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Jawa 42 2.1 First Ride Review


Is the new 42 2.1, the best Jawa on sale?

Jawa! For some, it's a bikemaker; for many, it's an emotion. And such was its emotional connect with Indian bikers that it created a hype that was unmatched for any motorcycle brand making its Indian debut in the 21st century. By the time the bikes were finally unveiled, the euphoria had reached its zenith. Classic Legends had managed to capture the original Jawa DNA, but with modern technology underneath.

In fact, we thought that the most aspirational two-wheeler brand among India’s masses, Royal Enfield, finally had a rival! But as you and I know, Jawa just couldn't deliver (pun intended). However, the company hasn't thrown in the towel yet; it has launched the Jawa 42 2.1 that gets a host of cosmetic updates, slightly more power, and a considerable price hike. We got to ride the bike for a few hours around Lavasa, and here’s what we think of the new Jawa 42.

Style check

It gets an array of new colour options (red, black, and white) with an off-set racing stripe, alloy wheels, and bar-end mirrors. Our test bike was equipped with optional goodies such as a smoked windscreen, headlight grill, engine guard, and grab rail. Jawa will also be offering saddle bags as an option.

On the styling front, Jawa designers have only made subtle updates without going for a complete redesign. The 42 was the sportier and more urban-centric variant in Jawa’s portfolio. Now, with the alloy wheels and matte black theme, the 42 2.1 looks even better. The bar-end mirrors and the off-set racing stripe give it a nice retro feel. I particularly liked the Jawa logo on the alloy wheel -- a small, but beautiful detail. The switchgear has also been redesigned and it now gets two tripmeters as part of the update.

Mechanical updates

Styling updates aside, the motor has also been tweaked, and the new 42 2.1 makes slightly more power than the older BS6 mill. The new bike makes 27.33PS compared to the 26.51PS by its predecessor.

On the move, the first thing you will notice is the engine’s eagerness. It isn't blisteringly quick, but feels peppy. Vibrations are in check until the mid-range, but once you go past it, you can feel the vibes on the footpegs and the handlebar.

Since we could only ride the bike for a couple of hours in a controlled environment, you will have to wait for our road test video to know its performance numbers and fuel efficiency.
I will add that its peppy nature should make it a fun machine for city commute. Another aspect you will appreciate is the bike’s exhaust note.

On the move

The riding position is quite neutral, but you get a sensation that you’re sitting on top of the saddle, rather than in it - something similar to the Royal Enfield Classic 350. Also, taller and heftier riders (I am 5ft 10 and over 100kg) might find the riding posture a bit cramped because of the slightly raised footpeg position. To improve comfort, especially while spending long hours on the saddle, the 42 2.1 features a denser seat foam and firm cushioning.

Jawa hasn't made any change to the underpinnings, apart from adding alloy wheels, which bring with it the benefit of tubeless tyres. It feels easy to hustle, thanks to its wide bars that should help negotiate city traffic. As for high-speed cornering, remember that this isn't a KTM, so you have to keep speeds under check. However, for a bike of this segment, it does a pretty decent job. A kerb weight of 172kg makes it one of the lightest motorcycles among its peers, and moving the bike around doesn’t require much muscle.

Ride quality is firm, and the rear has the tendency to toss the rider off the seat over sharp bumps. Even small speed-breakers tend to upset its rhythm and one has to negotiate through them slowly. Braking hardware has been carried over from the 42, but the 2.1 gets dual-channel ABS as standard. The brakes offer good bite and progression; there's nothing to complain about, with only minor intrusion from the ABS under hard braking.

The misses

I think Jawa has been conservative with their approach on the new 42 2.1. They had a great opportunity to experiment with the new motorcycle but chose to play it safe. The 42 2.1 could have been the first Jawa in its current portfolio to receive chic design elements like LED lighting and sportier, more distinct styling.

We would have also appreciated a modern instrument cluster with details like a gear-position indicator, fuel range, and real-time fuel efficiency. With the Honda H’ness CB350 and the Royal Enfield Meteor 350 having got Bluetooth connectivity and turn-by-turn navigation, the same would have been welcome on the Jawa 42 2.1.

One big trouble area of the BS4 Jawa was that it looked great from afar, but up close, the quality was disappointing. Classic Legends has done a great job on this front, with the Stealth Black treatment on the engine fins and case match that of the exhaust shield. Panel gaps are tighter, and loose wire and cables are packaged neatly. In fact, the 42 2.1 has better quality levels than the Classic 350.

You might be wondering how can this be a negative aspect? Well, the crude finish of the footpeg stay is an eye-sore and the quality of some of the welds could have been better. Also, the bolts on the motor and the windscreen could have received a black finish in tune with the Stealth Black theme. As things stand, the 2.1 is a big improvement, but it lacks the quality and finesse of the RE Meteor 350 and Honda CB350.

Verdict

With the 42 2.1, Jawa has made good progress (with respect to performance), has added useful updates, and improved quality. So, if you're a Jawa enthusiast, the 42 2.1 will be our pick. We expected the price premium to be around Rs 3,000, however, Jawa had other plans. The bike retails for Rs 1.84 lakh, a steep premium of Rs 7,000 over the standard 42 dual-channel ABS version. This is an even bigger problem, considering its stronger rivals that offer a richer experience. But will the Jawa 42 2.1 be able to stand its ground against them? Watch this space.

Jawa 42 Video Review

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