In the fashion world designers decide on the colour and look for the season. Biking is seasonal also, JAWA Ireland take a very individual approach to the bikes they supply. The blue and silver bike on show in Belfast took the JAWA look to new heights and I thought set the bar for the season. But Pavel has taken it up yet another notch with the bike he prepared for our own Ger. I think you will agree that if style were an Olympic sport we would be looking at a gold here.
from the JAWAchat forum
I am often asked about the UK market. I would like to point out it is important not to confuse ideas the factory have had and made as a one off with finished production bikes. Like the recently announced 250 Cali (4-stroke) this bike is NOT ready for production and I can not order it. Will you see it in the UK ? If they ever make it and if the price is less than a Bonnie, or a W800. I am not saying that a Jawa is not worth the same as a Bonnie in my opinion, but lets face it, it has to be competitively priced in order to sell. It's bigger than an Enfield and smaller than a Bonnie, and it's a single not a twin, so the price needs to be somewhere in between the two. A basic bonnie is £6300 and a basic Enfield is £4500 so halfway would be £5400. Here is the problem. The standard 660 in production right now is over £7000 which is £500 more than a Yamaha 660 with the same engine and similar styling(check Jawa Ireland who have them listed at Eur 7790 and then look at the commercial exchange rate of 1,1 Eur/£. That's why I don't stock them). So can the factory produce a short run of specials and reduce the price by 20/25% at the same time? I really like it, and I would love to have it here, but the reality is that it's going to be pretty tough for the factory to deliver the finished bike at a price that would sell in the UK. I genuinely hope they can. I really love Jawa and I am committed to helping them as much as I can in the UK, but they need to concentrate on bikes that would appeal to Jawa riders. Solid, traditional, reliable, well priced all rounders, that are affordable to buy and affordable to run. Lets hope the future is bright for Jawa.
David F2 MC LTD
In the late sixties and early seventies, if someone mentioned the words “Jawa Californian”, you held your breath with excitement. This was something practically unattainable, a motorcycle that, after many long years, had even managed to attract the attention of customers west of the Czechoslovak border. There was nothing particularly revolutionary in its construction, yet the majority of the Czechoslovak population only ever caught a glimpse of this fabled machine in magazine pictures or being ridden by members of the National Security Services. Today of course, it is a valued historical artefact.
At the start of the new millennium, Jawa attempted to revive the Californian. This “Kalifa” [as the Californian is known in the Czech Republic] was, unfortunately, a hair-raising hybrid based on a standard 350, incorporating tons of chrome, a tank probably from the Kývačka and a plastic shroud around the speedo, which looked as if it had just melted. The only thing this bike had in common with the original Californian was the separate lubrication and the name. It is therefore a sad sign of these perverted times, that certain individuals advertise them for unholy sums of money as, “rare models, produced in small numbers and only to be found in private collections.”
However, those in the Jawa camp are loath to give up a chance to exploit the Californian label. That is why we have the “Kalifa” 660 (directly from Jawa) and the Californian 250 OHC from Mates Moto in Lošánky. We had an opportunity to test the latter bike and, what’s more, compare it with the original “Kalifa.” It was Vojtěch Bleha, a great fan of Jawa bikes, who came up with the idea of building a new Californian. He did so in cooperation with Mates Moto. The result was, in essence, a well thought out modification of the Jawa 250 Travel. The quarter-litre class is experiencing something of a renaissance lately. Every year, renown motorcycle producers introduce a new addition to the class. We’ve seen the Honda CBR, Kawasaki’s Ninja, the naked YBR from Yamaha or Kawasaki’s KLX . Jawa’s 250 Travel is also a member of this veritable group, its main claim to fame being its comparatively low price. The chief problem with the Travel is however, that the whole package is getting a bit long in the tooth. Of course, those who are looking for a bargain are willing to overlook such issues. Yet sales statistics show that customers are still willing to pay for quality. So, why not offer them a little more?
In comparing the original “Kalifa” with the new one, we are not just paying our respects to the founding father of the clan. Both bikes can be compared in present-day terms – the main common factor being the price. The new four-stroke “Kalifa” sells at 75 thousand Czech Crowns – about ₤2600. The present-day cost of the original Californian taking part in our comparison test is 100 thousand Czech Crowns – about ₤2900. This means that for a similar amount of money you can either have a portion of Czechoslovak motorcycling history or a well-packaged piece of modern technology.
