Forever Bike, Forever Value! International Jawa Day Celebration was Memorable One

Mangaluru: Bengaluru has the largest number of Yezdi bike lovers in the country. And they made their presence felt at the International Jawa Day- On this day every year, Jawa Yezdi owners get together to celebrate a bike that hasn’t been in production for more than decades ago. It is a strange bond — the bike is not even fuel efficient (a Jawa in tip-top condition would give 15kms per litre petrol). But some sweet and strong bonds are a little odd and a lot heady. With regards to the International Jawa Day, it was different this time, as in every year it would be celebrated among our club members and friends here in Mangalore.

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However this time, with a couple of our riders already out on their trips to Ladakh and Spiti Valley, a few of us were wondering about taking a ride down to Bangalore to see how it is done on a grand scale!! Then when the news came that, the Bangalore Jawa & Yezdi Motorcycle Club was attempting a Record for the maximum number of motorcycles, not in production any more but still in running condition and owned by different individuals, we decided to just go ahead and help them out in adding our count to the record as well.

So on the 11th July 2015, at 5.30 a.m., our team of 8 riders and 7 motorcycles – 1 ’71 model Jawa, 2 ’84 model Classics & 4 Roadkings, left from Kadri, towards Madikeri. Our plan was initially to go via Kushalnagar and then branch out to Arkalagud, Channarayapattana and then straight on to Bangalore. This should have taken us a distance of around 367 odd kms. However once we touched Arkalagud, I could not resist dragging our guys around the countryside to a quaint little church that now sits partly submerged under the waters of Hemavathi River.

On empty stomachs and still full of energy, we were awed by what we saw – the remains of the church built in the 1860s by French missionaries. Following this amazing detour, we decided to head out to Hassan, which was closer, where we managed to get some food by 4.30 and then hit the road once again. It was only 11.30 p.m. once we finally reached our destination in Bangalore on Old Madras Road. We had done a total of 454 kms.

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Next day, it was time to get ready by 7.30 am and then set off for the National School Grounds at Basavanagudi, where the event was being held. All in matching tee-shirts and in neat formation, we reached the venue and were asked to register before entering the grounds. We could just gawk all around. Everywhere we looked, there were just lines and lines of Jawasand Yezdis. Imported ones, modified ones, Vintage beauties there was just so much to see and hear. there were stalls that were selling parts, and stalls that sold Apparels and accessories emblazoned with the logos of Jawa & Yezdi. We met fellow riders who had earlier hailed us on previous events and group rides, and admired the works of mechanics who did some beautiful work on a lot of bikes.

The mechanics of Bangalore, upon whom a lot of riders depend on, were called on stage and felicitated. There then followed a lucky draw based on coupons that were bought and the lucky winner won a 1994 mint condition Yezdi Roadking, that is easily worth around Rs. 60,000 /- upwards in the current market. And then one of the key attractions was the welcoming of Deepak Kamath and his companion G.H Basavaraj created history in 1994/95 by becoming the first Indian’s to circumnavigate the globe in record time. They covered 42,038 km over six continents on their Yezdi Roadking in an expedition called ‘The Yezdi Castrol Continental Raid’ in only 47 days (actual riding time).

It was a pleasure of listening to them speak and when they got of stage, we could not resist rushing up to them and having the honour of shaking their hands. And as it turned out, Deepak Kamath is actually from Car Street, Mangaluruand was really happy to meet a team that actually rode down from Mangaluru to Bengaluru to take part in this event. From here, the conversation went uphill in Tulu, about families and communities!!!

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It was then time for the main ride to begin. The tally of all motorcycles now stood at 530 (actually registered and recorded, while others had managed to sneak in without registering) With this count, the organisers did not want to create a nuisance for the traffic and the crowded Bangalore roads, and hence asked us to just line up at the entrance and then follow the convoy out onto the street, take a turn around a traffic signal at our convenience, without grouping up and then head back into the ground. The tabulation was done and recorded, witnessed by a gazetted officer and wold then be sent, complete with pictures and video recordings, to the Limca Records committee, for cross verification. If approved all of us would be getting Certificates that stated we had taken part in the event.

This year, the BJYMC was aiming for a Limca Book of records with a gathering of over 650 Jawa and Yezdi bikes. Bengaluru has the maximum number of Jawa Yezdi users with over 1600 members and about 400 active members. If you think the club is made up of middle-aged men drunk on nostalgia think again — more youngsters are joining the club with their youngest member being just 19 years old and the oldest member a young 66. Interestingly, Jawa gets its name from its founder Frantisek Janacek.

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However, for a long time people in India believed Jawa got its name from the Mysore Maharaja Jayachamraja Wadiayar, who was instrumental in setting up the Ideal Jawa factory in Mysore in 1961. There’s more to this bike, manufactured in Mysore’s industrial area called Devangiri from 1961-1996, than its roaring sound. According to a bike expert, this bike has a semi-automatic clutch and even if it is damaged one can ride it. But if a Harley’s clutch cable breaks you can’t even move that bike. Also, you can interchange the front wheel with the back and vice-versa. Can you imagine such technology being introduced 40 years ago?” Today, with the Ideal Jawa factory in Mysuru shutting shop more than two decades ago, it’s difficult to find a Jawa bike outside the close-knit community of Jawa riders.

While we would have loved to stay back for additional days, most of us had other family commitments and so five of us left on Monday early morning at 6am heading back on towards Hassan. But this time, we branched off for the more scenic but dangerous Belur – Kottigere route that would take us through the Charmadi Ghats. The rains hit us at just the right time as we entered the ghats and the going was slow, but we were properly insulated with our rain gear. It was touching 8 pm, as we neared the outskirts of Mangaluru, with 383 kms on our return journey, but we felt it was worth it, every minute of the journey!

About Jawa:

JAWA was born in Prague and founded by František Janeček in, founder of Wanderer bikes. The name JAWA is said to have been derived by concatenating the first two letters of Frantisek Janacek. However, people in India believed JAWA derived from Jayachamraja Wadiayar, erstwhile ruler of Mysuru who was instrumental in setting up the Ideal Jawa factory in Mysore, 1961. When then Wadiyar heard that bikes were being imported from Czech Republic, he insisted that they begin an engineering industry in Mysore. Farrokh Irani, a Parsi business man, and his uncle Rustom, set up the Ideal Jawa in Devangiri Industrial area spread over 25 acres with technical collaboration with Jawa Limited of Czehoslovakia. The factory made an initial investment of Rs 50 lakh and Wadiyar was also a stakeholder.

The company produced 36,000 bikes a year with most of the materials imported and had 2,200 workers. It rolled out 130 bikes a day. The collaboration agreement with Czechoslovakia ended in 1968, by which time Ideal Jawa established an in-house expertise and began designing vehicles under the brand name Yezdi. With it’s motto of ‘Forever Bike and Forever Value’ the bike was a favourite on rugged urban and rural Indian roads.

However in later years, though the demand for Yezdi was quite high, the government ceiling on the number of units that could be manufactured caused a setback. Added to this, entry of Japanese technology-based bikes into the market also took its toll on the two-stroke Yezdi bikes that were less fuel efficient. The Ideal Jawa shut shop in 1996.

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