The Jawa name awakens fond memories from bygone times, long ago, when simplicity went hand in hand with sheer reliability, often culminating in boundless fun. The ‘forever bikes’ of the Czech manufacturer used to rule the Indian rally scene at one point, granted the motorcycles were made by Ideal Jawa under license. In comparison to the other motorcycles that were available back then, very few offered the kind of charm and character these motorcycles possessed. Having entered the Indian market in the early sixties, there still are immaculate examples of the motorcycles that we get to see on the roads even to this day, such is the loyalty it commands.
Ever since the Jawa brand was relaunched in India under the umbrella of Classic Legends, there has been a decent effort to stay faithful to its heritage. This was seen particularly with the ‘Just Jawa’ model launched in 2018, which, to most Jawa loyalists, was the closest it got to the original Jawa motorcycles, visually at least. Now, the new Jawa 350, as claimed by the company, aims to bridge whatever gap existed, by just a little more, bringing with it significant changes and improvements. To understand exactly what the new Jawa 350 offered, we headed to Bhuj, in Gujarat, to test it to its limits (or rather, ours).
At first glance, there wasn’t an outright visible difference from the previous iteration, which is actually a good thing. The longer we observed it though, it did become evident that this motorcycle did look taller and beefier, too. The overall fit and finish seem to have improved as well, with neater cable routing, better paint and a few new embellishments to the design. To give you a run-down on what is new, the Jawa 350 gets a new chassis, a bigger 334cc engine from the Perak with revised tuning, higher ground clearance, a longer wheelbase, wider tyres, a redesigned seat, a new cooling system and an assist and slipper clutch. Quite a promising list then, eh?
The bulk of the changes are evident once you are riding the motorcycle. The power figures have seen a slight drop, while the peak torque has gone up to 2.86 kgm at 5000 rpm. The result is a smoother engine with a bit more grunt, capable of a good pull around the mid-range. The drawback though, is that it loses out on some top-end performance, feeling winded past 90 kph. Pin the throttle and it can go up to 127 kph, but at that point, there is an irritating buzz that can be felt in the footpegs and the handlebar, to an extent. This pegs the ideal cruising speed around 80-90 kph, and considering that this is a motorcycle that warrants blending into the scenery at a flowing pace, maybe that’s all it needs.
The seating ergonomics on the Jawa 350 remain unchanged too, although the redesigned seat does make quite a difference in terms of rider comfort. The switchgear feels pretty decent and the headlamp is quite impressive too. With a more than decent throw, it isn’t patchy like most yellow lights, and offers good visibility in the dark. The assist and slipper clutch make for a slicker and lighter clutch lever action, enabling more one-wheeled shenanigans (if you get my drift).
As far as the handling on the Jawa 350 is concerned, the new chassis, extended wheelbase and reworked suspension do quite a good job. The motorcycle sits pretty comfortably at 120, with the front end absorbing any undulations in the road, although the rear suspension still has a bit of kickback. It confidently tips into corners easily, and with poise too, as there is no compromise on stability, courtesy of the increased weight, larger wheelbase and wider footprint. The braking system with dual-channel ABS, which comes as standard, sees to it that the motorcycle comes to a safe and sure halt.
There are a few things that did not sit right with me as I was riding the Jawa 350, mainly the fuelling calibration and the positioning of the instrumentation. There was a noticeable flutter mid-acceleration, and after a bout of keeping the throttle pinned, the engine cut out a few times upon slowing down. Surely something that can be easily rectified, although not something you would like to find on a motorcycle mid-ride. About the instrumentation, while it is great that Jawa has stuck to the classic-looking analogue layout, the positioning saw to it that I couldn’t see anything in the afternoon glare. Even otherwise, the bottom of the dial was perpetually out of sight.
Still, the new Jawa 350 is quite capable of a decent amount of fun, which we, in true Motoring spirit, didn’t shy away from exploring. We made full use of the vacant expanse of the White Desert to jump and slide the bike around, manoeuvring it as its predecessors would have been, in the glory days of rallying, where Jawas once ruled undisputed. The Jawa 350 does invoke a sense of excitement as well as nostalgia associated with a rich legacy. A legacy that goes to live on forever, with a few step-ups along the way.
334cc, liquid-cooled, single cylinder
22.2 bhp@7000 rpm
2.8 kgm@5000 rpm
Type: Double cradle
F/R: 280-mm disc with floating calliper / 240-mm disc with floating calliper
F/R: 100/90-18 / 130/80-17
₹ 2.15 lakh (ex-showroom)