Journal: JAWA Motorcycles Emerged from Behind the Iron Curtain

JAWA Motorcycles Emerged from Behind the Iron Curtain

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
February 13, 2014

The Czech JAWA motorcycle company was founded in 1929 by František Janeček after he purchased the motorcycle division of Wanderer (a German company). The name is an amalgam of the first two letters of the founder’s last name (JA) and the first two letters of the company’s original name (WA). Their first motorcycle, a 500cc 4-stroke, while somewhat expensive was a considerable success.

When the global recession of the early ‘30s hit, they were able to switch gears (pardon the pun) quickly and shifted to producing a simpler and cheaper, 175cc two-stroke that was wildly successful, outselling the entire production run of the 500 in the first year alone.

These ads are from the early ‘50s when JAWA produced a full range of motorcycles from a 500cc down to a moped. They primarily focus on technology, ease of maintenance and repair, and their heritage. The fact that some are in English is because, being on the periphery of the Soviets’ sphere and making decent products, they also did business in Western Europe (UK and Ireland).

Unlike many European motorcycle brands, JAWA is still around today, sold mostly in Europe (sorry Americas). And while they performed respectably in motorsports (especially given their limited budget) their racing arm, JRM, was spun off when the Eastern European socialist system dissolved.

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Peter Lukáč
Peter Lukáč

Jawa on Petrolicious? I LIKE IT! 😉 Looking to see more eastern block vehicles there.

I am thinking about this motorcycle.