2019 Jawa Standard First Ride Review

14 December 2018, 12:06 PM Vikrant Singh


Jawa is back. And even though, this is the standard Jawa and it might look like the original, it's all modern underneath those clothes.

Now, we won't get into the styling bit in detail, but we will say this - not only is it true to the original, the new Jawa actually looks quite good in the flesh. The proportions are good; there's authenticity in the details; and that chrome on the tank, actually looks tasteful.

But, overall, the quality could have been better. Some welds, rubber bits, and wiring at places look cheap and untidy. The instrumentation too, could have been better designed.

The reverse sweep for the needle, the old fonts for the numbering, and the round layout, all add to that old-school feel, yes. But, there's no reason why one shouldn't be able to read where the speedo is pointed while on the move. Or, why Jawa has skimmed by not offering a trip meter. 

Friendly By Nature

The first thing that strikes you after you swing a leg over the Jawa, are its seating ergos. These are lovely. But, here again, they work well for me at five nine. I am not sure how the taller lot would feel, but a near six footer from our brethren did say he found it comfortable as well.

For me, meanwhile, the handlebar is a good height. The seat is low and accessible. And, the foot pegs are slightly rearset, which strike a good balance between being comfy and offering good control over how I hook up to the bike.

Ex-showroom, Mumbai


The engine, based on the 300cc single that powered the Mahindra Mojo, feels equally friendly. It sounds good too. It has a brawny exhaust note being played in a low octave. And, one can change that exhaust note to sound softer or louder without replacing the pipes. All it takes is changing the db killer's position within the pipes.

The engine, however, doesn't feel as gutsy as the Mojo. Blame it on the new emission norms if you will. But, as a result, the Jawa won't feel intimidating even to someone upgrading from a 150cc motorcycle.

The throttle is light and crisp. There's good mid-range performance. And the bike is happy sitting at 100kmph in sixth gear all day long. The gear shifts are light and precise as well. And, the clutch pull won't leave you with aching wrists and palms.

The engine has decent go at the top-end as well, and it doesn't mind being revved either. The low-end though, isn't all that punchy, but the closely stacked gear ratios ensure that you remain in the meat of the power band. This lends the Jawa good rideability. The downside, of course, are the frequent gear changes one has to make as a result.

It's also not a vibe-free setup this. The engine and chassis walk together smoothly, hand-in-hand, until the engine hits the mid-range - that's around 80kmph in 6th gear. From then on, the vibes begin to demand the rider's attention. They make their presence felt via the footpegs, the handlebar, the seat, and the tank. And these increase with the increase in the rpm.

It's not ideal, yes. But, the vibrations aren't pronounced enough to get you to crib about them all the time. In fact, even after having ridden the Jawa hard, I wasn't left dealing with buzzing hands. Now Jawa says, these were pre-production bikes, which were not up to production spec. And, so the customer bikes will have a stronger engine pull, and lesser vibes.

But, like I said, these aren't deal breakers even now.

Handling Hero

Let me first throw some numbers at you. The Jawa weighs 170kg. It sits on a 1370mm wheelbase. And, it runs a properly lazy steering rake angle of 28 degrees. Not to mention, it has a larger 18-inch front wheel as well. All this should make for slow steering, possibly wallowy handling, and an uninteresting motorcycle to ride, come a winding road.

But, the Jawa is just the opposite! Handling, in fact, is one of the strongest traits of the new Jawa. It feels light and nimble on its feet. It changes direction like a much smaller, lighter motorcycle.

The turn-in is quick, and it doesn't fight quick direction changes, which makes the Jawa a hoot to ride around right twisties. Even when leaned over, no matter if the surface is smooth or bumpy, it doesn't wallow, skip or move around.

It just holds its line, feels stable, and communicates with you whole-heartedly all the way through. We would have liked better specced tyres on the bike, nonetheless. The MRFs the Jawa runs are fine for most part, but these begin to go cold in feel as you start dialling in higher lean angles.

But, the light handling, along with a tight turning circle and the low seat height, do make the Jawa a supremely easy bike to ride around in traffic as well. It's intuitive to handle, and it is easy to move about in the parking too.

The new Jawa is also quite happy taking on the rough stuff. It has 135mm travel at the front and 100mm at the back. Now, the front is par for the course - enough travel, regular telescopic forks, a slightly stiffer spring and well judged damping. But the rear - clearly done to achieve the low riding stance - lacks travel. And even though it has a five way adjustable pre-load setup, even at its least, it just doesn't have enough give.

Not surprisingly, the front and rear suspension feel stiff-kneed at slower speeds, but ride much better as the going gets quicker. Even when the road surface deteriorates quite significantly, the front goes over it all like a boss. The rear, however, struggles at times, skipping about and kicking its rider in the back.

As far as braking goes, the Jawa only gets a single channel ABS. There's also no disc brake at the rear. The feel and bite from the front disc is good, and there's no real fork flex to complain about either. But, the rear drum, lacks feel. There is bite and stopping power, no doubt, and helped by the motorcycle's rear weight bias, it will help register short braking distances as well. But, come a slippery situation or a situation that demands panic braking, and that rear will lock and get the bike fishtailing. Just hope it doesn't happen at high speeds.

Our take

The new Jawa - no matter whether you buy it in maroon, white or black - will cost you almost Rs 2 lakhs on the road in Mumbai. For this price, you get a motorcycle that looks desirable, is easy to ride, handles like a dream, and is suited for almost every type of road. You also get some tech like fuel injection, liquid cooling, ABS (though it’s just a single channel setup), and a chassis that looks old, but works like a charm.

What the bike lacks however, barring some crucial attention to detail at places, is a rear disc. And, well, for its class, not much else. But, it fails to feel special to ride from the get go. So, yes, the Jawa will sell. It will have a dedicated clientele. But, it will take more than just light prodding (and some convincing) to get the non-Jawa-fan-boys to pick one up.

Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi


Please tell us your city

This allows us to provide relevant content for you.

Please enter your city
Confirm city

The All New
Royal Enfield 650cc Twins