Jawa Forty-Two v Suzuki Gixxer SF 250: Which one should you take your significant other on?
The Suzuki Gixxer SF 250 and the Jawa Forty Two may look like they have more differences than similarities. But you’ll be surprised. Both have similar outputs, are priced similarly, and today, both have been brought out of their respective garages by two FBI correspondents wanting to take their sweethearts out for a spin. Manaal swears by the Gixxer, while the Jawa is more Hari’s cup of tea. Or is it?
Manaal Mahatme: I am a sucker for faired motorcycles, and you can’t really blame me for it. Even when standing still, these bikes look fast and gorgeous. They are precise, sharp handlers that urge you to push your limits. And why wouldn’t they? These motorcycles are the closest you can get to those billion-dollar Moto GP machines. And of all the sub-2 lakh motorcycles in our market, the Gixxer SF 250 makes the most sense to me. It looks gorgeous, can go really fast when it has to and can even crawl through city traffic without protesting. Thankfully, my girlfriend Shilpa agrees on all counts. However, she does have one grouse. The split seat. Honestly, I don’t get it. Which girlfriend wouldn’t like the idea of holding onto the man of her dreams, as the world flies by?
Hari Kudchadkar: Manaal’s monologue does make it sound like the Gixxer is the perfect blend of form and function. However, to me, a motorcycle need not be perfect, but it does need to be an expression of freedom, which is exactly what Jawa motorcycles were known for back in the day. That spirit has been given a new lease on life, after the brand was resurrected by Classic Legends in 2018. The Jawa Forty Two is a nostalgic trip for me, reminding me of the good ol’ days when my dad used to own a motorcycle. It combines the best of the classic Jawa with a dash of urban funk. Just my style. Sure, I love an adrenaline rush, but there’s nothing like cruising down the open road with the urban jungle slowly fading from your rear view mirror s. Bike aside, meet Moksha , my humble, down-to-asphalt lady who knows a thing of two about riding motorcycles. She’s no control freak, but let’s just say my life took a back seat after she rode into it.
MM: Expression of freedom, eh? The Jawa may be all about nostalgia, but aren’t the 70 ’s and the hippies that came with them long gone? And I’ve heard a thing or two about Moksha’s skills in the saddle. I don’t think Hari can keep her attention with that rolling piece of history.
HK: The Jawa is so much more than just nostalgia. That gorgeous-looking engine has been designed to evoke the Jawas of the past, but it is a properly modern engine. The single-cylinder, 293cc motor packs 27 ponies and 28Nm. That’s 1bhp and almost 6Nm more than Manaal’s fancy supersport. Also, did I mention it gets liquid-cooling?
MM: After all that big talk about bikes being emotional, Hari is quoting a spec sheet. Lovely. I believe motorcycles have to be ridden to be understood , and I wanted my Gixxer to do the talking, on the street. I handed Hari the keys to this mini-scalpel in exchange for his Forty Two. Shilpa and I have spent enough time pretending to be Rins and his plus one. I figured that today, I could slow things down on the street, to speed things up in the… err… never mind.
HK: Honestly, I thought my Valentine’s Day would be a disaster dealing with this fish out of water. But the Gixxer genuinely surprised me with the ergonomics! Being called a supersport, I assumed my flab would make riding it around a task but things were quite the opposite. The clever design of the front-end masks the fact the Gixxer sports raised clip-on bars. The pegs aren’t too rear-set either, and the wellpadded seat actually makes it comfortable. I could almost ride it like a streetfighter. And I have got to admit, it looks good. Moksha was sitting closer to me than before, and I won’t lie, I quite liked the feeling. That was until she decided she wanted to have a go, and demanded the keys.
MM: Seeing Moksha and Hari fight over who rides the Gixxer, well, let’s just say I already felt like the winner. I was going to miss the feeling of the motorcycle getting my pulse racing, but I was going to leave that to my girlfriend today. Or so I thought. Though the Jawa looks like the solution to my uncle’s mid-life crisis, I had a smile on the moment I swung my leg over. The low handlebar coupled with the flat seat and the rear-set’pegs made for a rather engaging riding position. Topping that up, m’lady was actually happy sitting behind me for a change and agreed to go as far as I would take her. Never heard that one before.
HK: Manaal may have been living out all his fantasies, but I was forced to pull over, switch seats and cling onto dear life (read: Moksha) as she began wringing the throttle to catch up with the disappearing Jawa. I honestly didn’t think we would catch up (flab, remember?) but the Gixxer continued to surprise. It comes into its own on a winding road, and there’s no stopping it when you get into a rhythm. Though the Jawa feels spirited, the power tapers off after hitting 90kmph, but this Jap beaut just wouldn’t run out of breath!
MM: Fun? On the Jawa? I didn’t think it was possible! I’ve been thrashing supersports up the countryside for years and the thought of a retro motorcycle repulsed me. But this? This was a revelation! The zealous engine had me forget I was riding a roadster and I threw it into corner after corner, scraping the centre stand and scaring the daylights out of Shilpa. The Jawa is actually nimble (nowhere close to my Gixxer though) and the light steering coupled with the peaky motor makes it a right hoot on a road like this. Shilpa held on tight. I couldn’t tell if it was her or the bike that was getting my pulse racing again.
HK: I could see how much Moksha was enjoying her time in the saddle, so I opted to get off and allow her to explore the motorcycle’s full potential. She was thrilled. And isn’t that what Valentine’s day is all about? Reminding your significant other that you are around to keep them happy? The Gixxer looked gorgeous, and with my even more gorgeous girlfriend astride it, I would be lying if I said I didn’t fall in love a little.
MM: It wasn’t easy giving back the keys to the Jawa. It has its flaws, sure. The low ground clearance meant the stand and exhaust pipes would scrape over larger speed breakers, the 6-speed transmission wasn’t as tractable as my Gixxer’s, and it didn’t give me my much-needed shot of adrenaline. But it did manage to wiggle its way into my heart. I spent some proper quality time with Shilpa astride that motorcycle, and I finally understood that is what the Jawa is all about. It’s about associations and memories, and I finally understood the nostalgia surrounding it.
HK: If Manaal wanted to keep the keys for the Jawa, I was game, provided I kept the Gixxer. The motorcycle is a proper thriller, and how flush Moksha was at the end of the day was testament to that. But it also doubled up as properly useable in the city – I didn’t have to work my way through the gearbox, and it found its way through traffic pretty easily. I thought I’d end up with a sore back, but instead I was left with a happy girlfriend. I mean, the sore back did eventually happen, but never mind…