2022 Indian FTR1200 Hooligan Race Bike First Experience


“I like the concept of racing issues that had been by no means meant to be raced.” – Roland Sands

The brainchild of 1 Mr. Sands, the Tremendous Hooligan Nationwide Championship is all about taking bikes that had been by no means meant to be raced, however might have sporty inclinations, and sticking them on a racetrack – extremely modified, after all. Ostensibly, because of this the collection exists. Once you get on the bottom degree although, it’s a darn good excuse for Roland, Indian, and accomplice S&S to provide you with one hell of an FTR1200 and discover an excuse to race it on asphalt. After all, with this premise in thoughts, you may additionally say this was the beginning of the bagger craze taking up the American highway racing scene, too (and it kinda was).

In 2022, Indian not solely competed in each the King of the Baggers and Tremendous Hooligans collection – it received them each, too. This after going through stiff competitors from the likes of Harley-Davidson and KTM in every of the respective collection. So, what higher method to cap off a fantastic 2022 season than by having another individuals attempt the successful bikes, too? Recent off the heels of using the 2022 championship-winning Challenger bagger race bike, Indian additionally prolonged the supply to have me throw a leg over the FTR1200 Hooligan bike Tyler O’Hara received the championship with, too. Who was I to say no? 

Driving Indian’s 2022 Championship-Profitable Challenger Bagger Race Bike


If the considered Hooligan racing, and particularly racing an FTR1200, all sound a little bit sudden, you is perhaps trying within the improper place. The beginnings can hint its means again to the filth. After Polaris introduced Indian again from the lifeless, they shortly went racing, beginning with the FTR750 flat tracker Indian and its manufacturing unit race group, aka “The Wrecking Crew” used to finish the legendary domination of Harley’s XR750. In so doing, the FTR750 flat tracker earned its personal legendary standing that Indian’s using the wave of to this present day.

A few of us marvel what a flat-tracker on slicks can be like. Roland Sands went forward and constructed just a few to search out out.

Enter Roland Sands. The well-known builder, and championship-winning racer again within the day, had the concept to take the FTR1200 road bike and primarily flip it right into a flat tracker with slick tires and race it on pavement. The outcome was precisely that. “These first [FTR1200] Hooligan bikes actually are simply [FTR750] flat trackers with completely different tires,” mentioned Sands. 

As it’s in racing, there’s by no means sufficient time. Bike prep at all times takes longer than you assume it would, and if you’re changing a motorbike that was by no means meant for the monitor into a motorbike solely meant for it, the training curve is steep. Add within the reality that there have been solely a handful of races on the calendar anyway, and within the identify of creating it to the primary race of the season, for a category he created, Sands and his crew selected probably the most environment friendly path potential – copy the flat tracker.

Beginning with a regular FTR1200, the primary body and principal body swingarm plates are inventory and/or flippantly modified. Additionally remaining are the gas tank sides, entrance fender, facet shrouds, forks, radiator, swingarm pivots, bearings, and entrance axle. The swingarm itself is immediately lifted from the flat tracker. As for the engine, aside from the camshafts, Sands says the internals are all inventory.

Relating to trick bits, it’s straightforward to see the customized SC Undertaking muffler capping off the customized exhaust, the Professional Taper handlebars, and the IRC autoblipper. You can even spot the Öhlins FTR fork and shock, the latter of which is immediately mounted to the swingarm with out a linkage. What’s a little bit more durable to identify is the customized RSD aluminum gas cell that extends underneath the seat.

The customized RSD gas cell strikes the burden of the gas from its conventional location to additional again and underneath the seat to assist with weight distribution.

Dymag supplies the solid wheels, with customized Spiegler brake traces, full floating rotors, Stylema calipers, and Corsa Corta grasp cylinders all supplied by Brembo. Saddlemen has labored carefully with the Indian group to offer correct seats for the riders, and the Hooligan bikes are capped off with the category’ signature RSD quantity plate package and brackets.

Not like the Indian bagger race bike, a number of group members admitted the Hooligan program remains to be in its infancy. Kyle Ohnsorg, Indian chassis tech by day and 2023 Tremendous Hooligans racer by evening (and weekends), confessed that he’s been busy testing completely different triple bushes and different geometry bits, to get the FTR to deal with correctly. With out a lot time to course of what Kyle had simply informed me, it was my flip to throw a leg over this Hooligan.

Right here you may see how far the gas cell extends beneath the (flat) seat. Additionally seen are the swingarm (with rear axle moved all the best way again), Dymag rear wheel, and Öhlins shock.

Hooligan Certainly

Having spent a session within the morning warming up on a regular FTR1200 Sport, I assumed I had an thought of what I used to be in for with the race bike. In truth, the bagger I’d be using first put extra worry into me than this factor did. These baggers are large, heavy beasts that may intimidate anyone. However after just a few laps, the Challenger bagger turned out to be a delicate big. The FTR, because it seems, proved to be the one I ought to have been cautious of all alongside.

