There was a feeling of nostalgia and excitement over the re-entry of the iconic Jawa brand, which was brought back to the Indian market on November 15, 2018. For those who were waiting in anticipation of the brand’s new offerings, the two models – Jawa and Jawa Forty Two – boast of a new design that is reminiscent of the bikes of yore seen back in the 60s and 70s. But a lot has changed under the flesh. Auto Tech Review takes a walk down memory lane to trace what these bikes were and the technology that has gone into making these retro looking cruisers, more contemporary machines.
Founded by František Janeček and established in 1929, the Jawa brand of motorcycles operated out of the then Czechosolvakian region. What was initially an armament factory in the present day Czech Republic was turned into a motorcycle manufacturing facility in 1927 by Janeček, who drew on his engineering expertise to begin manufacturing motorcycles. Initially, Janeček designed his motorcycles around a then existent 498 cc engine made by a German company called Wanderer. It was only later in 1929 that Janeček founded the Jawa brand by concatenating the Janeček and Wanderer names.
Janeček was an innovator of sorts and had more than 60 patents filed in his name; he also brought about innovation to his motorcycles, which at the time offered advanced features such as shift-drive and a steel frame. He later roped in British motorcycle designer George William Patchett and together made a series of competition bikes. By the 1930s, Jawa was offering models based on the British Villiers two-stroke engine and also had a 350 cc side valve and overhead valve models.
The Jawa brand was first brought to India by Rustom and Farrokh Irani under the firm Ideal Jawa back in 1961. Jawa models sold in India were licensed from the Czech-based motorcycle maker and were built at a facility installed in Mysore. The first Jawa model to hit Indian roads was the Jawa 250 Type 353/04 and more models were introduced over the years.
ROLLING BACK THE YEARS
To get a feel of these machines from yonder times, we were able to gain access to a Jawa 250 made in 1966 and get a better foothold of how much has evolved on the new models being offered. The engine on the Jawa 250 was a 248.5 cc, single cylinder air cooled unit that came with an aluminium head, metal bore and was capable of rolling out a cool 16 hp. The single cylinder unit was mated to a four-speed sliding mesh manual transmission that came in a one-up, three-down configuration. The transmission was operated with an oil-filled wet clutch set-up that featured five cork plates and four steel plates. The 1966 Jawa 250 was fitted with a 6V magneto points electrical system and the wheels were shod with 3.25’ X 16’ tyres in the front and back. The fuel delivery on the bike was routed through a cylinder-mounted carburettor and the single cylinder engine also got a twin exhaust.
The design of the Jawa 250 sported a large fuel tank that could hold up to 14.5 l of petrol, which nowadays has to be mixed with 2T oil. To start the motor, one would need to kick down on what also doubled up as the gear lever. Braking on this 1966 model is carried out through mechanical drum brakes, both in the front and the rear. The bike also features switch gear; this is used to operate the lights – high/ low beam and the horn. Suspension on the motorcycle comes in the form of telescopic forks in the front and shock absorbers with coil over springs in the rear.
BORN OF PEDIGREE
Jawa was brought back to India by Classic Legends Pvt Ltd, a company in which Mahindra & Mahindra owns a controlling stake. With the weight of the Jawa brand’s history at hand and an uphill task of making a contemporary machine, Classic Legends set out to design the new offerings that would draw strongly on their heritage. The newly-launched Jawa and Jawa Forty Two feature a 293 cc single cylinder engine that has been rated for 27 hp and 28 Nm of torque. The engine was developed by Ampelio Macchi and his team with the Mahindra Mojo engine as the base unit.
After much revision, the final production ready model features a single cylinder, four-stroke, petrol engine which is liquid cooled and has a dual overhead cam layout. In place of the old carburetted unit (found on the Jawa 250) is a fuel injection set-up on the new bikes. The engine’s compression ratio is also considerably higher at 11:1, ensuring a higher performance output. A few of these factors could have contributed to the engine achieving BS VI emission standards. The set-up has been focussed on optimising low and mid-range performance. Mated to a constant mesh 6-speed gearbox, the engine is said to provide enhanced touring capabilities and excellent pickup as well. Keeping in mind the base motor is that of a Mahindra Mojo, the company is said to have improved the powertrain being offered on the Jawa bikes.
Looking at the chassis, the new Jawa models sport a double cradle frame as opposed to the rectangular tube frame seen on the old models, with the engine as a stressed member. The new models continue to use telescopic forks as on the older models with concealed fork tubes. The rear wheel suspension features gas charged shock absorbers. The wheel size on the new Jawa models has also gone up an inch or two over the Jawa 250. Jawa has also done away with the kick-starter gear level and offers only an electronic start option for the new models. Braking on the new Jawa motorcycles has been delivered through a disc and drum brake application; the 280 mm front disc with a floating caliper also gets ABS enablement.
While the fanfare and craze around the old Jawa models continues, the re-introduction of Jawa in India will only add to this frenzy. The new bikes are quite like the old ones, especially with respect to their design language and philosophy. Classic Legends has brought in a lot on the technology front to ensure the new Jawa models remain ahead of competition and has collaborated with some of the best design and engineering teams globally to ensure the new Jawa models live up to the glory of their siblings of yesteryears.
TEXT: Joshua David Luther
PHOTO: Naveen Arul/ Classic Legends