The 2014 Auto Expo was remarkable for a new motorcycle brand, which wasn't seen or heard by many. Yes, I am talking about the American two-wheeler brand UM Motorcycles. It was the first time in Auto Expo that a brand has created much the waves in India. Later in the 2016 Expo, things got even colourful when UM unveiled their range of cruisers for the potential Indian market. It was the much competitive and demanding cruiser market that, UM wants to explore and invade in India. However, the motorcycle was an attractive machine simply by the way it looks. UM calls their cruiser segment by the name Renegade. The Renegade Commando and Renegade Sport S were those models. Last week we had an opportunity to test drive the UM's best-selling model Commando. So, let's find out how good this American is.
How does it look
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The Commando looked like a scaled-down version of Harley Davidson Fat Boy, without compromising the authentic American cruiser styling. The bike looks appealing, even though it gets a minimalistic design and styling outfits. Here the UM tries to cultivate a different motorcycling culture by bringing down large-sized cruiser compared to the rival Bajaj Avenger and RE Thunderbird. The machine stands out in the rest of the crowd with its enormous fuel tank, chunky wider 16-inch front tyre, classic round headlight and street control handlebar steals the first impression. The Commando never fails to impress a potential buyer who wants to own a motorcycle with massive road presence.
However, a closer inspection reveals some of the downsides of the Renegade. The bike lacks build quality in some areas. Especially the quality of panel and switchgear feels like it was made as an ultra cheap motorcycle. The rear part looks very interesting with wide mudguard which bears large tail lamp. An emblem is also placed above the tail lamp with an American flag, which helps in adding the overall appeal of the motorcycle.
The UM has made a minimalistic approach for designing the instrument console of the Commando. It looks basic and positioned above the fuel tank. Underneath the console unit, an exciting USB port is provided for easy smartphone charge while commuting. The street control wide handlebar and split saddle with backrest make it a better motorcycle than the Enfield siblings.
The Engine and Performance
The Commando draws the power from 279.5cc, single cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled engine which is also used in the Renegade Sport S. The mill delivers a maximum power of 24.8 bhp @ 8500 rpm and peak torque of 23 Nm @ 7000 rpm. Interestingly, this motorcycle could easily take you to all the way to 70kmph in the first gear. The engine is tweaked to extract the maximum power in the initial gears and fail to impress at the final third. It is a bit tiresome as one would expect from such a high capacity-300cc motorcycle. From 0 to 80 kmph it feels like a powerful machine and after 90 mark, the laziness and buzz of the machine come into play.
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The Commando is a cruiser motorcycle and it does have a low-sit saddle which is easily accessible for the shorter riders. The ride quality of Commando is superior and far better than the Avenger Street 220. Thanks to the high-quality chassis and box section swingarm. If the performance of the Commando falls on dynamics is a real boost up.
Suspension and Braking
The Commando constitute 41 mm hydraulic telescopic fork at the front and twin hydraulic shock with spring at the rear. The makers had done a decent effort in developing a refined suspension part, which definitely matches with the Indian road conditions. The 280 mm front disc brake and 130 mm rear drum brake is quite enough for a 300cc cruiser bike. However, there is a minor let off in the braking department which I felt can be a personal issue. The rear brake lever has been awkwardly positioned and it feels clumsy while braking. The support footpeg and the lever don't support my foot and it gets slipped occasionally. Keeping this issue aside, the braking is excellent and it does manage to stop the vehicle without much drama.
It is a brave attempt by the UM Motorcycles to enter India and to compete in the much popular cruiser market governed by Royal Enfield and Bajaj Motorcycles. Furthermore, we can say that it is a clever move by the UM to enter the Indian premises on right time. As we all know, Indian roads are suffocating with Enfields and Avengers. Moreover, there isn't any alternative in the market for a potential customer who is looking for a cruiser or classic-retro styled machine. For such a customer, Commando is your machine. Unlike Enfield, it doesn't have the legacy or heritage. But it could certainly target those who are fed up with seeing the Enfield siblings on the road.
There are few areas on which UM and Lohia have to be aware of. If they could fix or upgrade the engine refinement, build quality and power delivery in future, Commando can emerge as a strong rival for the Royal Enfield.
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Photos By: Jithin Johnson
Test Vehicle Provided By: Backwaters UM
Full Details, Specification and Pricing of Renegade Commando