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Indian FTR 1200's for SHNC 22

May 2nd 2022

It’s been a long time coming getting Indian FTR1200’s onto the road race track. The FTR was originally introduced to the market in 2019 with dirt track tires but for 2022 the production bikes have been revised to come with 17” wheels so, it was obvious that we’d be moving our racing efforts to the asphalt. But, the story doesn’t’ start with FTR or Super Hooligan, it starts before that with the brand that preceded Indian; Victory motorcycles. RSD has a long history with Polaris (the parent company of Indian & Victory) that stretches back to Mission 200 which was a Victory landspeed racing project that we did in 2010. A few other builds in between then another big concept race project and, what some consider the inspiration for FTR1200, was a Pikes Peak racer dubbed Project 156. What started in 2014 as a crazy idea, jamming an experimental water-cooled Victory Octane motor in a hand built RSD chassis ended with some impressive times at Pikes and 2nd overall up the mountain with Jeremy Toye on board in 2016.

Enter 2019 and the introduction of the dirt track inspired Indian FTR 1200. The market was hot with dirt track hype and Indian timed the bike well with dirt inspired Dunlop rubber. But the feel of the bike on the street, where it was ridden most, wasn’t what most customers wanted so, it was only a matter of time before the bike came back to its true origins, on the pavement. With that naturally came a Super Hooligan road racing series.

We had modified our Flat Track Racers for road race duty in mid-2021, with 17 wheels and Dunlop slicks racing at Laguna Seca and Chuckwalla, but it was time for new bikes. Enter 2022 and the Indian FTR 1200 Carbon R model. A bit lighter, a bit more refined and ready to hit the pavement stock. Having put considerable time on the bikes we’d had a good idea of the modifications needed to get us road race ready.

We started with suspension and geometry. Ohlins re-valved and re-sprung the stock Ohlins shocks and forks and added a new rod end for independent shock length adjustment. This got us extra adjustment which raised the back of the bike and got us closer to the rake and swingarm angle numbers we wanted for aggressive road race duty. We also shortened the swingarm with our lightweight RSD x C&J swingarms from the flat trackers which help decrease the wheelbase by 3 inches.

Next up was ground clearance. The stock pipe works great for street duty, but with the Dunlop Slicks and hot tires, lean angle increases significantly. We built new custom pipes that run forward then under the engine cases and SC Project mufflers which helped cut out a big chunk of weight and eliminating any decking issues at max lean angle. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do as it required relocating the battery and making custom oil coolers and lines. Most of this is hidden by the custom bellypans that Saddlemen made for us but, if you ask us, they sure look good as well.

Weight loss was the next goal and FTR starts out at 517 lbs. wet. We had some work to do to get it down to 420 lbs., which is the Super Hooligan minimum weight limit. We stripped obvious unnecessary items for the racetrack including lighting, tag brackets, stock exhaust and can as well as the seat unit, tail section, subframe and fuel tank. We replaced the stock parts with an RSD Aluminum Fuel Cell and Saddlemen tail and seat with RSD number plate kit and brackets. This was a huge step in the right direction for weight savings, as well as a better seating position. We also replaced the battery with a lithium unit form Antigravity Batteries.

The most effective place to remove un-sprung weight is the wheels so, the rolling kit got some modifications as well with Dunlop Race Slicks and Dymag forged wheels. Dymag pulled off a miracle by reverse engineering stock FTR wheels and making us some of their lightweight forged aluminum wheels in a matter of a few weeks and delivered them straight to Daytona and we bolted them right onto the bikes before the first race of the season. Whew!

Daytona is a massive track so, being in search of horsepower, we shipped the bikes off to Lloydz Garage and Indian Motorcycle of Charlotte in North Carolina for ECU updates as well as intake modifications which got us a few more ponies from the already lively FTR 1200 motor. IRC Quickshifters and auto-blippers were sourced from Moto-D Racing to help us jam through the gears and shorten lap times.

Pro Taper handlebars take care of the cockpit while Brembo Supersport floating race rotors, upgraded Brembo Stylema calipers and Brembo Corsa Corta master cylinders came from Race Technologies and got our braking on point for the brutality of racing on America’s gnarliest road race tracks like Daytona, Road Atlanta & Laguna Seca where the Superhooligan series is running for 2022.

We used RSD x Indian lever guards, reservoir covers, rearstand spools and engibe covers that are available from local Indian dealers across the globe. It seems that Europe has taken a liking to the FTR and there are quite a few aftermarket parts options that we had to source from across the pond. Rearsets are German units form Wunderkind, sourced from Spiegler USA and the frame and fork crash protection came from R&G Racing in the UK.

