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2020 Indian FTR Rally Review: Embracing the Past, Looking to the Future
Brand: Indian Motorcycle
Product: FTR Rally
Release Date: Spring 2020
The cool, rainy city of Portland — and the surrounding tangle of curled mountain roads — might not be the first place that comes to mind when it comes to places you’d want to first ride a bike from a traditional American motorcycle company like Indian. Domestic motorcycle manufacturing, after all, tends to be known for big V-twins and thumping down desert highways. But the last few years have revealed a whole new side of Indian; the release of the FTR 750 and FTR 1200 marked a hard shift from the highway monsters to scrappy, sporty bikes that proudly shine a light on Indian’s badass flat-tracking past.
What We Like
The 2020 FTR Rally isn’t all that different from the FTR 1200, but it isn’t meant to be. The FTR works well for Indian; the Rally is only meant to give riders some altered aesthetics and a few new features. Indian made the decision to hire Ola Stenegard — the fella whose impeccable taste was proven forever by designing one of the coolest bikes in recent memory, the BMW R nineT — as the company’s new head designer, and it’s paid off.
Doubling down on the flat-track vibe, they based the Rally on the base-model 1200, which results in a charmingly mechanical speedometer, a tiny digital screen with fuel gauge and gear selection, no tachometer, and a cleverly hidden USB port, leaving the handlebars simple and clean.
The FTR Rally does have a few eye-catching changes. The color palette has moved from the FTR 1200’s very raceday-esque red-frame-and-splash-of-white-on-the-tank to more of a bad-guy vibe. The Rally comes in a leather-jacket-cool combo of black and matte gray, with a few tasty pops of red pinstriping around the classic chief’s-head logo, windscreen and wheels. In a more retro vein, Indian added what they call a brown “aviator seat” — which is also lowered slightly to provide a better riding position, on conjunction with the new handle bars that sit two inches higher than the FTR 1200.
One change that’s a matter of taste: the semi-knobby Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires. Although the tires (and the bike’s name) give the impression the Rally is meant for off-road riding, it really isn’t; these tires have the aggressive look of a dirt track racer, but after nearly 150 miles of wet, twisty roads, I can say these tires never gave me the impression that they were intended for anything other than tarmac.
Speaking of performance: the Rally’s more upright riding position, high foot pegs and snappy torque make this bike a back road killer. The Rally is built around the same 1203cc V-twin motor as the FTR 1200, making 123 horsepower and 87 pound-feet of torque. Due to the power and torque, it almost didn’t matter which gear I was in; the torque would snap the bike into shape coming out of a corner whether I was in third gear or fifth.
The galloping of the V-twin was as lovely to hear (although I do wish it were a touch louder) as it was exciting to rip open on the occasional straight bit of road we found. Although the base model doesn’t come with the riding modes and traction control, it thankfully does come with ABS — which I employed often while leaning on the dual-disc Brembo brakes up front and the single disc out back.
Watch Out For
As cool as the V-Twin is, it is a thirsty power plant. I was shocked to find I was down to a quarter of a tank after about 75 miles. The fuel tank holds 3.4 gallons of juice, but the Rally just can’t help but guzzle it like light beer at a frat house.
With range limited to about 100 miles per tank, the gas situation could be cripplingly limiting, unless you only plan to use this bike for a local commuter. Problem is, if this is just an around-town commuter bike, then $13,499 and up is awfully damn pricy.
And speaking of pricy: I dig how simple the handlebar situation is, but again, for more than $13K, I feel like grip warmers should be included. It’s 2020; cold hands should be a memory of the past.
The FTR Rally isn’t massively different from the FTR 1200, but there’s nothing wrong with that — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The FTR has not only proven to be a rad re-entry for Indian into the racing world, but it has also brought in a massive new group of motorists to the marque: millennials. Young people want to see something fresh and cool, even if that’s actually just a retro-inspired bike.
The Rally didn’t need to be anything beyond a minor, largely cosmetic update to bring them (and me) in. Sure, it’s not cheap, and some of the details aren’t perfect. But it is a great bike from a company that motorcycle nerds have been wanting to see do well for a long time.
Indian hosted us and provided this product for review.
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