Indian Motorcycle sets its eye on a new class within the V-twin segment, inventing a fresh product category with its FTR 1200. Engineered in partnership with its championship-winning AFT Twins flat-track racing program, the FTR 1200 is a road-legal street tracker and a worthy choice for motorcyclists who want to get sideways. To prove it, Indian Motorcycle invited us south of the border and into the Baja Peninsula to experience just how wild of a ride the FTR is.

2019 Indian FTR 1200 S premium Akrapovič pipes.
Premium Akrapovič pipes are available as an OE accessory from Indian Motorcycle.Barry Hathaway

Although designed to be ridden around clay ovals, the FTR is far from a dirt bike with a stretched and low stance. Yet it isn’t overdone as compared to other more conventional cruisers. Like the racebike it is based off, the 1200 exudes a muscular stance that appears fast standing still. The ergonomics are equally street-oriented with conventional rear-mount foot controls and an alloy ProTaper handlebar with a medium rise and sweep. Yes, you can stand up at the controls over rough terrain, however it’s an awkward stance, especially considering the flat shape of the faux fuel tank. (The actual 3.4-gallon tank is positioned beneath the rider seat.)

The handlebar can be rolled forward or backward depending on preference, however we liked it in its neutral position. The stepped one-piece saddle is a fine place to work from. It locks the rider in a commanding position and is all-day cozy too. Although we rode solo, the passenger accommodations looks equally appealing.

We spent the majority of time on Indian’s premium S model. For its $15,499 asking price it benefits from IMU-powered traction control, ABS, and three adjustable engine power modes. The suspension also adds three-way adjustability. Although to be fair, the OE damping settings were well calibrated over the variety of terrain we rode. Our only complaint would be the rear suspension’s rough ride over bumps (more on that later…).

2019 Indian FTR 1200 S headlight.
She’s a looker. Indian did a fantastic job with the design of the 2019 FTR 1200. “Design the air out of the bike,” a famous Erik Buell quote that lives on with the muscular stance of the FTR.Barry Hathaway

Of the trio of power settings, we preferred the Standard mode, with it offering accurate throttle response without feeling overly snappy. On/off throttle response is especially well-dialed but there is a slight disconnection in terms of throttle twist and engine power, with a mild surging effect during delicate partial (over 50 percent) to fully open throttle inputs. It’s worth noting that the machines we rode were preproduction models, so the final fuel and ignition mapping haven’t been finalized. Indian says that by the time this motorcycle arrives in dealers in May or June, it will have the final mapping installed. As of our test it was about 93–94 percent there. The Sport power setting further sharpens throttle response, while the Rain setting tones it back slightly.

2019 Indian FTR 1200 S kicks up sand on the beach.
The FTR 1200 is all about getting loose and hooning on. It’s a playful motorcycle that backs up its clean lines with performance to match.Barry Hathaway

Indian claims this 1,203cc twin is good for 123 hp, but on our dyno it doled out 111.22 hp (8,300 rpm) and nearly 80 pound-feet torque at 5,900 revs. The engine certainly feels fast, especially in the lower three gears and it squirts off corners well. It sounds the part too, emitting a hearty, Ducati L-twin-like bark through the twin shotgun-style muffler as you row through the six-speed gearbox.

The ability to manually disable both traction control and ABS makes the motorcycle easier to play with, both on and off road. Conversely, when riding in more technical terrain or over unfamiliar roads, you can enable the safety aids which boost confidence for some, when the going gets tough.

Indian’s Ride Command LCD display is a beautiful piece of kit, and we like that it’s both full color and touchscreen, even with gloves. With a few swipes of your finger (or a few presses of a button), you can navigate the menu and tweak settings to your liking. There is also different digital gauge cluster themes to choose from, which is another nice touch.

2019 Indian FTR 1200 S beside water.
The FTR 1200 is a looker from any angle. We love its clean silhouette and bold and beautiful LED lighting.Barry Hathaway

On the road the Indian shined on low- and medium-speed pavement corners. It handles better than a 516-pound bike should. The OE-fitted Dunlop DT3R tires further complement handling with a gummy, tactile feel. Indeed there is a fair degree of tread squirm, but it’s pleasing and makes it feel like you’re riding hard. You can ride this bike at an elevated pace and you’ll feel like you’re moving at a fast clip but still very much in control.

2019 Indian FTR 1200 S Ride Command color display.
Indian’s Ride Command color display is a serious piece of kit. It offers bright fonts with simple menu navigation. It’s also touchscreen, even with motorcycle gloves.Barry Hathaway

One of the few squawks we have with this motorcycle is the way the rear suspension performs. While we adore its sporty ride and copious level of feel through turns, the chassis could do a better job of filtering out bumps and road chop from the controls. It’s worth noting that in lieu of a traditional rear suspension linkage, the shock absorber mounts directly between the tubular steel swingarm and the trellis-style frame. In future iterations it would be nice if Indian considered perhaps a linkage so the FTR could perhaps offer the best of both comfort and sport worlds.

Indian revealed that it used BMW’s R NineT as a benchmark when developing the new FTR—and it shows in not only how well it rides but its lofty level of fit and finish. In fact, it’s easily the nicest quality motorcycle to roll out of a Polaris factory.

Attentive eyes may see minor fitment issues with a couple of colored wires hanging out near the switch-gear junction, but realistically it is small squawk. Overall, we’re impressed by Indian’s quality control and it’s nice to see the manufacturer moving toward and offering a premium product.

2019 Indian FTR 1200 S riding on dirt road.
Contrary to a conventional flat-tracker, the FTR uses a 19-inch, 18-inch wheel combo. Indian says this gives riders a wider range of choices in terms of rear tire fitment.Barry Hathaway

Leave it to the Indian crew to not only conceive a new manufacturing category, but do so with a sharp-looking motorcycle that rides as well as it looks. It’s clear Indian’s got something special with its new FTR 1200. It’s fun, it’s fast, and it looks the part. It’s a worthy option for a motorcyclist who seeks a bike that is just as capable of hooning around town as it is at causing a scene over coffee at the local bike night.

2019 Indian FTR 1200 S riding on road beside water.
The FTR’s ergonomics are clearly oriented for road use. The saddle is supportive and positions you in an optimum position for sporty rides.Barry Hathaway

GEAR BOX

2019 Indian FTR 1200 S Specifications
PRICE $15,499 (starting)
ENGINE 1,203cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled V-twin; 8-valve
BORE x STROKE 102.0mm x 73.6mm
COMPRESSION RATIO 12.5:1
FUEL DELIVERY Fuel injection
CLUTCH Wet multi-plate slipper clutch; cable actuation
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/chain
FRAME Steel trellis
FRONT SUSPENSION 43mm inverted fork adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 5.9-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION Sachs gas-charged shock adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 5.9-in. travel
FRONT BRAKES Radial-mount four-piston calipers, 320mm discs
REAR BRAKE Twin-piston caliper, 320mm disc
WHEELS Cast aluminum; 19 x 3-in. front; 18 x 4.25-in. rear
TIRES N/A; 120/70-19 front, 150/70-18 rear
RAKE/TRAIL 26.3°/5.1 in.
WHEELBASE 60.0 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 33.1 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 3.4 gal.
CLAIMED CURB WEIGHT 518 lb.
WARRANTY 2 years
AVAILABLE May 2019
CONTACT indianmotorcycle.com