Blast from the past

Can we hope to see Jawa mo­tor­cy­cles back on In­dian roads?


Iconic Czech mar­que poised for a come­back

BE­FORE THE AD­VENT OF JA­PANESE MA­CHIN­ERY A FEW decades ago, In­dian mo­tor­cy­clists had pre­cious few choices when it came to mo­tor­cy­cles. The govern­ment ban on im­ported ve­hi­cles im­ple­mented in the late 1960s meant that you could no longer buy BSAs, Nor­tons, Tri­umphs or NSUs in In­dia; the only man­u­fac­tur­ers left were Royal En­field, who have sol­diered on to be­come one of our most suc­cess­ful mar­ques in the 21st cen­tury, and the Czech brand Jawa, built in Mysore (now My­suru) un­der the Ideal Jawa ban­ner. With a range of sin­gle- and twin-cylin­der two-stroke mo­tor­cy­cles, Jawa achieved cult sta­tus in In­dia, with their bikes mak­ing an im­pact in ur­ban as well as ru­ral mar­kets. The old Jawas are now con­sid­ered col­lec­tors’ items and a well-main­tained ex­am­ple can fetch quite a price to­day.

With two-strokes be­ing stran­gled out of ex­is­tence by tight­en­ing emis­sion norms, Ideal Jawa were forced to shut shop and the last of the Czech mo­tor­cy­cles was sold in In­dia in 1996. Fast for­ward to Oc­to­ber 2016, when Mahin­dra inked a deal to buy the li­cens­ing rights from the East Euro­pean mar­que to build and sell Jawa mo­tor­cy­cles in In­dia. Based on this de­vel­op­ment, we may ac­tu­ally see a resur­gence of the much-loved Jawa brand in the coun­try, and this is the bike that we are most likely to see on our roads.

The 2017 Jawa 350 OHC pic­tured here was launched re­cently in the Czech Repub­lic and is de­signed to in­voke more than a hint of nos­tal­gia, re­tain­ing the clas­sic lines of the old bikes while be­ing pow­ered by a rel­a­tively mod­ern four-stroke, 350-cc, air-cooled twin. Jawa claim that the en­gine has been sourced from Shin­eray, a Chi­nese man­u­fac­turer, and is based on an old Honda en­gine. This fuel-in­jected mill makes 26 PS at 5,250 rpm and 32 Nm of peak torque at 4,750 rpm. It is mated to a four-speed gear­box. The bike also comes equipped with ABS and, if launched here in In­dia, will be the first Jawa to sport this fea­ture.

There has been no of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment about when, if ever, Jawa bikes will go on sale in In­dia; how­ever, we can spec­u­late that we might know more by next year’s Auto Expo.

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