Biker Boy: A dirt tracker among cruisers
Indian Motorcycle's FTR 1200 S stands out from the brand's usual bikes
Indian Motorcycle, founded in 1901, is known for its classic cruisers.
But in the US marque's line-up, the FTR 1200 S must surely seem like a child who does not follow in the family tradition.
It is a flat tracker - a motorcycle influenced by popular dirt track racing in the US. As such, its lines resemble the FTR 750, a race-only machine.
Nevertheless, the 1,203cc FTR 1200 S is equally at home on the street.
Despite looking like it belongs on a dirt track, the twin-cylinder bike is not too tall.
While there is a slight lean to its dirt bike handlebars, most riders will find their feet resting firmly on tarmac.
Its compact, short-tail silhouette and upswept dual exhaust cans give it an aggressive posture. Dirt track tyres, 19-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels, and a small 12.9-litre fuel tank complete the flat tracker look.
The trellis-frame Indian has 123bhp and 117Nm of torque under the hood.
But what sets it apart from being just another dirt bike is its control centre.
What got me excited was its 4.3-inch, full-colour TFT dashboard. It is touchscreen actuated and works like a smartphone.
You can select your ride modes - Rain, Standard and Sport - using a toggle button on the left handlebar, or you can make the selections on the screen.
At the bottom of the dashboard is a capped USB charger.
The chain-driven FTR 1200 S is equipped with electronics such as cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, lean sensitive anti-lock brakes, and traction and wheelie controls.
Despite the high-tech features, some will find its low-tech ignition key baffling.
The key, which can be a hassle to insert thanks to the dashboard, does not contain a security chip.
In bends, the FTR's "duality" shines. You can lean with the motorcycle in turns or tip its handlebars down dirt bike style.
Obviously, you get the most grunt and throttle responsiveness in Sport mode.
Unfortunately for me, most of my riding was done in slippery, rainy conditions.
With the help of electronic aids, the FTR 1200 S was calm between 2,000 and 3,000rpm, reducing the likelihood of losing traction.
On dry roads, and especially in Sport mode, the FTR, which has a machine price of $37,000, pulls hard from as low as 2,500rpm to about 7,000rpm.
In sixth gear, with 3,200rpm showing on the speedometer, it cruises effortlessly at 90kmh.
Its powerful Brembo dual-caliper front brakes require only two fingers to operate.
The FTR 1200 S comes with fully-adjustable inverted forks and a diagonally-mounted rear shock. Out of the box, the ride comfort is spot on when you carry a pillion.
However, adjustments need to be made for lighter riders when riding solo to soften the hits over bumps.
And in the rain, its footpegs can be slippery.