I have owned a Suzuki Samurai and a Bajaj Avenger in the past. But I started riding for leisure and adventure only in 2012 after I bought a Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350. Apart from several day long and overnight rides around Goa, I also rode it from Chandigarh to Leh in Ladakh, exploring Pangong Tso and Marsimik La along the way.
For the past seven years the motorcycle has been largely trouble free with the only complaints being the usual ones like corrosion and marking it’s territory by leaking oil wherever it was parked. The only time I had to put it in a truck was when the electricals gave way on a ride to Tillari ghat. But that was due to a road side mechanic doing a shoddy job with some accessories I had asked him to install.
As I got more involved in touring, I bought a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy and began to understand what the other end of the spectrum felt like. An insanely high quality and comfortable motorcycle at an insanely high price. Then the trail riding bug bit me and I started to experiment with dual purpose motorcycles. That resulted in me buying a Triumph Tiger 800 XRx, a BMW G310 GS and a Hero Impulse, all of which I have used and abused to the limits of my ability. In between I also bought a KTM Duke 390 and pimped it up for off-road use, an experiment which actually worked, but not to my complete satisfaction. So I sold it.
With five motorcycles to choose from, the Royal Enfield was demoted to a motorcycle to be ridden on my morning and evening rides around my village and no further. I really couldn’t bring myself to ride it at 80 kmph on a highway. At that speed the motorcycle would rattle from the handlebar to the foot pegs along with everything in between. Something that was acceptable years ago now had become a major irritant. I couldn’t take it off road as it wasn’t a motorcycle designed to ride standing up. It also didn’t have a rear suspension soft enough to let me sit and ride on a trail comfortably. Also I had three other motorcycles which were designed for off-road use. But I kept the motorcycle, not just because it served a limited purpose, but more importantly because I have always wanted to own a classic motorcycle.
Then I test rode the Jawa, and things changed. The Goa dealer had a pre-production version for test ride. The build quality was actually pretty good. I had already booked the Jawa back in November 2018 when online bookings had begun because I had a feeling that it was going to be a hit and did want to wait for six months if I decided to buy the motorcycle when it was launched. As it turns out, it was a good decision because the waiting period now is indeed six months.
As deliveries of the Jawas started I visited the dealership again to see the production version of the motorcycle and was quite impressed with what I saw. Apart from the hard and uncomfortable seat I couldn’t find anything wrong with the motorcycle. It looked great. It felt great. It had all the style, history and aura of a classic motorcycle. But most importantly, I could actually use it to tour on highways, something which I had stopped doing with my Royal Enfield.
I’ve been riding my Jawa for a few days now and have completely run out of reasons to keep my Royal Enfield. At 80 kmph, the Jawa feels in complete harmony with the rider. The engine is ultra smooth, the exhaust note is pleasant, the motorcycle feels solid and it looks drop dead gorgeous. I’ve replaced the hard stock seat with a softer one I bought Amazon. The Jawa seems to have checked all my boxes for a classic motorcycle for road use.
Given the range of motorcycles I own, I’m not a huge fan of any single motorcycle brand. So I don’t feel the need to keep the Royal Enfield just for the sake of owning one. A motorcycle needs to be used and enjoyed. So I felt that it was better if the motorcycle spent the rest of its days making someone else happy instead of sitting in my garage, unused, corroding and leak oil all day. That’s why I sold my Royal Enfield.
Side Note: Seeing my Jawa posts on social media people have already started asking me for advice on whether they should buy the Jawa or the Royal Enfield Classic 350. My response is this. If you are looking to buy a classic motorcycle to ride to your neighborhood cafe or the fish market and are infatuated by the Royal Enfield brand, then don’t waste your time and mine with these questions. You already know what your heart wants. So stop fooling around and buy the royal Enfield Classic 350.
But if you are looking to own a refined modern motorcycle with a retro look which doesn’t feel like an archaic World War II machine getting ready to fall apart, then do yourself a favor and compare the Jawa with the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650. Don’t compare cubic capacities. Decide what cruising speed you are comfortable riding and ride both motorcycles at that speed for a while. Then make an informed decision.