Indian FTR 1200R Carbon. Beauty has a name.

Words: Jason Wessels, Kyle Lawrenson & Séan Hendley

Pics: René Swart, Black Rock Studio

 FTR is the abbreviation used for FLAT TRACK RACER. So, “What is flat track racing?”, we hear you ask. Well it is not very prevalent here in good old R of SA, but has a much bigger following in the US of A where it originated back at the dawn of motorcycledom, (well… somewhere around 1932ish in reality). In the States, anyone who had a bit of cash in their pocket to build bikes would bring their latest prototype creation to battle for supremacy. Back then, the two fiercest rivals were HD and Indian Motorcycles across most of the classes.

Indian motorcycle

In around 1933 a new class was introduced for street legal motorcycles in an effort to make motorcycle racing more affordable – that is an ongoing theme and struggle still today. Needless to say this is where the big dogs really duked it out, exchanging the title on a regular basis. 

This is where Indian pulled its design cues from for the FTR 1200, the flat handlebars, aggressive riding position, dual exhausts and lightweight appearance. Indian has gone straight after the likes of the Ducati Monster, R nine T, V-Max, and perhaps the Diavel. 

It is certainly not your average  American cruiser.

Way back when... and the inspiration for the new generation bikes.

First launched somewhere in 2021 the FTR 1200R comes kitted out with a huge array of impressive specs and kit, but those are all secondary to the way it looks. Low slung, long and menacing and dripping in really high-end carbon fibre it attracts attention like no other bike we have ever ridden. Everywhere we went or stopped with the FTR people would clamour around it, pose for selfies with it. 

But best of all, just about every single serious biker we passed or stopped next to would invariably give us a thumbs up or a high five while pointing at the FTR. 

This is just such an iconic and uniquely beautiful motorcycle.

The stuff you need to know: 

A big liquid cooled, fuel injected, DOHC, 8 valve, 60°V-Twin donk is coupled to a 2 into 1 into Akrapovic exhaust system as standard.

It kicks out an impressive 120 hp and 118nM at 6,000RPM with a bore and stroke of 102mm x 73.6mm.

Indian prevents any nasty judder from the chain driven rear wheel with their Assist & Slip clutch mated to the 6 speed gearbox. Bolt all of that into a steel trellis frame balanced on top of 43mm fully adjustable Ohlins upside down forks and Ohlins piggyback rear shock and you have the making of quite an exciting motorcycle.

It tips the scales at 232 kg’s with all its fluids and a full tank of fuel. Reigning it all in are high end twin 320mm rotors and 4 pot Brembos up front and single 260mm rotor and a 2 pot Brembo out back. 

These are mounted to some really sexy alloy wheels. Even though they do look quite chunky and suit the bike beautifully, the tyre sizes are a fairly everyday 120/70-17 and 180/55-17 affair of Metzeler Sportstec M9RR’s.

Although it’s quite an imposing looking bit of engineering, it is actually not a bulky bike. Its 25.3° rake does stretch the wheelbase out to 1,524mm giving it an overall length of 2,223mm only around 150 mm longer than a standard superbike. Standing at 1,297mm tall at the top of its mirrors and a fairly average 830mm wide, with a 780mm seat height, and 170mm ground clearance it almost feels a bit diminutive when you drop onto the saddle. 

1203cc's of American Hustle.
All wrapped in a gorgeous trellis frame.

Having a look around the cockpit, it does impress. 

This bike is packed with electronic trickery – all as standard.

The 4.3-inch TFT full colour touch screen is about the average size these days for a sport or naked bike. The graphics are super clear and the layout is easy to understand and negotiate. A USB charging port is tucked away on the bottom left and the whole connects to your phone for calls, navigation and music via Bluetooth. 

ABS is quickly and easily adjusted or switched off completely and is lean angle sensitive. 

Rider modes are quick and simple to swap through on the fly and incredibly effective without being too intrusive, well most of them anyway.

The Wheelie control with lift mitigation did cause a bit of lip drag with our in-house Wheelie specialist and we couldn’t figure out how to turn it off, strange for such a hooligan machine. 

And that it is, a proper Hooligan machine, so much so that we don’t know if any of our bunch actually used the cruise control, banging on the throttle is just so much fun and would have been even more so had the bunny hugger laws not strangled the Akrapovic.

