Purity and honesty are what make flat-track motorcycles so appealing. They are beautiful, but not decorative. Purpose drives design, and to strive for perfection in this, only the necessary parts remain. Flat-track bikes are also just damned American.

So it is no surprise that 1) Indian built a street tracker as its first standard-style performance motorcycle and 2) did everything it could to maintain an exceptionally strong link to the company's dominant flat-track race bike, the FTR750.

There has been a sense of anticipation around an Indian street tracker since the 750 debuted—these shimmering notions stoked by the FTR1200 Custom we put on our cover last year.

There is sometimes an uneasy tension between the “custom” concept bike and the street product that follows, simply because legal, regulatory, and practical concessions must be made. But I have to say, standing next to the 2019 FTR1200S and taking it in, the profile, stance, contour, and detail please the eye looking for purity and honesty.

The feelings are similar while in motion. The FTR1200 is a physically larger bike than we might have hoped for, with a 60-inch wheelbase and 495-pound weight without fuel, but it hits a dynamic sweet spot for this 6-foot-2 inch primate—thanks to its great riding position, wide ProTaper handlebars, and nicely tuned suspension.

FTR1200
Our test unit is the $16,999 Race Replica, featuring an Akrapovic exhaust and a red, white, and black color scheme.Jeff Allen

Our testbike is the $16,999 Race Replica in red, white, and black, with lighter looking Akrapovic exhaust, along with the same fully-adjustable suspension found on the $15,499 S model, versus the nonadjustable fork and preload/rebound-adjustable-only shock on the $13,499 standard model. After using the excellent owner’s manual to find clear, easy instructions for adjusting the threaded rear spring preload collars for my weight­—with the provided wrench—steering was delightfully neutral. I never would have guessed the steering geometry’s 26.3-degree rake and 5.1 inches of trail, given how easy it is to initiate a turn and how good the bike is at finishing a tight corner. Midcorner stability is also a strong point.

In fact, our first outing on our testbike came at the Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, which we had rented for a magazine event. I also had my wife’s 2011 Harley-Davidson XR1200X there for reference.

The FTR1200 was a revelation, with very good cornering clearance, nice braking feel, and a whole lotta motor. The XR1200X was fun to ride on a track again and I love riding it on the street, but as much as we thought these two tracker-inspired bikes might be related in riding experience, the new FTR takes performance up many notches with quite a bit more horsepower, lighter weight, and much more composure.

FTR1200 license plate mount
That license-plate mount, though! Indian offers a relocation kit that drops the big black bracket and moves plate and signals to the tail.Jeff Allen

It’s in kicking around on the street day to day that the personality of this bike really shines. It is billed as a street tracker, but Indian has also trotted out “scrambler,” and in a way is an ultracool two-wheel version of a crossover SUV-meets-muscle car. Bear with me...The 111 hp and 80 pound-feet of torque are very American in their immediacy, though if you are shopping for horsepower there are plenty of naked 1200s that will crank out more ponies. What you get instead is right-now engine response at any rpm in a sort of “lifted” streetbike chassis that has big, chunky dirt-track-inspired Dunlop tires (19-inch-diameter front, 18-inch rear) and 5.9 inches of suspension travel. Maybe “crossover” is too lame. Perhaps a rally-car analogy is better?

Brembo M4.32 four-piston calipers
Brembo M4.32 four-piston calipers grip 320mm front discs.Jeff Allen

Bottom line is that the FTR1200 is really fun on the road and in the dirt, transitioning seamlessly from short-shift commuter (standard cruise control is a nice touch) to back-road ripper to dirt road scrambler.

The slipper clutch and rider aids help you conquer all this in style. A note about those tires: The dirt-track pattern works very well on the street with perhaps a little more movement from those big-tread blocks than a normal sporting tire, but they followed rain-grooves in a very “vintage” way, giving the chassis a little wiggle. We have also noted this groove-following behavior with the retro-style Dunlop K300GPs fitted standard to the Kawasaki W800 Cafe.

FTR1200 braking
The FTR1200S' dirt-track-inspired Dunlops work well on the street but do so with a tad more movement or squirm than a street-focused sporting tire.Jeff Allen

The 4.3.-inch TFT screen carries the Ride Command name like Indian’s other bikes, and is easy to read and works well here. Navigating with the left-thumb-operated joystick is straightforward, and linking your phone and Bluetooth headset through the Ride Command system allows incoming calls to be screened, easy music navigation, and intuitive switching of music input between the provided under-dash USB plug and Bluetooth. Rain, Standard, and Sport modes alter throttle response in the expected ways, and a Track mode allows the rider to disable the lean sensitive ABS. Two gauge styles are presented, a sort of traditional round-dial, analog-like treatment with digital speedometer, and a more modern take with a graph-like tach. Overall, it’s a good dash setup with navigation and features that don’t leave you scratching your head.

