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

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