Friday, March 06, 2020

2020 Indian FTR 1200 Rally First Ride Review - Just as Fun as I Remember



By: Julia LaPalme
Photos by: Indian Motorcycle

It’s been 4 months since I last threw a leg over a street bike. Recovery from a motorcycle accident isn’t just a physical process, but a mental one as well. When I got the invitation to ride the new Indian FTR 1200 Rally, I knew I was ready to get back on two wheels and get back on the pavement. It was the weekend of the One Moto Show in Portland, OR, and the weather had been very Portland-y: wet, cold, and rainy. But the day I got the keys to the FTR Rally, the sun broke through the clouds, and the asphalt was drying just enough to be encouraging. Could I get back on the horse without getting in my head? Would the FTR be just as amazing as it was the first time I rode the base and S models over a year ago? It was time to find out.



Indian’s new FTR Rally is nearly identical to its FTR 1200 stablemate. The seat height proved to be just as tall as the other FTRs, with ergonomic set up of handle bars and foot pegs positioned in a very comfortable slightly forward-leaning upright position. The Rally benefits from a set of Pro Taper handlebars than sit a couple inches higher than the FTR 1200, giving a confident riding position with plenty of leverage for cornering, and height for standing up out of the saddle. The Rally’s saddle is an appealing aviator brown, giving a slight deviation from the other FTR models’ black seat options.

Taking off from the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum revealed the Rally’s giggle-inducing power and thrust. Any slight trepidation I had about getting back on a bike was quickly whisked away with the twist of the throttle. The torquey V-twin’s 1203cc pumps out 123 horsepower, and that is more than plenty to scoot around town. Every take off from a green light felt like the bike was itching for a drag race. If I had more of a whisky throttle hand, the Rally would have no problem appeasing an appetite for wheelies, with its 87 ft-lbs of torque. I’ll save that for a later date.


It took no time at all to get beyond the urban grid of downtown Portland. Chunks missing in the pavement, railroad tracks, and various surface topographical changes of Portland’s pavement made me grateful for the give and take of the Rally’s inverted fork and rear monotube shock. With 5.9 inches of travel front and rear, I started aiming for the potholes and the bumps, just to keep testing its ability to eat up the surface variations without transferring much turbulence to the handlebars. Maybe I was just itching to get more into a rally mood.

Before long I found one of the twistier roads close to downtown, and thankfully seemed to have the road all to myself. Even in the early afternoon shade of February in Oregon, the Rally felt well poised and confident ripping around each corner of the damp, twisty asphalt. Given the Rally is equipped with wire-spoked wheels shod in Pirelli Rally Scorpion STR tires, with a shallow knobby profile to give it a multipurpose use, the bike never made me question its ability to take on the curves. 

Dealing with local traffic is always a gamble. You never know if you’ll get in line with spirited well-traveled commuters, or slow paced old timers or rubber-necking tourists. The scenery is beautiful, so I can’t blame them, but occasionally I would come around a corner only to find myself right on top of a car moving at a leisurely pace. Thankfully, Indian equipped the Rally with dual 4-piston Brembo calipers up front, and a single 2-piston in the rear, just like the FTR 1200. The stopping power of the Brembo brakes is plenty to scrub speed and remind me to take it easy. And with standard ABS, I never worried about locking up the front wheel. Thankfully I didn’t have to test that system.


With my injuries still healing a bit, I was concerned about how my left hand would manage a clutch lever again. The Rally’s power assist slipper clutch and sliding mesh 6-speed transmission made easy work of shifting up and down through the gears. To be honest, I barely thought about the transmission or shifting gears since the clutch lever had such a light and manageable pull. Overall it was just an effortless experience.

So how does the FTR Rally compare to its FTR 1200 and FTR 1200 S brethren? It fits right in. With small styling and ergonomic adjustments (hello, short windscreen and tall handlebars), and knobbier tires, the Rally still delivers all the punch and pull of that strong Indian engine that’s hard not to love, allowing riders to keep rippin’ and riding through town, and onto the backroads. And at $13,499, with all the same charm and abilities as the standard FTR 1200, plus a smidge more, the Rally edition is worth every last penny.
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