The Jawa marque has been resurrected after a long interregnum. We rode the Jawa and Jawa Forty Two in royal Rajasthan. Here is our first impression
The retro bug has bitten many motorcycle companies around the world. the latest to jump on the bandwagon is the recently resurrected Jawa brand. the newly formed company, called classic legends, is a joint venture between anand mahindra, boman irani, and anupam thareja and the first product to be launched is the Jawa and its dark-themed variant, the Forty two. We rode both these bikes in rajasthan recently. to begin with, i spent most of the time with the Forty two. the basic differences between the Jawa and the Forty two are the handlebar, the paint job, and the headlamp cowl. apart from these, both the motorcycles are pretty much the same. both come with a 293-cc, singlecylinder, liquid-cooled, Dohc, four-valve engine that produces 27.3 ps and 28 nm. this engine is mated to a six-speed gearbox. a double-cradle frame houses the engine with a telescopic fork at the front and twin hydraulic shocks with gas canisters at the rear. brakes are pretty simple with a 280-mm bybre disc at the front and a 153-mm drum at the rear.
now, those are the basic specs of both the bikes. it is the design and styling that form the highlight of the Jawa and Forty two.
the company spent a lot of time researching the styling of the original bike and it was during this research that they came to the conclusion of providing the customers with a motorcycle that takes them on a nostalgic trip. back in the day, Jawas were a common sight and even today there are many clubs and enthusiasts who can been seen riding their old Jawa motorcycles proudly. this is exactly what the new bike does. the design is quite close to that of the original motorcycle. its low and long stance, flat seat, side-panels, fuel-tank, spoke wheels, chromed twin shocks, and front fork all come together to evoke nostalgia.
the Forty two, however, carries a dark theme with a blacked-out fork cover, a flatter and wider handlebar, and a single reverse speedometer. styling is one of the key elements that will help the company attract more customers.
let us now move on to performance. to begin with, the first thing that i realized when i thumbed the starter button and the engine came to life was the vibration. at idle, vibration isn’t bothersome, but as you throttle up and start moving, it only gets stronger. the vibration somewhat reduces at 80 km/h but beyond that it gets crazy again. this clearly indicates that there is scope for improvement when it comes to refinement because, currently, it isn’t up to the mark.
next up is low- and mid-range acceleration, which is good and makes the Jawa easy to ride. the six-speed gearbox is smooth and the shifts are precise. Fuelling of both the bikes is good. there are no jerks or an on-off feel from the throttle. i liked the way the bike accelerated, though, as mentioned earlier, the vibration does tend to dampen the fun and it also makes high-speed cruising bothersome once you cross 100 km/h.
as for handling and ride quality, both the bikes are identical. the front and rear suspension is set on the firmer side, which means that on ultra-smooth roads these bikes offer a decent ride quality. however, on slightly bad roads to proper dirt paths, the ride quality becomes bumpy. every little undulation filters through to the rider. the rear suspension is adjustable but, despite being set to the softest setting, the bike still felt quite firm. one would expect the handling to be quite good given the fact that the suspension is firm, but that wasn’t the case with both the bikes. it feels quite lazy to turn in and i did feel the front end twitching at times, which doesn’t really inspire any confidence to push the bike hard into a corner.
the main reason why the bike doesn’t really handle that well is because of the design. the new Jawa features a taller 18-inch front wheel and a smaller 17-inch rear wheel. this shifts the weight from the front to the rear. When the rider sits on the bike, there is a greater load on the rear than on the front, which makes the front light and also the reason why it twitches. if Jawa address the weight-bias issue, the bikes will certainly handle better.
at low speeds and in city traffic, the bike feels light and easy to manage, but again the front-end twitch is what ruins the fun, at least for me. after riding the bike for more than 200 km, i felt that there is scope for improvement when it comes to ride quality and handling as the current set-up doesn’t really give the confidence to ride it hard.
braking was good thanks to the 280-mm disc and twin-pot bybre calipers with abs at the front. it has good feel and feedback and the mrF tyres provide good grip on most surfaces.
overall, the new Jawa and Forty two are two motorcycles that will mainly appeal to those who like the whole retro vibe and, of course, to Jawa enthusiasts. however, those looking to own a retro machine with modern technology will be disappointed as both the bikes are quite basic and there is scope for improvement. another factor that might lead to customer reconsideration is the price, rs 1.55 lakh for the Jawa Forty two and rs 1.64 lakh for the Jawa, which is more expensive than the competition. nevertheless, if you still want to go in for the Jawa just for old time’s sake, we would recommend you take a test-ride and come to your own conclusion.
ABOVE LEFT : The headlamp cowl with integrated speedometer and slightly taller handlebar sets the Jawa apart from the Forty TwoTOP: The 293-cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder motor lacks refinement but features good low and mid-range delivery