We are aware of the exciting brand acquisitions by Mahindra of two hallowed names in motorcycling’s illustrious past. Of these two, the British brand BSA was acquired outright and is in the midst of a strategic plan that would fructify hopefully in the manner of a Triumph reborn as John Bloor had done the trick.
However, the second prong of the brand acquisition strategy was not to own but to license yet another famous name that had even more resonance in India and that was the famous Czech motorcycle maker Jawa. Ever since the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and the blurring of boundaries reducing the Iron Curtain be one of the shining examples of glasnost as espoused by Mikhail Gorbachev, the Czech Republic has progressed magnificently but unfortunately its motorcycling legacy hasn’t benefitted this perestroika that glasnost aimed to achieve. Jawa soldiered on and yet does so with ineffective machines using proprietary engines licensed by Japanese firms like Yamaha but built and supplied from China. A sad reflection of what was once a proud two-wheelers manufacturer with an all round portfolio that embraced mopeds, scooters, motorcycles and for some time cars as well.
I can well see and understand why Mahindra intends to get Jawa in its brand portfolio because it hasn’t been able to make any mark either with its scooters or utility commuters or even its much hyped sporty motorcycles. Thankfully, the firm has realized this and investments on them have been frozen even thought they continue to be manufactured in the interim. The grand plan would be for a range of spanking new generation motorcycles that would of course come with the size and the muscle that the Jawas and latterly the Yezdis had to offer Indian bikers an all round machine capable of doing so many things all at once. The original and best selling Jawas and Yezdis were powered by simple two-stroke,250cc single cylinder engines and were used as beasts of burden (dudhwalas and tradesmen), as commuter machines (got to work and back), as sporty motorcycles (with a little mod job, a slight enlarging of the cylinder ports along with a mild expansion chamber and one had the making of a bike that had the edge over Royal Enfields and Rajdoot Rangers) and also as solid investments that never failed economically for the owner.
Today these very simplistic values are now revered elsewhere in the developed world where too much techno-wizardry has overpowered the senses and maybe the time has also come for India to have a simple but stylish model in the neo-traditional role with strong Jawa character traits that can fulfill many roles and be right in there with Mahindra’s total mobility solutions outlook!