HIGH-CLASS STREET PERFORMER

If you are seeking a planted, engaging ride with oodles of street appeal, then you could do a lot worse than this naked beauty

WHEN I WAS a child my friends and I would play Cowboys and Indians. Innocent war games of a different type to those enjoyed by the kids of today, going google-eyed at computer screens.

I had a home-made bow and arrow (blunted end, but it didn’t travel far anyway). My friends wore frilled trousers and sported Marshall badges made of cheap tin. I would wear a bandana with a pigeon feather stuck in the back, and imagined I was Chief Sitting Bull. Or maybe I was a Scout as I tore around on my bicycle. I can’t really remember. No matter, those days are long gone, although the images of innocence linger.

Indian FTR R Carbon
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

It took me a long time to realise that Indians, Chiefs and Scouts remain on the agenda, if only of the two-wheeled variety. And boy, have I been missing something. As a bike rider on and off since my teens, for some reason or other the Indian Motorcycle marque has eluded me… until recently. Aside from my enjoyment of riding café racers, I had found myself of late sucked into the cruiser world of Harley-Davidson, test riding Sportsters and Low Riders and Sport Glides and Breakouts, and even spending a ton of cash on different machines. But times, and attitudes, change. New Harleys have become extremely expensive, with even second-hand ‘bargains’ a thing of the past. If you have any in your collection, then they are worth hanging on to.

As I was preparing an article on H-D’s 120th Anniversary celebrations next year, I read that Indian Motorcycle had come into existence a year earlier, in 1902. The battle for dominance, especially in the U.S. market, had taken hold. Even today in the U.K., rivalries exist between bikers. Not violent ones, I hasten to add, but brand loyalties remain strong. It was time for a closer look.

Indian FTR R Carbon
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Indian arranged for me to test ride the new FTR R Carbon. I had seen the images, and much appreciated what I saw, but to see the bike in the flesh was a whole different ball game. Changing tenses, it is gorgeous. As Indian explained, the company had redefined what an American V-Twin could be with the introduction of its category-defying FTR platform in 2019. And now Indian has taken the FTR platform to a whole new level of street performance with the 2022 FTR line-up. That is not something I can comment on, because I have nothing to compare the FTR R with from previous iterations, although I appreciate that the bike has been much admired for its unique styling, strong engine and excellent handling, and that I can certainly testify to.

I recently joined around 150 fellow bikers on a Live to Ride event. I rocked up at the start to find Morrisons’ car park in Lincoln flooded with all makes, models, and ages of bike. As I turned off the engine, I found myself immediately surrounded. “That’s lovely,” said one biker. “I haven’t seen one of those before. Is Indian owned by Harley-Davidson?” Oops. Really?

“Er, no, Indian Motorcycle is owned by Polaris Industries.”

“Ah, like the missile?”

“Well, the spelling is the same, and whilst you might consider this bike a missile to ride, it’s not exactly on a par with the operational system of four Resolution-class ballistic missile submarines, each armed with 16 Polaris A-3 ballistic missiles. Oh, and they were scrapped by the Royal Navy back in the 80s.”

“Still a lovely bike,” he continued, still fuelled by admiration, if somewhat bemused. I was saved from further cross-examination by the sound of engines being fired up ready for the ride to Willingham Woods biker café near Market Rasen. Upon arrival, once again the bike acted as a magnet; a metaphor for The North Star or Pole Star – aka Polaris – which is famous for holding nearly still in the sky while the entire northern sky moves around it… in this instance, fellow bikers.

Indian FTR R Carbon
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Polaris Industries purchased Indian Motorcycles back in 2011 when it moved operations from North Carolina and merged them into its existing facilities in Minnesota and Iowa. Since August 2013, the company has marketed multiple modern Indian motorcycles that reflect that company’s traditional styling. The quintessentially American brand has continued to go from strength to strength in what is without doubt a highly competitive industry.

The striking FTR R Carbon brings to the table the flagship model in the FTR line-up, setting itself apart with its glorious carbon fibre tank covers; front fender and headlight nacelle; fully adjustable Öhlins gold front forks and gold piggyback shock; a black Akrapovič exhaust; premium seat cover; and numbered badging on the console.

