If you wondered why there was no mention of the FTR1200 in last year’s 2021 model year announcement, that’s because they weren’t ready to tell us what they were doing with their newest range. They are now.
The weird news is that while it is January 2021 and these will be in dealers an April 2021, they are actually being called 2022 models: nothing like getting ahead of the game, eh?
The original bike was unquestionably good at meeting its original design brief of capitalising on the FTR750 reputation and creating a sporting motorcycle that was equally competent on paved as on unpaved roads. The only thing that was questionable was whether that worked outside the US, where there are still many miles of unpaved road for it excel, because the compromise required to make it good on both surfaces reduced its potential on either.
Well, I say either but I’m in no position to judge its prowess on the dirt, other than noticing that it was infinitely better on the unadopted road that I found for the purpose than a 20 year old Buell Cyclone. I can say, however, that the Buell was the more confident roadbike.
I can’t have been the only person to have made those observations, because the 2021 FTR models have been through a major re-engineering programme to improve their road characteristics for 2021.
President of Indian Motorcycle, Mike Dougherty said “The FTR is unlike any other motorcycle in its ability to deliver superior performance while making a powerful statement of style and self-expression. The updates we’ve delivered further solidify that promise for even the most discerning riders. Indian Motorcycle has always pushed the bounds of motorcycling, innovated, and continuously improved and I think the new FTR is another great example of that.”
About the only thing that has come out unscathed is intangible: the overall aesthetics.
The rake is a tighter 25-degrees with a reduced 99.9mm trail – significantly down on 26.3 and 130mm – which when combined with a 30mm reduction in road-tuned suspension travel, has resulted in a more compact bike with a lower seat height: about an inch and a half lower than its predecessor.
And having targeted the tarmac, while they haven’t increased the headline power and torque figures – still 123hp/120Nm – the newly blacked-out engine has a new calibration with a smoother, more linear throttle response suited to the road, as well as cylinder deactivation to better manage the heat when idling.
It might not sound like a whole hell of a lot, but this will transform the FTR, improving its presence on the road and its appeal to a much wider audience.
Aesthetically, it is still afflicted by the second ugliest rear light cluster in our world – the Livewire still takes that honour – but we know that they will be removed by all right thinking owners within weeks of taking delivery, and before leaving the shop by anyone with a sense of style – but everything else is good.
The base FTR1200 model in Black Smoke at £12,999 still has the conventional analogue instrument off the Scout, but it is far less the poor relation this year, with a red accent colour that is a feature of the new 17-inch wheels across the range and is picked up by the now fully-adjustable monoshock’s spring – yes, the front end is also now fully adjustable – and the branding on the side of this blacker-than-black bike’s tank. This is also the weapon of choice … well, one of two if you need an A2-compliant machine, because this and the more familiar Rally are both available in a reduced power form.
The £13,699 FTR1200 S introduces more than a Maroon Metallic or White Smoke paint finish, it swaps the analogue instrument for a digital display, which last time I looked wasn’t in glorious technicolour, which is both sexier and clearer. And that digital display offers access to a host of features beyond phone integration that should keep the tech geeks happy for a while: three ride modes, wheelie control with rear lift mitigation, stability control, traction control and cornering ABS! Add to that an upgraded Akrapovič exhaust as standard, and you couldn’t ask for for more from a main production line bike.
You could from a limited edition model, of course, which is where the FTR1200 R Carbon comes in, costing £15,599. This replaced the 1200S with limited-edition Race Replica colour scheme as the flagship model last year, and inherited the red frame and with additional styling highlights. These include a numbered graphic on the console plus carbon tank covers, front mudguard and headlamp nacelle, and on the functional side it also comes with fully adjustable gold Öhlins inverted forks and piggy-back rear shock, premium seat cover and a blacked-out version of the twin Akropovič mufflers.
But of course, the FTR1200 has made some friends in the off-road world, and for £12,999 the FTR1200 Rally is there to keep them on-side. The 2022 Rally retains the 2020 geometry and off-road suspension travel to go with its laced 19- and 18-inch front and rear wheels, which are now running purposeful-looking Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres. It does have the new engine calibration as well as rear cylinder deactivation, and its bars are higher than the more street-oriented models, to better suit its role.
And of course, the Rally started off as an accessory set for the base model, and the existing range has been supplemented further by new parts from more carbon parts, mudguards for 17-inch wheels and clear tank covers to low-level Akropovič exhaust options, upgraded Öhlins suspension and touring accessories.