Two Stroke Tuesdays E22 : Jawa and Yezdi Motorcycles - The Endless Craze
Jawa Motorcycles needs no introduction. Thanks to the Jawa faithful and various Jawa Kommuniti's across the world who have kept the legacy alive, the brand still thrives today. The fans of the brand have kept these bikes in continuous use and have saved these precious machines from the crushers.
One such person who is keeping these bikes roaring is Mr. Honey Saxena, better known among the Jawa Yezdi circles as "Honey Bhai". We are in conversation with him and listen to his story of how fascination turned to a full time obsession.
I am Honey Saxena, a rider and collector of Jawa and Yezdi motorcycles. For me, these bikes are a religion and they have become an inseparable part of my life.
I belong to Bareilly and that nostalgia of growing up in a small town still lingers in me. Although I now live in NCR, riding these bikes help me connect with my memories of growing up back home.
My association with the bike dates back to the 80s when my dad used to have a Yezdi and my entire family of four used to ride on that small seat, with it often serving as a school ferry with me on back and my brother on tank, while the bags hung on from the headlights. By the end of 80s, the bike was almost retired and was served just as a prop for us kids to play. It had given way to the newer bikes in the family.
I moved to Delhi in 2011 to start my career. One day, while having tea outside my office, I saw a green Yezdi. I couldn't contain my curiosity and I couldn't help but talk to the guy who seemed to be the owner. So I started to chat with this older gentleman and something he said struck me. He said that this bike was his identity. This had a profound impact on me and maybe it was something that opened the floodgates for a rush of nostalgia from being around these bikes since childhood and riding around on it back in my hometown.
I started to search far and wide on the internet for a Yezdi and this is how I got to meet and foster friendships with Jawa and Yezdi owner. Soon I was having acquaintances in Bangalore, Mysore, Chennai among other South Indian cities. I was very fascinated with the way they fancied these bikes and these were the days when the people from the Tier 1 cities were starting to reconnect with this lost love for these oldies and right about the time when many clubs were being formed.
This is around the time the Delhi Jawa Yezdi club was being formed and I joined the group without owning a YJ bike but just on a promise that I will be owning one soon. I managed to get one soon for myself from Jaipur and this was my first Yezdi and what started it all officially for me.
The first trip
In the course of life I learnt that bikes are a source of solace, and this source was the inspiration in me but there just was nothing to do as I didn't have a bike with me. I had bought the bike in Jaipur and left it at my Bua's house. I was reluctant in getting back as it meant riding in the scorching heat from Jaipur to Ghaziabad.
Nonetheless,I took an off from my office for a day and booked a bus from Jhandewalan to Jaipur. I reached my boarding point with my luggage packed, all the bike's paperwork and also my riding gear in place. It was 10 in the night and as I got down from the metro, I looked up to see Hanumanji smiling, which I took as a good omen. So by 4 am in the morning, I reached Jaipur and within no time I was at Buaji's place. Phupaji was sitting out side and smoking in his usual demeanour. I caught up on some sleep soon after and during the day, I had planned to get the bike ready for the ride back. The bike started up with no trouble and I went to a friend in Jaipur ( by this time I had developed quite a passion for these motorcycles and had built a network of Yezdi/Jawa fans across the country), whose Father expertised in the bikes. I got it checked and serviced and took tips on the do's and dont's. It was very late and by the time the bike was ready, me and my cousin were heading towards the night to party on some chicken and open some beers. By 11 I had retired to my bed in anticipation of the morning ride.
It was 6 and the alarm went beep beep! I got out of my slumber in no time and Bua had made some munch-ons for the route. I touched feet of Buaji and Phupaji, asked for thier blessings and bid my goodbye. Within no time, I was riding the Yezdi on highway. I was experiencing all that I was missing till today, what biking is all about. I was not just a spectator, but was a part of the journey. I could feel the wind, the vibration and I felt like a part of the bike. I could take up the pace or slow it down as I wish, zip past the meadows and stop any where i felt like. That was one big high for me. I rode past herds of sheep and also many camels enroute, the sun was slowly rising up and it started getting really hot. I maintained the speed at about 80 - 100 as the bike was new to me and I was a novice when it came to the nitty gritties. A tea was called for and hence I stopped somewhere near Rewari to have tea and take a breather. I saw the bike which was cooling off, ticking away and just wanted to take off quickly as I could order. I halted there for about 15 minutes and was back on the road soon after. After this stop, I never looked back or cared to stop and I got to the Gurgaon highway by 11:40. The open stretch and especially the road just in front of airport urged me to open up the throttle and soon was doing 120 on the bike that was not in use for many years. This phoenix that I bought had risen from its ashes. As I rode past RK Puram, I noticed that there were plenty onlookers, all of whom were interested by the bike and the commotion it created. I remember there being a foreigner on a modified Royal Enfield who gave a thumbs up to show his appreciation for my bike and I reciprocated. That I felt was the moment I had officially gotten into the biker community. I rode through Delhi and reached my home in Vasundhara by 1:00 in the noon. The journey took my back but i was enthralled and my hands were still vibrating from the ride. My helmet was dirty and so was the jeans but within my heart every emotion was clean and the feelings were pure.
