Thursday, April 3, 2008

Return of Jawa

Just got a call at work from Raja, whom Akshay did a Model B restoration for. Regardless of the outcomes, they did scope out the Pacco factory here in New Delhi back then. Since then and some travel later, apparently the owner of the Pacco factory met Raja and wanted to check out the possibility of Jawa being a name that might still draw sales in India. Not their idea, but apparently Jawa in Czechoslovakia is wondering if the old brand will still bring in customers, basis nostalgia, or what-have-you.

I know, we guys in various online fora have done the subject to death in countless, pointless discussions ever since the Y-factory shut down. Trouble is, the average age of the Y-biker is steadily rising. Youngsters are totally into the gloss-prod bikes they have yet to get over fantasising since Mission Impossible 2 and Dhoom were released. (Oh, how I abhor films and their un-factual approach to two-wheels - frankly eet sux beeg time!!!). In short, I couldn't suggest any good news in terms of volume sales.

In fact I could not even answer a direct question to the effect of, 'will 10,000-15,000 bikes sell per annum?' The best I could suggest is that he set up an ancillary or any such production facility and run a 'boutique' shop from where limited and exclusive numbers of bikes can be sold to discerning customers.

Face it, since the motocross glory hey-days in the 1950s and 1960s, Jawa czech has suffered from the technological strangulation behind the iron curtain. The ensuing years have done little to bring the bike into visibility and in a nutshell, one could say that Jawa is currently 'world famous in Czechslovakia.'

Most kids I know are equally happy making full-metal/fibreglass-jacket replicas (or fakes, actually - i would love to see the stunned face of a wannabe if the actual manufacturer like Suzuki slaps a lawsuit on them for copyright violations. Frankly, I am more against such 'bike piracy' than I am about music piracy. In any case, they want what they can see and chances of 'seeing' a Jawa in the public domain is currently a distant event that just might never happen. Back in the 50s, Jawa had a hard line of innovation that originated in secret during World War II. Currently, I think the firm is owned by defense and aerospace manufacturer.

Other things discussed included my misgivings that the 650cc type versions might not work so well, but bring on the 250cc and 350cc bikes. The other feeling I had was the fact that the Jaw always enjoyed a reputation for being simple and sturdy and giving the rider more than they ask for. So here's to hoping and coping on motorcycle seats that are sloping backwards — what do I care!?! If new Jawa's come into the market, I shall simply corner the market on old Jawas!

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