UM Renegade Commando Classic & Mojave Review: Commandeering Cruisers!
For some time now sales of the Chennai based Royal Enfield have been on an upward trend. Understandably, other manufacturers want a slice of this pie. Whether it is the revamped Bajaj Avenger series or the Dominar taking pot-shots at the Bullets, or Mahindra building a tribe of Mojos to create that lifestyle image. In the midst of these three Indian Goliaths, there is a relatively small and new player in the Indian market. UM Motorcycles started selling their Commandos here only in 2016. Recently the Commando series got two new variants the Classic and Mojave, the two bikes that we rode. There is not a lot different between the previous model and the new iterations, but since this is the first time that we have gotten our hands on the UM Renegade Commando, this is therefore a brand new bike for us!
Before we dive into the two motorcycles, a bit about UM Motorcycles. Established in 1999, United Motors isn’t even a couple of decades old, yet it is currently present in 25 countries. In 2014 UM Motorcycles tied up with Indian manufacturer Lohia Auto Group and launched the motorcycles in 2016 at the Auto Expo here. Currently the company claims to have 70 dealers in India and a line-up of 4 motorcycles, including the two revealed recently.
The New Recruits
Back to the bikes, the Classic and the Mojave. The Classic as the name suggests is what you would typically expect a cruiser to look like. So much so, that no matter how many times I looked at the black bike, it took on the appearance of a scaled down version of the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy. Which isn’t a bad thing! The dual tone Classic on the other hand, with its copper and cream resembles the Indian Chief from a distance. The Mojave (the Spanish J is an H here) is named after the desert in America, which in turn is derived from a Native American tribe. The colour of the Mojave Desert is what is used on the bike and is similar to the Royal Enfield Desert Storm.
The differences are only skin deep and barring the cosmetics, the motorcycles are identical. The engine is a 279.5cc single cylinder 4-stroke 4 valves liquid-cooled mill with fuel injection. Peak power and torque kick in at a relatively high 8500 and 7000 rpm respectively. 25 Ps and 23 Nm are decent figures for the intended usage, but should have been available at lower revs. Translated on the road, the bike doesn’t have much going on at the bottom, not ideal for a cruiser. As long as you are happy grabbing fistfuls of throttle, the Commando will move sharpish.
The engine is one of the few parts which are imported from China where it is manufactured. Around 75% of the parts are produced in India, the rest is imported. Efforts are on to increase the proportion of local parts according to the company boffins.
Gearbox and Fuelling
The engine is mated to a 6 speed slick gearbox. Gearshifts are smooth and precise, but there is a catch. The ergonomics of the gear lever are awkward. The toe-heel shifter sits a tad bit high. You cannot operate the shifter with just the toe; you need to bring that heel down hard and for that you need to lift your foot off the peg. It isn’t a problem if you are a lazy rider, but if you want to bang through the gears to get a move on with the journey, then it is cumbersome. Of course, this being a cruiser, you aren’t meant to rip!
The Renegade is Fuel Injected as you would expect in a motorcycle launching in 2017. Fuelling is spot on, with a minor lag in throttle response, but not so much that it takes away from the pleasure of the ride. The Mojave I rode did have fuelling issues as the engine would shut off if I chopped the throttle, but that I believe was a one off case as no one else present had the same problem. The Classic was impeccable in this regard.
Suspension and Handling
The suspension on the Commando is okay, what with the 41mm telescopic forks upfront and dual suspension at the rear. Nothing to write home about, but it will get the job done. The bike feels planted at speed and it is surprisingly easy to manoeuvre at urban and cruising speeds.
The peculiar feature on the Commandos is the choice of tyre size. A 16 inch at the front and a 15 inch wheel at the rear are not a combination you will find often. Aftermarket replacements will not be easy to find, though the Avenger also uses a 15 inch rear but with a narrower profile. The Thunderbird in comparison uses a 19 and 18” combo. The smaller sized wheels are a negative when going over rough or no road, though on quality asphalt this helps with acceleration.
An astounding feature on the motorcycle is the ground clearance. 200mm is incredible when you compare it to the competition, the Avenger has 169mm and the Thunderbird has 135mm. The Dominar which is also positioned as a tourer has 157mm of clearance from mother earth. Another ace in the Commando’s arsenal is the large fuel tank of 18 litres, only the Mojo and Thunderbird are larger with 21 and 20 litres respectively.
Braking and Mass
A 280mm disc and 130mm drum are employed for getting the motorcycle stopped. The rear drum is rather irrelevant, since unlike larger capacity cruisers, the Commando can be operated with just the front brake. The front has decent feel and bite and is confidence inspiring to the point where like me most riders won’t bother with the rear brake.
The bike looks big and heavy but it doesn’t feel it once on the move. With a kerb weight of 179 kg, it is 24 kg more than the Avenger Cruise and 16 kg lighter than the Thunderbird.
In other bits and bobs on the motorcycle, the side stand is difficult to kick open. The placement doesn’t fall naturally to foot, but over time the rider should get accustomed to this. The switchgear finishing is acceptable but could have been better. It is perfectly functional, but looks a tad inferior to the rest of the motorcycle. The paint quality looks good both in the gloss and matt finish and the addition of a factory fitted USB charging port is a boon in today’s age of smartphones. The rubber plug to seal the USB port looks rather flimsy and I wouldn’t be surprised if that is the first thing to get damaged in the course of ownership.
The bikes are factory fitted with a pannier on the right side of the bike. Due to the saree guard on the left, a pannier cannot be fitted from the factory. One needs to buy it separately from the company and get it fitted. The pannier is mounted securely with 4 bolts and didn’t show any evidence of moving even when given a strong tug. The danger is that in a public place someone with a bunch of spanners can steal your panniers. But then if that robber went to the trouble of carrying spanners, chances are high that he would take the entire bike itself!
Leg guards on the Classic and Mojave are apparently now larger than the standard, providing that extra bit of protection in case of a spill. The seat covers have a nice finish to them and the rider seat is indeed very broad and soft. A bit too soft for my liking, as I had a painful posterior after a few hours in the saddle! But then I am someone who is a happy bum on the rather firm seats of a Duke. To each his own!
One rather out of place aspect on the Commandos is the fenders, front and rear. The fenders are oversized in comparison to the wheels which they cover. It looks like an ill-fitting adult cap placed on a child’s head. A small but sore point that takes away a bit from the aesthetic appeal of an otherwise good looking motorcycle. As we rode in Uttarakhand, we had a lot of people enquiring about and complimenting the motorcycle.
Bang The Gavel
The two new Commandos are good to hit the ground running and grab a decent share of the sales pie. The only things holding the bikes back is the price point and the pan-India presence. At 1.8 for the Mojave and 1.89 (Ex-showroom Delhi) for the Classic, the bikes aren’t cheap. Especially considering that the Dominar and Thunderbird 350 are sub 1.5 lakh motorcycles, the Avenger twins are less than a lakh and even the Mojo is available for 1.72 Ex-Showroom Delhi. All these motorcycles are being bandied about as capable touring machines. Even then I have seen a surprisingly large number of Renegades on Delhi roads. I would want these two bikes at a price point which is 20000 lower, but there is indeed a market for people who want exclusivity and commandeer themselves a cool new cruiser!
Photos: Mohit Gena / xBhp
UM Renegade Commando Classic & Mojave Review: Technical Specifications
All these motorcycles are positioned as tourers. Motorcycles which are built to chomp up the miles without breaking a sweat!