The Jawa Forty Two is the entry-level model in the resurrected brand's motorcycle range. The Forty Two offers a slightly different flavour, in ergonomics and colour options, but it shares the same engine, chassis, and cycle parts with the slightly more expensive Jawa. What the Forty Two offers is a slightly more youthful take on the legendary Jawa name, so it gets six colour options, which includes some nice matte finish paint jobs as well. So, at ₹ 1.55 lakh (ex-showroom), the Jawa Forty Two may be the less expensive model, but it's targeted more at attracting Jawa purists with its attractive colours and slightly more contemporary feel. But make no mistake, the silhouette is still classic Jawa.
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Compared to the standard 'Jawa' - yes, the chrome laden, and slightly more expensive sibling is called just 'Jawa', the Forty Two has some minor cosmetic changes. The headlight is different and is mounted on brackets, the speedometer is offset, and the front fender is styled differently; the trademark fat valenced mudguard is replaced with a slightly more 'custom' type front mudguard. The handlebar is also different and the result is that the Forty Two offers a slightly different riding position, and our test bike's suspension preload was adjusted for more stiffness.
The rest of the bike, including body panels, fuel tank, switchgear and cycle parts, are all the same. The speedometer offers a fuel gauge as well, but the small LCD screen just offers odometer readings; no trip meters or a clock. And like the Jawa, the Forty Two also comes with just a side stand; no standard centre stand is offered.
Engine and Performance
But what made the Jawa Forty Two feel different is also the different exhaust note, thanks to the stock adjustment on the DB Killer, with the setting on "Growler" mode, as Jawa officials call it, on our test bike. But it's not even close to the original two-stroke sound and it will be foolish to expect that sound and impossible to replicate.
The engine is the same liquid-cooled, 293 cc, single-cylinder fuel-injected mill of the standard Jawa, so performance is similar, and for the most part, the Forty Two will appeal to the classic bike lover as well, if not the hardcore Jawa fanboy for its period correct design and shiny chrome. The output is the same - 28 bhp and 27 Nm, and the engine, which has its origins in the Mahindra Mojo, has been tuned for better low- and mid-range response, rather than outright acceleration.
The bassier exhaust note also felt like the Forty Two lacked the finesse in acceleration and outright top-end performance of the standard Jawa. But then, those looking for a meatier thump will also be able to adjust the decibel killer with a standard tool to choose between several different sounds, pushing the db killer in, or pulling it out. Jawa will also introduce different ECU maps at dealerships, for added performance to those seeking it, but those will come with a minor compromise in fuel efficiency.
Ride, Handling and Braking
The Jawa Forty Two may be the same bike, but the different ergonomics, and the stiffened suspension preload of our test bike makes it feel different. It's tauter, stiffer, and after riding it over broken roads around Kumbhalgarh in Rajasthan, the ride quality felt stiffer and slightly uncomfortable, compared to the Jawa. Of course, owners can choose to adjust the suspension according to individual requirement, so that's not really a deal breaker. The idea behind the stiffer suspension settings and meatier exhaust note was to give reviewers a different feel and character with some minor changes on some of the test bikes. And the test bikes are a batch of advanced prototypes, so Jawa officials say minor niggles in build quality and tuning will be ironed out in the production-ready bikes when they go to full assembly line manufacturing.
The handling though is very similar to the standard Jawa, and even if it's not sportbike sharp, the Forty Two also likes being hustled around a set of corners. It feels stable and planted, whether around a bend, or crashing over broken terrain in a straight line. The braking set-up is also exactly the same, a 280 mm ByBre disc on the front wheel, and a drum at the rear, with single-channel ABS on offer. Brakes are good, and offer good bite and progression, even on the rear drum, but standard dual-channel ABS with a rear disc is missed, but that would also make the sticker price go up.
At ₹ 1.55 lakh (ex-showroom), the Jawa Forty Two offers the entry-level model into the new Jawa range of bikes. It still has the same qualities as the standard Jawa - same performance, same ride quality and same likeable road manners. The Forty Two with its choice of six different colours may find more appeal in younger buyers looking for a modern classic, who may not be so hung up on shiny chrome or the near identical design of the 1960s Jawa. Its closest competitor is still the Royal Enfield Classic 350, which is still slightly affordable than the Forty Two. The typical Royal Enfield customer may not gravitate towards the Jawa Forty Two, or even the Jawa, but it still makes for a good choice, if you're looking for a cool looking modern classic, with some bright colours thrown in.
(Photography: Pawan Dagia)