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Can these bikes beat Royal Enfield's Thunderbird 350?

August 23, 2016 09:44 IST

UM Motorcycles has entered the Indian market with two new models. BikeDekho takes the duo for a spin to see if they’ve been worth the wait...

UM Renegade Commando and Renegade Sport S

UM Motorcycles was never a household name in India, but the brand generated quite a buzz when it showcased at the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo. The number of affordable cruisers in India is bleak, and the brand came with the promise of radical designs at reasonable prices.

After a two year long wait, UM has finally entered the Indian motorcycle market with the Renegade Commando and Renegade Sport S. Here’re our first impressions.

Design and features

UM Renegade Commando and Renegade Sport S

The UM duo are essentially same machines, but have feature designs that are poles apart.

The names are an indication of the layout chosen, and while the Renegade Commando has classic and military-inspired aesthetics, the Sport S is, well, sporty.

The Commando’s round headlamp, beefy forks, muscular fuel tank and spoke wheels are classic cruiser and will appeal to the purists. The Sport S, on the other hand, has a Suzuki Intruder-like elongated cowl on the headlamp and features alloy wheels.

It also gets a dual tone paint job, which will find favour with younger buyers. Are the designs original? Nope, but they are attention grabbing.

UM Renegade Commando and Renegade Sport S

That said, the switchgear quality on both motorcycles leaves a lot to be desired, as does the build quality. Both bikes get a single-pod instrument cluster with an analogue speedometer while there’s a digital readout for the odometer and gear position indicator.

I do wish that the digital display was larger though, as it gets difficult to read on the move.

On the Renegade Commando, the console has been fixed on the fuel tank but it doesn’t fall into the rider’s field of vision.

Both the motorcycles feature a USB port next to the instrument console -- useful for charging phones or a GPS unit. The Renegade Sport also has LED lights above the engine head, which UM terms a safety feature, but it does seem more like a novelty addition.

Engine and performance

UM Renegade Commando and Renegade Sport S

Both motorcycles get a 280cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled motor producing 25PS of power at 8,500rpm and 21.8Nm of torque at 7,000rpm. Fire the engine up and the note is quite KTM single-like, and it’s the Sport that has a louder note. By cruiser standards, both bikes accelerate quickly which is definitely a highlight of the shared engine. Triple digit speeds can be held effortlessly, but the refinement levels are a letdown as vibrations can be felt from the low-end through the handlebar.

UM Renegade Commando and Renegade Sport S

Transmission is through a 6-speed manual gearbox that doesn’t offer the best shift quality, with false neutrals encountered as well. The liquid-cooling system though, does a great job of heat dissipation even in traffic, as we experienced in the soaring temperatures of our test ride. Expect a fuel efficiency of around 30-35kmpl and a range of 550-600km with the 18-litre fuel tank brimmed.

Ride, Handling and Braking:

UM Renegade Commando and Renegade Sport S

Apart from the designs being different, both bikes have different riding postures as well. The Renegade Commando has a more relaxed riding posture thanks to its swept back handlebar, while the flat handle bar on the Renegade Sport S means the rider has to sit slightly leaned forward.

Among the two, I’d pick the Renegade Commando for the upright ride position.

Under the different body styles, the duo employs the same dual cradle frame.

UM Renegade Commando and Renegade Sport S

The bikes are quite flick-able and this agility was clearly visible when it made riding through traffic effortless. Our test ride was in Gurugram (earlier Gurgaon), so we couldn’t fully test the handling dynamics on the twisties, but the bikes felt planted with good grip offered by the TVS-sourced 140/90 section rear tyre.

Both bikes get a front disc brake which offers good stopping power, but the rear drum unit’s performance is poor. Considering their price point, a rear disc brake should have been offered.

The ride quality of the Renegade duo was satisfactory as it wasn’t too supple or too stiff.

Verdict:

UM Renegade Commando and Renegade Sport S

UM Motorcycles is on the right track with the Renegade Sport S’ price of Rs 1.49 lakh and the Renegade Commando’s sticker price of Rs 1.59 lakh (both prices ex-showroom, Delhi).

For the money, you get attention grabbing designs, punchy motors and machines that are quite agile. However, the NVH levels and finish quality need to improve as these shortcomings are noticeable.

Neither one of the Renegades bring anything exceptionally new to the cruiser segment. The Thunderbird 350 is the closest competitor and comes with Royal Enfield’s aspirational value for buyers, making life even more difficult for the UM pair.

They say you eat with your eyes first and the unique styling will be the primary reason to get one of these motorcycles.

Team BikeDekho