Czech Mate - The Legendary JAWA

The Classic JAWA 250 (Then)
Sometimes it happens that you meet an old face who was not exactly a friend, but you knew the person quite well to say you never had any differences with the person and you know you probably donot think about the person more than once a year and that too by chance but you would wish and hope that s/he is doing well. Even if you don’t meet the person for the next few decades, you won’t miss a thing, but in case you meet… yes, it is always nice, if not ‘Would-like-to-meet’ then definitely ‘wont-mind-to-meet’.
Think of Jawa and that image of a friend comes to you. Yup, nice decent bike, wonder what it is up to now-a-days, probably had shut shop, yup, did hear that since 2 strokes are anyway dead for now. Okay, just get assured that it is far from dead and it is alive and kicking albeit it doesn’t have a global presence like it used to, but nonetheless, it is available. So, really, okay, won’t really mind trying out one, you know it has been quite some time and how does it look now, still retaining classic looks a la Royal Enfield… umm.. probably won’t buy one, but definitely would like to see one and try out at least once. You know for memories sake. Okay, the Jawa bikes of now are a mixture of the 80s and the modern times with some bikes having new engines and some retaining the old classic engine with new looks.
So where do we start? For the least informed, JAWA is one of the oldest brands of motorcycles and it is a product of erstwhile Czechoslovakia and has been a winner of many prizes in international competitions in speed, enduro and speedway. At one time, it was marketed in 120 countries.
The JAWA 650 Classic (Now)
Well, Jawa is still very much available in the Czech Republic and nearby countries like Poland and surprisingly there is an official distributor and production company in Argentina. We will come to the Argentina part later, but it is quite interesting. We all remember the classic sound of it, the twin exhausts from a single, the decompression before the kick and later the kick turning to be the gear lever. It was unique and the ride was so nice. Power just enough to cruise at a leisurely pace, uncluttered ergonomics a very simple bike, yet reliable. If you were born in the 70s or the 60s, most definitely you have owned a Jawa or ridden it for quite some time.
There were two engine sizes back then the 250cc & the 350cc. The new age Jawa now has smaller engines from 50cc onwards, beside the 50cc, it has 125cc, 250cc, 350cc and 650cc engines. While the smaller engines are still air cooled 2 stroke wonders and little has changed over the years, the 650cc engine is a liquid cooled one with 2 cylinders. Now it houses a 5 speed box and the looks are a mixture of classic and modern style. But that is only the 650, the 350 has the same engine on a new body. Jawa seems to have focused or zeroed upon the 650 as it gets all modern day treatment from being liquid cooled to having double disc brakes at the front , mono shock rear suspension, three-phase electric system, aluminum wheels, modern tyres and all. It has a massive tank of 28 liters, which will give you a whooping 700 kilometer range which also means you have to find alternate reasons for visiting the pump. The target population seems to be tourers and the 650 is made out to be a tourer with factory built bags and luggage spaces. But even for all that, if you are in Europe, you cannot buy the Jawa. Why? It is not Euro III compliant.
Jawa 650 Classic & 650 Classic Limited Edition
A brief history of Jawa (Source: Jawa Europe)– The firm was established by František Janeček in Prague, the Jawa 250 was very popular during the 40s and 50s and WW II came and gone but this motorcycle survived. In 1945, the company was nationalised and it became state government property. Later a bigger bore was made and the 350cc started rolling out side by side.
Frantisek Janecek studied mechanics at the technical school in Prague and later did higher studies in (then) East Germany. To develop the Jawa 250, Janecek chose the Wanderer 500 cc as its imprint. Wanderer was a German company and with BMW, any company would have found it difficult to compete. So they joined hands with Janecek who was already in Berlin and together they formed JAnecek Wanderer and that’s hoe JAWA came into existence. And so the first Jawa was actually a 500cc engine.
Like most of the bike of the 30s, the first Jawa was a 500 which came with a front fork from pressed steel plates and a saddle gas tank instead of a triangular gas tank. But he was more interested in getting a lightweight fast bike which would be easy to drive and maneuver. British racing enthusiast and bike expert G.W. Patchett helped Janecek in designing the first 250 based on the Villiers 175cc one cylinder two-stroke engine. It was cheap to manufacture and it was simple. It gained a lot of popularity and in 1933. Jawa took out the 500 and in came the now legendary Jawa 250. Laterin 1934, Janecek developed the Jawa 350 SV four-stroke which was followed by the 350 OHV four-stroke. All these things were happening before WW II and there was the very interesting Jawa Robot which was a 98cc engine. Back in those days the gearbox was not integrated into the engine and Janecek can claim credit to constructing the first ever integrated engine in the Jawa Robot. The Robot was capable of a top speed of 65 kmph. Like this unit construction, Janecek obtained about sixty patents including motorcycle designs and lots of electrical stuff. The most well known invention of that time was Janecek's hand grenade. Funny enough was that he was not a motorcycle person. His name was more famous for the hand grenade and with WW II ending, he had to look for other things than making grenades and so incidentally motorcycle happened.
