The biggest strength of the Indian FTR750 is that you can buy a stock bike right out of the dealership and, if you have the right rider, you can win a national. Believe it or not, my bike is not much different than stock. That kind of dummy-proofs it. You can buy one, hire a kid who has big enough balls, and threaten me and Jared Mees for the win. It is a good, solid package.

They took a lot of what the Harley-Davidson XR750 did well. They got enough mass on the crank and flywheels that you can ride it hard. And it puts the power to the ground. A lot of the Japanese bikes—and even the Indian when Mees first started testing it—wouldn't put the power to the ground. Indian really did its homework. The FTR750 might not be the fastest at the end of the straightaway, but it is good in the corner.

I think every bike out there is making somewhere between 90 and 100 horsepower. Some guy might have 100, but it might be harder to ride in the corners; they are gambling on being able to pass on the straightaway. I don't think I had the fastest bike out there Saturday night, but it hooked up good and handled great. That's the cool thing about flat track: It is not just computers and numbers. You need a good setup and a power curve that is broad and lays the power down.

We built a frame that was a little different—smaller, just to fit me a little better—but we got shut down because it changed the look of the bike quite a bit. It didn't really look like an Indian any more. It looked more like one of Ricky Howerton's Kawasakis, so it wasn't a fan favorite with the Indian people. But that is just me complaining about wanting to try something different.

American Flat Track Meadowlands Mile
New to flat track? Bring your friends next year, says inaugural American Flat Track Meadowlands Mile winner Bryan Smith. “I had never been in New York City, so it was pretty cool to see the skyline and go to Manhattan for the awards banquet.”Courtesy of American Flat Track

For five years, I was on a custom bike with Ricky that was everything I wanted. Now, here I am on the same bike that half the paddock has. The bars aren't where I want them. The footpegs aren't where I want them. The exhaust pipes are burning my leg; I was used to down pipes. Those are some of the reasons why I am switching brands next year. I will be back, basically, on the same Crosley Brands-supported program we had before, another generation.

It is going to be great for the sport and better for me. I am confident I can do better on the Kawasaki or I would not be going back. As for the sport, somebody needs to give Indian a reality check. I might as well be the one to do it. Not only do they have a great bike, but all the top riders are on them. Indian made it easy for guys to buy a competitive bike. So, of course, everybody is going to buy one and race it.

Bryan Smith
Smith aims next season to fight again for the title on a Crosley/Howerton Kawasaki Ninja 650. “To go from winning today—three out of the last four races—on a bike that wasn’t set up perfectly for me to a bike that I know I can get dialed in for me… I think it’s going to be good.”Courtesy of American Flat Track

Ricky will be tweaking the bike that I won the championship on in 2016, but it won't be as drastic as the skinny bike. We know what we did wrong on that bike. There were a lot of good things we learned, but there was a lot of bad holding it back. Geometry-wise, we went a little out in left field on a couple things. I mean, it wasn't horrible, but it wasn't as good. But that taught us what to do on the 2016 bike.

Even after 2016, we said, "Man, if we could have changed this or that, that bike would have been better." So that is what we are doing. We are using the same engine, and the bike will look a lot the same, but the geometry and engine position are a little different. Having something different than anybody else made it fun for me. We could dial it in just for me and not really care what everybody else was doing. I'm excited for sure.