Mumbai: More than two decades after they disappeared from Indian roads, the iconic Jawa Motorcycles are back. Classic Legends Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, on Thursday launched two bikes—Jawa and Jawa 42—while a third—the bobber-style Jawa Perak—will be launched next year. The Indian operations of Jawa, a brand born in erstwhile Czechoslovakia, were wound up in 1996.
Jawa and Jawa 42, the two models launched on Thursday, are powered by a 293cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine in a double-cradle chassis, generating 27bhp of power. The firm claims the all-new engine uses a double overhead camshaft (DOHC) configuration, which increases the efficiency of the engine at higher speeds.
Priced at ₹ 1.64 lakh and ₹ 1.55 lakh, respectively (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Jawa and Jawa 42 are seen as the first real challengers to Royal Enfield in the retro cruiser segment of motorcycles. However, both cost more than Royal Enfield Classic 350, which retails at ₹ 1.47 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai).
Having first entered the Indian market in the early 1960s, Jawa was founded in Czechoslovakia more than 90 years ago. In its heyday, Jawa bikes were exported to more than 120 countries.
The new engines are developed on a platform that already complies with the Bharat Stage VI emission norms, the company said in a statement, adding that the motorcycles will be manufactured at M&M’s Pithampur, Madhya Pradesh, facility.
Anand Mahindra-led Mahindra Group, Anupam Thareja and Boman Irani are the shareholders of Classic Legends, with Mahindra holding a majority stake of 60%.
“It’s rare to get an opportunity to resurrect a legend. Jawa is an authentic and iconic brand that represents the desire and yearning in all of us for freedom and adventure," said Mahindra.
The company said it has appointed 105 dealers across the country, with the first dealership likely to open next month. While bookings have commenced, deliveries will begin in early 2019.
Classic Legends, incorporated in 2015, also unveiled the Jawa Perak, which will be powered by a 334cc engine that develops 30bhp and 31Nm of torque, and is priced at ₹ 1.89 lakh. This model will be launched in 2019 .
Since Indian consumers have looked to upgrade to pricier and more powerful motorcycles since the past few years owing to rising disposable incomes, which have in turn led to an increase in demand for leisure, analysts are positive on the brand’s success in India, at least in the short term.
“The (premium) segment is hot right now because of Royal Enfield’s success; they have made retro leisure biking a trend because of their heritage, history and motorcycles that people like to ride. Jawa has a similar story; they are likely to obtain initial traction based on the prices. In the long run, only the on-road performance of the bikes will tell," said Deepesh Rathore, co-founder and director at London-based Emerging Markets Automotive Advisors.
“This seems like the right timing to have come up with this range of motorcycles, as the Indian premium motorcycle market is not only growing but also evolving in consumer tastes and preferences," said Ashish Joshi, chief executive officer of Classic Legends.