JAWA 650 Dakar & Style
I am sure you are familiar with the brick red colour that Jawa motorcycles are associated with. All of the pre World War II models available only in this colour. And then in 1939, the WW II had to happen and it meant the end of the development and production of Jawa motor cycles. Still between the wars, Janecek started working on a new motorcycle which he wanted to be reliable, simple and comfortable. Unfortunately, he died in 1941 and his son Karel took over. Well Karel took the project forward and it was closely monitored by the German army. Probably this helped in its production as after the war, Jawa was the first motorcycle company on the European continent that came on the market which by then was well tried and a modern new bike. This was the revised 250cc but then the state took over the company, Karel left Czechoslovakia. The company continued under the government regime and later the 350cc engines were introduced in 1948. It used the 250cc frame and was produced in association of Ogar, another Czechoslovakian motorcycle company, so this model was reintroduced as Jawa-Ogar. The same year Ogar was taken by Jawa. The Jawa 350 cc. had a two cylinder engine, based on the Jawa 250 cc. The motor had flat pistons, reverse flow and a capacity of 348cc with a top speed of 110 kmph. Then with the development of the 4 stroke, Jawa introduced their 4S motorcycle, a 500cc OHC twin cylinder in 1952 and the last 500cc came out in 1958. The company merged with smaller companies and the name changed to Jawa CZ. In 1954 the new 250 cc and 350 cc went into production as Jawa-Cz. They also had a 125cc and a 175cc engines. Later, Jawa managed to survive the Japanese invasion but it was not easy as the market was changing. It wasn't easy because of the changing market, and an economy that has suffered a lot from almost fifty years of communist economics. Then in the 80s, German became one nation and CZ dissolved into smaller firms and once such firm was PRAHA which made endure and cross bikes. Finally in 1997, the company JAWA Moto Spol was established as the successor to the original Jawa company using the trademark JAWA and there is also the other section, JAWA Divisova which is dedicated to Speedway Motorcycle racing and actually it is doing better than the main brand.
JAWA 350 Basic, Police, Style, Tramp
Currently, Jawa Europe produces 350cc, 250cc, 125cc and 50cc motorcycles and the large bike with a 650 cc Rotax engine that is found also in the BMW F650 series. The iconic 350 cc two-stroke twin is mechanically unchanged since the 1960s but still very reliable.
In the 650cc class, there are four variants with similar engines. The JAWA 650 Classic is a nice classy looking bike which looks quite comfortable with that big seat. This is the most resembling bike to the classics and Jawa by the way also makes sidecars and you can as such attach the Jawa Velorex 565 sidecar to this model. The single cylinder bike with retro lines has some very classic things like those spoked wheels. It does seem to be a good blend of retro styling with a modern engine. The punchy rotax single cylinder engine has enough power to keep up with today's traffic and has quite a bit of low end grunt to help the rider in urban settings. The JAWA 650 Police is based on the JAWA 650 Classic and has the typical police bike features and it has also find favours with quite a few Eastern European Armed and Police Forces. It has a natural ‘road bike’ seating position with factory fittings of the police features. Then there is the JAWA 650 Style which has a modern streetbike look albeit more curvy than edgy. This bike was awarded “Excellent product of the year 2005”. Jawa 650 style is more of the roadster mould. It also features the same single engine specs and all engine specifications are the same as the classic model, but as you can see the styling is more modern and the seat height is higher at 800mm. The last in the series of the 650cc is theJAWA 650 Dakar which has a tall stance and built for rally activities and hence the name. It has been designed for the more experienced adventure rider.
JAWA 300-6 & 300-9
In the 350cc category Jawa has four different get ups donning with the same engine. And by the same engine, I mean the same engine in all the bikes and also the same engine that did duty on the classics. It is a 2 stroke 343.5cc single engine with twin cylinders with maximum power of 22.8 hp. Start is still through kick lever and has the same 4 speed gearbox. It sports spoke wheels and the tank is quite large with a 17 litre capacity which is very good for a small capacity bike. Jawa has given the bike with a single front disc, so that is an upgrade and top speed is around the 120kmph mark. It has a Basic version and built on it are the Style, Tramp and Police.
In Argentina, Jawa has its own production house or it seems. Actually came across a link of Jawa Argentina and although there is not much information, there are a lot of pictures of cruiser styled Jawa named 300-6 and 300-9. There is another Street bike named ‘JAWA 350 - ROUTE 40’ and it is mentioned that this bike will be available from next month (October 2009) onwards.
It seems Jawa Argentina has a lot of history to it. To start off, the website claims that in 1995 a Jawa motorcycle travelled 5500 kilometers in 76 hours and later in 1996, it again travelled 10,103 km in 100 hours. I am not too sure if I got the latter one right as it means that the bike on an average did 100kilometers per hour compared to 72 for the previous year.
