Mention the name Jawa and you could be forgiven for thinking about weird speedway bikes, ratty old communist two-strokes, or even stranger robed creatures that roam the planet Tatooine in a well known sci-fi movie franchise (that’ll be Star Wars then, Ed).
But for many of us, Jawa’s heyday was in the 1960s, when the Czechoslovakian motorcycle factory fielded fast but fragile Grand Prix racers in the Continental Circus’ pioneering days, and this summer sees a new model from the reborn Jawa company play homage to those danger filled days.
These days Jawa has two core models in its range, the Rotax powered 660cc Sportard (a sort of cross between a supermoto and adventure bike) and a range of classically styled bikes powered by the company’s ancient 350cc air-cooled two-stroke twin.
But next month the classic Czech brand is modernising its technology, to the 1980s at least, replacing the two-strokes with a 27bhp 400cc single – and they look great.
There are four versions of the 350 OHC range (even though the engine is actually a 397cc overhead cam design: the utilitarian 350 OHC, the 350 Retro and the 1980s commie throwback 350 Classic all have their charms, but the one that’s got us licking our chops is the 350 OHC Racer, with a gorgeous full-fairing that looks like it’s come straight off a 1960s GP racer.
Under that skin, there’s not too much to get excited about. The motor is a copy of the old Honda XBR motor (a 1985 creation) that’s also found in the Chinese built Mash models. Indeed the whole bike is pretty much a Mash TT40, which in turn is a Chinese Shineray design. That’s not such a bad thing. The Mash is a pretty cool, albeit utilitarian, machine and the new Jawa (the brand is now owned by Indian giants Mahindra) is an equally cool thing. With 27bhp, it’s hardly a modern day race bike, but with only 160kg to haul around it should at least be pretty manageable. In the world of modern classic/retro, it’s as authentic as it comes, and plenty cheap too.
Although Mahindra is not focussing on the UK, F2 Motorcycles in Wisbech are importing new Jawas. No exact price has been set for the 350 OHC Racer when they start arriving in the UK in June or July, but early estimations from F2 suggest that you should be able to take one home for around £5295.
Go to www.jawamotorcycles.co.uk for more information.