UM Renegade Commando and Sport S review
What is it?
United Motorcycles is an American brand with just a decade worth of history founded by the Villegas family. Sold in Latin America and South-East Asia, the USP of the company’s motorcycles has been good design and affordable prices. They have now come to India with the Commando and Sport S from their Renegade lineup to cash in on one untapped segment, the low-capacity cruiser. And the gap is huge here. At one end you have the Bajaj Avenger 220 and on the other, you have the 650cc Aquila Pro. Of course there’s the Aquila 250 but it costs Rs 2.5 lakh, leaving a big gap in terms of price.
For our market, yes. There clearly seems to be an American cruiser influence in the design of these cruisers and that’s a good thing. These bikes are big and come with generous amounts of road presence. What I love about both bikes is the distinct lack of chrome. In fact, the effort to hide chrome bits can be seen in the blacked front fork covers that hide the chrome 41mm forks. The Sport S comes with err. sporty bits like blacked out alloys, and engine, a headlamp cowl, a fat blacked out exhaust and a racy two-toned paint scheme to top it off. It also has faux air scoops flanking the tank with an integrated LED strip that acts like a DRL as well as ensures the bike is seen from the side in the dark. The riding position too is a tad sporty with the T-type blacked out bars making you reach ahead. It’s a position that sits between comfort and sporty. The Commando in comparison has more of a vintage vibe to it and seems to be inspired by yesteryears army motorcycles. The matte green paint (a Rs 4,000 option), big fenders and wire wheels shoot up a distinct vibe and should pull away quite a few RE Desert Storm buyers. It is more of a laid back rider with wider bars. The speedometer console is moved to the fuel tank on the Commando with a USB charging port on the side, quite a handy feature on both bikes. The front end does remind me of the Harley Fat Boy and that’s not a bad thing at all. Design-wise both bikes score highly. The finish could be better though we were assured that the bikes we were riding are pre-production bikes and not the final products that will be higher in refinement.
LED DRLs on the side are a unique safety feature.
Fun to ride?
If you want a sporty cruiser, the Sport S makes more sense. It handles well despite the raked cruiser stance and long wheelbase. In fact, I found myself gravitating more towards the Sport S, reveling in its stability at close to top speed as I blasted up and down the Gurgaon-Faridabad highway. It’s not a corner carver but holds its own in fast sweepers while soaking mid corner bumps with aplomb. The Commando on the contrary seems to be canted towards comfort. It has 16-inch front and 15-inch rear spoked wheels with higher profile rubber. The ride is plush with the wide seat comfortable on short rides. The 280mm front disc-rear drum setup work well despite the absence of ABS. Both bikes feature TVS tyres which do a commendable job of keeping the bike glued to the road.
Single pod speedometer console sits snugly in the headlamp cowl of the Sport S.
Both bikes feature a 279.5cc liquid cooled single, fed through a carburetor. UM does have other engine options in this range and we will be getting the highest specced one. Power output is a modest 24.4bhp and 21.8Nm of torque. It might not seem much but if you factor in the low 172kg kerb weight of the Sport S and 15-inch rear tyre, acceleration is quite sprightly. The tradeoff though is the top speed which caps off at 125kmph. It’s a smooth motor with creamy torque delivery that makes for a decently fast getaway. The six speed gearbox is not as slick as the Japanese machines but has well-spaced ratios and minimal shift effort.
The 279.5cc liquid-cooled motor is torquey and refined at low revs.
It is quite affordable on paper at least. The orange hued Sport S retails at Rs 1.49 lakh (ex Delhi) while the matte green Commando is priced at Rs 1.59 lakh thanks to UM joining hands with Lohia Auto, the bikes are manufactured locally in Kashipur in Uttrakhand. Brilliant value if you factor in the 275cc liquid cooled motor and the fact that it undercuts everything in the market with a 250cc heart and under the Rs 2 lakh bracket by a huge margin. They are high on design but could do better on fit and finish levels. The bikes we rode are pre-production so I would reserve judgement on the latter. Also local manufacturing should keep service and spares reasonable. With UM in the process of setting up dealerships across India, the Commando and Sport S are worthy of your attention if you are in the market for a bike bigger than your regular 150cc. UM might not be a big ticket brand in India as of now, but going by these two competent motorcycles, the company’s future does seem quite promising. That is if they play their cards right.
evo rating –