Trip Machine Company Two Stroke Tuesdays E16 : 1969 Jawa 250 - Hidden Treasure
Vijay Krishnan 27 July, 2019To uncover a hidden treasure is something. But to dig up your dream motorcycle that has been hiding in plain sight is another feeling. Two Stroke Tuesdays is off to see an uncovered patina plated gem in the form of a classic Jawa 250 and see what it feels like to know that you already had something you wanted all this time.
This week, we sit down with Amol and talk to him about how he literally stuck gold when it came to finding his dream motorcycle.
Tell us about who you are
My name is Amol Vakte. I come from Shirdi in Maharashtra. I am presently based in Nashik where I have been working for the past 3 years. Right now I work in a digital marketing company as a video editor and make small motion graphic ads for them. I am addicted to motorcycles, especially the Two Stroke oldies and is living out my passion for motorcycles as I own a business of modifying bikes as well.
When did your love for motorcycles become an obsession?
I came to Nashik in 2014 for education purposes. I did my diploma in animation and I have been here since. I had a Bajaj boxer and I wanted to modify it. I had a clear design in my mind when it came to how I would modify it. I found a guy for the job and approached him with my proposal. I told him that I had the design and obviously the bike and all I need to get done was the fabrication and installation. He declined my offer stating that he doesn’t work on this kind of motorcycle and finally got around to doing it after months of persuasion.
What resulted from this collaboration was the first ever Motorcycle to come out of that was very eye catching with its orange paint scheme and tastefully done mods. I guess the guy who worked on it loved it too as he approached me with an offer for collaborating our works. He must have sensed some sense of design in me from how the bike came out and we have built about 100 bikes in the past 3 years. When I started initially working on bikes, I had very limited knowledge about motorcycles. I mostly learnt all I know on the job and have been focussing on sharpening my skills in motorcycle designing ever since. I mostly work on the go, by using paper cards to superimpose on the motorcycle and thus finalise my design. Its something that is not at all pre-determined and everything here happens very organically.
What did bikes mean to you when you were growing up?
From where I come, people really don’t have much idea about Motorcycles. They just use them for conveyance rather than for fun. Rajdoots and Jawas were a commonplace back home and we used to be fascinated by the Hero Honda Karizma, Yamaha R 15, basically all sportsbikes. We had the Rajdoot 175 that I used to ride around since I was in the 8thstandard. It could run on kerosene too. I learnt to ride a motorcycle from my father. He had a Bajaj M80 that he would let me ride. Then I slowly granduated to the Rajdoot and then to the Jawa. I was not particularly tall as a kid and my feet didn’t touch the ground. I used to still ride the bike somehow by propping the bike up on the stand and kick the bike into life. I would quickly put into gear and ride off hoping I wouldn’t have to stop much.
It got so bad that people started complaining about my antics to my folks and exclaimed that I shouldn’t be allowed to operate a Motorcycle considering my age. This meant that I had to sneak out to ride and keep an eye out for my Grandfather and Father.
So I have been around Two Strokes since a very young age, yet I didn’t know anything at all about them. I found out that these bikes were sought after, only after moving to Nashik. It was on a Jawa day where I saw these bikes being celebrated like I never thought they could be. This prompted me to ask around what these motorcycles were, why they were so adored and what was so special about them. One of my friends told me that they were called Jawa and that he rode them regularly. Since then I wanted to own and ride just motorcycles. I never knew Jawas were 250cc and that there were so many makes of Yezdi motorcycles. Infact, I didn’t even know the difference between a Two Stroke and Four Stroke motorcycle. This kicked off a love affair with the Jawa and I ended up getting a Yezdi and running it for 6-7 months before finally selling it off. This was enough to convince my Grandfather that I was becoming quite the Two Stroke nut and this was when he told me about his Jawa.
Tell us about the Jawa
I own a 1969 Jawa 250. It is in absolute stock condition and is in the exact same state it left the factory albeit with a lot of weathering evident on it. It is still having its factory black paint, although dominated now by a kickass patina finish courtesy off all these years of sabbatical. It still has the stock exhaust and the factory sealed engine.
How did you uncover the Jawa?
My grandfather owned a Jawa which he had stashed away in a boatyard godown where we stored items like old Tractors and other farming equipments. He dropped this bombshell over phone while I called him at about 10 pm one day. I didn’t even blink for a second and I was off to my grandfather’s place as soon as I hung up. I reached there at midnight and went immediately to the warehouse accompanied by a shell shocked version of my grandfather. He was taken aback by my enthusiasm and told me that I could have even waited for it to be daytime. It was in his name and it was in its factory paint. Even the engine hadn’t been opened up in all its years of running. I almost cried when I saw the bike for the first time. There it was, just lying there with everything. It had somehow survived all these years locked away, probably beacause it was nicely kept away from the elements.
