It may look like just another 'On Any Sunday' inspired tribute, but the FTR 1200 S has a bit more about it than that. Built to mimic the American firm’s dominant FTR 750 flat track racer it’s more than just striking good looks and quality, although it’s not a bad place to start.
The Indian is calm and comfy, has lots of legroom and a comfy stretch to the bars. It’s a classy little number, but the FTR 1200 can be a lively beast when you push it, where you’ll discover it’s as gusty as its racy little sideways brother, wearing shoes of steel and spewing out more power than its skinny rear 150-section Dunlop DT3-R race replica tyre knows what to do with.
You need to treat the Indian like the big road-going flat tracker it is and when you do it comes alive in your hands, squirting from corner to corner and staying the hell away from those knobbly tyre edges. You can even turn traction and ABS off, on the move, once you’ve got the hang of it, for flat track-style stunting.
Ever since their resurgence in 2014 Indian have had a knack of creating fine handling motorcycles. Their cruisers are more fun on UK roads than they have any right to be and the Bobber stops, turns and goes so well in corners you wish it had 17-inch wheels and tyres to see what it could really do.
Sitting on its 18-inch rear and 19 front the FTR 1200 S has a long, stable stars and stripes feel to it. Brakes are superb and wide bars give you the leverage to nudge that big front hoop into a corner with a gentle, pleasing resistance.
Front end feel is sublime, but it’s a different story at the rear and that’s simply down to those blocky-tread tyres, specially developed by Dunlop for Indian to mimic the DT3 rubber fitted to the FTR 750 racer.
All the time you have a machine with such an eager engine and so little edge grip you need to be careful with the throttle in slow, low rpm corners. Even on sun-baked tarmac the FTR 1200 S’ rear end never needs a second invitation to let go when the power comes cascading in.
That might sound hairy and it’s nerve wracking at first until you know it’s coming, but grip disappears so early that everything happens in slow motion and it’s easy to catch, especially if you take those upright, V-shaped lines in and out of turns.
Traction control bails you out if things get too loose and through higher speed corners, when you’re further up the revs and away from that instant torque, grip isn’t as much of an issue.
Ride quality on our test bike is on the firm side. We didn’t get the chance to experiment with fork and shock settings during the FTR’s launch, but the standard version has a plusher, more forgiving ride. It wouldn’t take too much time to replicate that set-up on the S model.
There’s no mistaking from where the FTR 1200 hails. The 121bhp, 1203cc V-twin’s weighty feel and pulverising low-down grunt screams Americana.
Like its cruiser cousins the Indian is happy to glide serenely along, but spin the ride-by-wire throttle to the stop, to wake the motor from its slumber and you’re rewarded with a face full of speed, drama, sultry sounds and the perfect dose of V-twin vibes.
So far so good, but the FTR 1200 S’s power delivery is too instant, on and off the throttle, especially in the prickliest of its riding modes: Sport. Flicking into Standard takes the edge off its battering bottom end, but it still doesn’t have that smooth, reassuring throttle connection you want to control 231kg of hot, throbbing metal.
Developed for the FTR 1200 in collaboration with Swissauto, Indian’s high compression V-twin has a gas flowed head, dual throttle bodies, ride by wire, magnesium engine covers and an FTR 750-inspired power-assist slipper clutch.
Indian’s cruiser ranges have proved to be well built and dependable. Expect more of the same from the FTR 1200 S.
You get a lot of metal, technology and goodies for your money and the still-superb base model is even easier on the wallet. To take things further, Indian offer four styling packs, as well as a roster of individual accessories to make your FTR 1200 your own.
It’s loaded with tasty morsels, too: Brembos, fully-adjustable Sachs suspension, an underseat fuel tank, LED lights and Bosch IMU-enabled lean-sensitive traction control and ABS.
Indian’s 4.3-inch touch-screen multi-function Bluetooth dash seems complicated, but everything from choosing riding modes to which of the three displays you desire is easy to do with a swipe and a prod. Featuring an in-built USB charger.