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Memories of my vintage Jawa bike

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Nostalgic yet enthusiastic collectors of Jawa bikes got together for a road trip into the past

In the latest edition of Motus Operandi, a motor-themed immersive experience, Arul Futnani, who manages The Farm, wanted to take a trip down memory lane with the best Jawa models from Chennai and Bengaluru, keeping yesteryear riders company. TS Kannan, a veteran with over five decades of racing and riding behind him, held fort. There were nankhatais, coffee and some lassi on offer for the motley crew of bike enthusiasts who talked shop and swapped stories on a balmy Sunday morning in Semmencheri.

“I have a 1968 model. I used to take my son for rides on my Jawa when he was an infant, and he loved to rest on the engine, on the way to his aunt’s house. He is in his 40s now, and every time he visits, he has to take the same bike for a spin.” Kannan, easily, the main attraction at the event, smiled gently as young riders reminisced seeing the septuagenarian race past them on the track. “Riding keeps me young, you know. I have raced at Sholavaram, participated at drag events, done over 200 Bengaluru-Chennai trips, and covered over 2,50,000 kms on my bike. I still do breakfast rides every now and then with the younger riders,” he added.

Many bikes, many memories

Roshan Kamath, who has amassed 18 imported bikes over a span of 15 years said that his Jawas, to him, have meant freedom to explore. “I bought this one beauty from my milk vendor. He used to deliver to our house on this Jawa, and I was so taken with the bike, that many cajoling conversations later, he sold it to me,” explained Kamath. The deep maroon model with mustard accessories and Mysuru plates (more on that later), has kept Kamath company on many an adventure.

Memories of my vintage Jawa bike

“These bikes are so easy to tinker with, I have been able to personalise them for offroading experiences. If you know your way around an engine, a Jawa is a dream to work with,” stated Kamath, who has taken his souped up ride to Ladakh, and done some trips around the Indian peninsula.

Prashanth Kumar, aka PK aka The Nomad, explained his love affair with the Jawa through a session on restoration. “When you are younger, it is what you can afford, really. These are simple and sturdy bikes, easy to figure out,” said PK, showing off unique pieces he snagged when the Jawa factory was shuttered in Mysuru, in 1996. One is a maroon, 1961 Jawa model 353 with a Pav-40 trailer and a snowguard. Another, silver, is a 1976 Jawa model 634 with a velorex sidecar.

“Jawa has a rich history in India, and when they were closing shop, I had to preserve these pieces. Jawas have multi-generational racers, who have used the same bikes with a few tweaks over a span of decades, and they’re still going,” said Arul Futnani, who went down to Bengaluru to bring his bikes. “I actually house all the bikes at my residence, and work on them once in a while. So when Arul said he wants to showcase them, he meant business. He showed up at my place, and a day later, we’re all here, talking about the good old days,” exclaimed PK while posing next to his sidecar model.

The myriad shades of green at the farm framed the chrome cruisers beautifully. “We grew up with these Jawas, and now the next generation is taking it forward. There are a lot of serious motorheads in India, and every year on the second Sunday of July, you will see over 500 Jawas descend at a single venue, for International Jawa Day. You realise that the bikes live on, as long as you preserve them materially and in your memories,” says Prashanth Kumar, as he explained some of the features of his Jawas to eager 20-something-year-olds, resplendent in his Jawa tee.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 11:27:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chennai-jawa-bike-collectors-road-trip-to-the-past/article29564361.ece

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