I realized the day after completing my first run of Tail of The Dragon that I hadn’t done any updates to my “Cars” section in some time. Regular followers of this blog are fully aware of the fate of my first 2022 Indian FTR (Close Call PT1, PT2, PT3). But I never actually did a full post in this category to cover the bike. Note, this post will cover BOTH of my FTR’s.
Now when I moved to Georgia, I took my 2012 Kawasaki Vulcan with me. Despite getting damaged during the move (one of the mirrors broke) it was still a great bike but I wanted something new and different, which is where the idea of something along the lines of a naked sport bike came to mind. I also wanted an American V-Twin.
While I initially considered the new Harley Davidson Sportster S, after reading about the limited rear suspension travel I started looking at Indian. That’s when the FTR caught my eye.
Now the FTR was completely outside my comfort zone. I’d never ridden anything remotely resembling a sport bike before. It looked cool, matched my 2019 Civic Type-R visually, had plenty of power from its 1200CC liquid-cooled V-Twin and for the first month of ownership was an absolute riot to ride.
It was the most nimble bike I’d ever ridden with acceleration that quickly induced an involuntary smile. Before I left the dealership lot I did a couple laps around as the seating position was foreign to me. It was leaning forward, not back. I felt like I was positioned over the front wheel instead of behind it. It was both comfortable, and not.
I don’t think I actually made it 500 miles on the bike before I totaled it (see the linked posts above). Two weeks later, determined not to let the fear and trauma from the accident take away a hobby that I’ve enjoyed for over a decade, I went back to Mall of Georgia Indian and bought another brand new FTR with the cash from my insurance policy.
My second FTR in as many months was a 2022 FTR Carbon R. It was the top of the line FTR, with all the bells, whistles, and electronic nannies to try and keep me safer. Before I sold this bike I’d put on over 3500 miles. I refused to take it into the mountains which was where I totaled my last one, and I didn’t want a repeat for one specific reason…
I still froze up on left hand turns similar to the one I wrecked on. Right hand curves, I was fine, I’d lean without thinking and proceed. Left hand curves? I’d jam up and slow down. That put a distracting fear in me nearly every time I rode. In most cases I could just slow down and proceed, but the ever present chance of a panic attack sapped the joy from riding.
Before I sold it, I did perform some modifications to try and make it more comfortable / useful. I added a luggage rack and rear bag, a Puig windscreen to make highway travel more comfortable, and also a Corbin seat to help keep my hind-end comfy on longer rides. What I was trying to do is turn a sport bike into a cruiser… It would never be one.
Still, it is the first (and hopefully the last) motorcycle I’d ever popped a wheelie on. The Carbon-R had multiple ride-modes, Sport mode opened the taps fully and disabled the built-in wheelie protection. At a stoplight outside Dahlonega, I decided to try sport mode. When the light turned green I proceeded to cross GA 400 on my rear wheel.
I promptly pulled over, put the bike back in Standard, and never tried that again. Even with Standard mode and wheelie protection active though, it was possible to get the front wheel off the ground. One time pulling out of Flowery Branch in a right hand turn, the bike was turning slower than expected and only after the front wheel came down did I realize why.
It was a very well built and fun bike, but I was never going to ride it as designed.
Back around Easter 2023, my car was briefly out of commission so I planned to use the FTR for all my tasks that required transportation. That would have worked fine up until I got a staple in the rear tire which flattened it. Patching a flat on a bike isn’t a thing, it needed a new tire, so I made use of Tire Slime (worked pretty well) to get me to the dealer for a swap.
I filled the tire with the bottle of green goop, inflated it, then did a few low speed laps of my neighborhood. A slow leak remained but it held well enough for me to get where I needed to go, as well as use the bike for grocery runs while my car was in the shop. It’d lose a few psi overnight, but that was quickly remedied with my portable inflator (battery powered).
So I get to the dealer, and instead of waiting for an hour or two, I decided to rent an Indian Chief Dark Horse. It had the 116ci motor, air cooled… A low slung cruiser that I immediately fell in love with. Most importantly, I did not pause on left hand curves. Within a few days, I’d be on to my next bike, an Indian Sport Chief in Ruby Smoke.