On a retro trip

JAWA DOCTOR Publicity-shy Jaiganesh Ranganathan lets his mechanic Shekar share the spotlight with his Czech-made Jawa  


His affable nature and 1984 Jawa Type 638 make Jaiganesh Ranganathan immensely popular among members of the Roaring Riders

Simplicity saves a lot of trouble. Look at the Jawa Type 638 belonging to the 1980s — a simple machine that spared its owner loads of worry. A remnant of these classic 350cc two-stroke twin-cylinder bikes is still around to emphasise the fact.

In this part of the world, Jaiganesh Ranganathan can be considered the spokesperson for this classic bike. With his 1984 Jawa Type 638, Jai has not been racked by the usual headache that visits owners of outdated machines.

Except for sourcing a carbon brush for the battery from a company in Europe, Jai has not had to place orders for any spares. His mechanic Sekhar fabricated a rectification unit (based on a rectifier that converts alternating current into direct current) using material procured at the electronics market on Ritchie Street. That’s just about the major changes in this Jawa, which had been imported from Czechoslovakia (now, the Czech Republic) by the first owner.

When you factor in the other improvements over comparable older Jawas, you have a machine that is a pleasure to own. The list includes a four-speed gear box that is free of gear slippage. With a semi-automatic nature, shifting gears is not as much a pain as it can be when vehicles move bumper-to-bumper.

As is characteristic of Jawas, the Type 638 allows for inter-changeability of the front and rear tyres. But the dissimilarities heavily outnumber the similarities. In the Type 638, the chain has a hard plastic casing. It has an alternator and not a dynamo. During its heyday, the 638 was known as a bike with a sidecar - a good number of 638 buyers went in for this extra fitting.

As the bike has not undergone alterations of any significant nature, members of Roaring Riders, a Jawa and Yezdi club that Jai belongs to, get a feel of a Jawa in a different league. With every light case and meter intact, this Type 638 truly takes the rider on a retro trip.