Well yeah, the FTR did not win our little Monster 1200/Yamaha XSR900 comparo, and is currently taking heavy fire in the Comments section from the sportbike purists. But as you know, MOBOs are also selected using other criteria, including historical significance, originality, and the debating skills and/or ability of a given bike’s proponent to wear the other contenders down with BS via Google Hangout.
Actually, there wasn’t even a big fight. The Tuono’s won enough of these things that everybody agreed it was time for something fresh, and there’s nothing fresher than the unique FTR1200 “Streettracker.” It’s definitely original; it really falls somewhere between streetfighter and ADV bike, thanks to those 19/18-inch wheels and bespoke Dunlop DT3 tires. It lost the comparo, but the tables might’ve been turned if the venue had included dirt roads or the evening club circuit.
Historical significance-wise, Indian probably could’ve taken the safe route and just kept on building heavy cruisers and Scouts. It could’ve also designed an all new street-going FTR750 and built a really nubile ripper that everyone would then lambast for being too expensive and impractical. Instead, it buckled down to stuff a thoroughly massaged and 22-pounds lighter 1200 cc Scout engine into an all-new frame: 112 horsepower at a lowly 8600 rpm is plenty for now, but as with any big V-Twin, the torque’s the main course. Nothing says vaminos like 70 pound-feet of torque at 3000 rpm, and the whole 80 lb-ft. enchilada is served 3000 rpm later. It’s sonically delicious and thoroughly satisfying.
Quibble if you must that the FTR isn’t a purer sportbike, but understand that it still goes around corners remarkably well, along with stopping, going, and doing all the other things you expect. Its slight largeness makes it a better place for two people to sit than most, and standard cruise control on both base and “S” models mean you can even tour on it (limited by its too-small 3.4-gallon fuel tank).
At the end of the day, this thing has remarkably few flaws for a first-year effort, heck, the first-ever effort by a major American manufacturer to build a serious high-performance sportbike in modern times. Thank you, Indian, congratulations, and keep up the good work. What’s next?
The Aprilia Tuono is no stranger to our MOBO awards, having won the category twice in the last five years and now it has come in as runner-up twice as well. It’s also no secret that Motorcycle.com has long been fans of the raucous V-Four-powered naked from Noale. The Tuono 1100 Factory for 2019 has improved on nearly every niggle I’ve ever had about the bike, and with the addition of Factory to the name, the 2019 model comes with top-o-the-line componentry by way of Sweden. Öhlins SmartEC 2.0 electronic suspension is now fitted front and rear with a steering damper to match. Parameters are easily adjustable via the toggle and TFT display, with riders being able to choose automatic in which the suspension is semi-active, varying damping characteristics as the terrain changes, and full manual that allows riders to dial in their preferred settings with the push of a button.
The APRC electronics package on the Tuono is still one of the best on the market and allows riders to have an exhilarating experience without hurdling themselves into oblivion. Combine that with a nimble chassis and an ear-gasm inducing growl from the fire-breathing V-Four and you have a package that is loved the world over. It may have been ranked runner-up this year in our MOBOs, but from a performance standpoint, in this category, the Tuono stands as tall as ever.