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This Indian FTR1200 Is A Badass Blend Of American, Japanese, And British Flavors

May 08, 2023

It's a joint effort between Indian, Cheetah Custom Cycles, and Sideburn Magazine

The world of custom motorcycles has always been an integral part of the American community, and Indian Motorcycles particularly puts extra effort into the initiative. This is why we’re treated with some stellar builds now and then–the recent Forged video series (that birthed three striking custom Sport Chiefs) being a fitting proof. But the Springfield-based company has already turned the page to introduce another stellar custom, this time, based on its popular FTR1200. Presented for the auspicious Bike Shed Moto Show, the motorcycle is a badass blend of American, Japanese, and British flavors, loaded with a bevy of custom parts.

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For the build, Indian has partnered with two prestigious names in the custom world, Sideburn Magazine, and Cheetah Custom Cycles. The former is a go-to source for dirt-track culture while the latter is a key name in the resurgence of dirt track riding in the Land Of The Rising Sun. Plus, Cheetah is a reputed custom shop, and it did most of the work, with the intent to celebrate the dirt-track culture in all three countries.

In its stock form, the FTR1200 looks like a purpose-built flat tracker. But Cheetah has jazzed it all up. The shop excels in aluminum fabrication, so the fuel tank cover and the tail are all handmade units. These flaunt a unique texture (achieved by a technique called spinning) that is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. The actual fuel tank is new too (now carved out of aluminum) and it has been repositioned under the new leather seat. A closer look also reveals the edgy air scoops for the front discs, also carved from aluminum.

Meanwhile, there's no shortage of attention to detail. The tank cover has a tantalizing center panel with vibrant colors and ‘Indian’ text, in addition to black graphics on the sides. This brushwork also extends to the tail where you also find the fuel lid. All this is topped by a perforated tail lamp cover.

According to the maker, "In terms of design, I deliberately ignored the definition of custom bikes or racing bikes, which call for small petrol tanks. Instead, for the FTR, I created a larger petrol tank cover and crafted a line that narrows from the cover to the tail cowl. A simple, yet beautiful body line that can be appreciated not only from a side silhouette but also from directly behind or at a diagonal angle. A body line that anyone would find beautiful and enjoyable to behold. I wanted to mix together all the elements that were involved in this project, Indian Motorcycle, Sideburn Magazine, America, the United Kingdom, Japan, and myself. I feel that I was able to achieve this with the design I created."

Like most factory-commissioned builds, the mechanicals feature simple tweaks rather than an overhaul. So the 1,203cc, V-twin powerhouse now screams via an S&S Cycles Grand National full-system exhaust (cerakoted in Stormtrooper White) to boost the stock 120-HP and 87 pound-feet. Similarly, the 43 mm ZF Sachs upside-down forks and piggyback monoshock have been carried forward, but they now pair up with 19-inch spoke wheels fore and aft. These hoops are wrapped in chunky Dunlop DT4 dirt-ready rubber, instead of the OEM road-biased Metzeler Sportec tires. Topping all this is an all-new Chromoly subframe for the proper FTR tail end.

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Finally, you also get spruced-up ergonomics. You sit on a much smaller, slimmer saddle while resting your hands on a custom dirt-track handlebar. Plus, the feet go on Gilles Tooling rear sets, and the knees lock on the new fuel tank cover. Gilles also supplies the radiator cap, oil cap, brake levers, and clutch lever.

Speaking on the project, the found of Sideburn Magazine said "We had great support from old friends of the magazine including S&S Cycle, Hagon Wheels, Dunlop Tyres, and, of course, Indian Motorcycle who supplied parts from their Gilles Performance range. We couldn't be happier with the result. Cheetah is the master, and we think we’ve enhanced the FTR without diminishing any of its dynamic ability or eyelid-peeling performance."

Sadly, there's no word on the matter. Neither Sideburn nor Cheetah has shed light on the future of this custom FTR1200. But if you like what you see, we suggest you get in touch with either party for your sake. Or just source an FTR yourself and get a quote on how much a similar build would cost. The only problem will be the freight, considering Cheetah operates from the opposite end of the world. Nevertheless, let us know what you think about this in the comments below.

Punya is an avid motorcyclist who's always up for a ride to the canyons or the racetrack. He insists his riding skills are better than his writing skills, even though he's worked with some world-renowned automotive websites.