Although Jawa might not ring many bells to younger motorcycle aficionados, older riders should promptly identify one of the biggest motorcycle manufacturers to operate behind the iron curtain in then Czechoslovakia. The company left its mark in the 250 and 350 cc Grand Prix classes during the 1950s and 60s, as well as celebrating in 1987 a landmark three million motorcycles produced.
The 1990s proved to be anything other than favorable for the company, but Jawa never ceased producing modernized variants of the affordable and reliable two-stroke 350. Actually, the company's facility in Týnec nad Sázavou, Czech Republic, still produces the 350 Type 640. Pretty much unchanged since 1991, it uses the most modern version of a twin cylinder engine that draws its roots all the way back to the mid-40s, when it was first introduced as the fruit of a co-operation with Ogar.
Today's emissions rules have practically banned Jawa's two-strokes from Western markets, but the 350 still enjoys some popularity in Russia and Central America. In the meantime, a new model has been introduced, the 350 OHC. As the name suggests – with OHC unsurprisingly standing for OverHead Camshaft – this is a four-stroke engine, and it has been outsourced from China together with the steel frame.
The single-cylinder, air-cooled unit comes from Shineray (also behind the recent resurrection of SWM), who in turn copied it from Honda's XR400 motor with minor changes and a Delphi injection system. This motor is quite famous in several countries, powering successful Shineray export models like the X5 adventure bike, and this is one of its biggest assets: It is already compliant with strict European norms.
In the case of Jawa's 350 OHC, the 397 cc single produces 20.4 kW (27.4 hp) at 6,500 rpm and 30.6 Nm (22.6 lb-ft) at 5,000 rpm – a bit lower on power compared to the XR400, probably because of the Chinese version's lower compression ratio.
The motorcycle is styled after the original 1970s 350 Type 634, adopting a classic British roadster look with a 19-inch wheel at the front and 18 at the rear, the unmistakably shiny 12-l (3.3-gal) fuel tank and clean, retro lines.
According to the little information that Jawa reveals, its dry weight is 160 kg (353 lb), it is equipped with an ABS system, and is fully compliant with the latest European emission norms, retailing in its home country for CZK99,930 (around US$4,000).
Next to the new 350, Jawa also introduced another tribute to the Type 634 classic, the 660 Vintage. It is a new member of a model family that was first introduced in 2011 with the 660 Sportard, employing the Italian-made Minarelli single-cylinder engine that powers motorcycles like Yamaha's XT660 and Ténéré 660, as well as the last generation Aprilia Pegaso.
The 660 Vintage relies on the same 36 kW (48.3 hp) powertrain, and also adopts the same retro looks of the 350 OHC. In the Czech Republic it retails for CZK179,830 (about $7,300) and, just like the smaller model, it is Euro4-compliant, therefore eligible for export to most western markets.