It's been nearly two years since the first photos of the outrageous FTR1200 Custom hit my inbox, and since then I've been waiting, drooling in desperate hope like a dog next to a dinner table, to see what this thing would look like in production form.

I'm not a flat tracker. I've never flatted a track in my life. I don't even particularly like retro bikes, as a rule. But something about that Custom concept stirred my gizzards like no motorcycle before or since. It was the perfect intersection of sexy, stripped-back looks and genuine, nasty thrashability.

But customs and concepts are one thing; production motorcycles are another. Making something look deadly cool while ticking all the boxes for road-legal status across a mish-mash of different countries and states is no small challenge. Mirrors, fenders, license plate holders, indicators and (above all) Euro-compliant exhausts look plain dorky more often than not. So when we heard the FTR1200 was going into production, we tempered our enthusiasm.

And here it is. Indian today unveiled the 2019 FTR1200 and FTR1200S at a giant party adjacent to Intermot in Cologne, Germany. It's odd to see an American manufacturer saving such an important bike for a European debut, but hey, we like leather trousers and sausages as much as the next guy, and there's a pretty huge flat track scene developing here in Europe too, so we're not complaining. Let's take a look.

The engine

As expected, the FTR1200 gets its own brand new engine, a 1203 cc, 60-degree V-Twin that's significantly oversquare, with a bore of 4.016 inches and a stroke of 2.898 (102 x 73.6 mm). So it should be quick and responsive on its way to a 120-horsepower peak (at 8250 rpm), but it'll retain much of its apple-pie thunder at lower revs. 120 horsepower is a fine number for the street, I've always felt that if you can't get the job done with 100 or so horses, more power is probably going to get you in trouble anyway.

If you were expecting a motor as pretty to look at as the Scout one in the Custom, you'll be disappointed. The FTR1200 motor is hidden away behind the bike's trellis frame, so it has none of the Scout motor's sexy bare metal cylinder detailing. Indeed, it's surprisingly anonymous, with only the details on the clutch and alternator covers making a visual statement. This may be the price of building a trellis frame large and strong enough for the public to ham-fistedly wheelstand.

Likewise, the Custom's thigh-roasting high-rise S&S pipes are gone, replaced by a pair of chubby upswept 2-into-1-into-2s that look … like they do an excellent job of satisfying Euro emissions requirements. I'll personally come to your house and remove them while you sleep if you don't. There will be low and high-mount Akrapovic slip-ons available, but we'll have our eye out for a full system - something high and flat and noisy and scrambly that can show off the FTR's wicked triangular red swingarm and rear wheel better from the high side. And probably scorch your legs.

The looks

Overall, beyond the engine and exhausts, the look of the FTR has survived the transition to production pretty well. There are fewer spokes on the cast aluminum wheels (19-inch at the front, 18-inch at the rear, with specially-designed Dunlop tires that mimic the look of flat track hoops, but are modified for street grip), there's no carbon covers on the forks and tank – those might show up in an accessory catalog at some point, and the bars are a touch high in the name of comfort and rideability, but we can live with these things.

The headlight, on the other hand, is a bit of a head-scratcher, sitting higher than it feels like it should and protruding out from between the forks with a cowl over it like some friendly train from Thomas the Tank Engine. Bring that thing back flat between the forks and drop it down a couple inches, something like the Ducati Monster headlight, and you'd have a lower, leaner, meaner line to work with …

… says the guy who's never designed a motorcycle in his life. I am of course being ultra-picky here. A bike as cool-looking as the FTR1200 deserves no less fine-toothed a comb. The tank absolutely nails it (albeit at a fairly small 3.4-gallon, or 12.9-liter capacity, much of which lives under the seat), and the seat does a great job of echoing flat-tracker lines while adding some actual space for a passenger – although it doesn't show off the same kind of next-level leatherwork you see on most other Indian motorcycles.

Suffice to say, in the flesh this is a very sexy bike, oozing the kind of finish and feel you'd expect from the guys, and a radical and exciting departure toward the hooligan end of the scale compared to the rest of Indian's road bike catalogue. There's nothing else on the road that looks like the FTR, plus it's likely going to inspire plenty of customization, and that's something Indian has encouraged and embraced with the Scout. We hope somebody works out how to put that V-twin engine back in center stage.

The weight

The FTR1200 will be the lightest bike by far in Indian's street catalog, which you'd expect, as it's the first to really step into the performance arena. It's still going to be a fair old chunk of metal, though, the standard model weighing in at 488 lb (221 kg) dry. That's pretty much bang on what the BMW R NineT weighs with all the fluids and fuel in, so the FTR will definitely have a solid and beefy feel on the road.

2019 FTR1200 vs FTR1200 S

Two versions of this street tracker will be available, both with standard cruise control and ABS, which is terrific to hear. The key differences will be in the suspension and electronics, as well as the paint jobs and some cosmetic details.

The regular FTR1200 gets preload-adjustable forks, a preload and rebound-adjustable shock, a nice-looking analog dash (that optimistically runs up to 200 miles per hour), and it comes in black, black or black.

The S model gets adjustable suspension at both ends, and it comes in titanium/black, red/grey and the red-framed "Race Replica" in the vast majority of these shots, which is the best looking of the lot by a country mile.

The S also gets a vast electronics upgrade based around an inertial measurement unit, enabling adjustable, lean angle-sensitive traction control, stability control and wheelie control. S riders get the chance to disable ABS if they want (without any cheeky fuse-pulling), and they also get Sport, Standard and Rain riding modes.

To manage all this extra gadgetry, the S bike gets a 4.3-inch version of Indian's full color Ride Command touch screen display, complete with thumb controls on the left handlebar, your choice of display themes and Bluetooth integration with your smartphone. It's a fine-looking and highly functional dash, but I was worried such 21st-century gear might feel a bit out of place on a flat tracker. It sits on the bars looking a bit like an aftermarket TomTom nav box in some of these photos. In the flesh though, the whole thing looks tight, nasty and ready to rumble.

Pricing

Indian has been so kind as to furnish full pricing details for all variants. The Standard, black FTR1200 will run you US$12,999. The FTR1200 S will cost US$14,999 in its two black-framed variants, and the red-framed, white-on-black-to-red gradient – the Race Replica model that everyone's going to want – will be a grand dearer at US$15,999.

So all in all, it's not the Custom. It was never going to be the Custom. We should put the Custom out of our minds and look at the production FTR1200 for what it is: a badass-looking retro street tracker with muscle and sex appeal, the first Indian that's going to keep up with the wild-eyed crazy lads in the canyons, and one that's going to have movie-star style, imposing presence and total magnetism out the front of whichever greasy spoon diner or coffee shop you park it near.

We're excited all over again, and we hope this hot little number does serious business for Indian. Lord knows, the R NineT and the Scrambler did all sorts of good things for BMW and Ducati's bottom line, and in our view neither of those could launch a thousand ships like the FTR1200.

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