All the controls fall easily to hand (and foot), and the single-pod speedo sits on the tank in true cruiser fashion. A small digital display resides within the speedo pod and includes the odo and trip meters, as well as a gear indicator. Unfortunately, the legibility of the readout was poor due to its small size and location down on the tank, requiring me to take my eyes off the road to glance down if I wanted to know what gear I was in. UM have also provided a USB charging port on the side of the tank-mounted speedo, which would be great to charge a navigation device or phone on the move.
Engine refinement and character is one aspect this bike suffers in; vibrations are felt through the foot-pegs right from low revs, and they creep into the handlebar and even the seat as the engine speed rises. And rev it you must: cruiser engines are traditionally low-revving units that provide the bulk of their torque at lower rpm; however, the engines on these bikes feel like they were designed for a street bike, with the maximum torque of 23 Nm coming in at 7,000 rpm, and 25 PS coming in at a lofty 8,500 rpm. The liquid-cooled engine is mated to a six-speed ‘box, and the shifts, although a bit notchy, are spot on. I did not experience a single false neutral or missed shift even when hammering through the cogs, although first gear seemed a little too tall and required a bit of clutch to prevent stalling when going over a couple of large speed-humps. On the whole, performance is acceptable and twisting the throttle hard in each gear had an indicated 120 km/h come up pretty soon.
Ride quality is fine on smooth roads and both bikes held their line well through curves, leaning as deep as the low foot-pegs would allow, although I found the rear suspension to be too stiff for Indian conditions. Small undulations are transferred straight up the rider’s back and cause the bikes to lose composure, while a couple of large bumps had me well off the seat. The twin hydraulic shocks are adjustable for preload. However, even at the second softest setting there was hardly any give; going to the softest setting might improve the ride. The 41-mm telescopic forks up front lack any adjustability, though they felt more sorted than the rear, providing suitable steering feedback and standing up to hard braking. The 280-mm disc up front and 130-mm drum at the rear do a decent job of shedding speed without any theatrics; however, a little more feel at the lever would have been appreciated, and with ABS set to become mandatory soon, UM will need to look at adding a rear disc in the near future.
With four models available in the Indian market UM are looking for a slice of the small cruiser pie, which is currently monopolised by Royal Enfield with the Thunderbird and Bajaj with the Avenger. We feel that they still have a long way to go to capture the imagination of the discerning Indian buyer.
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