One of the best TFT screens in the biz...
The pipes are beautiful, but need to be unmuted...
LED touches all round.

You need to ride one:

All the tech is well and good and, it looks like a serious package, but how does it all translate into real world rideability? 

We gave it a fully rounded test, looking at its racing heritage on the track, hitting a couple bendy mountain type roads and trawling the highways and byways of Gauteng on our daily running about. 

We roped in  Jason Wessels for the track and our Kyle Lawrenson & Séan Hendley for the road. 

Three more different riders you couldn’t ask for. 

Track:  Formula-K is a tight and twisty Kart track with one or two sweeping bends, not ideal for big powerful sports bikes let alone a big 1200cc monster. Combine that with the R405k price tag and an icy cold Highveld winter morning and we figured it best to procure the services of an experienced racer to give it a proper thrashing without killing it. Enter Jason Wessels, who actually built up a XR1200 Flat Tracker with Ducati suspension and spent a lot of time spanking it around the track. 

He tells us he has also built a Marques replica Flat Tracker, (which we will be featuring here in the very near future), so his is an ideal point of view in our humble opinion. And he loved every second. 

We eventually managed to drag him off the track after very many laps, and as best we could make out through his teeth clattering huge grin, he had this to say about the Indian FTR 1200R Carbon:

 “I didn’t mess with the electronics at all, I just kept it in the Sport mode you guys arrived with it in and I will say this… This bike is a handful of fun, it handles well, it doesn’t make you tired… It’s just incredible, everything works. Besides being beautiful you might think, looking at it, that it might be a heavy motorcycle, but around this short track on its standard tyres it handles like a dream and with a few tweaks I am sure we can get it to go even better. A bit more sound, (from the exhaust), would have been nice, it is very, very quiet. It has the right suspension, the right brakes…. It’s not an American cruiser anymore, it is becoming a super bike contender, with superbike characteristics but also very comfortable. I did about twenty or thirty laps around F.K with no arm pump and no issues with the brakes overheating, it is just so much fun. 

The power out the turns is phenomenal and it had a lot of grip, even with the stock tyres. On short, twisty tracks like F.K. a bit of suspension fiddling here and there to get the absolute best out of it, but on longer tracks with more sweeping bends I don’t think you would really need to do too much to it at all. The power delivery from down low is awesome, the gearing is obviously very long for the road and I basically stayed in second and third around the track. The one thing I was initially worried about was ground clearance, the kerbs are quite high here and I was worried that they might have come close to the header pipes in the right-hand corners and scratch or scrape the headers, but that turned out to be okay. This bike is very light for what it is, for a big bike it is very nimble, it is very forgiving. Definitely has a bit of a Motard feel, slightly more comfortable, not as aggressive as a Motard, so we can ride it harder for longer, especially with us all getting a bit older and don’t want to be crunched over a superbike.  So, all round, it is a great, fun machine that you can go on a breakfast run to the local race track, put it on the track and do some damage to some superbikes with it.”

“It’s a stunning bike in every way – I’m off to do some more laps now, see you later!”

As we stood on the side-lines taking pics and filming, we noticed Jason just getting faster and faster and tilting in lower and lower with every lap, testament to how good the FTR really is around the track. We eventually managed to coax him off the track so we could get it out on the road and aim it at the hills.

Séan says: 

I spent about a week on the bike, commuting, a bunch of laps around Klapperkop before hanging hard on the gas back to the East Rand. As far as the American brands go, I have always been very partial towards Indian. They are just so cool looking, more iconic and the build quality and ride feel is thoroughly modern.

Foley raved about this bike after the launch, so I was really looking forward to riding the FTR. It is just such a sexy looking machine and the public at large would appear to agree with me. 

I love the brand, I love the looks of this particular machine, I love the performance and hugely impressive acceleration, I love the handling and really love all the gadgetry… Then it kind of all falls over for me. At 2 metres tall, I’m simply too tall for this one.

With its aggressive seating position, low seat and high and slightly rear oriented foot pegs I had my feet tucked up under my ass, my knees bent at an uncomfortable position with my riding jeans bunching up and cutting into the back of my knees. 

