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2022 Indian Motorcycle FTR R Carbon Review MC Commute

Giddyap aboard Indian Motorcycle’s 2022 FTR R Carbon with Santa Claus in this holiday-themed motorcycle review.

Giddyap aboard Indian Motorcycle’s 2022 FTR R Carbon with Santa Claus in this holiday-themed motorcycle review. (Jeff Allen/)

Indian Motorcycle tweaked the formula of its FTR street-tracker for 2022. Pure road focus is the game, but does that translate to an improved streetbike? To find out, Santa Claus—whose legendary workshop is currently too busy with toys to build Santa his own new motorcycle—snagged the top-of-the-line FTR R Carbon ($16,999) from Indian Motorcycle’s factory in Spirit Lake, Iowa. The jolly old elf used the FTR to deliver a load of Mattel Hot Wheels to the new Thompson Autism Center at the Children’s Health of Orange County Hospital in Southern California.

This clinic, established in 2020, helps mentor autistic children and establish a lifelong learning path in conjunction with nearby Chapman University. Don Lawrence, a healthcare planner with Blue Cottage of CannonDesign, helped design the clinic. He has an autistic son, and his parenting experience helped drive a design that makes use of indirect lighting, calm colors, and nature images.

The 2022 Indian Motorcycle FTR R Carbon is Indian’s top-of-the line street tracker-style road bike ringing in at $16,999.

The 2022 Indian Motorcycle FTR R Carbon is Indian’s top-of-the line street tracker-style road bike ringing in at $16,999. (Jeff Allen/)

“As the parent of an autistic son, I can tell you it’s a nightmare to try and find resources,” said Lawrence in a CannonDesign blog post. “There was no center like this when my son was born, so it was a real challenge for me and my wife to find the resources to get interventions. Now that there’s more awareness of autism, we’ve seen more and more providers noticing and diagnosing autism early. Intervention at a facility like this can make a huge difference in their lives.”

Editor’s note: We’ve reported on the original FTR 1200 extensively during the 2019 Indian FTR 1200 S First Ride Review, 2019 Indian FTR 1200 S First Look Review, An Artistic Review of 2019 Indian’s FTR 1200, and 2019 Indian FTR 1200 First Ride Around A Dirt Track articles and videos. Also check out the 2022 Indian Motorcycle FTR First Look Preview to learn more about this year’s version.

Smaller diameter wheels and reduced suspension travel lower the rider seat height.

Smaller diameter wheels and reduced suspension travel lower the rider seat height. (Jeff Allen/)

Even with smaller-diameter rims, we’re fans of the FTR’s stance and aesthetic. The bike may be stepping away from its dirt track racing roots, but it maintains reasonable proportions, and we’re particularly fond of its carbon fiber drip (front fender, headlight cowl, and fuel tank cover). The faux carbon fiber print on the sides of the saddle is also a nice touch.

Low to medium speed handling on smooth pavement is a clear highlight of the 2022 Indian Motorcycle FTR R Carbon.

Low to medium speed handling on smooth pavement is a clear highlight of the 2022 Indian Motorcycle FTR R Carbon. (Jeff Allen/)

Lift the FTR off its kickstand and it’s no featherweight; claimed curb weight is 513 pounds, 5 pounds less than the 19/18-inch wheel equipped FTR 1200 S. When seated at the controls riders will immediately notice the FTR’s lower stance, a plus for the height-challenged, though it feels a bit wide between the rider’s legs. The handlebar is narrower than we remember, with a fair degree of rearward sweep. This makes it feel more entry-level, engine displacement notwithstanding. The rear-mounted footpegs are positioned high making for a tigher squeeze for tall folks. The footpegs are a tad teensy for our taste, too. For short local rides, the FTR is comfortable, but the seating position is a tad demanding for longer commutes and/or rides.

S-model FTR’s are equipped with shotgun-style Akrapovič mufflers from the factory.

S-model FTR’s are equipped with shotgun-style Akrapovič mufflers from the factory. (Jeff Allen/)

The FTR continues to use a good old-fashioned mechanical engine key, which is a good thing. But the design of the key is cheap, especially for a nearly $17,000 motorcycle. Thumb the starter button and the 1,203cc V-twin settles into idle with a tone reminiscent of an L-twin Ducati. We also appreciate the aesthetic and sound of the shotgun-style Akrapovič mufflers.

The FTR R Carbon is powered by a 1,203cc 60-degree V-twin that pumps out nearly 81 pound-feet torque. It delivers ‘oomph with a pleasing character reminiscent of Ducati’s old school L-Twins.

The FTR R Carbon is powered by a 1,203cc 60-degree V-twin that pumps out nearly 81 pound-feet torque. It delivers ‘oomph with a pleasing character reminiscent of Ducati’s old school L-Twins. (Jeff Allen/)

Twist the right grip and you’ll notice that the FTR now offers a smoother, more well-calibrated response during launches from a stop. The cable-actuated clutch is responsive and well-weighed, a plus for novices and pros alike. A short first gear makes for quick getaways and sixth gear is tall enough to pull 4,000 rpm at 70 mph. Considering its price however, we’d like to see a bidirectional electronic quickshifter.

