There's a group of riders club members on the road, a live band playing outside the showroom, and two motorcycles inside the showroom which are surrounded by enthusiasts and so little difficult to get access to. That's the scenario at the launch of a Jawa dealership in Bandra, Mumbai.
Jawa is one of the few classic brands which enjoy a strong fan following, which will continue as long as the brand delivers on its promise. But after the excitement from customers and motorcycling enthusiasts is over, the challenge will be to keep them coming to dealerships with new products. Anupam Thareja, co-founder, Classic Legends, the owner of the Jawa and BSA brands, has a strategy for it. Calling Classic Legends an "anti-fad" company, Anupam says, "As a company, my view would be to keep on helping people to play with this (Jawa). We have to do something different. If I have 10 models of Jawa, I don't think so that's right," implying that Jawa will take the customisation route to expand its portfolio.
Currently, there are two models – Jawa and Forty Two – on sale. Perak, a 'bobber' will join by next year. And there will be more such models. "What I should do is I should encourage factory customs, I should encourage more with what we did with Perak. It is a factory custom but it's not just a cosmetic job," says Anupam. The Perak is derived from the Jawa but has seen quite a few technical changes too, in addition to the 'bobber' styling. The engine configuration was changed, as was the rake angle and the swingarm length. "It is actually well-thought through, for that purpose. Should we do that? Can we do that? I think we can," says Anupam about the future strategy to build a sustainable story for Jawa.
Right now, Anupam and team are busy dealing with a claimed high number of bookings (numbers not disclosed yet) for the Jawa and Forty Two. Young Indians seem to be attracted by the Jawas. Interestingly, till the last week of January, 90 percent of the people who have booked a Jawa were not born when brand Jawa was in India in its earlier avatar! Eighty percent of the bookings are for riders in the 23-28-year-old age bracket.
But why haven't the Jawa/Yezdi club members booked the new motorcycles? "I expected actually the club people and the old Yezdi-Jawa guys to book the bike, but they haven't they haven't even touched it. They are waiting to go take a test drive and then book. I'm now facing a lot of pressure from the club people and from Jawa owners who are saying that 'we didn't realise it was going to sell out so quickly. We were just waiting for a showroom to open to book. How can you do this to us?'," says Anupam. Classic Legends had stopped online bookings on 24th December, 2018. Bookings at dealerships are open though. Deliveries will begin from March. Classic Legends is also witnessing good number of cancellations as many customers are "jumping between one bike and the other and then back to the same bike".
Both the Jawa and the Forty Two are powered by a 300cc engine to maintain the character of the vintage Jawa which was powered by a 250cc engine in India. Jawa in its original avatar also had twin- and three-cylinder engines. Will the modern Jawa also have them? "I have a whole plethora but right now I started with what the Indians knew what the Indians like, so that was a start point," says Anupam soon after opening the 20th Jawa dealership.
The dealership count has reached 28 at the time of writing this story. The target is to cross 100 by mid- February. The run rate of dealership opening, which started on 15th December, is already quite high and it will be an industry record if Classic Legends manages to open 100 dealerships by 15th February.