An America-based motorcycle company known as UM Global has set up shop in India, started local production, and has just launched a 280cc cruiser for the Indian market. Haven’t heard about this? Well, let Jared fill you in.
There’s been very little that’s been said about the newly formed UM Motorcycles, and their new venture in India. And, believe me, I was as much in the dark as the rest of you. So I did some research on this new company that claims to be an American bike manufacturer. The ultimate truth, though, is that UM, or United Motors, have never really been an American motorcycle manufacturer. They are indeed an American bike company, but they’ve never manufactured their own motorcycles inside the US. They would simply import Hyosung bikes from Korea and Jincheng motorcycles from China, and then rebadge them as UM motorcycles and sell them in the US and Latin American markets. Unfortunately, their business model didn’t do so well, and they had to shut shop in the US in February 2010.
Here, in India, we first heard of UM Motorcycles in 2013 when Lohia Auto – famous for their e-rickshaws – entered into a 50-50 joint venture with UM Global. The newly formed company then opened a factory in Kashipur, Uttarkhand, and began producing a sub-300cc cruiser for the Indian market – which will also be exported internationally. Finally, at this year’s Delhi Auto Expo, the bikes were revealed as the Renegade with two variants – the Commando and the Sport S. Now that the bikes are officially on sale in India, we got a chance to test both variants to see just how capable they really are.
The Renegade definitely looks like a cruiser. The Commando is more of a highway tourer, while the Sport S looks more like an urban sportster. Both bikes are fairly well designed, and they do seem to attract some attention while on the road. But, to best explain how attractive the Renegade looks, let’s assume you’re walking down a street and all of a sudden you see a very attractive women. She’s tall, slender, and seems to have the right proportions. As you continue to walk closer, though, you begin to notice that her radiance was a mirage. Well, the Renegade is sort of like that girl. The bike looks like a proper cruiser, and has all the right proportions and muscle. But then you get up close and personal, all of a sudden you notice the poor quality of the components.
Perhaps this was the case because it’s a pre-production bike, so stay tuned for a more elaborate test. As is, the best attribute is that it has a pleasant aesthetic appeal – which will definitely help it sell in India. But you can easily make out that the craftsmanship, finishing touches, and use of materials is quite poor. At that price point, the Renegade will compete with Royal Enfield – which is the only other cruiser with that kind of power.
The Renegade gets a single-cylinder 280cc liquid cooled engine, which gets 24bhp of power – almost equivalent to the 500cc Royal Enfield Classic. I got to spend an entire day riding both Renegade models in-and-around Delhi, and I must say that the engine of the Renegade is quite nice. It definitely has decent power and seems quite refined. The power output is very linear, and even on the highway, as you open the throttle all the way and switch through the gears, the power delivery continues to be smooth and on point. Even as you pass 90km/h and switch from 5th to 6th gear, the bike continues to pick up speed with ease. On the highway, this is great and the engine doesn’t feel stressed – but the vibrations do become quite an annoyance, especially on the handlebar. And, as you move past 60km/h, the bike does start to vibrate quite a bit. Naturally, on long rides, this is not ideal at all.
The seating position is nice, but tall people may not like the handlebars on the Sport S – which seem to be lower. The seats on both variants are also very hard, and this is another facet that doesn’t help the Renegade’s case of being a highway tourer.
The bike is quite light though, and so it’s not a problem to ride in the city – it’s just not the most comfortable. The suspension is well set up though, for both the city as well as the highway. It’s not as stiff as most American cruisers. The front end of the bike feels a little light, and you get a lot of feedback from the road – however, it’s still easy to handle around bends and go fast around sweeping corners. I’m not sure how the bike will handle on off-road patches, because the ground clearance seems to be quite low – so I don’t think it would be very comfortable to try a Ladakh expedition on the Renegade.
The Renegade isn’t the best built bike around, but, again, that could just be because it’s a pre-production bike. Either way, it’ll certainly give young men big egos – because it certainly does have that muscle American cruiser appeal. But that’s the only thing American about this motorcycle!
- UM Renegade Commando / Sport S
Engine: 280cc / single-cylinder / liquid cooled
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Power: 24.8 hp @ 8500 rpm
Torque: 21.8 Nm @ 7000 rpm
Price: Rs. 1.5-1.7 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Delhi)
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