The 2022 Indian FTR R Carbon immediately captures your attention the moment you lay your eyes on it. Once in the saddle, it demands it. The FTR lineup’s top dog has been tweaked and tuned for road-going duty but remains a raw, primal beast that is captivating to look at and invigorating to ride.
This was once the calling card of the Ducati Monster. The new 2021 Ducati Monster is undoubtedly a more refined motorcycle than it once was. In actuality, it is a better motorcycle than its predecessors in nearly every way, but we couldn’t help but feel as though something visceral was lost as it was watered down to appeal to a wider audience. It also doesn’t turn as many heads as it once did. Every person who showed interest in the Monster Plus during my week with it asked if it was a Suzuki. Ouch.
Fret not, for those in search of a naked bike with personality to spare have other options. The FTR R Carbon’s bold styling has presence – and then some. It’s crimson trellis frame, gold adjustable forks, distinctive integrated lighting, high pipes, and carbon-fibre accents mean it won’t be mistaken for anything else on the road, particularly something worth less than half its price.
The FTR lineup consists of the FTR, FTR S, FTR Rally and FTR R Carbon. Pricing starts at $15,999 for the FTR and climbs as far as $19,999 for the R Carbon before accessories and add-ons.
Changes for the 2022 model year across the lineup included updated engine calibration, intended to deliver a number of improvements, not the least of which was a smoother, more predictable throttle response. Admittedly, I didn’t ride the previous model, but I have read several accounts of choppy fueling issues from reviewers and owners alike. The company asserts that these challenges have been rectified and I experienced no such thing during my time with the FTR.
Other notable updates for 2022 include fully adjustable suspension. The FTR and S models get an ZF Sachs system while the R Carbon is equipped with a setup from Öhlins. Moving up from the base model also gets you the Akrapovič pipes and 4.3-inch display, Bluetooth connectivity, ABS and traction control. Cylinder deactivation and revised heat channeling help keep the rider more comfortable when riding in stop and go traffic on a hot day, which is another thing the new Monster continued to struggle with. All models come standard with 17-inch cast aluminum wheels wrapped with Metzeler Sportec street tires, aside from the Rally edition which gets wire spoked wheels (19-inch front, 18-inch rear) outfitted with Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR rubber.
The 817 mm (32.2 in) seat height feels easily accessible. Peg and handlebar placement (bars were trimmed by 40 mm) provide a riding position that balanced comfort and control. Insert the key and thumb the starter button to fire up the 1,203 cc 60-degree V-Twin and you’ll be met with a raucous growl before it settles into an exotic sounding idle, echoing through the Akrapovic two-into-one-into-two exhaust.
Output for all models is rated at 120 hp at 7,750 rpm. Peak torque is 87 lb-ft at 6,000 rpm. The R Carbon is the lightest in the lineup at 217 kg (479 lb). The FTR and FTR S both tip the scales at 218 kg (482 lb), while the Rally is the heaviest of the bunch at 225 kg (497 lb). Its centre of gravity means you feel its heft when you tip the bike off the side stand, but it isn’t overly cumbersome. That weight melts away when you twist the throttle and you’re off to the races.
Clutch release is startlingly abrupt, so be prepared. The friction point is very slim, so it feels like it’s either off or on with very little give in between. Braking is handled by Brembo, with dual 320 mm rotors and four-piston calipers up front and a single 260 mm rotor with a two-piston caliper in the rear. Initial bite is moderate but progressive, but squeezing with more effort causes them to grab hard, bringing you to a stop in a hurry. The brake lever is adjustable, but the clutch lever is not. Truthfully, the turn signal switch felt a bit cheap and finicky to me on a motorcycle that felt higher in quality in every other way.
Two display options are available on the 4.3-inch colour LCD screen, with one visually prioritizing the tach and speedo over other information. Both offer up a gear indicator, fuel gauge, distance to empty, compass, clock, digital speedometer and tach. Pairing your smartphone with the Indian Ride Command app allows the rider to listen to music or take calls through a headset. Other technology includes the aforementioned traction and stability control, ABS, cruise control, wheelie control, a USB charge port and a choice of riding modes. Standard mode being the obvious default, Rain and Sport allow the rider to choose their preference according to the conditions. Engaging Sport mode makes a noticeable difference to the crispness of throttle response and acceleration as you approach the 9,000 rpm redline.
Given its ubiquity on many a new motorcycle of spirited intentions these days, I felt that Indian was remiss by not adding a quick shifter to the Carbon as standard equipment. It is of course quick to change gears using the fast-acting clutch, but I think adding one would provide additional incentive to step up to that package. It doesn’t necessarily need it, but it would benefit from it, particularly on the track.
Given the broad similarities to my Triumph Thruxton R on paper (a 400-plus pound naked bike with a 1200 motor, adjustable Öhlins suspension and Brembo brakes), I was surprised at how vastly different the two motorcycles are. The FTR R Carbon is quicker to accelerate and brake but takes a bit more coaxing to lean over. The 13L tank is quick to drain and 91 octane is recommended.
The naked performance segment is a popular one, with lots of options in and around the same price as the FTR R Carbon. For example, the new 2022 KTM Super Duke R Evo starts at $20,999. It features semi active suspension and an optional quick shifter. Its 1,301 cc engine makes 180 hp and it only weighs 180 kg (396 lb). The new Ducati Monster may have lost its bite, but there’s still the Streetfighter lineup if you’re partial to the Italian brand and don’t mind spending more.
The Indian FTR lineup brings some welcome updates for the 2022 model year and provides a selection of models for different riders throughout a range of price points. The R Carbon model in particular is a muscular naked biked with bold, unique styling. It doesn’t look, sound or ride like anything else on the road. In a good way.