Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Khanna were seen riding the much-loved Jawa motorcycle in the 1977 hit Parvarish, Farooq Sheikh wooed Deepti Naval in 1981’s Chashme Baddoor on a Jawa, and many millennials today remember their fathers and grandfathers raving about the splendours of Jawa. It is this nostalgia that Classic Legends, a subsidiary of Mahindra and Mahindra which re-launched the brand in India on Thursday, is hoping to capitalise on.
The company unveiled its three offerings—the Jawa, the Jawa Forty Two, and Jawa Perak—at an event in Mumbai. The bikes possess the touch and feel of the original Jawa—a Czech brand.
Classic Legends founder Anupam Thareja, who treats the company as a “startup”, said the company decided to retain the name of the brand because “Jawa Motorcycles has enjoyed a huge fan following and generations have relished riding these iconic motorcycles”.
Thareja, who was formerly associated with and helped in the revival of Jawa’s closest competitor Royal Enfield, says modern classics are becoming more and more popular since people today are looking for character, style and fun.
Jawa gets an all-new 293cc engine with a double cradle chassis. Both the Jawa and Jawa forty two are competively priced at Rs 1,64,000 and Rs 1,55,000 respectively. Experts say this is a clear move to take on Eicher’s popular Royal Enfield, whose price begins at around Rs 1.2-1.3 lakh.
The company is targeting customers between 18-35 years with these new launches and hopes to draw millennials as loyal customers and not just Jawa aficionados.
"I almost get offended when people say Jawa died and you are resurrecting it. Legends don't die,” Thareja said. “We are not making bikes for people who already love Jawa. The new customer is a millennial who wants to be distinctive and wants to belong somewhere,” he added.
The company kicks it up a notch with its first factory custom Jawa Perak—priced at Rs 1,89,000—which gets a 334cc, liquid cooled, single cylinder engine and is not yet available in the market.
All three models are BS VI-ready and have been designed from scratch to retain the essence of a retro as well as a modern classic. However, the design has been updated for modern times. Some classic elements have been given a miss for functionality. One such element is the iconic spare wheel which has been let go of so as to keep the bike’s weight in check.
Commenting on the launch, Anand Mahindra, chairman, Mahindra Group, said, "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.”
The brand has already managed to create quite a buzz around the bikes, which bodes well for demand and sales going forward. The company has already secured 105 dealerships across 72 cities in the country. Deliveries will, however, only start in early next year.
Calling it a “historic moment”, Classic Legends’ chief executive officer Ashish Joshi says that given that the Indian premium motorcycle market is evolving in consumer tastes and preferences, this is the right time to come up with this range of motorcycles.
The company is focussed on building a community around the bikes, marrying the loyalists who love the older bikes with the new younger bike fans. Thareja said the brand’s marketing strategy will heavily draw from customer-generated content such as stories about their experiences on a ride posted on social media.
“Over past 12-15 months we’ve helped those who already own older Jawas to get spare parts. The connect with the older machines is something we value dearly,” said Joshi adding that the company will stand by and nurture the Jawa community in India.
Going forward, the company will also be looking to launch the higher power BSA brand motorbikes, and these bikes will feature prominently in Classic Legends’ export strategy, the management said.
Boman Irani, chairman and managing director, Rustomjee Group and son of Farrokh Irani who set up the Ideal Jawa factory in Mysore back in the 60s, also said that a comeback for the much-loved Yezdi brand is also on the cards.