As I hopped aboard, two issues stood out immediately: first, the bike was extremely slim. Seeing as how I simply rode the bagger, I assumed possibly my feeling was distorted. Second, and this positively wasn’t a distorted view, was that the bars had been principally straight and likewise slim, with no curve in them by any means. It made for a clumsy using place. But when it was adequate for O’Hara…

Thumb the starter and the ferocious V-Twin roared to life with an evil growl. The PowerPlus engine spins sooner than the air-cooled Thunderstroke does, which amplifies the offended feeling of the FTR. Click on it up into first gear (reverse shift right here, people), and out on monitor issues get… bizarre.

First the great: the FTR lives as much as the Hooligan identify in each sense of the phrase. The engine’s chunk matches its bark – it’s raucous and loud, however higher nonetheless, it downright strikes. It’s not mind-bending; extra like enthusiastically motivated, which equates to sufficient energy to have a ton of enjoyable with out scaring your self foolish. Energy is metered to match the quantity of twist your wrist is giving it, and the ability climbs properly the extra you twist your wrist. Oddly, the best way this specific bike was arrange, it runs awfully wealthy on decel.

There’s nonetheless gas being dumped into the chamber after I cease twisting the wrist, which leads to not solely the crackle and pop of unburnt gas igniting but in addition the sensation that the bike has little or no engine braking. This could possibly be the results of the throttle butterflies not fully closing on decel or a really liberal slipper clutch (or each). This retains the bike transferring after I anticipated it to be slowing extra. I’m guessing that is simply the best way O’Hara likes his bike setup. Happily, the FTR Hooligan stops in addition to it goes because of the Brembo braking package deal. Sturdy and communicative, the repute given to Brembo stompers is once more on show right here. However that’s no shock, proper?

That is the place issues take a flip, no pun supposed. For as a lot enjoyable because it was to twist the throttle and listen to the roar and really feel the ability, the flat seat made it so I used to be involuntarily scooting backward. Mix that with the slim tank and there was nothing for me to latch my decrease physique onto. I needed to fastidiously handle holding on to the bars with out twisting the throttle unintentionally.

To make issues worse, the gas tank is featureless when it comes to discovering one thing – something – to latch the surface leg or arm onto when turning. Driving the bike by Chuckwalla Valley Raceway’s lengthy, flowing turns meant, once more, largely hanging onto the bars to remain on the bike. Bear in mind the bit in regards to the bars being slim? This simply made it further difficult to carry on! 

Consider it or not, this wasn’t the scariest bit. That honor was reserved for the dearth of path within the entrance finish. Simply trying on the bike stationary within the pits it regarded prefer it had little path, however I chalked that as much as being an optical phantasm. It seems my eyes weren’t enjoying methods with me in spite of everything. An absence of path makes for a nervous entrance finish, and because the fork is compressed when braking for a nook, the entrance finish’s rake, and subsequently path, will get even shorter, exacerbating the nervousness. The outcome was feeling as if the entrance tire was going to slip out from underneath me at any minute. As if the entrance axle was in some way behind the steering stem, making an attempt to kiss the engine. Speak about scary. The remedy? Getting on the fuel early and spinning the again tire to level you the place you wish to go.

Because it turned out, the bike I used to be using was arrange precisely how Tyler needed it through the 2022 season finale at Laguna Seca. Laguna is a flowing monitor with out many point-and-shoot sort corners, just like Chuckwalla, truly. Tyler, being the flat-track man that he’s, needed a motorbike that might end a nook and that he might steer with the rear. This was the outcome. The truth that he couldn’t solely experience this bike – however win on this bike – completely boggles my thoughts. I, for one, don’t have flat-track expertise and rely closely on a assured entrance finish. As my mind was racing and my arms had been aching making an attempt to carry on, I parked it after 5 laps as a consequence of my preservation instincts taking up – each for myself and for the motorbike! 

Each Sense Of The Phrase

By the point you learn this, the 2023 FTR1200 Hooligans may have simply taken to the excessive banks at Daytona. With it come some much-needed upgrades the group designed after spending a yr with what was primarily a flat-tracker with slicks. Now the manufacturing unit riders Tyler O’Hara and Jeremy McWilliams have bars with a bend in them, the seat now has a lip within the again to assist catch them, and the swingarm is an all-new design to permit the rear axle to maneuver ahead or again extra, relying on monitor (the 2022 bike had the axle as far rearward as potential, and that’s the place it stayed). You’ll discover new triples, too, for extra front-end stability. Thank goodness. There’s extra {hardware} hiding beneath, I’m certain, however racers being racers, no one informed me what else was new for the yr. They’ll want it, too, as the category has now allowed the Harley-Davidson Pan-America to compete, however with restrictions on energy.

Bear in mind Animal from the Muppet Present? I’d by no means had this thought till getting off the FTR1200 Hooligan racer, however the guttural noise coming from the FTR jogged my memory of him. After using the bike, I imagined that is what Animal can be if he had been reincarnated into a bike. Everybody’s favourite wild and loopy puppet drummer as youngsters, each attribute I may give to Animal, I may give to this FTR. It’s rambunctious, it’s small, and boy is it extremely loud. And for some cause, you may’t assist however find it irresistible. 

Image of Animal

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