Seeing my reaction, I remember my Grandfather hugging me and asking what I saw in that bike that made it so special. To which I replied that the feelings I had for that bike couldn’t be explained in words. I also told him that this bike, the way it sits, with factory paint and all is quite valuable and extremely rare. I took the bike out in the morning itself and started working on it. I did a diesel wash and got it rid of all the rust and dust it had collected over these years.
I kept the bike there itself for a few more months before I rolled it out and hauled it to a mechanics shop. There I found out that the engine was not seized up and that it still had compression after almost 15 years in exile. All it took was a new coil and fresh fluids and the Jawa roared back to life on the third kick. It did require a new seat and fresh tyres. I made the seat myself, changed the tyres and I was off on the Jawa. I got to know of the bike’s existence only in February and started riding it after getting it fixed only a few months back.
I knew as soon as I got to know about the Jawa that this year’s Jawa day was going to be special for me. To own a Jawa was something, but to have one in all its factory spec glory, with stock paint and still being owned by the same guy who bought it was truly amazing. I have been getting compliments from many Jawa aficianados on the bike and it makes me feel like I have something truly special.
It is incredible to think that I had absolutely no idea of this bike's existence up until a few months ago. I got to know about its existence only in February of this year and it ran for the first time in 15 years very recently. I am thrilled to having been so lucky with the Jawa and look forward to many years ahead riding the old gal.
What is the story with your Jawa?
As soon as I got to know we had a Jawa, I started bombarding my Grandfather with questions regarding the bike like how often did he use it and what kind of problems did it have for him to lock it away. He explained that in the 1960’s, there were only 3 bikes in our village and these were having registration numbers in series. The other two bikes were sold off eventually by their owners. This is the only one that remains. He said that he used to ride it everywhere and didn’t care about what kind of fuel returns it gave as petrol was pretty cheap then. Those days, bikes in the village used to be run on kerosene instead of petrol and still gave no problems while it was in operation.
The bike was used to take milk to the diary and carried the family all around. This bike was very clevery designed especially for places like our village those days with no roads and muddy tracks for navigation. The fender was designed in a way to prevent the bike from getting stuck in deep mud. Its unique shape apparently helped it to chug along in the mud effortlessly. The people back then did not realize the value of these bikes. That they were beautifully designed, well-engineered and robust motorcycles that came from the Czech Republic.
In those times, mostly only rich folks had a motorcycle and so there were only a handful of bikes in the whole village. So the whole village knew when someone who had a Jawa was riding by. The sound from these bikes could be heard for kilometers and my father used it as his cue to scamper back home when Grandfather returned home. Then came along the Rajdoot 175 that was much more compact, nimble and most importantly more fuel efficient than the Jawa. By this time, the fuel prices had gone up and it was no longer as practical to use the Jawa daily as it were. Also, the bike had started to give problems. This made us to get a Rajdoot 175, that my Grandfather used since. That was when it was cast aside when it got stored in the boatyard.
We went through a flurry of four stroke motorcycles after the Rajdoot and thus I was accustomed to riding a four stroke in the early stages. Only when I got to Nashik did I develop an affinity for Two Stroke Motorcycles. That is how I ended up with the Bajaj Boxer in Nashik and that is how my whole journey began.
So what all Motorcycles do you own apart from the Jawa?
Apart from the Jawa, I own the Bajaj Boxer, a Yamaha RX 100, which is the second motorcycle that I bought, the Rajdoot 175 from my childhood days that I have now restored fully, a Vespa 150 and a Honda CB400 that I acquired recently.
What next for the Jawa?
The Jawa is now back in storage after I took it out for this year’s Jawa day. I have plans for the Jawa that I shall get to once I'm free from some obligations. I also have other motorcycles of mine that I need to tend to first like the Honda CB400 I'm working on. After I have some time for the Jawa, I intent to not do too much on these as I have learnt that the value of these bikes are in their originality and that is something I would like to preserve with the rust and patina finish. Infact I think that this gives the bike a unique character that cannot be matched by anything. I would like to, however, get the bike completely up to scratch mechanically and make it look kind of like a sleeper Jawa. Also these kind of things take a lot of money and time and both are something I don't have in abundance at the moment. So we shall see what happens.
If you could only save one motorcycle?
I have searched far and wide to know that although you can find a factory spec single owner Yezdi, it is almost impossible to find an old Jawa in the same state. More importantly, the Jawa is something that is sort of a shared passion or bond between me and my Grandfather. I would never sell the Jawa and I technically can't really because its still in the name of my Grandfather who is its first owner.