Friends chipped in to restore Philip Miller’s vintage love — the 1969 Ideal Jawa

Philip Miller has a fund of trivia about the Jawa.

For one, he is aware of the comparisons this Czech bike has lent itself to. Its seat is compared to the sounding board of a guitar. With a curving end, the front mudguard is compared to a soldier’s helmet used in ancient Rome.

As the exhausts let out curling wisps of smoke a considerable time after the bike has come to a halt, they are compared to smoking pipes.

Totally clued into its mechanism, Philip has never allowed his 1969 Ideal Jawa to leave him high and dry. He knows how to coax the machine back on to the road. “When the bike can’t be started, all it takes is a little bit of tickling.” He refers to the tickler on the Jikov carburettor’s float bowl.

It is not once that the clutch wire has snapped, but on each of these occasions, he has ridden the Jawa back home as if nothing had happened. By just lifting the gear lever and then dropping it slowly, the bike can be moved.

Once in motion, the rider can shift gears. There is absolutely no need for the clutch. When introduced in 1959, this gearbox design added to the Jawa’s popularity.

Philip wants to preserve the features characteristic of the Jawa, but safety is more of a priority to him. Which is why the bike’s original throttle, which would not snap back on its own accord, has been replaced by a snap-shot throttle.

Philip lets his son Stephen take out the bike out every Sunday. The destination is invariably the Besant Nagar beach and as the old bike does not have an automatic locking system, Stephen stands guard over it. Fearing scratches to the bike, Philip forbids the use of a padlock.

This 250cc bike is special to Philip largely because film producer and vintage vehicle enthusiast M.S. Guhan ensured it was restored at his cost. Philip’s childhood friend Deepak Singh chipped in too, letting him help himself to Jawa-compliant spares in his automotive store on G.P. Road.

Philip restores vintage and classic vehicles for others –— for a fee. Needless to say, he takes care of his own vehicles. It was a novel experience to watch others restore his vehicle.