I got the bike restored to pristine condition soon after. I unveiled the bike on a group ride and to every one’s awe in the club. My place was thus secured in the club. The 2013 Jawa day came and we all became like crazy kids who can’t sleep for thenentire nights like during Holi and Diwali or before a School excursion. This was my first Jawa Day that I attended with my bike and it won the award for best restored bike.
Rides and Restorations
Myself, like many other aficionados started with one bike and that became a never ending affair. Like a stack rat, I started my journey of collecting bikes. But much more than that, my attention to detail got more refined and became finer while restoring each one of them. One such bike that is known widely the vintage Jawa with the 007 number and this motorcycle shot me to some instant popularity. But having said that, it was not an easy job. It took a lot of hours with visits to numerous shops in various cities. Then comes the part where you work with the mechanics, painters, denters etc. until you get it just right. It took a lot of effort and it took a lot out of me.
This bike was picked up in 2012 and was in a dismantled state and had been in sacks for 25 years, with many its parts missing and the others lost to elements. By this time, I had gone through a lot of content on Team BHP and other forums and these became like guidelines and the restorations I saw online became the benchmark for me to achieve if not cross them. It was then an endless saga of trips back to my home town and hiding from everyone about what is going on.
Many times, my patience would give way as the daily progress with those age old mechanics were very slow. But I realized soon that they are the masters of their craft and will not trade time to cut corners, but to ensure the bike comes out as a masterpiece. In my case, my Mechanic uncle was Achche Miyan from Bareilly who is a Septuagenarian Jawa maverick, who had to his credit numerous bike builds. I rode the restored bike from Bareilly to Delhi in night in the hard rain, and participated in the Jawa Day 2014 celebrations which were on the very next day and won the reward for best restored bike again.
Jawa my livelihood
I had attained quite a lot of knowledge of the spares and also understood that there was big need for spares by the people across the country for rebuilds.
I used this knowledge and try proximity to Delhi (that gave an edge) to give real competitive prices that would benefit all. So by May 2013, I had formed a small enterprise by the name of Ideal Spares and that shot to success instantly. There was one point in time when I was extensively trading these spares, with it being my only full time assignment. Even though things were a bit rocky after, I kept my faith steady and kept on delivering parts to friends. I would like to thank this community for supporting me unknowingly for those 6 months. Also, this line of work meant I was soon “honey bhai” for all.
Times changed and I have now gone back to my corporate job again, only things are a bit different this time. The ideal spares business still thrives. Meanwhile, seeing the kind of restorations that I was executing, people started to award me with end to end restoration contracts and I restored quite a few bikes in this process.
Jawa - A festival for us
Jawa is nothing less than a festival for me. All of us in the Jawa fraternity know each other and are closely connected. Although we come from different parts of the country and speak different languages, the stories and love for the bike remains the same. If you happen to travel cross India on a Jawa or Yezdi, it is for sure that the people will come to know about that and you will be greeted by friends with large open hearts. This has become a closely knit family.
In the recent past, many events have started to congregate people from across the country and we as a kommuniti eagerly await those. We meet and talk about our love for these bikes and basically all things Jawa and take back some great memories only to reunite once again for the next meet and make some more.
The Craze that never ends
We have to agree that the Jawa is one such bike whose appeal never settles down or mellows down in an owner’s mind. People who have one always crave for more and go to great lengths to add more to their collection.
Our riders and bike owners have reached places and the Jawa nut in them drives them to sniff out bikes from barns and storages whether it is Poland or Prague.
I had gone to Poland and was welcomed by the president of Jawa Klub Polska. He greeted me, took me off to the country side for a drive. We also did bike hunt which piqued my interest as I was always curious to see what hidden gems one can find here. I was made an honorary member of their club and I reciprocated with the same courtesy.
For me, the love for Jawa Motorcycles will never end. Either you will see me on long trips appreciating the bikes or simply doing my daily chores on them. I can't see my life going on without them being part in it.