UM Renegade Mojave and Classic
We ride the latest mid-size cruisers to hit the market
Riding the refreshed Renegade cruisers on the scenic roads of Uttarakhand
UNITED MOTORS (UM) International LLC was established in Miami, Florida, in 1999, and although their bikes are not sold in the US, they are exported to several countries across Latin America, Africa and Asia. Having identified India as a major market, the company tied up with Lohia Auto Group in 2014, creating UM Lohia Two Wheelers to manufacture bikes in India for domestic sale as well as export to other Asian countries. The next year they launched the Renegade Sport S and the Renegade Commando cruisers, powered by single-cylinder, 279.5-cc, liquid-cooled engines. The engines and several components are sourced from China and neighbouring countries, and the motorcycles are assembled at the Lohia Auto plant in Kashipur, Uttarakhand.
Now, for 2017, UM have introduced two new variants of their Renegade series of cruisers, the Commando Mojave and the Commando Classic, and we were invited to Uttarakhand to visit the factory and ride the new bikes. Read on for our first impressions.
The two bikes that we rode share the same chassis, engines and dimensions; however, they are appointed differently to attract a wider cross-section of buyers. Being cruisers, both are designed with long-range comfort in mind, and while the Renegade Commando Mojave comes in an understated matte brown, inspired by the sand of the Mojave Desert that runs from California to Nevada, with blacked-out forks, handlebar, wheels, and exhaust, the Renegade Commando Classic brings the bling, with glossy paint and bucketfuls of chrome. The Classic also gets a tall windscreen, making its touring intentions clear. Both bikes come with saddlebags only on the right side, while the left side is marred by the compulsory sari guard. This can be removed post sale, and the company will supply you with another saddlebag for the left side of the bike, at an extra charge, of course. The compact 279.5-cc, liquid-cooled engine is identical to the previous model’s, but now comes with electronic fuel injection to adhere to BS-IV emission norms.
The bikes look shapely and proportionate, perfectly fitting into the small cruiser mould. I especially liked the Classic, with its tall screen, glossy paint and loads of chrome; although, on closer inspection, it became clear that fit and finish could have been better. The engine fired up immediately with a dab of the starter button and settled into a low idle with a pleasingly deep exhaust note. It is noteworthy that the exhausts on these bikes come with a removable baffle for owners who want their cruiser to be accompanied by a louder soundtrack. UM also offer accessory exhausts for further customisability.
Sinking into the low seat I set off, and was immediately pleased by the comfortable seating position and supportive seat. Both bikes share the same weight, dimensions, and basic components, with the differences being purely cosmetic; hence the ride feel and quality were identical on both bikes. I found the rider triangle to be spot on, with the foot-rests neither too far
forward, nor directly below the rider (like the Royal Enfield Thunderbird), and the handlebar was swept back just enough to allow my arms to be at a comfortable position for long highway rides.
All the controls fall easily to hand (and foot), and the single-pod speedo sits on the tank in true cruiser fashion. A small digital display resides within the speedo pod and includes the odo and trip meters, as well as a gear indicator. Unfortunately, the legibility of the readout was poor due to its small size and location down on the tank, requiring me to take my eyes off the road to glance down if I wanted to know what gear I was in. UM have also provided a USB charging port on the side of the tankmounted speedo, which would be great to charge a navigation device or phone on the move.
Engine refinement and character is one aspect this bike suffers in; vibrations are felt through the foot-pegs right from low revs, and they creep into the handlebar and even the seat as the engine speed rises. And rev it you must: cruiser engines are traditionally RIDING GEAR PARTNER
low-revving units that provide the bulk of their torque at lower rpm; however, the engines on these bikes feel like they were designed for a street bike, with the maximum torque of 23 Nm coming in at 7,000 rpm, and 25 PS coming in at a lofty 8,500 rpm. The liquid-cooled engine is mated to a six-speed ’box, and the shifts, although a bit notchy, are spot on. I did not experience a single false neutral or missed shift even when hammering through the cogs, although first gear seemed a little too tall and required a bit of clutch to prevent stalling when going over a couple of large speed-humps. On the whole, performance is acceptable and twisting the throttle hard in each gear had an indicated 120 km/h come up pretty soon.
Ride quality is fine on smooth roads and both bikes held their line well through curves, leaning as deep as the low foot-pegs would allow, although I found the rear suspension to be too stiff for Indian conditions. Small undulations are transferred straight up the rider’s back and cause the bikes to lose composure, while a couple of large bumps had me well off the seat. The twin hydraulic shocks are adjustable for preload. However, even at the second softest setting there was hardly any give; going to the softest setting might improve the ride. The 41-mm telescopic forks up front lack any adjustability, though they felt more sorted than the rear, providing suitable steering feedback and standing up to hard braking. The 280-mm disc up front and 130-mm drum at the rear do a decent job of shedding speed without any theatrics; however, a little more feel at the lever would have been appreciated, and with ABS set to become mandatory soon, UM will need to look at adding a rear disc in the near future.
With four models available in the Indian market, UM are looking for a slice of the small cruiser market, which is currently monopolised by Royal Enfield with the Thunderbird and Bajaj with the Avenger. We feel that they still have a long way to go to capture the imagination of the discerning Indian buyer.
On the whole, performance is acceptable and twisting the throttle hard in each gear had an indicated 120 km/h come up pretty soon
Nice blue hue on the speedo; digital display is too small
Weld scars like this are why UM lose points for fit and finish