UM Renegade Commando & Renegade Sport S: First Ride Review

Published On Jul 25, 2016 By Arun Mohan Nadar for UM Renegade Commando

After a delay of two years, UM Motorcycles has finally launched the Renegade Commando and the Renegade Sport S in the Indian market. Do the new cruisers live up to the hype surrounding them? 

UM Motorcycles made its debut in front of Indian audiences at the 2014 Auto Expo in Delhi, and ever since then it has generated a lot of curiosity among two-wheeler buyers. Indian buyers have a soft spot for cruiser motorcycles yet options in this segment are limited (Bajaj Avenger duo and the Royal Enfield Thunderbird), and hence many enthusiasts were looking forward to the new cruiser bikes. But before it could debut in India, UM needed to set up a manufacturing base and so they signed a joint venture with Lohia Auto and based their production facility in Uttarakhand. Finally, after a two year delay, UM launched the Renegade Commando and the Renegade Sport S at the 2016 edition of Auto Expo and we were invited to test ride the latest cruiser offerings to hit our market.

Design & Features:

Among the primary reasons for the popularity of the UM Motorcycles duo are its styling. Despite the fact that both the motorcycles are from the same genre, they have taken different paths for their journey. The Renegade Commando has a more classical styling while the Renegade Sport S, as the name suggests, is more sporty and modern in its approach. The round headlamp, beefy forks, muscular fuel tank and the alloy wheels will make the Renegade Commando appeal to the purists while the matte paint finish is a nice modern touch. The Renegade Sport S, on the other hand, takes its inspiration from the Suzuki Intruder with its elongated cowl on the headlamp, alloy wheels and the dual tone paint finish which will make it a popular choice for youngsters. Although both the bikes’ styling isn’t original, they seemed to have worked among the masses as wherever we went the bikes managed to grab attention of the onlookers.

Switch gear quality on the motorcycles, though, didn’t impress us, while the build quality of the motorcycles also felt questionable in the long run. Both the bikes get a single-pod instrument cluster with an analogue readout for speedometer while there’s a digital readout for odometer and gear position indicator. The digital display, though, could have been larger as it isn’t easy to read on the go. Also, the speedometer has a brushed aluminium finish and if the sun is behind you while riding there’s so much reflection that it becomes unreadable. On the Renegade Commando the console has been fixed on the fuel tank but it doesn’t fall in the field of vision of the rider. The Renegade Sport S also gets LED lights next to the engine head which the manufacturer terms as a safety feature but its purpose is something that we couldn’t comprehend. Both the motorcycles feature a USB port next to the instrument console which is a useful addition for charging phones or a GPS unit. 

Engine & Performance:

Powering both the motorcycles is a 280cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled motor pushing out 25PS at 8,500rpm and 21.8Nm of peak torque that is delivered at 7,000rpm. Push the starter and the bike comes to life with a throaty exhaust note that’s a bit reminiscent of the KTM’s single. Among the two, the Renegade Sport S has a louder exhaust note. Acceleration of both the bikes is impressive by cruiser standards and is among the highlights of the motorcycles. One can hold triple digit speeds on the highway effortlessly which is beneficial for touring. But the engine refinement is disappointing as there is lot of vibes from low-end through the handlebar. 

Our test bike also stalled a few times despite being on a very high idle. The bike employs a 6-speed transmission - gear shift quality is disappointing and we did encounter few false neutrals. The Renegade Command and Sports are fast by cruiser standards but NVH levels aren’t up to the mark. The liquid-cooling system though did its job well as despite the soaring temperature during our test ride and while riding in traffic there wasn’t much heat being emitted from the powerplant. Since it was a quick ride we couldn’t test the fuel efficiency of both the motorcycles but we can safely predict it to be between 30-35kmpl, and, with its 18 litre fuel tank capacity, should result in a real world range of around 550-600km.

Ride, Handling & Braking:

Both the bikes have different riding postures: the Renegade Commando with its swept back handlebar has a riding posture which is comfortable and laidback while the flat handle bar on the Renegade Sport S means that the rider is slightly leaned forward. Among the two, my pick would be the Renegade Commando for its upright riding dynamics. Under the different body styles, the duo employs the same dual cradle frame underneath. 

Direction changes were fairly quick and this agility was clearly visible while riding the bike through traffic as it felt effortless.  Since I was riding the bike in Gurgaon we couldn’t fully test the handling dynamics of the cruisers on the mountain twisties but on sweepers the bike felt planted with good grip from the TVS-sourced 140/90 section rear tyre. Anchorage is provided by disc brakes at the front which offers good bite but the rear drum unit’s performance is lacklustre and I feel that at this price point the rear wheel should have been equipped with a disc brake unit. The ride quality of the Renegade duo was satisfactory as it wasn’t very supple or back breaking either.  

Verdict:

Let’s talk money first: the Renegade Sport S has been priced at Rs 1.49 lakh while the Renegade Commando carries a sticker price of Rs 1.59 lakh (both prices ex-showroom, Delhi). The styling is eye catching, there is decent amount of grunt from the motor and it also feels quick on its feet. But then there are shortcomings like engine vibes, below par finish levels, restricted dealership network and, of course, reliability in the long run remains questionable. I must say I had my apprehensions before riding the UM cruisers and to my surprise they weren’t as disappointing as I had perceived. Having said that, both the bikes don’t offer anything exceptional in the cruiser segment be it performance, features or cutthroat pricing. Its closest competitor is the Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 which has an aspirational value connected with it for buyers and makes life even more difficult for the UM pair. The only thing working in its favour is the unique styling, which will be the primary reason for consumers opting for the UM cruisers.

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