The Jawa is back! And it has a design which is a fitting tribute to the original two-stroke Jawa from the 1960s, which was quite the rage in India, up until the 1970s. The two-stroke, 250 cc Jawa Type 353, also known as the Kyvacka, had its origins in the Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia). By the mid-'70s, the Jawa became the Yezdi under Indian ownership, manufactured by then Mysore-based Ideal Jawa (India) Limited. And now in 2018, a new company, Classic Legends Private Limited, has resurrected the Jawa brand. And it's a company which has 60 per cent ownership with the Mahindra Group. We spent some time riding the new Jawa motorcycle in Rajasthan to see what this modern classic offers.
Also Read: Jawa Forty Two First Ride Review
Design and Features
It's a looker for sure! The design is a definite nod to the Kyvacka, and fans of the original Jawa will certainly appreciate how much similar the new design is. From the trademark headlight nacelle, the chrome and part painted fuel tank with the Jawa logo, fat fenders, side panels, and the unique tapering twin exhausts, the design has stayed true to the Jawa Type 353. Fit and finish is excellent, and even the crankcase covers have the same shape as the original, and the head has a nice silver finish on the cooling fins in another tribute to the original, though the new engine is liquid-cooled.
The upside down needle on the speedometer is a nod to the period Smiths speedometer design seen on classic motorcycles, and come s with a small fuel gauge needle as well. The wire spoke wheels come shod with MRF NyloGrip rubber, with an 18-inch front and 17-inch rear combination, which gets a front disc and rear drum combination, with standard single-channel ABS. The handlebar looks the part of the original, but is wider, and the low 765 mm seat height gives the rider an upright and comfortable riding position, and will be easily accessible to riders of all kinds of height.
Together with the 28-degree rake angle, it makes for a handsome silhouette, and there's no mistaking the motorcycle's design roots. But there's no left hand-side kick-starter gear level combo like the original Jawa; instead you get a starter button only, and the left side lever is only for shifting gears on the six-speed transmission.
Engine and Performance
The Jawa is powered by a 293 cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected engine which puts out 28 bhp of power at around 6500 revs, and 27 Nm of peak torque at around 5,000 rpm. The engine is based on the Mahindra Mojo's 299 cc single-cylinder motor, sharing the bore and stroke, but the engineering and internal workings are different, including the valve travel. And unlike the Mojo's engine, the Jawa's engine has angular dual ports for the exhaust headers, which forms an intrinsic part of the engine's performance and character. And the engine is BS-VI ready, so it's ready to meet the newest emission regulations.
Thumb the starter and there's a familiar four-stroke sound, quite unlike the two-stroke "ding-ding" of the Jawa Type 353. But careful thought and engineering has gone into making the exhaust note as meaty as possible to somewhat mimic the original sound. The twin exhausts come with a baffle which can be adjusted in four levels, with a 'growler' sound which purists will definitely appreciate. The gears slot into place with precision, and in-gear acceleration is smooth, and very likeable. Only at the top end of the revs, do you experience some vibes creeping into the footpegs and handlebars, but those aren't bothersome to have any real complaints.
The engine is smooth, and has a strong mid-range, so acceleration of up to 80 kmph is quite impressive, though the engine loses steam towards the top-end of the revs, You will reach 100 kmph without any apparent strain on the engine, and it tops out at around 130 kmph, but there's still no protest or strain, though the vibes begin to creep in at high triple digit speeds. The Jawa is happiest at speeds of 90-100 kmph, but you can easily go up to 120 kmph, with some more power on tap. And no, there are no bothersome vibrations; only a slight buzz in the footpegs and handlebar which you soon begin to get used to.
Ride, Handling and Braking
This is quite possibly the best part about the Jawa. The telescopic front forks offer 135 mm of travel and the twin hydraulic shocks offer 5-step preload adjustability, and come with 100 mm travel. Ride quality is taut, without being stiff, although the hard flat seat takes some time getting used to. But show it some broken tarmac, potholes and even some gravel roads, the Jawa remains planted and offers excellent straight line stability. The five-step preload adjustability offers a level of flexibility depending on the rider's weight, as well as the occasional pillion's.
The double cradle frame with forged intersections has been designed and engineered to make the Jawa agile around corners and offer stability. And it doesn't disappoint. For a 300 cc modern classic, the Jawa's excellent road manners certainly makes it an enjoyable ride around a twisty mountain road. The 170 kg kerb weight makes it feel light and agile, and 165 mm ground clearance with standard engine bash plate makes it easy to take the bike over rough terrain. The single-channel ABS designed by Continental works well, and offers sure shot stopping power, even though the rear wheel only gets a drum for now. But a dual-channel ABS is already in the works and will be introduced in a couple of months, at a slight premium on the price of the bike.
The Jawa certainly ticks all the right boxes in the looks department. And even though it's not a performance-oriented motorcycle, the simplicity and easy going nature of the engine begins to grow on you. The more you ride, the more you begin to appreciate the qualities of this modern classic. More importantly, Jawa just added one more well-built and easy to ride option to the Indian modern classic segment. It looks great, is built well, and has brilliant ride and handling, backed by the performance of an engine which doesn't really have too many negatives.
At ₹ 1.65 lakh (ex-showroom), the Jawa is the more expensive variant; the Jawa Forty Two is priced at ₹ 1.55 lakh (ex-showroom). But it's still relatively affordable and pricing is in line with the competition like the very popular Royal Enfield Classic 350. The Jawa may not exactly have back-slapping performance, but it certainly endears itself to you, the more you ride it. You look cool with the classic design lines, and if you're not in a hurry, and you want to take in the sights and sounds on a twisty mountain road or on a highway, and you want to enjoy motorcycling at its purest, and relaxed best, the Jawa certainly makes for an entertaining companion.
(Photography: Pawan Dagia)