Motorcycling is often terms as an emotion. And its true that in most scenarios, four wheels move the body but two wheels move your soul. I couldn’t have experienced this again in a better way than on the Jawa 42 earlier this week in Udaipur. They say you need a special machine to ignite the biker in you – this one did it.
The name Jawa needs no introduction. Their re-entry into the Indian bike market comes via Classic Legends Private Limited, a subsidiary of Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd. The bikes are being made at the Pithampur facility in Madhya Pradesh and while I had a chance to sample one of the 20+ pre-production units, the smile on my face as I boarded the flight back to Delhi said it all. You can either watch the video below or continue to read my review…
My dad had a Jawa (Yezdi) in the 1980s and still has fond memories of his ‘wind in the hair’ experience at 100. My first up close and personal moment with a Jawa however was in 2011 when I used to organise motorcycling meets for the country’s largest biking platform, xBhp. At one such meet I bumped into a Jawa owner – the tall Delhiite used a simple one liner to summarise his experience with the bike, “Motorcycling should be a pleasure, not a duty or means of transport”. With these memories fresh in my mind, I flung my right leg over the 42, thumbed the started and rode on towards the second highest place in Rajasthan, Kumbhalgarh.
I was glad I got the 42. Its more affordable, has less chrome and looks a lot younger than the regular Jawa. I am a fan of matt colours and the 42 likes to flaunt the same. Don’t get me wrong – it has not lost any of its old world charm. The round headlamp, spoke wheels, complete lack of any extra body panels, exposed rear fender and retro design lines – these all work in tandem and make the bike look uber cool. And then there is the off-set speedometer console with ‘opposite’ needle for the speed. Nice little touch.
The engine looks massive and easily fills up the space under the tank. The twin exhaust outlets along with the large radiator also add to the bulk of the bike. Likewise, the twin exhausts look neat and make the bike look ‘heavy’ and large. I like the black finish for the front suspension upper part, rear view mirrors and the single pod. Chrome on the 42 is reserved for the engine casing, rear shocks and the twin silencers.
Worthy of a mention is the fact that Classic Legends is proud of the brand and the same is visible across the bike at a dozen-odd places. Right from the headlamp glass to the handlebar grips, side panels and even the rear part of the seat. Also, the regular Jawa (or let’s call it the Classic) gets a slightly different and a larger headlamp assembly with an integrated speedometer, a lot more chrome and a different handlebar.
In terms of features, both the bikes come with a single channel ABS, front disc, rear drum, spoke wheels and an electric starter. There is no kick lever on offer if you may ask. The speedometer console, keeping in line with the simplicity of the bikes, gets only a fuel gauge and an odometer. No trip display here.
With the design and features done, lets talk about the most important part, or the heart of the matter here. It gets a 293cc single cylinder motor that shares its architecture or the foundation with the Mojo. But a lot is different and the engine is clearly tuned for low-end punch rather than outright kicks. At 27 bhp of power and 28 Nm of torque, it makes 35% more power than the Classic 350 and yet is 22 kilos lighter – more on this later. This motor is clearly inspired from the original Jawa 250 engine and hence retains the forward inclined oval crankcase. It is also the first liquid-cooled engine to sport machined exterior fins and Jawa confirms it meets the upcoming BS6 or Bharat Stage 6 emission norms.
At idle, it is a smooth unit. Rev it slightly and the twin exhausts mean business. I accept though, the thumb of the Bullet is missing. The Jawa, however, has its own charm in terms of the music it belts out. We have also uploaded a quick video of how the exhausts sound without the DB killers and this is what will tick the fantasy of lot of Jawa owners out there. The engine comes mated to a 6 speed gearbox, one extra cog as compared to the Bullet. And no complains whatsoever with the shift action or the clutch feel. This includes clutch-less shifts on a relatively brand new engine.
Our ride started with about 40 kms of well paved four lane highway that runs to Abu and gave all of us miles of empty stretches to see what this bike can do. I agree its not meant for flat out riding but nevertheless, it hits about 50 in 1st, 75 in 2nd and just under 100 in 3rd. Pin the throttle and 120 comes up easily. That’s what the Bullet 350 manages after a while. Bend down more and keep her pinned and slowly but steadily, the speedometer needles kisses the 140 mark and rises up further. To be fair, I had a gentle downwards slope but for the record, I weight over 100 kilos. A lighter 70 kg rider will require less work to get to similar speeds. The engine is fairly rev happy too, having being co-developed at Mahindra Racing’s Varese facility in Italy.
But as I said, this is not what the 42 is all about. Can it cruise all day long as 90-95 without skipping a beat. Yes? And the moment we left the four lane for the state highway, the 42 came into its natural territory. With the ‘box in 5th and long flowing curves for company, I thumped along at 60-70 km/h, enjoying the countryside views while the sorted chassis took care of the bumps and undulations. This the real essence of the bike. Goan roads, empty Himalayan ghats or your lazy Sunday morning ride – the 42 is meant for such pleasures of riding. The amount of torque and power at lower revs is remarkable and so are the sorted NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) levels. Don’t rev her guts out and your palms will not be shaking at the end of an hour’s ride. The Jawa is that good.
The seat is clearly not. Its hard and most of us had a sore bum by the time we reached Kumbhalgarh. The upright riding stance is comfortable and so are the wider handlebars on the 42 (vis a vis the Jawa). 135mm of travel up front is excellent and the rear can be adjusted in five steps. Infact, I happened to carry my ‘Bruce Lee’ lid that has a black visor and hence crashed into potholes while riding in the dark but the 42 remain composed. The single channel ABS also kept the front in place the 1km off-road stretch to our hide-out the second day also proved how well tuned the suspension of the bike. I reckon they can make a proper dirt scrambler out of this. It will work. The brakes work well and Jawa confirms a dual channel ABS is in the works and that set-up will bring in a disc at the rear too. In terms of footwear, the Jawa rides on 18 inch spoke wheels up front and 17 at the back. The wheels come shod with MRF Zappers and grip during our ride was more than adequate. Until unless you want to scrap the pegs or the exhausts, the tyres will serve you just well.
For the pillion though, all is not well. The seat length isn’t generous and the two little grab handles on either side don’t help too much either. Your better half then will rely completely on your shoulders or your belly depending on the way they want to hold on to you.
At Rs 1.55 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the 42 is about 15k expensive than the Classic 350. For this price, the 42 offers you a single channel ABS and far better performance. It will turn as many (or even more) heads but what turns the tables in its favour is the ease of riding. It feels light on its feet, the suspension can take a lot of thrashing and this can hold 100 all day long without a stress. The twin exhausts will also earn you extra bragging rights. The dealerships are still not in place but the first ride experience was immensely positive. So, should you book one? I just did an hour back. ‘nuf said!