By Ray Seidel
Indian’s Flat Track Racer for us mere mortals is nothing like what I expected. In years past, in the early 20th century, fully one half of Indians sales were because of its wins on the race track against Harley-Davidson. Today, we all know Indian has been killing the competition on the race track for the last couple of years with its FTR750. With such fame and popularity on the track, they made the concept FTR 1200 to see what the reaction would be. And, it was a hit.
Now, a motorcycle being born on a race track, even though a “street” version, I expected something firm and stiff, perhaps like the Indian Bobber, but more so. Plus, being 6’ 2” I imagined being twisted like a pretzel to conform to a racing posture. In fact, the opposite was true. The ride was every bit as comfortable as my Indian Scout – any imperfection of the road was as if not even there. It would take something major in a bump size to reach the rider. The bike is also very light to the feel and super easy to navigate around corners. And, it goes without saying, 120 ponies and 85 foot-pounds of torque makes this bike stupid fast. The bike IS cold-blooded, so it needs about 30 seconds or so to warm up, and could use a few extra RPM from the rider to keep it going. After that, it LOVES to rev up. My big surprise was a) ya gotta be tall to hop on. Very high seat, but at my height, not a problem. And b) being tall as I am, ergonomics with the rear controls was not an issue at all. It took a bit to get the feel for it, and figured a wise thing to wear boots with some long heels to hang on the rear pegs, then good to go. While I usually prefer to stretch out my long legs on floorboards, having them tucked behind me was completely comfortable. The seating position is upright like on a REAL motorcycle, not crouched over like a jockey on a quarter horse. Really easy to ride and rack up the miles. Surprised me.
The more I rode this bike, the more I fell in love with it. A bit like when I reviewed the then new Indian Scout in 2015, it did everything so well I had to buy one. The FTR 1200 also does everything well, which seems odd being spawned from the race track. I often took it on the daily commute, it being more than capable to get past any hindrance on the road. All it needed was something to carry my lunch. And Indian has that taken care of. There IS a tank bag, so that would be perfect! But more, the bike can be set up for a number of themes for the way you want to use it. Indian calls them Collections, and they come as Rally, Tracker, Tour, and Sport Collection.
This particular bike was the FTR 1200 S. This has the Ride Command LCD touchscreen display that replaces the analog dash of the base FTR, and offers lots of information. Two basic screens give you speedometer, tach, what gear you’re in, and subsets of compass, engine and outside temp., trip 1 and trip 2 mileage, and remaining range. On that note, I was told the bike is thirsty, and good for about a 100 mile range. As a default, you may expect that. HOWEVER, riding it on the backroads at a leisurely pace of 60 mph, the bike had a range of 140 miles plus change. This is the same as the Indian Scout. (I know, because mine ran out at that very point!) So, depends on how you ride it. And you WILL get a low fuel warning light for a head’s up. Note: the fuel tank wants to be filled from the left side (gas pump on the left). The opening has a funnel of sorts inside, and at an angle. The manual says stop at plastic funnel, and that will be pretty obvious.
Secondly you can toggle to a different screen to set your ride mode with the touch screen, such as standard, sport, rain, or track. Basically these govern response. Standard worked just fine for me, and was not unlike my own Scout, which jumps to hyper-drive in a cold second.
Conclusion: This is a really good bike for commuting, light off-road riding, or an easy trip on the back roads. Surprisingly to me, its personality is not unlike the Indian Scout, though of course the Scout can have bags and windshield for the more extended trips. If you’re tall enough, this might be the bike for you.