It was uncharacteristic for the ultra-cautious Indian buyer to show a deep interest in UM (United Motors) Global, a virtually unknown brand that showed off its motorcycles at the 2014 Auto Expo. And when the company announced pricing for its Renegade series of cruisers in early 2016, the interest spiked! This probably goes to show how large the vacuum in the affordable cruiser space in India is, with just a couple of offerings at the moment. With the choice of displacement and price, UM and its Indian partner, Lohia Auto, have positioned the Renegade range in a very sweet spot.
Now, the two bikes we got to sample are the pre-production prototypes of the Renegade Commando and the Renegade Sport S (the production-ready bikes will be available from September onwards). Although the two motorcycles share a lot in terms of design, the final outcome is wildly different. The Commando, for example, is clearly inspired by classic American cruisers such as the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy; the test-bike’s matte military green colour scheme with a giant star painted on the tank drives home its ‘American-ness’.
The handlebars are raised to offer a proper cruiser-like stance and it also gets typical chunky front and rear fenders. The large analogue speedometer with a small LCD unit for the odometer, the trip meter and fuel gauge are mounted at the centre of the fuel tank, while the tank itself remains common for both models. This classic cruiser appeal is further strengthened by the wire-spoke wheels in a 16/15-inch front and rear combination.
The Sport S, on the other hand, seems to draw inspiration from muscle cruisers like the Suzuki Intruder, and comes in sportier colour schemes. The fenders are skinnier and the bike gets wide drag-style handlebars which make for a slightly outstretched riding position. The two-tone paint scheme looks quite attractive and the body-coloured pin-striping on the alloy wheels is a nice touch. And while the Sport S shares its instrument cluster with the Commando, it’s mounted above the handlebars, making it a lot easier to read while riding.
Overall, both bikes look quite attractive and manage to turn a lot of heads. However, look at the bikes up-close and that’s where things start to go a bit awry. Both the bikes have their fair share of quality problems and feel like they were built to an ultra-low price.
While paint quality is good, don’t be surprised to find the paint chipping around the fuel-tank’s filler port. The lack of an overflow gutter around the port will be an issue when topping up the bikes, as excess fuel will invariably flow over the tank. Also, the Sport S test bike’s handlebar was even slightly bent to one side and the speedometer needle vibrated to the point of illegibility.
Additionally, the fuel gauges showed completely wrong readings.
Things get a little better when you come to the 279.5cc single-cylinder, liquid-cooled motor. In a bid to keep costs down, UM has opted to use a basic carburettor for fuelling, however, the engine on the whole, works quite well. It’s quick to rev, makes an acceptable 24.8hp and while it isn’t the most refined, vibrations aren’t noticeable unless you rev the motor hard. Its 21.8Nm of pulling power, although adequate, feels a bit lacklustre, largely because of the tall gearing of the six-speed gearbox. As a result, to get a quick move on, you need to wind the motor up; something mildly unappetising on a cruiser.
The underpinnings of the Renegades are quite simple. The dual-cradle frames are suspended on conventional telescopic front forks and the rear gets twin hydraulic shocks. But this is one area that UM has got spot on, because the ride quality is impeccable, and the suspension doesn’t crash except over the largest and sharpest of bumps. Even in terms of handling, the Renegades feel quite predictable to ride.
The TVS ATT tyres inspire a lot of confidence while cornering, however, it’s easy to scrape the low foot-pegs when leaning into a bend. And getting these aspects right shows a capable hand behind the design. When it comes to braking, the Renegades with the 280mm front disc and rear drum are able to shed speed predictably, but they could certainly do with more feel.
UM and Lohia have also done a spectacular job with the pricing, with the Sport S coming in at ₹1.49 lakh and the Commando at ₹1.59 lakh (both, ex-showroom, Delhi). And there’s no denying the sheer appeal of their designs. However, the build quality of these bikes is appalling. Their ride comfort and handling do make these motorcycles desirable, but, as is, the UM Renegade Commando and Sport S have a lot of promises left to live up to.
UM Renegade Commando / Renegade Sport S
Price: Rs 1.59 lakh / Rs 1.49 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi)
Engine: 280cc single-cylinder , liquid cooled
Power: 24.8hp@8,500 rpm
Torque: 21.8Nm@7,000 rpm
Brakes(Front/Rear): Disc / Drum