The culmination of the changes make for a much sharper knife and a true race track level build that retains much of the stock FTR package with the right tweaks. The proof was in the pudding and with Tyler Ohara’s back row start and charge to a podium finish Super Hooligan race at Daytona, we knew we had built something special. The podium was cool, but Tyler’s fastest lap of the race (1:57:881) put the FTRs capabilities in full perspective. We’ve got some very proper road racers to play with!

Bikes got back to the shop and we are already working on more mods to improve the bikes even further for the next round at Road Atlanta. We definitely have proven to have some road race real weapons on our hands and cant wait to see where we can take them.

As soon as the chassis work was finished here at the RSD lab, the bikes got loaded straight into our Sprinter van and they hit the road for a non-stop cross country trip from California to North Carolina for some horsepower tweaks to the motors and ECU tuning by Lloydz Garage and Indian Motorcycle Charlotte. When their work is done, they will top off the engines with Motul 300Vracing oil and K&N air and oil filters, so we have the best possible protection to help these motors live. Man… we can’t wait to get these new builds on the high banks at Daytona to see what they are made of.

We eliminated the ABS with custom brake lines from Spiegler USA and upgraded the brakes with Brembo Supersport floating front rotors, Brembo Stylema radial front calipers and Brembo Corsa Corta master cylinders. These upgraded parts will improve braking immensely and handle the rigors of a race weekend beating. Daytona will see top speeds of around 150-160 MPH and a lot of very hard braking down to 20-30 MPH at the end of the straightaways so proper race braking systems will definitely be put to work.

RSD aluminum fuel tanks were added to eliminate the rear subframe and save a big chunk of weight. Saddlemen tail sections and a new road race spec seat are on the way. RSD number plate kit was added to the tail section to conform to the roadracing rule book.

Pro Taper handlebars and ASV clutch perch and levers get the ergonomics dialed in. Frame sliders and axle slider crash protection came from R&G Racing in the UK. RSD x Indian lever guards, rearstand spools, engine covers and reservoir covers (available from your local Indian Motorcycle dealer) are also being put to work on these road race bikes.

The first order of business was ground clearance which has always been a struggle. The original bike was built to have the taller dirt track spec Dunlop DT4 tire which meant a taller bike. With the 17” wheels and sticky Dunlop KR race slicks we started decking the exhaust relatively early and struggled with it at Laguna Seca as well as Chuckwalla race tracks. First order of business was suspension so we bolted up RSD chromoly shortened swingarms and shipped our forks and shocks out to Ohlins for road race tuning modifications. The shock was re-valved for track duty and an adjustable rod end was added for ride height adjustment. This helped us get the additional ground clearance we needed, as well as geometry changes to the swingarm angle and trail.

In-house RSD fabricator Aaron Boss created hand fabricated under slung exhaust systems with titanium SC Project mufflers from Motovation USA, eliminating the existing ground clearance issues. Took a lot of work but we are currently sitting at over 63° of lean angle! The new exhaust also required the new lightweight lithium Antigravity battery to be moved as well as a custom, relocated oil cooler and lines. New custom belly pans were designed by chopping up a Moto GP lower fairing we had laying around then our friends at Saddlemen made a mold and cranked out a couple for us to bolt on. At the drastic lean angles obtained with Dunlop slick tires, it was also necessary to add relocated rearset foot controls by Wunderkind. Topped off all of this with IRC quick shifters with auto blipper which should help us boogie.

In preparation for the Superhooligan national championship roadrace series with Moto America, it was time to build some new Indian FTR1200s. We have been thrashing these bikes in the dirt for the past few years but, the transformation of the Indian FTR1200 from dirt track to road race was like taking the bike back home where it truly belongs. The proof is in the pudding and, after a podium finish at the inaugural Super Hooligan Road race at Laguna Seca in 2021, we knew we had a capable road race bike in our pits as well as a flat tracker. Indian has been hard at work making modifications to create a better FTR and a better street bike. The recent updates for 2022 have been geared towards the street, rather than dirt, so we started this year with new road-spec 2022 Indian FTR R Carbon models. Early January we went to work converting them into 2022 spec road racers ready to battle on the high banks at Daytona. Last year’s dirt track turned road racers worked great, better than expected really, but this year’s bikes are solely geared for the asphalt.

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