UAE motorbike review: Indian FTR 1200 S
NINETY-NINE PER cent of the time promotional vehicle shots showcase the subject in question bathed in sunshine, surrounded by attractive and impossibly cool models looking as if they are experiencing sheer ecstasy simply by being in the vicinity of the machine they are attempting to sell. And why shouldn't brands wish to perpetuate this image? It works on us. Just look at the photos in this article. They are gorgeous and make us infinitely more inclined to take a trip down to Indian's Ras Al Khor showroom to purchase our slice of the good life. In the UAE, we have more than our fair share of solar loveliness with which to replicate the desired California Dreaming look the FTR 1200 S photographer appears to wish to convey. We just have to dig out that old pair of Converse shoes and perhaps lose a modest 20-30kg and, bang, it's Instagram City here we come.
Idealistic pics aside, however, in the real world we always find a motorcycle really earns its stripes when the weather is not so clement. And boy have we recently had some of that across Dubai. In the wind, rain and along waterlogged roads you become far more familiar with your ride's capabilities. Lucky for us, as the sky opened last week, we had Indian's dirt-track racer inspired street bike to cope with the challenge. How did it do?
A look into the bike's DNA
To understand the FTR 1200 S's evolution, you have to look at its competition-only Scout FTR 750 forebear. This model revolutionised flat-track (dirt track) racing. Despite the shifting gravel beneath its tyres and a relatively modest 748cc engine, this thing was fast. It produced 109hp and a top speed of 210km/h. If it's possible the FTR 1200 S is even more radical. Indian has taken that race knowhow, keeping similar off-road agility and handling, and put it in a street bike with more power and a bigger engine. The FTR 1200 S's compact size and sporty position also put you right in control. Wading through the ponds, which formed on the Al Quoz roads during the showers and unexpectedly loomed into view through the gloomy night, were no issue even if the water did come up to our ankles. The motor and grip stayed true, powering us through. Then, in an attempt to avoid further submersion, a few forays across sand patches turned sludgy by the downpour again didn't create too much of a fuss provided we kept speeds to a crawl. The Dunlop DT3-R Radials and 118Nm torque helped out there, not to mention its relatively light 235kg (full fuel) weight and 18.3cm ground clearance. We were in safe, capable hands no matter the surface and we were grateful for it.
You mentioned it can go fast, though?
Oh yes, in drier conditions the full 123hp from the 1203cc V-Twin engine can be used to go to its electronically limited 200km/h, but the bike's turn of pace isn't what is most impressive. We just couldn't get over how sprightly and nimble it felt. The chassis is solid and the ride firm, though there was fluidity to the cornering we couldn't get enough of. It pushed us to lean further and the machine obliged, bringing us out the other end as calmly as if we were merely changing lanes. The FTR 1200 S comes with Lean Angle Sensitive ABS and Stability Control as standard, which probably accounts for us becoming more avant-garde. Something we hope to experience on more motorcycles.
What else did you like?
It's a very good-looking machine, wouldn't you agree? It's a little bit of everything rolled into one. It's not ostentatious, though not retiring. It boasts a racer's edge, but can tour and scramble. It'd be good for the weekend, or an everyday commuter bike. Come to think of it we're struggling to imagine a scenario where this Indian wouldn't be appropriate. Even the tech (a 4.3-inch fully touch screen ride command unit) was right up our street: easy to use, unobtrusive and actually displayed crucial information. Okay, it's settled. We loved everything. Review over.
Engine: 1203cc V-Twin
Top Speed: 200km/h