 euros for the FTR 1200S, depending on the colourways. First revealed at the Intermot show in Germany, the model inaugurates a series of Street Trackers from several other manufacturers, none of which has as rich a history of track success as Indian. Okay, Harley had tried doing it once with the XR1200 in 2008, but nothing since.

Fueled by the two seasons of domination of her sister on dirt tracks, the slogan chanted by the new Indian "born on the earth, built for the road" rings true when it is ridden..

Indian FTR 1200 SIndian FTR 1200 S


For the launch of the FTR 1200 / 1200S, the automaker hasn’t done things by halves with a tour of parent company Polaris headquarters in Indianapolis, an exclusive ride on pre-production prototypes on the roads of Minnesota and a visit to the Indian research and development center in Minnesota. The latter revealed that the FTRs were just the first of many future Indian models to be powered by the all-new 60 ° V-twin, 1,203cc liquid-cooled engine. Measuring 102 x 73.6 mm and delivering a claimed power of 120 hp at 8,250 rpm and torque of 115 Nm (85 lb-ft) at 6,000 rpm, this third Indian engine platform follows closely that Chiefs with whom they share a few points, but especially that of the Scout, whose overall format it uses and to which it will inevitably be compared.

Indian FTR 1200 S testIndian FTR 1200 S test

Steve menneto, CEO of Indian:

It’s a totally different engine than the Scout and I think you could say it’s a very flexible platform for us. We have a lot of opportunities ahead of us with this potential family of role models. It’s exciting to see how we’re going to expand Indian beyond the Cruiser / Bagger / Tourer segments – and the FTR1200 is a perfect example of how that’s going to turn out. We are focusing not only on the North American market, but also on Indian becoming a global brand. And for us to be such a credible brand, we know that we have to enter the European market with quality motorcycles, suitable for what customers in these countries are looking for..

So, while paradoxically this all-new engine makes its debut in something as uniquely American as popcorn, baseball and apple pie, Indian announces a whole series of motorcycles ranging from trail adventure to rival the BMW R1250GS, streetfighter through sport-tourer! Make your choice. Menneto and his colleagues on the Polaris board clearly envision Indian becoming a global brand and not just a maker of modern, albeit excellent, American V-twin motorcycles. And they chose this engine as the platform for the new models to be launched.

We were able to try a preproduction versionWe were able to try a preproduction version

According to Ben Lindaman, Global Product Manager at Indian, work on the new FTR 1200 platform began under the code name Project Apollo in March 2016, just two months after development of the FTR 750 racing model began; the two projects were therefore linked to each other from the very beginning. Over the past two and a half years, the FTR 1200 has already been tested over a million kilometers on the test track and tens of thousands of actual kilometers on the road. Such as a joint venture between the Polaris R&D center in Wyoming, opened in 2004 and which today employs 675 people in a covered area of ​​275,000 ft²; and the subsidiary Swissauto (acquired in February 2010), most of these tests were carried out by former GP 500 driver Juan Bautista Borja, but also by the Wrecking Crew AFT champion Flat Track racing team. This is the basis.

The FTR750 which served as the basis for the 1200The FTR750 which served as the basis for the 1200

The FTR 1200 features a tubular steel trellis frame in which the engine is mounted as a load bearing element, with an aluminum rear subframe and a fairly long tubular swingarm that swings with a Sachs side shock (fully adjustable on the FTR 1200S). Brembo 4-piston monobloc calipers with radial mounting, 19 "and 18" rims, Dunlop DTR-3 tires and Sachs suspensions complete the picture.

Indian FTR 1200 S tubular frameIndian FTR 1200 S tubular frame

Along with a wide range of dedicated accessories, even the base model incorporates cruise control and a serial USB port. Both models also receive a magnesium engine fairing as well as LED headlights and turn signals..

In the saddle

Climbing aboard the 840mm high double saddle – although there is little room for a passenger – reveals an upright, but engaging riding position. You feel seated quite far forward on the bike, which helps to load your body weight even when sitting so upright, with very little weight on your arms. It’s a position that doesn’t tire enough even when you start to ride hard, with the wide, flat one-piece saddle, flat ProTaper aluminum handlebars providing good ergonomics and considerable leverage..

The tank has been moved to the rear of the motorcycleThe tank has been moved to the rear of the motorcycle

This bike will be an ideal companion for virolos, despite its rather conservative steering geometry – the Sachs 43mm inverted fork is set to a 26.3 ° rake angle, with 130mm of drag – and a long wheelbase of 1524. mm. The footrests are placed further back than expected, but the result is a fairly distinctive and comfortable enough riding position, with an unobstructed view of the traffic in front of you. Expect this Indian to rival the Ducati Monster 1200 !

Indian FTR 1200 speedometerIndian FTR 1200 speedometer

In front of us stands a basic analog meter with an integrated LCD screen. On the other hand, the S model has a 4.3-inch customizable LCD touchscreen digital instrument panel with telephone and Bluetooth connectivity. And this type of dashboard is starting to show up more and more everywhere.