FTR1200 TFT
A 4.3.-inch TFT display is easy to read and straightforward in operation.Jeff Allen

If there is anything to complain about in daily riding it is the typical 100-mile range we got with the 3.4-gallon fuel capacity at our recorded 32 mpg, and the amount of engine vibration transmitted through the seat. At 4,000 rpm in top gear—about 68 mph indicated—the seat was active enough to make my vision a little fuzzy. This is surprising given that the performance-oriented, DOHC, liquid-cooled, 60-degree V-twin shares its basic layout with the Scout cruiser’s engine, which didn’t intrude in this way at all. We had a preproduction unit with “near-final” ECU calibration, so we look forward to updating our impression on both fuel consumption and engine vibration.

The powertrain is a substantially different unit than that used in the Scout, with more a compact gearbox, more aggressive tuning, and much different packaging: The dual 60mm ride-by-wire Mikuni throttle bodies breathe in through an airbox that pretty much takes up the entirety of what would traditionally be the “fuel tank.” Fuel is in fact carried below the seat, with the removable filler cap sitting low on the tank area.

Steel-trellis frame
Steel-trellis frame and swingarm evoke the FTR750 racebike. Stainless exhaust runs under the engine by sound-test necessity. Flat-track fans can go aftermarket to echo racebike style.Jeff Allen

Filling up without spilling required care simply because of the shape of the interior filler neck, and topping up was a slow process at the end—but you wanted to top it up to maximize range. With the airbox where the fuel normally goes and fuel where the battery often goes, the battery and voltage regulator were placed low and at the front of the engine next to the oil cooler. We are just glad they left the fuel cap in a near-normal position so that you don’t have to get off the bike to refuel.

It would have been nice to get a lighter motorcycle, and our expectation, given a lot of naked bike competition, was something like 125 hp at the rear wheel. At the same time, it is hard to argue with the dynamics of the FTR1200, and its acceleration and roll-on performance is super strong. The 40–60 and 60–80 numbers are fantastic, and burning off an 11.32 second, 119.85-mph quarter-mile is highly satisfying.

wheelie
On the Cycle World dyno the FTR1200 cranked out 111.2 hp at 8,300 rpm and 79.8 pound-feet of torque at 5,900 rpm.Jeff Allen

So, what the FTR1200 does is bring together dynamic qualities and riding character in a very American way. It is a street tracker, or new-style standard, or perhaps also a scrambler in spirit if not in name. It draws its performance circle around many elements and these qualities result in a motorcycle that clearly comes from the heartland, hints at distant cruiser genes in nearly all good ways, and results in riding experience that is purely good-time oriented.

taillight
The Indian FTR1200 is a very American take on a standard, incorporating elements of a tracker and a scrambler.Jeff Allen

The FTR1200 isn’t just a fun, new American motorcycle, it is a step in the direction of a whole fleet of fun, new American motorcycles—because there is no doubt an entire line planned around this platform. We are better for having the FTR1200, and the only strange problem we see with its existence is that it makes us wonder if we should add a steel shoe to our right boot too.

2019 Indian FTR1200S Race Replica

Engine
Type Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, 60° V-twin
Displacement 1203cc
Bore x Stroke 102.0 x 73.6 mm
Compression Ratio 12.5:1
Valvetrain DOHC, 4 valves/cylinder
Induction (2) 60mm Mikuni throttle bodies
Final Drive 6-speed/chain
Chasis
Front Suspension 43mm inverted telescopic fork w/adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 5.9-in. travel
Rear Suspension Rear Suspension: Monoshock w/adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 5.9-in. travel
Front Tire Dunlop DT3-R 120/70-19
Rear Tire Dunlop DT3-R 150/80-18
Rake / Trail 26.3° / 5.1 in.
Wheelbase 60.0 in.
Seat Height 33.6 in.
Fuel Capacity 3.4 gal.
Dry Weight 495 lb.
CW Measured Performance
Horsepower 111.2 hp @ 8,300 rpm
Torque 79.8 lb.-ft. 5,900 rpm
Fuel Consumption 32 mpg
Quarter Mile 11.32 sec. @ 119.85 mph
0-30 1.67 sec.
0-60 3.4 sec.
0-100 7.35 sec.
Top-Gear Roll on 40-60 2.47 sec.
Top-Gear Roll on 60-80 2.64 sec.
Braking 30-0 35.1 ft.
Braking 60-0 135.9 ft.
Price $16,999