Basically there are two new types of Jawa models in Argentina, one is the JAWA 350 - ROUTE 40 and the other is the JAWA 300 which has 2 models, 300-6 and 300-9. Both models share the same 273cc 4 stroke single engine. The JAWA 300-9 is a new roll out and it coincides with the 80th anniversary of the birth of JAWA and it is a modern machine. Between the models, the 300-6 is more stretched out, a la chopper style and has a length of 2550mm. The bikes weigh 180 kilograms and I guess although for a single engine bike with 273cc and around 28hp just might not be enough for touring, but for general everyday city and outskirts cruising, it would do just fine. Top speed is a decent 130kmph.It has got over the ‘kick start turning into the gear lever’ and has electric start with CDI ignition.
The Jawa 350 has been in production in Argentina since 1992 and the website states that they have sold over 30,000 units. Prior to that, this 2 stroke wonder was imported and around 700 has been imported to Argentina during that period according to the website.
The JAWA brand since its inception was characterized by robustness and reliability of its products. It had a very good cruise factor and it was very smooth in its own way. No plastic parts, all metal just the way a bike should be and it was also a good allrounder as it could cruise, climb hills if not mountains, was very easy for maintenance and was also easy on the pocket. Just to let you know, the bike comes out from the country who gave the SKODA brand to the world. How is that for dependability? Maybe they should reach out to the non European and non U.S markets, like South America, Africa, South Asia because in these countries, Jawa is much respected and now it has become sort of a classic especially in these countries, so it will not be difficult to get their foothold back. After all, if at one time, they were present in 120 countries, they were just right up there with the best.
JAWA 300-6, 300-9 & ROUTE 40
Source of info and photos: Jawa Europe & Jawa Argentina
JAWA 300 (Argentina models)
Engine: 273cc JAWA. 4-stroke water-cooled, two-cylinder
Box: 5 speed
Maximum Power & Torque: 28 hp @ 8000 rpm & 22N.m @ 6500rpm
Clutch: Wet, multiple oil
Lubrication: For pump and scattered
Starting & Ignition: Electric & CDI
Front Tires: 80/90-21 (300-6) & 90-90 X 18 (300-9)
Rear Tires: 160/80-16 (300-6) & 130-90 x 15 (300-9)
Speed: Maximum 130 km / h
Dry weight & Ground Clearance: 180kg & 140mm
Dimension: 2550 (300-6) & 2280 (300-9) × 900 × 1080 mm
Jawa 350 Basic Style Police & Tramp (Czech models)
Engine: 343.5cc, 2-stroke air cooled, 2 Cylinder
Bore & Stroke: 58 x 65 mm
Compression ratio: 9.8:1
Maximum power & torque: 17kW @ 5250 rpm, 32 Nm @ 4750 rpm
Starter system & Transmission: Kick & 4 - speed
Wheelbase: 1370 mm
Seat height: 820mm (Basic, Style & Police) 860mm (Tramp)
Fuel tank capacity & Reserve: 17 liters & 2.8 liters
Wheels Spoke Tyre front/rear 3,25 x 18 / 3,5 x 18
Front & Rear suspensions: Telescopic forks 150mm & Telescopic units 80mm
Front & Rear brakes: Disc 265mm & Drum 160mm
Dry weight: 149 kg
Maximum speed: 125 kmph
Jawa 650cc Classic, Style & Dakar (Czech models)
Engine: 651.2cc, 4 – stroke, water cooled, single cylinder
Bore & stroke: 100 mm x 83 mm
Compression rate: 9.7:1
Maximum Power & Torque: 47.4hp @ 6500 rpm & 57Nm @ 5000 rpm
Starter system: Electric
Transmission: 5 - speed
Wheelbase: 1518mm (Classic & Style) 1525 mm (Dakar)
Seat height: 712mm (Classic) 820mm (Style) 860 mm (Dakar)
Fuel tank capacity: 14.2 liters (Classic) 820mm 17 liters (Style & Dakar)
Wheels front (Spoke): 2.15 x 18 (Classic) 2,5 x 16 (Style) 3,0 x 19 (Dakar)
Wheels rear (Spoke): 2.15 x 16 (Classic & Style) 4.25 x 17 (Dakar)
Tyres front: 90/90-18" (Classic) 100/90-16" (Style) 110/90-19" (Dakar)
Tyres rear: 130/90-16" (Classic & Style) 140/80-17" (Dakar)
Front suspension: Telescopic forks 150mm
Rear suspension: Hydraulic telescopic 80mm (Classic & Style) Central unit 170mm (Dakar)
Front brake: Disc hydraulic 320mm (Classic & Style) Disc 2 x 320mm (Dakar)
Rear brake: Disc hydraulic 220mm
Dry weight: 180 kg (Classic) 190 kg (Style) 195 kg (Dakar)
Maximal speed: 155 km/h (Classic) 165km/h (Style) 160 km/h (Dakar)
It would be very wrong if we dont discuss the JAWA in India where it id also known as YEZDI. Why? Because it is a part of the trio along with the Royal Enfield & Yamaha RD350 which ruled Indian roads till the early 80s. It has a big history in india. But that should be for another post which will soon be posted.


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