Indian FTR 1200 S TFT screenIndian FTR 1200 S TFT screen

Just press the starter and get ready to step back in time, because the flat track-inspired 2-1-2 stainless steel muffler on the right side of the bike is bound to be quieter (since Euro 4) than it is. that many people who used it without being a Ducatist considered the best European V-twin engine of the turn of the millennium, the Aprilia RSV Mille engine. Much like a 60 °, eight-valve V-twin, it combined a compact construction with a wide range of power and torque, with the only drawback of its height, since there was no space between the cylinders as on a Ducati to position the throttle bodies between the vee cylinder, while providing an appropriate airbox volume.

The 1,203 cc V-twin delivers 120 horsepowerMuffler of the Indian FTR 1200

Indian addressed this problem on the FTR 1200 by moving the 13-liter fuel tank rearward to under the seat, which not only lowers the center of gravity and provides more room for the airbox to position itself. so directly above the two Mikuni 60mm throttle bodies, but also helps to centralize the masses in order to make the bike more agile and easier to ride. And the Indian runs well, especially in tight corners, despite its long wheelbase and 19-inch front and 18-inch 10-spoke 10-spoke cast aluminum rims at the front and 18-inch rear fitted with specially designed Dunlop DT3-R tires. designed for this model with a flat track style tread.

Indian FTR 1200 S LED headlightIndian FTR 1200 S transmission

Rich christoph, Senior Industrial Designer of the FTR 1200:

Initially we wanted 19 "wheels in front and behind, like we do in American Flat Track. But we couldn’t find a suitable 19" rear tire, so we tried a 17/17, but this was not beautiful. The 19/18 "choice gave us both the look and the performance.

This is the case, but at the expense of noticeable tire noise due to the tread pattern when driving on a freeway, as well as a tendency to slip that acts as an early warning system..

Indian FTR 1200 speedometerIndian FTR 1200 S LED headlight

In the city

The limited slip clutch integrated as standard on both versions has been configured to allow minimal engine braking, allowing Brembo calipers to play their role to the full. Bosch ABS is also standard and can be deactivated, although it was not yet calibrated on our test bikes. Bosch also supplies the ECU complete with Ride-by-Wire which, only on the S, offers a choice of three different driving modes, Sport, Standard and Rain, as well as traction control systems and cornering ABS. By the way, this clutch is very soft: you can operate the lever with just a finger. This is a motorcycle perfectly at ease in traffic or in the city and therefore will not cause cramping in the left hand..

The clutch is very easy to operateThe FTR 1200 is very manoeuvrable at low speed


In faster turns, the FTR is very reassuring, staying perfectly in line, without feeling the conservative geometry that unduly weighs down the steering. The handlebars don’t even wobble slightly in the hands, as some fast Nakeds with imperfect steering geometry do. But in the fast turns at 70 km / h I noticed that it was always preferable to pass the fifth and to pass at least to half-speed to allow the Indian to take its trajectory without ever lifting the front wheel, even just a little.

The turns follow one another with great easeThe turns follow one another with great ease

And you can indeed use that wide handlebar to rock the FTR 1200 through a series of tighter, slower turns, quickly and safely, even if the machine prompts play. The Señhowever Borja did his job very well. Indian and Sachs together produced a well-balanced motorcycle, where each end of the motorcycle works in harmony with the other.

Indian FTR 1200 S road testIndian FTR 1200 S road test

But the star remains this 84 kg engine, almost 18 kg less than the 1,133 cm3 of the Scout, which produces no excessive vibration up to 7,000 rpm; that’s when you start to feel the beginning of a whirring sound in the footrests. But no more, until the breaker set at 9,000 rpm and yet this fabulous engine requires a lot of engagement and provides tons of power and torque. Note that it can also be original clamped to meet the needs of the A2 license..

The Indian FTR 1200 S is especially a treat on small roadsThe Indian FTR 1200 S is especially a treat on small roads

A few weeks earlier, I had tested AAF World Champion Jared Meed’s # 1 FTR750 at the top of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, with an urge, "Please, Indian, put this engine in a frame. of streetbike with headlights and a horn! ". Well they haven’t yet, because the FTR 750 is still strictly for racing, but the 1200 is just as good and trust me it sends. So much so that during the test I caught myself more than once to think: "Please Indian, put this engine in a trail, cafe racer and streetfighter, please, s ‘please… !" before finding out that this is their intention.

Motorways and expressways

What I’m about to say now may sound like a backhanded compliment, but it’s not meant to be what it is: it more reflects the development of the American motorcycle industry, where Indian more and more in the foreground. But when I was driving the FTR 1200, I also had to pinch myself several times to remind myself that I was riding a Made in America motorcycle, because the engine that powered it looked very European – even Italian … with its compression ratio. 12.5: 1, high flow cylinder heads and a low inertia crankshaft that is 10 lbs / 4.5 kg lighter than the Scout model. This allows the engine to rev up quickly with immediate throttle response, making it a very aggressive, flat track-inspired bike, if you so choose. However, there is also a very flat torque curve delivering power in a progressive and predictable fashion, with loads of punch at low revs. It’s up to the pilot to choose.

