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.