Jawa 350 First Ride Review | Less is More?
The Jawa 350 replaces the Jawa Jawa and has a host of updates that I will explain in due course. But first, we must understand why the Jawa Jawa needed an update in the first place. Perfection cannot be achieved. It can only be pursued, and this pursuit makes it oh-so-special. Take the original Jawa for example. It’s been five years since it was launched and it remained more or less the same, until now. It was a nice retro motorcycle that managed to pull on the heartstrings of many Jawa aficionados when it launched. But it had a few niggles that didn’t go down well with the motoring fraternity. The engine was quite vibey and not very tractable. The suspension was quite stiff and that paired with a hard seat, which meant you bounced every time you went over a bump. The ground clearance was low which meant the beautiful chrome exhausts or the centre stand scraped when you took a corner with a bit too much excitement. And finally, the instrument cluster, which though looked good, was hard to read. But has Jawa managed to sort those niggles with the new Jawa 350? Let’s find out.
Jawa 350 Engine
The Jawa 350 has the bigger 334cc engine (from the Perak and the 42 Bobber), but the compression has been reduced to 9.5:1 (from 11:1). That has resulted in a reduced power figure of 22.3bhp at 7000rpm, but the torque figure has gone up to 28.1Nm at 5000rpm. To suit the character of this bike, Jawa has revised the gearbox, especially the second, third, and fourth gears, giving full access to the torque that is spread linearly across the rev band, this also makes the low-end and the mid-range much stronger than before. That ensures the turn of pace is quite quick. Also, the gearbox is paired with a new slip-and-assist clutch that makes it that much easier to go through the ‘box. The slipper clutch also helps alleviate fatigue courtesy of a lighter clutch pull. All of this has made the Jawa 350 fun in the city as well as on the highway.
And on the highway, the 350 feels relaxed between 80 to 100kmph. Though not that it won’t go beyond, it feels stressed doing so. On the topic, the engine vibrations have been well-damped and aren’t as prominent in the lower rev range. Though you do feel them on the pegs and the bars as the revs climb, they are much more bearable than before.
Jawa has also worked on the exhaust note to make the 350 sound much raspier than before. That said, the test bikes we have had their db killers removed for added excitement, but personally, that’s more of a novelty thing.
Jawa 350 chassis, ride and handling
The Jawa 350’s chassis has been stiffened up a bit, which adds to the sporty intent of the motorcycle. The wheelbase has gone up to 1449mm, which makes it more stable on the straights. Though you can take the corners with some enthusiasm, but, don’t expect this one to be an outright corner carver.
The Jawa 350 gets wider tyres now. The front is a 100/90 - R18, while the rear tyre is a 130/80 - R17, and both the wheels are spoked. The wider tyres mean the Jawa can better put down its power and remain more planted on the tarmac. The wider tyre also helps when the lean angles increase
The Jawa 350 now gets increased suspension travel as well, which has helped increase the ground clearance too. The front is a 35mm telescopic fork with 135mm travel, while the rear has twin gas-charged shocks with five-step preload adjustability and 100mm of travel. At speed, you do get feedback that you need but at a creeping pace, you can glide over bumps without much jolts, and that’s also helped by a softer seat. Talking of, the seat height has now gone up to 802mm from 765mm.
Jawa has updated the brakes on the new Jawa too. While disc sizes remain the same at 280mm on the front and 240mm on the rear, the front has an improved bite and progression, but I would have preferred if the rear brake received the same treatment as well.
Jawa 350 Styling
Jawa 350 looks similar to its predecessor but is bigger. The wheelbase has gone up to 1449mm and the ground clearance has increased to 178mm. That being said, it retains the visual proportions of the older Jawa. So much so that Jawa claims that this has the same golden ratio. And while on the topic, let me tell you about the instrument cluster as well. It’s still the same as before, and this in my opinion is an opportunity missed. While it looks neat, the angle it is placed at, makes reading it very hard, especially while riding.
Jawa 350 Verdict
All said, the Jawa 350 has become a better bike now overall. While the lower power is an argument against it, I would urge you to take a test ride before you cast it out. The Jawa always had one ‘royal’ problem, but it does manage to offer a different riding experience, one that people who enjoy the corners will appreciate more. So, whether or not you should pick this up against the benchmark is something that boils down to your preference. But for the sake of science, a comparison test wouldn’t hurt, would it?