Jawa is back in India and the first motorcycle they've launched is called the, er, Jawa. Classic Legends, a Mahindra-owned company has the right to develop and sell Jawa-branded motorcycles as well rights to the BSA brand name. The Jawa Jawa and it's ?12,000 less expensive sibling, the Jawa Forty-Two are brand new. The engine development may have started at the Mahindra Mojo but in final form there is nothing in common. What both promise is lots of low- and mid-range torque and a sound that approaches the two-stroke signature of the old Jawas and Yezdis. The engine is slotted into a brand-new double cradle frame and the Jawa has simple but well-tuned suspension and good brakes with single-channel ABS standard. But obviously, it's the chrome Jawa Jawa that draws you in with its unabashedly retro design. Worth the ?1.66 lakh ex-Delhi Classic Legends is asking for the Jawa Jawa? Shumi finally got to ride the Jawa Jawa and the Jawa Forty-Two at the media preview. Bookings are open but Classic Legends indicates that Jawa deliveries will only start by February 2019. Here's what he thought of the bikes.
In sum, the prototype status of the Jawas we rode makes it hard to ascertain what the final quality and reliability of the bike will be - though Classic Legends did show some impressive test bed figures from the development phase. However, the feel of the old Jawa both visually and on the move is unmistakable and that makes the Jawa Jawa very likeable. The easy to ride feel, and the low seat height will also allow riders of all kinds to hop on and go. On the flip side, I wish the highway cruise ability was 110-115kmph and that I had more time to ride the bike.
The overall feel of the Jawa Jawa is more distinct than the Jawa Forty-Two and for me, that's the bike to buy. It's more retro and it's hardcore retro rather than some modern interpretation of retro-ness. That, same thing, also makes the Jawa Jawa a very specific kind of proposition. While the initial buzz is great, I'm waiting to see how sales volumes settle in time. Are there really so many people out there looking for a bike that looks classy-old?
Classic Legends says that it is working to ensure that the service experience will be excellent. 64 dealers are to open shortly with about 40 more signed up and to join up later.
The four-stroke beat does actually remind you of the engine note of the old two-stroke but just a bit. The Jawa exhaust also has a three-step dbKiller to allow you to choose a softer or bolder note than stock, or remove it completely.
The larger Perak bobber is a bored-out version of the same motor with larger throttle bodies. Classic Legends that that the Rs 1.94 lakh motorcycle will have a significant step up in performance.
The bookings are open now but the start of production is still a few weeks away. This should mean deliveries should start late Jan or February 2019.
The Forty-Two is named after the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In that book, the number is the answer to Life, Universe and Everything. In the real world, the Jawa Forty-Two is, more or less, a de-chromed version of the Jawa Jawa. It does have a flatter handlebar that sits lower which makes a slight difference in feel. The move from the nacelle to a regular fork-mounted headlamp also means that the single pod meter is mounted to the right, on a small spar that sits on top of the right fork leg. The Forty-Two is otherwise identical. Some very interesting colours are on the Jawa palettes, I really did like that dark blue shade on our test Forty-Two.
The finish level can improve - this must be read the proviso that the bikes were P1 prototypes so there is a chance there will be glitches. We were informed, for instance, that the speedometer units weren't production spec. So the fact that some froze or indicated odd speeds has to be taken as a matter of course for our test bikes. The choice of a digital odometer without any tripmeter functions seems oddly skimpy. The fuel gauge is a total design mess. Many couldn't tell which end of the needle actually indicated the fuel level and it's hard to read a flat and round meter when it's placed at an angle from you.
Handling is interesting. The Jawa carries 46 per cent of the weight on the front wheel and 54 per cent on the rear. This is at odds with almost every motorcycle on the market today. But it does align with the way the bike looks - a tall front and a low rear. The 28° of rake (the old Jawa they used as inspiration had 29.5°) and the 1,365mm wheelbase give the motorcycle an easy feel. It turns and swerves easily. That said, I would like a lot more time to explore the handling - I didn't really get a chance to push the Jawa - the roads weren't conducive to that.
Ride quality is excellent though many reported that the flat, hard seat wasn't a source of joy. I actually like flat-hard seats so I had no complaints on this front at all.
Because the sweet spot in the mid-range isn't all that wide, urgent riding requires quite a few gearchanges. But backing off just 10-15 per cent means you're mostly playing between fifth and sixth for the most part of a fast road.
Speed ranges? The Jawa is happy till about 80kmph. Then there's the gentlest start of vibration you can feel. It doesn't reach levels you would complain about ill about 105kmph. After that, the run to 125kmph or so on the roads we rode has some vibration to be sure. Top speed should be in the 130-135kmph region.
The six-speed gearbox works well. It's slick and requires little effort. I would have liked a more positive feel of the gears slotting in, but I faced no false neutrals or issues.
We were riding P1 prototypes, and the production of the Jawa is yet to start. This did mean that some engines surged and others did not. Many journalists did report that their bikes stalled a bit too easily. Classic Legends says that the final bikes will be flawless and production volumes will be kept low to ensure that product quality doesn't suffer as industrial production speeds up.
The engine is a 4-valve DOHC single cylinder with liquid-cooling (cue giant, slightly unsightly radiator in front of the downtubes) and fuel injection. The exterior cases of the engine are designed to match the look and feel of the old Jawa engine cases. This is very cool if you like that as an idea, or foolish - and that same criticism was also applied liberally to the Triumph Bonneville which also has engine cases shaped to match the old Bonnies.
Strangely enough, Classic Legends is yet to reveal the peak power and torque output engine speeds. 27PS comes at about 6,000rpm and 28Nm peaks at about 4,750rpm but the official figures are unreleased.
The engine is likeable. It has a reasonably well-developed low-end torque output that builds to a lovely, but unhurried mid-range. The mid-range itself isn't very wide but it is robust. The top-end does taper off though and revving the engine out to the limit doesn't really produce all that much extra performance. Keep it in the powerband though, and the Jawa is crisp and alert.
The brakes are good in feel too. Again, the spec is basic. 280mm front disc with ABS and a rear 153mm drum brake. Continental supplies the ABS. Dual channel models will come says Classic Legends. But I believe a dual-disc ABS model of the Jawa is, at the very least, 18-24 months away.
The suspension is the star of the show. It starts out feeling soft but its plush at low speeds and shows amazing bump absorption at speed. That should combine well with its ground clearance for bad-roading
The Jawa 300cc motorcycles are very, very simple motorcycles in design, engineering and construction. No especially complex hardware, software in the bike.
The frame is all-new. It uses a double cradle frame with what Classic Legends calls forged extensions for all the joints in the frame which produce "unrivalled frame stiffness in class" according to the company
The engine isn't related in any significant way to the Mahindra Mojo engine, although the displacement and borexstroke (both identical) suggests that the development work did start there.
Classic Legends is backed by private funding although Mahindra owns 60 per cent of the company and is the largest shareholder. It is Mahindra-owned, but not Mahindra-run in that sense. That said, it does use the old Mahindra Two-Wheelers R&D facility in Pune as the base of operations as well as that company's Pithampur plant for manufacturing. Three names that are associated with Classic Legends are Ashish Joshi, ex-Royal Enfield and Triumph, Anupam Thareja, also ex-Royal Enfield and has a diverse profile. And Boman Irani belongs to the same family that produced Jawa and Yezdi motorcycles in India