The FTR R offers a comfortable, upright riding position enhanced by a lower seat height, with those 17-inch wheels combining for a confidence-inspiring, precise ride, with an excellent balance-to-weight ratio and cornering stability, thanks to the Metzeler Sportec tyres and street-tuned suspension.

Indian FTR R Carbon
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
The 1203cc liquid-cooled V-twin engine produces 120hp and 87lb-ft of torque so you can expect plenty of grunt, even when ridden in the Standard ride mode (there is also Rain and Sport). Nimble in traffic, the bike’s penchant is for the open road and would probably be one’s weapon of choice for a weekend blast or as a daily commuter. With such a spirited ride on offer, I was surprised there was no quick shifter available as standard equipment, although to be fair it doesn’t really need one as the gears are easily flickable, but then the option would be nice.

What’s this, a key to turn the bike on? Wasn’t expecting that. However, you need that key to open the fuel tank too, so you’re not going to lose it. Actually, I found inserting and turning the key to be a bit of a pain as the barrel sits directly behind the 4.7-inch colour touchscreen display. Only a minor niggle.

From the get-go the FTR R offers a smooth, well-calibrated response, with a short first gear offering a fast getaway from traffic lights. Sixth will see you at around 4,00rpm at 70mph. Brembos take care of the brakes, with dual 320mm rotors and four-piston callipers at the front and a single 260mm rotor with a two-piston calliper in the rear. I soon grew used to the steadily progressive stopping power, preferring that to over-zealously grabbing a handful of brake because they will bring you up in a hurry faster than you expect.

Another wee gripe is the fuel range. Topped with 3.4 gallons, you can expect around 100 miles of range. Ouch! A tad over 30mpg… at today’s prices… But then, if you worry about that, then perhaps you would be better seeking out something that is more deep pocket friendly.

With its welcome updates for the 2022 model year, the Indian FTR is one part of a family affair, providing a selection of models for different riders throughout a range of price points. he FTR Championship Editor at £15,995, FTR Rally at £12,795, FTR S at £14,095, and FTR at £12,295. In addition, Indian Motorcycle is carrying over more than 60 FTR parts and accessories, so you can personalise your FTR with a full accessory line ranging from tank covers to high and low-mount Akrapovič exhaust options, storage bags, a luggage rack, a mid-windshield, and more, obviously depending on which model you opt for.

Talking about price, at a touch over £16,000, is this naked beauty out of everyday reach? That’s for you to decide. Apart from a few minor niggles, if you are seeking a planted, engaging ride with oodles of street appeal, then you could do a lot worse than this naked beauty. Owning an FTR R is tantamount to having a stunning woman on your arm, pretending that showing her off is an everyday occurrence, but knowing deep down you may be punching above your weight. But then, get the right clothes, the right shades, the nonchalant, cool exterior look, and you could possibly get away with it. Win, win.

IMAGES | INDIAN MOTORCYCLE

Indian FTR R Carbon
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
SPECIFICATION

INDIAN FTR R CARBON

  • PRICE: £16,095
  • ENGINE: 1203cc, Liquid-cooled V-twin
  • TORQUE: 87lb-ft/120Nm @ 6000rpm
  • POWER: 120hp @ 7750rpm
  • FRAME: Steel trellis
  • FRONT SUSPENSION: Öhlins fully adjustable inverted telescopic cartridge fork
  • REAR SUSPENSION: Öhlins fully adjustable piggyback IFP
  • FRONT BRAKES: Brembo dual 320mm t5 rotor/4piston calliper
  • REAR BRAKES: Brembo single 260mm t5 rotor/2 piston calliper
  • FRONT TYRE: Metzeler Sportec 120/70ZR15 58W
  • REAR TYRE: Metzeler Sportec 180/55ZR17 73W
  • EXHAUST: Akrapovič 2-into-1-into-2
  • SEAT HEIGHT: 780mm
  • FUEL CAPACITY: 13 litres
  • WEIGHT: (empty tank/full of fuel): 217kg/232kg
  • 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)
  • GAUGES: 4.3-inch Ride Command LCD Touchscreen with Bluetooth
  • CONTACT: www.indianmotorcycle.co.uk