This also orients my riding position forward onto the handle bars and over the front wheel, sort of Motard come street fighter style, which then loads my weight onto my shoulders, wrists and lower back, great for track attacks and carving up mountain passes, but a bit unpleasant for long hours in the saddle.

I need to say though that Jason, Kyle and Glenn had no such complaints, so I guess it’s because I’m larger than most. 

If I owned one of these bikes, I would look at trying to find an aftermarket adjustable solution for the rear sets and definitely a little bug screen/wind deflector of some sort. 

The gearbox is also a bit industrial, apparently the Yanks like it like that, but occasionally, I’d hit neutral on the up change from first to second

The one bit that Indian missed on this FTR is a quick shifter, which seems peculiar when you  consider all the tech that comes with the bike.

In saying all of this…

Whipping through traffic it is narrow, low and nimble and opens up a lot more options to lane splitting. That huge 118nM torque and smooth power curve is great for blasting through and away from the ID-10-T’s in their cages, and the 120 horses quickly and easily propels you north of 200kmh. 

It’s a pity that the Akrapovic has been strangled by the bunny hugger laws. A bigger soundtrack would be glorious!

Tilting it into the bends around Fort Klapperkop, it is a giggle, accelerate hard changing up as quick as you can, before backing off on the gas, clamping hard on the Brembos and stomping down hard on the shifter and tilting hard into the bend and then repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat…

Kyle says:

One of our favourite sayings is “More fun than a barrel of frogs!” and this bike absolutely ticks all the boxes. Hooligan, beautiful, fun, pure and – drop dead gorgeous to boot.

Exactly as Glenn pointed out, every time you look at this bike, you notice something else that Indian has done to it. Acres of carbon fibre, beautiful from every single angle.

They put a lot of thought into the standard electronics package – and scrolling through all of the functions is so simple.

Love the torque, great mid to high end power, a decent top speed. And just cruising, this FTR is absolutely the king of cool.

I wonder if Indian would lend it to us for Stofskop?

Sculpted leatherwork...
Ohlins Suspension...

Once we were out of puff and the fuel tank was empty, (which even with the 13 litre tank happens pretty quickly at these kind of speeds), we headed down to our favourite burger joint and watched passers-by stop in their tracks, reach for their cell phone camera and start clicking away.

This is an achingly beautiful machine.

 Get down to your local Indian dealer and check it out for yourself.




Engine Type Liquid Cooled V-Twin

Displacement 1203 cc

Bore x Stroke 102 mm x 73.6 mm

Compression Ratio 12.5:1

Electronic Fuel Injection System Closed loop fuel injection / 60 mm bore

Peak Torque RPM  6000 rpm

Peak Torque 118 Nm

Primary Drive  Gear Drive Wet Clutch

Clutch Assist & Slip, Multi-Plate

Suspension: Front – Type/Travel Ohlins Fully Adjustable Inverted Telescopic Cartridge

Suspension: Rear – Type/Travel Ohlins Fully Adjustable Piggyback IFP / 120mm

Brakes/Front Brembo Dual 320mm t5 Rotor / 4 Piston Calliper

Brakes/Rear Brembo Single 260mm t5 Rotor / 2 Piston Calliper

Front Tyres Metzeler Sportec 120/70ZR17 58W

Rear Tyres Metzeler Sportec 180/55ZR17 73W

Wheels Cast Black with Indian Motorcycle Red Pinstripe.

Exhaust 2-into-1, Catalyst in collector

Wheelbase 1525 mm

Seat Height 780 mm

Ground Clearance 165 mm

Overall Length 2223 mm

Overall Width 830 mm

Overall Height 1295 mm

Lean Angle 45°

Rake 25,3°

Trail 99.9 mm

Fuel Capacity 13.0L

Weight (Empty tank / full of fuel) 221 kg / 235 kg

Colour / Graphics Carbon Fibre

Factory Warranty 2 years   

Standard Equipment Ride Modes (Rain, Standard, Sport), Lean Angle Sensitive ABS, Stability Control, Traction Control, Wheelie Control with Rear Lift Mitigation, USB Charge Port, Cruise Control)

Lights LED Headlight, Taillight, Turn Signals

Infotainment 4″ Touchscreen powered by RIDE COMMAND

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