2020 Indian FTR Rally First Ride Review

A quick and loose rip on Indian’s just-announced scrambler-style FTR.

Indian’s newest FTR 1200, the FTR Rally, is coming to America, and we managed to score a quick ride on a preproduction model the day after the announcement.

Indian’s newest FTR 1200, the FTR Rally, is coming to America, and we managed to score a quick ride on a preproduction model the day after the announcement.

Julia LaPalme

When Indian announced the FTR Rally model a few months back and said it was destined only for Europe, we sorta sulked, but also held out some hope the thing would come Stateside eventually. And wouldn’t you know it, the company recently announced it would be bringing the new scrambler-styled model to North America for 2020 as well. The best part? We unexpectedly lucked into a quick ride on the newest FTR just after Indian showed it off in-person at this year’s The One Show in Portland, Oregon.

Related: 2020 Indian FTR Rally First Look

The 2020 FTR Rally was first shown to the North American public at The One Moto Show in Portland, Oregon, earlier this month. Turns out they had a bike left over to lend us.

The 2020 FTR Rally was first shown to the North American public at The One Moto Show in Portland, Oregon, earlier this month. Turns out they had a bike left over to lend us.

Andrew Cherney

First, a quick refresh on what this bike’s about. The bones of the 2020 FTR Rally are still that of a base 2019 FTR, but they’re gussied up with what Indian’s calling “authentic retro styling,” which in this case includes many of the bits used on the (US) Rally Collection introduced last year. Because it riffs on the lowest-spec FTR model, you’ll get an analog speedometer on the FTR Rally instead of the touchscreen display found on the S, and no traction control or ride mode options either (though you still can count on lean-sensitive ABS). The Rally retails for $13,499, so it slots between the top-line S ($14,499) and the base FTR 1200 ($11,999).

Related: Indian Announces Accessory Kits For FTR 1200

Springing from the base-model FTR, the new 1200 gets only a few changes, like spoked wheels, a brown saddle, and high handlebars, all meant to sell the scrambler vibe.

Springing from the base-model FTR, the new 1200 gets only a few changes, like spoked wheels, a brown saddle, and high handlebars, all meant to sell the scrambler vibe.

Morgan Gales

The Rally’s scrambler vibe hits hardest with the new aluminum spoked wheels (though in the same 19-inch front, 18 rear sizes) which get a red pinstripe and wear super-chunky Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires. Other accessories distinguishing the Rally from its stablemates include the 50mm-taller ProTaper handlebar, a short “rally” screen, and slightly stepped brown saddle (Indian calls this vinyl-clad perch an Aviator saddle, don’t ask me why). That’s the cosmetic stuff. The beating heart remains a meaty 1,203cc V-twin engine with a claimed 120-plus hp and loads of low-end punch, housed in a black steel trellis frame. Suspension setup carries over from the base model as well, with a fully adjustable inverted fork and a rear monoshock (preload and rebound adjustment only). Radially mounted dual Brembos also provide stopping power up front, so all in all, there hasn’t been any sacrifice in the name of style on the 2020 Rally.

Between the tweaked ergonomics and burlier tires, your success at light off-roading is vastly improved.

Between the tweaked ergonomics and burlier tires, your success at light off-roading is vastly improved.

Julia LaPalme

In any case, I have to admit the Rally’s trim looks damn sharp. The Titanium Smoke paint job is killer in person, with the full Indian headdress graphic feeling appropriately subdued. It was striking how large an effect a few well-placed changes made between models; the Rally literally carries just new paint, tires, and bars. That brown seat gives a nice pop to the matt gray paint, with the black frame tying it all together. Just don’t look for serious guards, high-mounted pipes, engine protection, or the like—that’s not what this bike is about. It’s a 527-pound streetbike with tires better suited to light-duty off-roading and a graphic scheme that’ll probably appeal to a certain urban demographic.

The new Titanium Smoke colorway with Indian graphic against the black trellis frame is a hit. Beneath it all is that gnarly, 123 hp (claimed) 1,203cc V-twin.

The new Titanium Smoke colorway with Indian graphic against the black trellis frame is a hit. Beneath it all is that gnarly, 123 hp (claimed) 1,203cc V-twin.

Morgan Gales

When the Indian rep I bumped into at The One Show jangled a set of keys in front of me, I was more than ready to throw a leg over the Rally. Turns out I had no problem settling into that Avia—er, brown saddle pretty easily; Indian lists it as 33.1 inches tall, but it seemed way lower (and more manageable). The taller bar hit my hands just right for a more upright riding position, and felt like a better angle for round-town ripping. Cruise control, a USB port, and LED headlight comes on the FTR as well as the base model, so I was all set.

Wheels retain the same sizing but are now aluminum spoked units wearing more dirt-biased Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR rubber.

Wheels retain the same sizing but are now aluminum spoked units wearing more dirt-biased Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR rubber.