The FTR Carbon R has plenty of muscle to lift the front wheel, however the throttle response is herky-jerky feeling in either Standard or Sport riding modes.

The FTR Carbon R has plenty of muscle to lift the front wheel, however the throttle response is herky-jerky feeling in either Standard or Sport riding modes. (Jeff Allen/)

The last time we dyno-tested this engine it pumped out a respectable 80.5 pound-feet torque at 5,800 rpm and almost 112 hp at 8,200 revs. So the FTR is no slouch. The engine pulls hard and feels particularly direct-feeling in the most aggressive Sport mode. A total of three combined engine power/throttle map settings are offered: Rain, Standard, and Sport. We appreciate the smoother response from the ride-by-wire throttle when cracked, but in Standard and Sport modes, the throttle feels less refined at speed, making it difficult to modulate wheelies. IMU-powered traction control keeps the rear wheel in line and can be manually disabled, if desired. The engine drinks from a small 3.4-gallon fuel tank, which gives the bike a range of only around 100 miles.

The FTR R Carbon employs full LED lighting.

The FTR R Carbon employs full LED lighting. (Jeff Allen/)

A 4.7-inch color touchscreen display keeps tabs on the vehicle settings. The display offers clean, sharp fonts, and we love the ability to navigate through menu settings with gloves. But the display has some degree of parasetic power drain, so we advise trickle charging the battery (which is located behind the front wheel) if it sits parked for more than a couple of weeks. Full LED lighting helps the FTR stand out on the road and we appreciate the deep swath of light from its headlamp. Easy to use Bluetooth connectivity lets you pair smartphones with the motorcycle, but realistically, we don’t need to read text messages, or make phone calls while riding.

Initial ride-by-throttle response is smoother but it could use some refinement during moderate throttle opening.

Initial ride-by-throttle response is smoother but it could use some refinement during moderate throttle opening. (Jeff Allen/)

Handling-wise, the FTR offers a squishier ride than we remember. Suspension travel has been reduced by more than an inch, which affords a lower stance and feel to match. Despite its hefty curb weight, the FTR is agile and performs best in slow to medium speed turns. Fortunately, the Öhlins suspenders offer a good range of adjustment, so handling can be tweaked to rider preference. Once setup, suspension action is controlled allowing for a good support—especially on smooth roads, when loaded with the throttle or brakes. Our only gripe is the chassis delivers a rough ride over anything but smooth pavement.

Dual hydraulic disc brakes from Brembo with cornering ABS shed speed from the 513-pound FTR Carbon R.

Dual hydraulic disc brakes from Brembo with cornering ABS shed speed from the 513-pound FTR Carbon R. (Jeff Allen/)

Brembo triple-disc brakes, with stainless-steel brakes lines keep speed in check with lean-sensitive always-on ABS. The brakes have pleasing feel front and rear, but because the front suspension spring rate is so soft, the FTR’s ability to stop in a pinch, especially from higher speeds, is a bit compromised. The ABS programming is also non-adjustable and more conservative than modern European sport naked bikes.

Indian Motorcycle’s FTR R Carbon certainly looks neat, but it’s one-trick pony type performance makes it hard to justify its lofty MSRP.

Indian Motorcycle’s FTR R Carbon certainly looks neat, but it’s one-trick pony type performance makes it hard to justify its lofty MSRP. (Jeff Allen/)

The 2022 FTR R Carbon looks the part and with its more planted handling it is fun to ride on pavement, even reduced suspension travel. However, at times, herky-jerky throttle response and lofty price tag position it out of reach. If we’re spending our money and not getting the bike from Santa, we’d opt for the older 19/18-inch wheel equipped version. Still, if you desire American muscle with more readily available 17-inch sporting rubber, the ‘22 FTR may be for you.

2022 Indian FTR R Carbon Technical Specifications and Price

PRICE $16,999 (as tested)
ENGINE 1,203cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled V-twin; 8-valve
BORE x STROKE 102.0 x 73.6mm
COMPRESSION RATIO 12.5:1
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/chain
FUEL DELIVERY Fuel injection w 60mm throttle bodies
CLUTCH Wet, multiplate slipper clutch; cable actuation
FRAME Steel trellis
FRONT SUSPENSION 43mm Öhlins, spring preload, compression and rebound damping adjustable; 4.7 in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION Öhlins gas-charged shock, spring preload, compression and rebound damping adjustable; 4.7 in. travel
FRONT BRAKES Brembo radial-mount 4-piston calipers, 320mm discs w/ ABS
REAR BRAKE 2-piston caliper, 260mm disc
WHEELS, FRONT/REAR Cast aluminum; 17 x 3.5 in. / 17 x 5.5 in.
TIRES, FRONT/REAR Metzeler Sportec; 120/70-17 / 180/55-17
RAKE/TRAIL 25.3°/3.9 in.
WHEELBASE 60.0 in.
GROUND CLEARANCE 6.5 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 30.7 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 3.4 gal.
CLAIMED CURB WEIGHT 513 lb.
WARRANTY 2 years, unlimited miles
AVAILABLE TBD
CONTACT indianmotorcycle.com

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