The flat-track-inspired 2021 Indian FTR has been one of the brand’s biggest hits – and misses – since it hit UK streets in 2019. With great styling, three different trim levels, an enlarged, 121bhp version of the cruiser Scout’s V-twin, quality parts and engaging, entertaining handling, it was something of an 'American Monster'.
Related: 2019-2020 Indian FTR1200 review
There wasn’t much wrong with the old range either but it is 19/18in wheel sizes made tyre choice a headache, its rawness didn’t suit all and its tall, broad riding position left you exposed.
For 2021, the Indian FTR range is significantly improved through with new wheels/tyres, a revised chassis and riding position. After a day in the saddle of the 2021 S model, we're pleased to report it remains a genuinely exciting, quality, sports roadster.
It’s not perfect: the tank filler is awkward and at 13 litres it’s too small. But what now lifts it another notch is its extra grip, particularly at the rear, added tyre options, more real-world riding position and refinement, although I suspect I’d be just as happy with the standard FTR, at £1400 less...
Ride quality & brakes
5 out of 5 (5/5)
The main criticism of the original FTR was its 19/18in wheel combo, clad in skinny, flattrack-style Dunlop tyres. Handling wasn’t bad but the tyres restricted how far it could be explored. Now that’s all changed.
New 17in alloys wear fat Metzeler Sportec tyres (with the rear now a 180-section instead of the previous 150), steering geometry and suspension have been adjusted and the result is sports-naked handling as good as any. The 19/18 combo, meanwhile, lives on in the Rally variant.Those smaller wheels still give sharp enough steering thanks to half a degree sharper steering geometry and reduced trail, yet the riding experience is less 'flappy' and exposed due to 40mm narrower handlebars.
The smaller wheels along with revised suspension settings also make for a lower, more manageable seat height (780mm from 840mm). The sum total is a riding position that’s more comfortable along with handling that’s entertaining yet more composed in fast turns.
5 out of 5 (5/5)
Although based on the 1133cc Scout V-twin, the FTR unit, developed with race engine specialists Swissauto, was very different, with a revised bore/stroke giving 1203cc, high compression head and dual throttle bodies to produce 121bhp compared to the Scout’s 100.
Yet it was also criticised for being a little abrupt, particularly in Sport mode. This has been recalibrated to give a smoother throttle response, an actual boost in peak power to 123bhp and rear cylinder deactivation at idle to aid cooling.
Reliability & build quality
4 out of 5 (4/5)
Being so new, it's hard to talk about the reliability of the 2021 FTR range. However, owners' reviews of the 2019 bike give largely glowing praise.
Related: 2019 Indian FTR1200S long-term test
That said, one owner did criticise the indicators for being susceptible to damage and a careless knock from a boot getting on, off or brushing past can damage and crack the stalks. There were also reported issues with starting in cold weather and the engine cutting out in traffic.Value vs rivals Next up: Equipment4 out of 5 (4/5) The model tested here is the mid-range FTR S but there are now four FTR variants in total. The base FTR (£12,295) and top-spec R Carbon (£15,595) also get the new 17in wheels while the base FTR also now has multi-adjustable suspension. It lacks, however, the S’s slick 4.3in touchscreen TFT, Akrapovic exhaust, uprated electronics and ABS and two-tone paint. The limited edition Carbon, adds carbon panels, Öhlins front/rear while the semi-dirt Rally (£12,995) retains the old FTR’s 19/18in tyres on wire wheels. The addition of 17in rims has also opened the FTR up to a wider range of naked competition from Europe and Japan. It's 121bhp V-twin makes it a direct rival to the latest 2021 Ducati Monster, which produces a slightly less imposing 109bhp, but weighs considerably less. Other rivals also now include the Yamaha MT-09, Kawasaki Z900 and retro Z900RS, plus the Triumph Street Triple range.
Equipment 5 out of 5 (5/5) Despite the updates, what hasn’t changed is the FTR’s distinctive American style and conspicuous quality – which is pleasing in these times when Ducati Monsters are starting to look like Yamahas and MT-09s are starting to look like they haven’t been finished properly. The FTR’s trellis frame and rear end have shades of both Monster and Ariel, its chassis is generously sprinkled with Brembos, Akrapovic and multi-adjustment and everywhere you look there’s tactile touches and sumptuous style. This truly is a bike you’ll park up and admire.
Engine size1203ccEngine typeLiquid-cooled, 8v, V-twinFrame typeTubular steel trellisFuel capacity13 litresSeat height780mmBike weight233kgFront suspensionUSD Sachs forks, fully adjustableRear suspensionSachs single shock, fully adjustableFront brake2 x 320mm front discs with Brembo four-piston radial calipers. ABSRear brake260mm rear disc with Brembo twin piston caliper, ABSFront tyre size120/70 x 17Rear tyre size180/55 x 17