The Indian is able to resume at any dietThe Indian is able to resume on any diet

So unless you really want to do it by selecting the Sport drive mode on the FTR 1200S – that’s exactly what the label says, with crisp throttle response, crisp acceleration and powerful power. and intensely invigorating. In fact, whatever the report, the FTR 1200 has it right. You can accelerate to full speed in sixth gear from 2,000 rpm without any transmission jerks over the entire operating range and therefore there is no need to continue working with the gearbox for the FTR engine works – but it is possible. You choose. The fuel supply is excellent from the Bosch ECU, which makes the FTR 1200 engine a modern, efficient and refined block, with which it is pleasant to drive.

The clutch is very easy to operateThe clutch is very easy to operate

Cycle part

The Sachs suspension with its impressive 150mm of travel at both ends sends you all the information of all the bumps on Minnesota roads, especially via the rear cantilever. Despite this, there is no back-and-forth sensation, even under heavy braking or sharp acceleration. Coupled with the centralized mass provided by the architecture of the motorcycle as a whole, the Indian changes direction effortlessly, confirming excellent overall handling..

Indian FTR 1200 S adjustable shock absorberIndian FTR 1200 S adjustable shock absorber

Ben Lindaman :

We knew this bike was going to be used primarily in town, on the highway, and on winding roads. So we optimized our suspension, but we also made sure that it was able to take more than asphalt if desired – it can dampen rough surfaces, cobblestones and speed bumps without actually being an all-out motorcycle. -terrain, but while handling lightly in off-road.

The flat profile of the Dunlop rear 150 / 80-18 tire gives the FTR great cornering stability, at the risk of flirting with the limit of the tire. The FTR can take 43 ° of angle before something hits the ground – luckily both FTRs have a lot more ground clearance than the Scout Bobber, which is currently the best-selling model in the United States ahead of the Scout. and the Chieftain – is enough to make you feel like the tire is talking to you as you approach the edge of the tread as you take sharp turns when the tread cobbles seem to start to wiggle. I hear you, I hear you…!

Indian FTR 1200 Dunlop tiresIndian FTR 1200 Dunlop tires


The 320mm front discs clamped by Brembo 4-piston radial-mount monoblock calipers provide a good feel and are effective at stopping the 221kg of the FTR 1200 (dry, 1kg heavier for the S). Applying the front brakes from the angle does not cause the Indian to get up and go into the ditch, as is sometimes the case on motorcycles with a long chase..

Indian FTR 1200 S front brakeIndian FTR 1200 S front brake

Comfort / Duo

That’s all good, but there were a few issues with this prototype like the fairly hard saddle padding that needs to be redesigned with such an upright stance, which Indian engineers believe should be the case. Installed on the side of the shock absorber, the side stand is impossible to reassemble without scratching the ankle on the footrest and finally the ignition key is difficult to access because of the speedometer. Little things that should be easily fixed with the final version.

Indian FTR 1200 S saddleIndian FTR 1200 S saddle


Unfortunately, we did not have time to assess the fuel consumption precisely during this first test. A longer test will make it possible to judge soon..

Indian FTR 1200 S tail lightIndian FTR 1200 S tail light

Video test


Riding the first Indian "performance" motorcycle, which is also the first model to use the company’s new global platform for the development of future models, was both fun and awe-inspiring. Authentic and compelling, the FTR 1200 is the first in a new family of models aimed at delivering global, American-style appeal. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

The Indian FTR 1200 is closer to European roadsters than the usual American productionsThe Indian FTR 1200 is closer to European roadsters than the usual American productions

Strong points

  • Smooth and punchy motor
  • Agility of the cycle part
  • Granting of suspensions
  • Braking

Weak points

  • Firm saddle
  • Position of the side stand

The technical sheet of Indian FTR 1200 and FTR 1200 S

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4 thoughts on “Indian FTR 1200 and S test

  1. A hell of a bike that I regret having sold in 2000, happy to see it again dapper in its orange color DAYTONA, motorcycle that I restored in 1992 with which I had a lot of fun

    Long live her again …

  2. Thank you for this test, good analysis, that’s exactly it … I traveled nearly 4000kms of departmental roads in a few weeks with mine without any gadgets or options except traction control and heated grips for the winter. It may be more expensive than a Japanese but how good is it !!

  3. Hello,

    this motorbike reminds me of a copy and paste

    of the Guzzi Griso 1200 se.

    Yes after we can play the game of differences because there are

    but overall they are two very similar machines.

  4. Thanks for your comments ; the Griso is a bit less rigorous in the chassis, but otherwise, yes, there is that. A big twin, a nice face, not much around: real pleasure !

    thank you for following us,


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