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Bike Profile - Posted 21st December 2009

New Jawa 350 Classic and Royal Enfield Woodsman
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Classic bike enthusiasts often seek out modern motorcycles to suit their style of riding and which come with some classic cred. The new Enfield Woodsman looks the business, while the Jawa 350 offers a two-stroke alternative...

Cast your mind back a couple of decades to the recession of the 1980s and you may remember one of those stalwarts of budget biking, the Jawa two-stroke. The 344cc air-cooled roadsters were sneered at by fast lads but - for those lucky few who still needed to get to work - provided reliable transport at a knock-down cost. A Jawa could be kept on the road by a rider possessing merely a hint of mechanical nous, a roll of gaffer tape and a set of mole-grips, and cost next to nothing to purchase and insure. They were very rarely stolen, too… and built up a considerable cult following.

Jawas have been built in what is now the Czech Republic since 1929 (and you can read more about the company's background here: 07041700.html), although the marque has faded from the modern consciousness since the Iron Curtain fell. However, in keeping with the air of austerity currently afflicting the UK, F2 Motorcycles have recently announced the re-introduction of the Classic 350. The design has certainly been spruced up somewhat and signs of modernity are clearly visible, like the 265mm swirly single front disc and a silencer which stretches from here to eternity (in order to meet emission standards, no doubt).

Would it sell better with a more traditionally shaped tank? Jawa 350 Classic

Yet there is much about the 350 Classic which remains pleasingly traditional. The air-cooled twin-cylinder engine uses the old 58mm by 65mm bore and stroke dimensions - which we think date back to the 1960s; certainly the '70s. That motor produces much the same power as did the 350 Jawas of the early 1990s, around 23bhp at 5250rpm. The Jawa weighs much the same as it ever did (a sniff under 150kg), and it still uses twin rear shocks, a four-speed gearbox, a fully enclosed final drive chain and a drum rear brake. The 350 Classic also boasts creditable fuel economy: if you choose to ride at 50mph then you'll be able to travel 70 miles on every gallon.

I think so, yes... Jawa 350 Classic

F2 Motorcycles, the sole UK importer, reckon that the 350 Classic 'retains all the well-proven, sensible features such as the fully enclosed chain drive, long comfortable seat with well placed pillion grip and the robust, twin downtube frame.' But the design has been updated in crucial areas to provide the basic comforts of 21st century motorcycling, such as electronic ignition, an electric start, clear instrumentation and that useful front stopper.

The Classic's power characteristics are also likely to appeal to riders of trad two-strokes, offering smooth, low rev torque rather than screaming, peaky power. The twin produces 32Nm of torque at 4750rpm - pretty impressive when you compare it to the 350cc four-stroke single built by Royal Enfield for their home market, which generates max torque of 28Nm.

'Jawa have never been like other 2-strokes and they still aren't' says David at F2. 'They are built to produce torque which makes them relaxing and comfortable to ride with a big bike feel, but still narrow and light enough to filter through city traffic. Away from the city they have enough go for long distance touring.'

Jawas on :

Servicing these bikes is a straightforward affair and spares are available through F2 at sensible prices. The initial purchase cost isn't too scary, either: with electric start and kickstart a 350 Classic will set you back £2995 OTR. You cold even knock a hundred pounds off that price if you opt for kickstart-only and forgo the electric foot - you could consider it a weight saving exercise too…

Aaaaaargh!... What the?.... Jawa 350 Tramp

Perhaps the biggest downside to the 350 Classic is its styling which falls squarely into the 'blandly inoffensive' category. You might buy Jawa for purely practical reasons but you are unlikely to fall in love with its good looks. The Royal Enfield Woodsman, on the other hand, has been designed to turn heads with its high-rise single pipe, solo saddle and wide handlebars. The Woodsman EFI is the latest UK-designed variant of Royal Enfield's Bullet to be powered by the firm's fuel-injected unit construction engine. Like the original Woodsman, which was produced by Royal Enfield between 1955 and 1959, and sold in the USA under the Indian brand, it is a 499cc Bullet single (and you can read all about that model in issue RC49 of the magazine).

The current Woodsman also features a mini luggage rack, rear-set footrests and an alloy bash plate. The high-level exhaust system is routed around the machine's left side (standard exhausts run along the right side), and is lighter than the original part. The exhaust has been re-engineered to work in harmony with the engine management unit, allowing the engine to breathe more freely and creating the classic 'British single' exhaust note.

Phew, that's better... Royal Enfield Woodsman

The Woodsman's 499cc engine retains the Bullet's long-standing bore and stroke of 84mm by 90mm, but with electronic fuel injection from Keihin and a five-speed gearbox. This is operated via a seven-plate wet clutch. The 500 Woodsman produces 28bhp at 5250rpm with 41.3 Nm of torque at 4000rpm, with fuel consumption averaging a mighty 80mpg. Braking is by a 280mm disc up front and a rear drum; there's electric and kick starters and electronic ignition; and the Woodsman weighs around 165kg (that's our estimate based on the fuelled weight of 187kg for the standard Bullet). Both Jawa and Woodsman have a sensible saddle height of 32 inches.

So the Woodsman offers more glitz and glam than the Jawa, plus better fuel economy and 5bhp at the top end. Oh, and fork gaiters too, which we were surprised not to see fitted as standard equipment on a rugged run-around like the 350 Classic. However, the Woodsman costs £4699 on the road, compared to under £3000 for the Jawa. You could buy a lot of petrol and as many fork gaiters as you fancy for £1699…

WOnder what the other side looks like?... Royal Enfield Woodsman

Some folk will much prefer the power characteristics of the Woodsman to the two-stroke, and some other folk will prefer the idea of a modern motorcycle built in India in the style of a classic Brit to the idea of a modern motorcycle built in Eastern Europe. Both are interesting evolutions of extremely long-lived designs, much like some current Moto Guzzi, Harley-Davidson and BMW models. The Jawa is available only from F2 Motorcycles; Royal Enfield have a nationwide network of dealers. Insurance premiums and road tax rates are reasonable for both bikes.

There is one tiny fly in the ointment, however. As 'retro classics' like these have become more plentiful, so they have started to swamp some classic and vintage club runs. As such, rules about the age of appropriate motorcycles are starting to be enforced by some organisations. Many groups are reverting to a 1971 cut-off date - so you won't necessarily be able to ride either of these machines with your local classic club for very much longer…



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