Jawa: Road Test Review In Pictures
Does it manage to evoke a sense of nostalgia amongst Indian two-wheeler enthusiasts?
Classic Legends set out to revive a brand that lost its charm amidst modern, more powerful motorcycles. The result is this retro Jawa with a touch of modern appeal, technology and underpinnings to match the performance from its achingly pretty motor. But does it retain its old school charm? Also, given the waiting period, is it really worth it?
Classic Legends has done a fantastic job of replicating the details of the 60s Jawa 250 Type 353/04. The attention to detail is incredible with parts like the headlamp, horn, instrument console, seat, side panels and fenders made to look exactly like the older bike.
The best design bit though has to be the motor. This modern liquid-cooled unit has been designed to look like an old-school air-cooled motor The radiator is well hidden and the air fins mimic the lines of the original. Even the twin exhausts look like they were picked off the original Jawa.
That said, up-close you notice a few niggles. The paint quality feels uneven in places like the fenders.
Overall though, the Jawa feels well put together and some parts like the side panels and the switchgear feels well built.
Shorter riders will appreciate the low seat height and its narrowness which makes it easy to place both feet on the ground. That combined with the Jawa’s low kerb weight makes it quite easy to push the motorcycle around a parking lot.
The seat cushion, which is on the softer side, can get quite uncomfortable after half an hour on the saddle. Even your pillion, big or small, will grumble about the lack of space and the uncomfortable seating position due to the low seat and grab rail hidden under it.
On the plus side, the wide handlebars are easy to reach and offer good leverage. However, the round chrome mirrors offer little side visibility.
Technology & Features:
The halogen headlamp offers surprisingly better throw, spread and intensity than some of the modern LED units we have tested.
The instrument console is pretty basic with readouts like an analogue speedometer, analogue fuel gauge and a digital odometer. Surprisingly it doesn’t get a trip meter. Much like the original Jawa, the round console sits flat on the headlamp unit.
The white backlighting combined with the yellow background is a bad combination and makes the console fairly unreadable at night.
Engine & Performance:
The Jawa looks old-school but has modern 293cc, fuel injected, liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine that puts out 28.38PS and 28Nm of torque. This motor is a short-stroke unit which revs quicker and behaves quite different than the old-school type long stroke motors found in classic motorcycles.
So if you are looking for that slow revving, laid back classic bike feel or exhaust note, you will be disappointed. The Jawa’s motor sounds coarse and even the twin exhausts do not sound anything like the original Jawa.
The Jawa offers sprightly acceleration up to 60kmph but loses steam on the run upto 100kmph. The motor feels focused towards offering good mid-range grunt and in the process sacrifices some bottom end.
Now the Jawa has excellent mid-range but its motor isn't tractable and you do have to shift gears in the city to keep it in the powerband. Out on the highway, the Jawa is more comfortable cruising at 80-90kmph. You can ride the Jawa above 100kmph but at those speeds, the motor begins to feel strained.
With its 14-litre fuel tank, the Jawa should be able to do close to 500km on a tankful out on the highway.
Ride & Handling:
The Jawa has modern but simple underpinnings. It gets a double-cradle frame supplemented by conventional forks and dual gas-charged shock absorbers.
The Jawa feels quite nimble and easy to ride in traffic thanks to it being lighter and having a front end that’s eager to turn in.
It comes equipped with MRF Zappers that grip well in the dry but do not inspire confidence on wet roads.
The Jawa’s brakes offer good bite and brakes well considering the fact that it misses out on a rear drum brake and gets just a single-channel ABS setup. Jawa does offer a rear disc, dual-channel variant of the motorcycle as well and we will be testing that soon.
The Jawa certainly manages to look like the original. Does it manage to feel as special as the original? The answer is no. Retro motorcycles have a certain kind of charm and despite being low on performance, have something to offer that tugs at your heart. It can be the way it rides at 80kmph or the way it accelerates at a certain rpm, or even simply the sound it makes. Unfortunately, the Jawa’s riding experience feels modern - in a generic way!
That does not make the Jawa a bad motorcycle. It feels more modern than the competition, is easier to ride in the city, easier to park and has lighter controls. The Jawa does impress but just not in the way you would expect from a retro motorcycle.