2019 Indian FTR 1200 S long-term wrap-up: This is the end, rowdy friend

2019 Indian FTR 1200 S long-term wrap-up: This is the end, rowdy friend

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Our year with the Indian FTR 1200 S has been a good one, with lots of smiles and almost no issues.


Kyle Hyatt/Roadshow

I’ve been living with our 2019 Indian FTR 1200 S Race Replica for the better part of a year now, and during that time, I’ve found a few quirks and faults with the bike. Yet at the same time, it’s also managed to become one of my all-time favorite motorcycles.

The FTR 1200 is one of those jack-of-all-trades bikes that’s not necessarily great at any one thing (except looking awesome), but it’s pretty damn good at everything. It’s the bike I find myself taking most of the time because it’s comfy, predictable, sounds great and works so well in and around town.

In the city is where I’ve spent the bulk of my time with the bike. Sure, I’ve gone and scratched around in the canyons and ridden it up to Ventura County to Neptune’s Net. I’ve spent plenty of time on the freeway with it, too. But it’s on city streets where Indian’s flat-track tribute truly shines thanks to its quality suspension, narrowish profile, loud-enough exhaust and deep well of torque. 

It hasn’t mattered if the roads have been damp or dirty, hot or cold, the FTR has been a willing companion for any errand or temporary escape from reality, and it’s been a critical component of my mental health self-care regimen, especially during the recent weeks of social distancing

As I’ve maintained over my updates, the FTR isn’t a perfect machine. The bike was sometimes grumpy on cold starts, oftentimes cutting out or dying at idle until it was up to normal operating temperature. It also developed some quirks in its throttle after I rode it through one of LA’s recent spring downpours, but it’s never once failed to start and it’s never left me stranded. Nothing broke or fell off or otherwise malfunctioned. The bike still looks and feels as good as it did the day that Indian dropped it off — which is damned good, if you must know.

2019-indian-ftr-1200-s-113

Those twin Akrapovic mufflers provide a satisfying soundtrack — especially near the bike’s 9,000-rpm redline.


Kyle Hyatt/Roadshow

That’s a good thing, too, because the Indian isn’t exactly a cheap bike. Its base model and the newly launched Rally edition are certainly not overpriced at around $13,000, but the top-trim Race Replica model that I’ve been living with now retails for $15,400 — that’s a $2,000-ish price drop from when the bike launched — and that’s not chump change. It’s still $500 less than a BMW R NineT standard and that makes it pretty compelling all on its own.

That said, this long-term test made me realize I’d want to make a few modifications if I were to own an FTR 1200 myself. Not long after it was delivered, I tweaked the suspension settings to suit my height, weight and riding style, but another update I wish I could’ve made would be to the tires. The flat-track-inspired Dunlop DT3-R tires look spot-on, but I’d have much rather lived with a less cool-looking set of sport-touring rubber, mostly because of the somewhat wayward and unsure feeling the Dunlops gave me on the freeway. I think that a tire with a more aggressively crowned profile would also have made the FTR just that little bit more engaging to ride, too, and that’s not a bad thing.

I also would have changed the exhaust. Don’t get me wrong, the factory Akrapovic cans on the Race Replica trim are gorgeous and sound great at full chat, but I found the bike too quiet and too tame-sounding for its own good. I understand that Indian has to meet regulations for sound, and the company did a great job, considering. Still, something more akin to the gorgeous (and totally not street-legal here in the Golden State) S&S Grand National exhaust might have made the FTR that much more like the Super Hooligan race bikes and American Flat Track FTR750s that inspired the creation of the FTR road bike in the first place.

Aside from those minor things, I could see myself being completely happy owning an FTR 1200. It’s a hell of a machine, and now, after a year, it’s a bike I fully endorse.


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