Indian Motorcycle

Turning the key and punching the starter, you can’t help but revel in the growl pumping out of the twin pipes, with a touch of vibes coming from the 60-degree V-twin. Ten minutes into my route along the moss-encrusted esses of Northwest Portland’s winding Germantown Road and I realized the Rally’s ergos were a way better fit for back-road bombing than the base model’s—at least for me. The taller bar combined with the neutral-footpeg upright position are comfortable yet put you in a stance that gives you great leverage and control while offering a commanding view of the road. It all made for a solid rider triangle from where I could plan my next turn, and because the bike carries its weight well, it feels like a much lighter machine at speed (even though it’s slightly heavier than the base model). The Rally didn’t fight back when initiating turns, with neutral steering along the way and the chassis holding a steady line throughout. On drier stretches of road where we’d dig deeper into turns, you could feel the tires’ profiles a bit, but we didn’t encounter any missteps (though the lean-sensitive ABS did come in handy once or twice) and cornering clearance was more than ample. With the same quick throttle response as its FTR brothers, the Rally readily squirts out of the turns, and even the chunky tires stuck better than expected in the sometimes moist corners (they ride more like street rubber, though expect some movement with that blocky tread pattern). The 123 horses on tap (111 on the Cycle World dyno) are almost immediately accessible at the twist of a wrist, and they responded eagerly at most any rpm.

Up front, the dual floating rotors with Brembo calipers and ABS (lean-sensitive, by the way) didn’t let us down once on our occasionally slick route, with good feel and a strong, progressive bite.

Up front, the dual floating rotors with Brembo calipers and ABS (lean-sensitive, by the way) didn’t let us down once on our occasionally slick route, with good feel and a strong, progressive bite.

Morgan Gales

There were some niggles though. I found the bike occasionally coughing and sputtering in the first 20 minutes or so of the ride, but fueling seemed to settle down appreciably as things warmed up. I’ll chalk that up to the fact that these were preproduction models; the Indian rep made it clear that’s what we were on. Ride quality felt nicely balanced in general, but I would have liked some more compression damping up front, for the rutted urban portion of our 55-mile route. Other dings include fuel capacity—that small 3.4-gallon tank means range for this somewhat heavy bike can be a downer—and a license plate mount that’s downright hideous. Fortunately Indian does offer a relocation kit, which of course will cost you.

The short “rally screen” up front may have deflected an errant gust or two from our gut, but mostly it’s there just for cosmetics.

The short “rally screen” up front may have deflected an errant gust or two from our gut, but mostly it’s there just for cosmetics.

Morgan Gales

The bottom line is the new FTR Rally was an unmitigated blast on our short trip. The subdued packaging and overall vibe will appeal to some folks, even if the Rally’s price, weight, and range won’t. If you keep in mind that the FTR Rally is mostly a styling exercise—along the lines of the BMW R nineT Scrambler (but more affordable)—and, like most scramblers, is made to spend more time on road than off, it’ll probably make sense. It makes for a solid back-road ripper and a decent enough forest road scrambler, and personally, I’m looking forward to another ride.

The chunky tires may look the part, but they ride better than they look on the street; the bike tips into turns readily, even with the chunkier profile.

The chunky tires may look the part, but they ride better than they look on the street; the bike tips into turns readily, even with the chunkier profile.

Julia LaPalme

That’s an “all-weather Aviator seat,” folks. Translated, it’s a brown vinyl-covered saddle, which actually turned out to be fairly comfy—for two hours, anyway.

That’s an “all-weather Aviator seat,” folks. Translated, it’s a brown vinyl-covered saddle, which actually turned out to be fairly comfy—for two hours, anyway.

Indian Motorcycle

The 2-inch-taller bars offer great leverage around town or bombing the canyons. The gauge is basic but cruise control comes standard as does a fast-charging USB port.

The 2-inch-taller bars offer great leverage around town or bombing the canyons. The gauge is basic but cruise control comes standard as does a fast-charging USB port.

Indian Motorcycle

The stock cans are low-mounted, but you can always opt for the high-mounted Akrapovič versions from the Indian accessory catalog if you have deep pockets. As is, the sound from the stockers is pretty damn sweet.

The stock cans are low-mounted, but you can always opt for the high-mounted Akrapovič versions from the Indian accessory catalog if you have deep pockets. As is, the sound from the stockers is pretty damn sweet.

Indian Motorcycle

This is what the entire Rally Collection (released last year) looks like mounted up. Looks like the Rally only adopts the wheels/tires, bars, and rally screen—but it all works.

This is what the entire Rally Collection (released last year) looks like mounted up. Looks like the Rally only adopts the wheels/tires, bars, and rally screen—but it all works.

Indian Motorcycle

2020 Indian FTR Rally Specifications

MSRP $13,499
Engine 60-degree liquid-cooled V-twin
Displacement 1,203cc
Transmission/Final Drive 6-speed/chain
Fuel system Electronic fuel injection
Claimed Horsepower 123 hp @ 8,250 rpm
Claimed Torque 87 lb.-ft. @ 5,900 rpm
Frame Tubular steel trellis
Front Suspension 43mm inverted cartridge fork; 5.9-in. travel
Rear Suspension Monoshock, adjustable for preload and rebound; 5.9-in. travel
Front Brake Brembo Monoblock 4-piston calipers, dual 320mm discs w/ ABS
Rear Brake Brembo 2-piston caliper, 260mm disc w/ ABS
Rake/Trail 26.3°/5.1 in.
Wheelbase 60.0 in.
Seat height 33.6 in.
Fuel Capacity 3.4 gal.
Claimed Wet Weight 527 lb.
Contact indianmotorcycle.com