2019 Indian FTR 1200 and FTR 1200 S: Indian’s Flat Track Inspired Roadster Makes its Debut
Here is the bike that could change the American motorcycle industry.
Year Make Model: 2019 Indian FTR 1200 and FTR 1200 S
Topline: Indian’s highly anticipated production model inspired by the dominant FTR750 flat track race bike and FTR1200 Custom concept finally makes its official debut, accompanied by a sporty S model to boot.
What’s New: The FTR 1200 and FTR 1200 S are all-new for 2019. These are very significant motorcycles because they represent the first ones in Indian’s modern history that aren't cruisers. These could be considered standard bikes, naked bikes, or roadsters, offering up a neutral yet sporty riding position instead of the laid-back ergonomics found in the company's other offerings.
These bikes have an all-new frame and engine unique to the FTR 1200 lineup. Indian is making it sound like this new modular platform and engine will be the basis of more new motorcycles in the future. Since pretty much every component of these bikes is brand new, there’s a lot to unpack here.
The engine is a liquid-cooled 1203cc V-twin that kicks out very respectable performance numbers of 120 horsepower and 85 pound-feet of torque. It’s linked to a six-speed manual transmission with a power-assisted slipper clutch. By comparison, the 1130cc V-twin that powers the Scout makes 100 hp and 72 lb-ft of twist. That means the FTR is positioned above the Scout line and below the bigger Chief in Indian’s lineup, and it's reflected in prices of $12,999 for the FTR 1200 and $14,999 for the FTR 1200 S.
There's a new steel trellis frame and aluminum subframe with an asymmetrical single-side rear shock mount. Various aluminum components throughout the frame help keep the weight down; the FTR 1200 coming in at 488 pounds dry, and the S model weighs a single pound more. That’s more than 40 pounds lighter than a Scout.
The front suspension is made up of 43-millimeter upside down cartridge forks with 5.9 inches of travel, and the side-mounted rear suspension can move an equal amount. It's here that one of the key differences between the FTR 1200 and FTR 1200 S can be found: the S model has gold front forks (which aren’t Öhlins-sourced) and the rear monoshock has an aluminum piggyback reservoir with compression adjustment. Both models have preload and rebound adjustments in the rear and the S model has adjustable preload, compression, and rebound both front and back.
Stopping power comes courtesy of Brembo with a pair of four-piston calipers on the dual-disc brakes up front and a two-piston unit grabbing the single-disc in the rear. ABS is standard on all FTR models which is always a plus at this price point.
The FTR 1200 gets a fairly normal analog gauge cluster, but the S model gets a customizable 4.3-inch Ride Command touchscreen with Bluetooth. Other perks of the S model include lean-angle sensitive stability control, traction control, and wheelie mitigation control (which will hopefully have an off button in that lovely TFT screen). You also get three ride modes with the FTR 1200 S: Sport, Standard, and Rain.
All of the upgrades of the S model like the different suspension and technology should make for a bike that's more fun to ride harder. It doesn't get a boost in power or torque, but things like stability control, sport mode, and more adjustable suspension should mean that you can dig in a little harder in the corners and twist the throttle a little more aggressively without worrying if the bike can keep up.
Quotable: “Our vision from the beginning was to be more than a traditional American V-twin brand. We continually seek to broaden Indian Motorcycle’s reach to a wider range of riders, and FTR 1200 represents a significant step forward in that strategy,” Indian Motorcycle President Steve Menneto said. “Indian Motorcycle was founded on performance and innovation, and we remain grounded by our founder’s mindset of constantly pushing forward. In light of that history, the FTR 1200 is a natural extension for the brand that we couldn’t be more excited about.”
“This is an extremely exciting platform for us, and after investing such a significant amount of time, expertise and energy in the design process, it’s an incredible feeling to finally show the world these motorcycles,” added Rich Christoph, the company's senior designer who was also instrumental in the design of the FTR750 and FTR1200 Custom. “Our primary focus was to ensure these motorcycles carried the same lines and form language as the FTR750 and 1200 Custom. We knew that’s what riders around the world fell in love with. I couldn’t be more proud to turn the FTR750 into a flat tracker for the street and help launch Indian into a new era.”
“These bikes have gone through a rigorous, multi-year design and testing process to ensure that they perform as good as they look,” explained Ben Lindaman, Indian Motorcycle senior international product manager. “The process was incredibly robust, including over one million miles logged through simulated rides. We also accumulated tens of thousands of test miles on the street with input from racers, including our championship winning Wrecking Crew flat track team and former Grand Prix racers.”
What You Need to Know: Here’s the part where we address the elephant in the room. The production FTR 1200 might be a little more different than many had hoped from the FTR1200 Custom concept bike that we all fell in love with last year. Here’s why that is.
In order to take the FTR from a dream to reality, some obvious changes needed to be made to make it street legal, user-friendly, and reasonably priced. That high exhaust had to be re-routed so people wouldn’t be constantly burning their legs; the seat had to fit two people and be more comfortable for all-day riding; the carbon fiber bits had to go, and so on. If you wanted Indian to just build the FTR Custom concept and sell it as-is, we’d be talking about a less useable bike that’s at least double the price of what we have here.
There's a lot to love about the production FTR 1200, at least on paper. Hopefully, that love will be confirmed when we get a chance to ride one. It has the clear flat track inspiration we want with an affordable price and the everyday usability that it needs to be a successful volume bike. From the styling to the riding position to the price, it seems as if Indian nailed it with the production FTR 1200 despite not looking exactly like the concept.
We'll be at the Intermot motorcycle expo in Cologne, Germany this week to get an early look at the production FTR 1200 and its sportier counterpart in the metal.
The FTR 1200 and FTR 1200 S will hit dealers in spring of 2019. Hopefully, it will be the hit that it needs to be to motivate Indian to continue stepping further outside of its comfort zone and diversifying its lineup with more than just cruisers.