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Review: Jawa and Forty Two

If you haven’t picked up on the launch and the social media trend already, don’t worry, you did read the headline right. It does say Jawa, the same one your father/ uncle loved and adored, or, in case you from the minority that visits our website, the one you owned a long time ago. As Classic Legends says, the company responsible for this exercise, Jawa is back. We’ve seen images, we know the names they have chosen for the range - Jawa and the FortyTwo, with the Perak to follow later,  we’ve even had the important numbers announced. In case you had missed that, the Forty Two will retail at Rs 1.55 lakh, while the Jawa will be Rs 1.64 lakh (ex-showroom). On with the rest of the details then.

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Styling
Both motorcycles you have seen pictures of are essentially styling jobs. The Jawa Jawa, no it isn’t a typo, is as classic as you can possibly be. The design team has decided to hang on to so many details from the original motorcycle. The stance is bigger, thanks to the 18-inch front and 17-inch rear wheel, but the colours are from a pallet that screams classic, the dial has been integrated into the headlamp casing and the twin exhausts have typical narrowing exits. There’s plenty of chrome and pinstripes on the Jawa and even the seat has been fashioned to look like it was made a couple of decades ago. With the Forty Two, the chrome bits are swapped for blacked out parts, the tank has no chrome and the front has a more traditional set up with the handlebar and headlamp units separated and the dial housed as a separate pod. The brushed plastic finish around the utility boxes is possibly the only bit that looks out of place. And while pinstripes are great, they may have overdone it a little bit.

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Engine
I still remember the day when the first pictures of the 293cc, single cylinder motor arrived in my mailbox. It was one of those things that made you sigh. On the motorcycle, this BS 6 ready engine looks just as good. However, the strict norms have added a water-cooler apparatus at the front, which takes some of the charm away. It may be based on the Mojo engine, but this 27bhp motor feels smooth and responsive through the midrange along with a smooth six-speed gearbox. It isn’t the quickest motorcycle around, but the Jawa sure would make for a great city runabout. The twin exhaust set up sounds great, even better when you are following someone, and there seems to be enough torque available. However, fuelling needs to be smoothened out further as you tend to hit a flat spot every time you open the throttle after coasting. There’s none of that Mojo death clatter at the bottom end, but it can catch you by surprise and stall at low revs. Out on the highway, it feels comfortable cruising at triple digit speeds, but once you are past it vibrations build up rapidly.

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Ride and handling
Having ridden over some rough patches, dirt tracks and smooth open highways, it is fair to say that the Jawa soaks up a lot that the surface throws at it. It is geared for soft springs, but the rear has a five-step adjustment if you would like to firm up the set up. With the set up dialled to the softest setting, the Jawa manages to remain comfortable at low speeds. As you go quicker, it makes for a slightly floaty feeling - exactly when the firmed up rear helps. The chassis manages to hold lines without trouble and it felt alright even through some stiff crosswinds. However, with the hard seat and the stiffer springs, rough roads become taxing as bumps tend to be transmitted straight up your spine. 

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Verdict
Bringing a legendary name back is quite a tricky business. If you change too little, it does not work, and if you change too much, it can sure be a problem. With the Jawa, Classic Legends has come pretty close to the ideal compromise. The headlamp casing with the speedometer may look cool, but makes it impossible to tell how fast you are going most of the time, the seat could’ve done with some more detailing, while the paint job could’ve done with less pin-striping and the suspension could’ve done with a firmer edge. There are also bits like the handlebar on the Jawa, the single horn under the headlamp and the neatly designed twin exhausts that makes it special. It is likely to make a better city runabout with an odd weekend out of town, rather than an absolute highway cruiser, but that is exactly what most of us do with our motorcycles anyway. And although polls on social media are pointing to the Forty Two, I am leaning towards the Jawa. 

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Pros: Styling manages to capture a lot of the Jawa essence, midrange performance of the motor, exhaust note from the twin pipes
Cons: Fuelling needs to be smoother, vibrations at the top end, firmer suspension set up

Price:
Forty Two 1.55 lakh (ex-showroom)
Jawa 1.64 lakh (ex-showroom)

Spec: 293cc, single cylinder, water cooled
Power: 27bhp
Torque: 28Nm
Transmission: 6M
Tyres: 90/90-18 (fr), 120/80-17 (rr)
Kerb weight: 170kg
Seat height: 765mm
Rating: 7/10
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