The annual Intermot expo in Cologne announces the beginning of the big show season and with it the eagerly awaited, and in some cases long overdue, motorcycle unveilings from the world's manufacturers. While Dutch presses the flesh and clinks steins there's one particular release that has many of us at Bike Shed HQ a little hot under the collar.
I followed Indian's build-up to their total and utter domination of the American Flat Track series with a sense of excitement. Not just for what it'd mean to the sport but for what us mere mortals could expect to swing a leg over in years to come. It wasn't long before the rumour mill began to whir, followed by teases of an FTR1200. The should we, shouldn't we build it marketing was pretty transparent. To anyone with a pair of working eyes that liked a tracker style of bike this was the one worth waiting for, and Indian knew it. I sat on one at the Daytona TT in March and wrote the imaginary cheque for a deposit there and then, but my patience would be tested. A video followed and the hype gathered momentum.
But the problem with all this excitement is the process of homologation. The designers' and engineers' nemesis that wades in brandishing a fun-police badge and shuts the party down. Rarely do lithe and sexy concepts resemble the bulbous and plastic strewn machines that end up at the bike shows later in the calendar or at dealers in the new year. I worried Indian would fall foul of regulatory ruination, especially given the litigious nature of their biggest market, America.
Praise the Lord, Hallelujah and other such rejoicing - Indian seem to have dump tackled the homologation officer and hung him up by his pants, the FTR1200 looks pretty damn close to Jared Mees' two-time AFT championship winning racer. Sure, there are some parts and areas of the finished article that have been compromised but we must remember what the manufacturers have to engineer into road legal bikes. I've got a few mates who work in various departments within the big name factories and some of the stories and challenges are hard to fathom. Quite how an aeroplane or spaceship leaves earth is beyond me if the level of hoop jumping and bureaucracy is as recounted to me.
So, what do you get? There are two models, an FTR1200 and an S version. Both are powered by a new 1203cc water-cooled V-twin with 120 hp on tap. The tune and power delivery will be different to the Scout Bobber that I've ridden and I'll hang my hat on the motor feeling bloody marvellous. The Bobber is a lovely bike but the engine felt like it had been intended for something with a way more capable chassis. And boy is the trellis frame on the FTR a looker. And the swingarm is faithful to the race bike too, although the shock is side mounted for packaging reasons. A 13 litre fuel tank lives under the seat to keep mass centralised leaving the dummy tank above the engine as a cover for the downdraught airbox.
The FTR isn't Kate Moss spec though and tips the scales at 221kg dry. Despite the attempts made, with components like the subframe being aloominum and the axles being hollow, I can see from here where the sub 200kgs dreams were shattered, but most prospective buyers won't be able to notice, nor will they care. It looks the nuts. Personally I'd prefer the tail to be a touch flatter to ape the 750's profile but Jared and his pals average 75kgs and the 1200 needs to accommodate a brace of fatties nailing a speed bump at a Taco Bell drive through.
The equipment looks to be on point too (oh no, I sound like a arthritic thumbed millennial) with correct tread patterned Dunlop race look rubber. Dunlop have altered the carcass and compound to meet the demands of turning both left and right, on tarmac. Radially mounted Brembo monoblocs with ABS seem to be the obvious choice these days. On paper the specs sound ideal, I'm sure they'll feel more than adequate.
The 1200 comes with non-adjustable suspension and a simple yet handsome single speedo (with USB charge port) dash while the S version has a fully adjustable fork and shock. The S also has a natty TFT display with integrated bluetooth connectivity for phone and music hook-up, all the rage these days, and much as I'm sure it'll be a cracking bit of kit I like the bobby basic version. I wonder if they're interchangeable.... The S also features switchable ABS, and 3 riding modes - perfect for backing-it-in to the Old Street roundabout.
Speaking of alterations, Roland Sands will undoubtedly break the internet when he releases a bunch of performance parts and de-homologation accoutrements (nothing set in stone, I'm merely guessing). There is an Akraprovič pipe available from Indian directly but I'm not sure what this looks like. The twin anti-aircraft cannons that are fitted as standard aren't bad for a stock setup. Let's hope the engineers have done as good a job with the noise police as they did with Sherif Homologation.
Dutch is texting me later with the answer. In the meantime I'm off to list some of my fleet on the eBay as the nice man from Indian is going to need a deposit fairly soon. A grey one please, with the skiddy S spec, a loud pipe and a middle aged person's speedo.
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UK prices have been announced. It'll be punchier than a Beemer but cheaper than a Ducati at £11,899 for the entry level and £12,999 for the S - plus extras of course.
And for an in depth interview with Indian's Vice President Grant Bester and Product Design Director Ola Stengard check out this feature on Bike Exif
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