FTR 1200 S – First Ride Review

A race-winning inspired production model that has adopted the proper bits makes the FTR 1200 S more than just another Indian.

I have to admit. I am pleasantly surprised by Indian’s FTR 1200 S. It’s not that I was expecting less from the bike, but this model is particularly impressive. Understanding how this bike became a production model is great in itself. Racing is part of the FTR 1200 S’ DNA, and winning is in its blood.

My evaluation began in California via the canyons and hills of Malibu, followed by a spirited jaunt through Venice and Los Angeles. Before throwing a leg over, I took a moment for a walk around to familiarize myself with what would be my “office” for the next few hundred miles. To begin, it’s design is directly derivative from Indian’s race bike, the FTR 750, the bike that has been kicking ass in the American Flat Track series for the last two years.

The trellis frame and swingarm not only expose the 1203cc V-twin engine but also shaves a few pounds, bringing the total wet weight to 518 pounds. The suspension is composed of 43mm front forks and a rear Sachs piggyback suspension, both of which are fully adjustable. That stacked Akrapovic 2 – 1 – 2 exhaust pipe gives a major bump in points for both style and performance. Other elements of race-inspired style include the Pro Taper handlebar and the Brembo brake set up. On the front end, you’ll find a Brembo master brake cylinder, and dual 320mm rotors kitted with Brembo 4 piston calipers. The rear braking system is a single 265mm rotor, equipped with a Brembo 2 piston caliper.

FTR 1200 S

The FTR1200 S looks taller than it is. With a seat height of 33.1 inches, I was flatfooted and comfortable in the saddle. The ergonomics were on point as all of the controls were well within my reach. I did not have to extend myself over, nor did I feel bunched up.

When I turned her on, I was greeted by a brilliant Polaris Ride Command equipped LCD touchscreen dash. Via the dash center, you can access a number of settings and data: gauge cluster, smart device BlueTooth connectivity, GPS, ride modes, etc. The data center has three menu buttons to the left of the screen for scrolling and menu selection purposes and USB port to charge and connect your smart device directly. Additionally, you’ll find a joystick on the left-hand controls, and a toggle switch on the right side controls for accessing menus while in motion.

There are three ride modes: Rain, Standard, and Sport. The modes work in harmony with FTR’s ABS, traction control, lean angle sensor to provide you with the appropriate amount of output and assists for a number of riding conditions. This is an excellent spot to mention that the FTR is a hooligan’s dream. The dimensions of the bike in addition to snappy, but manageable, torque makes it super wheelie friendly. Thus, Indian has provided wheelie mitigation control.

FTR 1200 S

Riding out, I’m comfortable and stable on the FTR. I have limited dirt bike experience and have done a moderate amount of flat track riding. Riding a bike that was birthed in the dirt and designed for the oval, through the streets of Venice en route to the canyons took a few blocks to find my feel and sweet spot. Once achieved, the appreciation for the bike’s suspension set up was almost immediate. Without adjusting the front or rear, the FTR seemed just fine hauling my big ass around Venice before hitting the 101 for a bit of freeway riding.

This pre-route, before hitting the main route, has always afforded me a chance to get to know the bike before we get to the business section of the day. Riding through the blocks with a few corners and onto the high, the FTR makes for a great commuter and would be right at home in any urban setting. When I hit the highway and rolled on the throttle, the response from the engine was progressively aggressive. It wasn’t out of control, but it would let loose it you let it. But the highway is not the FTR ‘s realm.

Packing an ever-ready 123 horses and a torque output of 87 foot-pounds, the FTR1200S is a canyon carver. Turning off the 101 and heading up into the hills, the FTR was ready to play. The stability and confidence, paired with the nimble agility, reminded me of my younger years as I ripped about the streets of Philly on my GT Pro Performer BMX pedal bike. This was me making the “big man, little bike” theory come together in a real-world application.

The FTR’s exceptional balance comes from its low center of gravity. This was achieved by the placement of the 3.4-gallon capacity fuel tank directly beneath the saddle. The lower center of gravity makes stability and handling effortless. It was an absolute blast diving into tight blind turns that opened into straights before dipping into a sweeper that brought you around. As I rolled on the responsive throttle, armed with the confidence of the ABS, traction and lean stability controls, the FTR’s fourth and overall mode was realized: the mode of fun. There is no way that any biker could ride the FTR and not have a cheesy grin sweep across their faces. And that throaty Akrapovic pipe only sweetens the enjoyment. The bike sounds like and is performing like it is having the time of its life.

Indian got so many things right with the FTR 1200S that the bar for the brand is now raised. I’m hard-pressed to find something on the bike that I would modify. With that being said, I would like to experience the FTR1200S on a set of sport performance tires instead of the OEM equipped DT3-R radials. It rides the fine line between tracker and motard, but with the appropriate set of rubber, it could blend that line, splendidly.

FTR 1200 S

A few weeks after my initial ride with the FTR through Venice, Malibu and Los Angeles, Indian provided me with an FTR1200S to rip around on the streets and back roads of Philadelphia. With familiar roads at my beck and call, the FTR1200S’ overall presence and performance did not disappoint. Traffic? What traffic? Even in stop and go scenarios, the FTR maintained its fun factor. While I can not confirm or deny the FTR’s curb hopping or stair blasting abilities, I can say that, as a professional, curbs and stairs are not an issue. As I stated, the FTR1200S is the stuff that hooligans dream of.

The Indian FTR 1200 S is going to surprise a great number of people with its performance features and rider-friendly components. A race-winning inspired production model that has adopted the proper bits makes the FTR 1200 S more than just another Indian.

Images: Allan Lane//The Brand Amp

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