The Freedom is not bad to ride at all. It has a rather punchy engine and delivers power from the outset. The 109.2-cc, single-cylinder unit delivers 8.5 PS and 8.6 Nm of torque. It’s not an engine that needs much coaxing to perform. The power is there and it becomes evident from the instant you twist the throttle. The gearbox is a four-speed unit, shifting all up in typical commuter style. It was surprisingly smooth to use and wasn’t a bother after the initial roll-for-neutral scene.
The seating position is also very commuter-centred and so you sit upright with the bars within easy reach. The seat is nicely contoured and features contrast-piping stitched into it, neatly separating the rider’s section from that of the pillion. However, it was a bit too soft and you find yourself sinking in a bit too deep making for an awkward prospect over long rides. The suspension, which is a usual setup of hydraulic forks up front and twin coil springs at the rear, is also quite firm. While that spells good handling and cornering, it also means that the potholes and rumble-strips vastly prevalent on our roads take a greater toll on your anatomy than you would like. The tyres are also the usual 2.75- and 3.00-inchers front and rear respectively. They offer sufficient grip and aid ride quality to the best of their ability. Stopping the new Freedom are a set of drum brakes front and rear. While they didn’t give the best feedback, they did manage to shed speed quite effectively.
Now comes the most important bit for the commuter folk out there: fuel efficiency. Does it truly give you the freedom to, er, fill it, shut it and forget it? Well, it offers 48 km/l in the city and that goes up to 60 km/l on the highway once you give it the freedom to stretch its legs. With a combined 51 km/l and a 12.5-litre tank capacity, a range of almost 640 kilometres is quite good indeed. Nothing much to complain about then.
LML have been busy not only with revamping their motorcycle operations, but also the process of setting up dealerships all over the country. A few of the northern States have seen their scooters on sale for some time now, but the rest of the country still needs to be covered with sales, service and spares before they can hope to see some action in the numbers. The new Freedom has been launched in two variants: the DX, priced at Rs 49,410, and the LS at Rs 49,950 (both ex-showroom, New Delhi).
Overall, the Freedom feels pretty solidly put together, but on the road, it may just take some getting used to at first. It will go up against offerings from Mahindra and Hero MotoCorp, but in terms of feel, fit and finish, it still has some catching up to do before it shows up on the radar for the Japanese.
It’s not an engine that needs much coaxing to perform. The power is there and it becomes evident from the instant you twist the throttle LML resurrect the Freedom with the hope of offering commuters a greater choice. Has it everything it needs to take on the big boys?
Story: Jim Gorde
Photography: Sanjay Raikar