The Scrambler style is well and truly alive today and that is evident in the many Scrambler models available in the market. While Ducati, Triumph, and BMW’s versions of Scramblers may be a little too far out of reach of most buyers, there’s thankfully some offerings easy on our wallets.
One of them is from relative newcomer, United Motors (UM). First launched at the 2017 Moto Builds Pilipinas, UM has been in operation for some years now under the Autohub Group, which also distributes Vespa scooters and the Piaggio Ape.
The UM brand itself is based in the US, while components of the motorcycle and its assembly are done in Asia. Typically, this is the point at which most punters would walk away from the bike. Yet very confident in the quality of their product, UM Philippines generously lent us the Renegade Scrambler Classic to try for the weekend.
The confidence is not misplaced as the Scrambler Classic is quite the looker. Our olive drab green and brown unit has already racked up a few miles but is still quite striking to the eye. This particular colorway will likely appeal to those who enjoy military-themed vehicles and apparel. Worry not as the bike also comes in orange or black.
The Scrambler Classic takes the best bits of both scrambler and café racer styling and combines them to make a unique motor. The headlight is crowned by a low cowl, the front forks feature rubber boots while it rides on spoked wheels with knobby but streetable tires.
On the handlebars are bar-end mounted mirrors for that café racer look. It's a shame the brown handlebars get dirty easily.
The angular fuel tank hides the radiator underneath. My favorite touches are the brown seat and transmission casing that really go well with the olive drab green. Behind is the tailpipe with a chrome finish for the right amount of flair.
Getting on the Scrambler Classic was fairly easy, though I stand at 5’9”. It has all the typical controls on the handlebar, and even includes flashers for the high-beams (typically absent in 150 cc bikes).
The only unremarkable thing is the instrument cluster. The design is rather plain with warning lights on the side and a rectangle for the digital rev counter, digital speed readout, and digital odometer. There's no fuel gauge. Just a low fuel warning light. A button on the lower right allows you to reset the trip meter. What’s odd about this setup is the L-shaped rev counter, which is very unusual. There’s no marked redline, nor any numeric rpm indicators, so you have to simply feel it out and figure out when to shift. Nonetheless, it features functions like an odometer, fuel consumption average, and even a lap timer (Seriously!).
Other than that, the UM is surprisingly well-built and enjoyable. The electronic starter brings it to life and it revs like a typical Japanese 150 cc engine. The 150 cc single-cylinder 4-stroke engine is liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, and produces 14.9 Ps and 10.9 Nm of torque. It’s paired to a 6-speed manual that drives the rear wheels with a chain drive. Much of that power comes in the low end to middle range. It starts to vibrate and strain at higher revs. Since the rev-counter has no digits, it’s rather hard to figure out when you’re at the factory indicated 11,000 rpm redline.
Nonetheless, riding it normally in the city is quite pleasant. Our few days with it yielded a 30.7 kilometers per liter average. There’s more than enough power and torque to get up to speed fairly quickly. Being a scrambler, the ride is quite pleasant. The seat, though beautiful, is a just a little slippery (when braking) so a buyer might want to think about changing it out for a grippier material. One would think that knobby tires would diminish the handling in the street, however, since they’re fairly round and street friendly, it takes on corners rather well. While they may not be equipped with ABS, the brakes bite fairly well and can bring you to a stop without trouble.
If you ever decide to take it off-road, it won't disappoint either. It's get very high ground clearance. The tires are knobby enough for some muddy trails. The footpegs and brake pedal have teeth, making them easy to grip even with muddy shoes (just take out the rubber insert). Finally, the swingarm has a chain guard that keeps the chain in tension and will brush off mud from the trails.
In truth, if we haven’t known beforehand that this bike was made in China, it would be very easy to mistake it for a Japanese bike, in terms of build and quality. Those that want to customize might be disappointed as there are very few aftermarket parts available. Nonetheless, the lovely styling and relative rarity of the bike should already be enough to stand out in a crowd.
Save for the odd instrument cluster, the rest of the bike feels pretty solid, handles well, and cruises quite nicely. Priced at P145,000, this Scrambler Classic is also quite affordable. For now, there are only a handful of UM dealers in Metro Manila to service the bike, though the Autohub Group hopes to remedy that very soon.
All told, the Scrambler Classic offers an affordable quality alternative to the sea of Japanese and Chinese offerings.