It’s a lovely spring day for taking the Jawa 350 Californian for a spin. On letting out the clutch, there is absolutely no danger of the rider being rocketed uncontrollably forward on a crash course with the nearest barn door. That I could not expect miracles from the front drum brake was also quite clear to me. It’s a long time since I’ve done this – put the gear-lever into the starting position, kick it twice with the ignition off, and then once more with the ignition key pushed in. The engine buzzes into life easily with the characteristic two-stroke ring-a-ding, and Kuba and I don our helmets. Kuba, of course, only has to turn the ignition key and push the starter button. Were you to judge by the engine sound alone, you would never guess this bike was a Jawa. The sound is largely thanks to the optional Norton-style pipes, in standard form the pipes from the 250 Travel are fitted.
I have never undertaken such a difficult comparison test. Usually the bikes are technically quite similar, but here, not only was everything quite different, it was sometimes the complete opposite. While I was lifting the lever in search of first gear, Kuba, in search of the same goal, was pushing the gear lever on the 250 down. Those of us in the know remember the long travel of the old Jawa gear lever, so finding the occasional “false neutral” was all too easy. There were no surprises from the brakes – and not much braking either – just as we expected. When I took over the new “Kalifa”, I almost floored it by applying the front brake. Application and effect – both are completely different on the respective bikes. The twin-caliper, 320 mm brake disc on the new bike however, seems to be quite sufficient. Comparing both engines is a task best approached with respect. The original and, it must be said, sweet-running Californian engine has been recently re-conditioned with a mere seven kilometres on the clock – we therefore treated the bike with utmost respect. On paper, the original boasted a maximum of 23hp, whereas the four-stroke version produces 18hp. On the road though, the new bike is much nimbler and faster. This is primarily thanks to the five-speed gearbox, combined with the twin-cylinder, air-cooled engine produced by Tmec and originally used on the Honda CB.
Jawa quotes a maximum speed of 120km/h for the quarter-litre bike. You can however, pay extra for a rear sprocket with an extra five teeth, resulting in another 20km/h. Not only will you be quicker, but you will also be able to keep the revs down. In complete contrast to the 250, there is no point in pushing the veteran Jawa too hard, 80km/h being a sensible cruising speed. The suspension is on the softer side, and that goes for both bikes. It could do with a little stiffening. However, it handles well and doesn’t fall into slow bends. The 250’s frame is a simple tubular affair, which is stiff enough for what is expected of it. The eighteen-inch wheels help to iron out any urban potholes.
So, what conclusion have we reached with this comparison? The new “Kalif” makes sense for everyday riders, who are fans of classic designs and Jawa tank badges. The chassis does what it’s meant to do, the engine should last and the paintwork, from Pavel Ptáčník’s paint-shop in Ledeč, is of top quality. Individualists have the option – after paying extra – of choosing their own colour scheme. Even in its standard form the bike looks interesting. For a little extra cash, you can also choose different mirrors, the aforementioned pipes or lockable side-covers. With all the extras the bike will still retail at well below the price of a similar Japanese quarter-litre bike. However, if you crave attention at bike-meets and you are looking for an investment with potential for growth, then go for the original “Kalif”.
A Mass is held in Clones in memory of Bikers who have suffered or died on the road. It is a tradition that started 10 years ago and has grown from a small almost private affair to a major event. This year the 10th Annual Bikers Memorial is to take place in The Sacred Heart Church, Clones, Co. Monaghan on the 11th May 2012 at 8pm. If you would like to have someone remembered you can register their name on their site. http://gonebutnotforgottenbikers.net/Home/home.htm I had hoped to attend but work commitments make it unlikely.
The Garrison weekend will be held on 25 to 27 May. Book directly with the Holiday Centre: see http://www.melvinholidaycentre.com/
A man came round in hospital after a serious accident. He shouted, "Doctor, doctor, I can't feel my legs!" The doctor replied "I know you can't, I've cut your arms off".