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On 23 of January 1878, Frantisek Janecek was born in Klaster nad Dedinou, one of the smallest villages of East Bohemia in former Czechoslovakia. He studied mechanics at the technical school in Prague and proceeded his studies at the college of Berlin. He returned to Prague, where he started to work for Kolben in Vysocany, at that time one of the biggest elektrotechnical companies in Bohemia. At the age of 23 he was entrusted with the management of a new factory, set up in Holland. He also studied at the Technical college of Delft. He also met his future wife in Holland. The story tells that one day riding his bicycle on the way to his work, he accidentally was hit by a car. The driver of this car took him home, and his daughter took care of Frantisek very warmhearted. Some time later he married this young lady.After four years he went back to Prague, being head of the mechanical workshop. At the age of 31, he started to work independently and opened his own mechanical laboratory and a mechanical workshop. The money for this was mostly acquired from a patent for the improvement of arc lamps whatever that may be.


Frantisek Janecek 1878-1941

The first world war changed his career. After a short active duty at the Italian front, he went back to the drawing board and soon he obtained at about sixty patents. The most well known invention of that time was Janecek's hand grenade.After the first world war, he started the production of this grenades. He was occupied completely by his enterprises and the development and production of subjects ranging between typewriters and sewing machines.

After the decline of the armament industry in 1929, Janecek decided to start the production of motorcycles immediately. There was no time to develop a motor of his own, so he decided to make a foreign design under license. Janecek had to choose between the Austrian double piston two-stroke motor of Puch, the Berlin two-stroke of Schliha, or the new Wanderer with a 500 cc. OHV blockmotor with cardan-shaft and frame of pressed steel plates. Janecek did not only get the license to produce the Wanderer, but also the complete installation of production with many completed parts. Because of the collapse of the German motor industry, Wanderer had already decided to stop the production. Additionally, Wanderer didn't think it would be profitable to directly compete with BMW that was focused on the same customer- market.

The sharp reader now probably already guessed where the name JAWA came from. Yes, the first two letters of Janecek and Wanderer !!!

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1929-1930. The first Jawa 500 OHV under license of Wanderer.

Although one didn't have direct experience with  motorcycles, as an arms factory one had a lot of knowledge of materials, and production techniques. So one decided to improve the construction of the Wanderer and to develop it further.
Profound tests soon revealed the weak points of the motor. When the first Jawa 500 came on the market, it already had a forefork from pressed steel plates instead of the original Wanderer forefork, and a saddle petrol tank instead of a triangular petrol tank. After that followed improvements on the ball-head, the lubrication system, the cylinder head, connecting-rod bearings and carter de-aerating. As you can see Janecek kept on improving and re-designing this new product as well.

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In the thirties one mostly followed the rule that a solo motor should have a capacity of 500 cc. and a motor with sidecar should have a capacity of 750 cc. Janecek thought otherwise and started the production of a lightweight two-stroke.
For this he obtained the expertise of the English constructor and racing cyclist G.W. Patchett, who brought the well-tried Villiers 175cc one cylinder two-stroke to Prague. This way they constructed a light and uncomplicated cycle for the British motor unit. Soon this new red emailled motorcycle obtained a lot of response. It only costed 4250 kronen; until then there was in Czechoslovakia no motorcycle for sale for under 7000 kronen. In 1933 this Jawa was the most sold motorcycle in Czechoslovakia and the Jawa factory could take the big 500 out of production.

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To comply with the request for a stronger motor, Janecek developed the Jawa 350 SV four-stroke, one year later followed by the 350 OHV four-stroke. Technically the most interesting model before worldwar II was the Jawa robot. This 98cc. two-stroke had a mono-block construction which means the gearbox is integrated in the motor-block. It is common now, but at that time all the motors had separated gearboxes. The top speed was 65 km/h., the consumption was 1:50 to 56 and the weight of this small motor was 49 kg.


Interesting to know is that all the pre-war models only were obtainable in a red color. According to the Jawa factory : Synthetic emaille (autex) cherry red nr. S2016 shade 8850. (This was before the Ral color definition.)

The second world war meant the end of the development and production of Jawa motor cycles. Already in April 1939 the Jawa factory had to switch over. The Germans that occupied Czechoslovakia from 1938 on, knew that the factory was on technological top and had skilled laborers. That is why the factory had to make parts for airplane motors and stationary motors for generators. However nobody believed that the third Reich would last for more than a few years, so the Czech laborers tried to sabotage production and already started working for the after-war period .
Already in 1940 one started working on a new motor based on the wishes of the customers of last season and a diversity of developments on motorcycles of the last years.
In 1941 Frantisek Janecek died, leaving the company to his son Karel (Frantisek married a Dutch woman.)
The new model had to be reliable, simple, but yet crafty and comfortable. This model was given birth in the service department, that also carried out repairs for the German army. Called "Perak" ( to spring ) this model was painted army green and tested under the eyes of the German occupier. This way Jawa earned an advantage on the competitor and with the Perak the base was laid for the after-war production. This concept with it's round forms probably served as an example for the rest of the world.

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1946-1953 Jawa type 11 " Perak " 250cc. Two-stroke.

Immediately after the war, Jawa was the first motorcompany on the European continent that came on the market with a well tried and modern new construction in the form of a 249 cc. one cylinder two-stroke and produced it in great amounts.
Shortly after the war, Jawa was nationalized and Ir. Janecek junior left the country. Before WW II , Jawa didn't have any export of meaning, after WW II the export increased and a great deal of the production went abroad.
The Jawa 250 complied with the needs of a great deal of the customers. To fulfill the more sportily wishes of the customers, in 1948 the first series of 350 cc's appeared in the frame used by the 250 cc. This model was first introduced as Jawa-Ogar, because it was produced at the factory of the third Czechoslovakian motorproducer; Ogar.
Yet, the same year, this factory became part of the Jawa-factory. The Jawa 350 cc. had a two cylinder motor, based on the Jawa 250 cc. The motor had flat pistons, reverse flow, capacity of 348cc., and delivered 8.8 KW. The top speed was110 Km/h., and it used 1 liter petrol on 25 km.

At the development of four-stroke motors, Jawa followed the way from sport- to serial manufacuring. As base model the OHC two cylinder was developed for a series of roadrace motors. In 1952 the Jawa fourstroke 500 cc. OHC, type 15/00 came out. With some improvements through the years, the last 500cc. came out in 1958. The reason Jawa stopped the development of the 500cc.four-stroke was that it was not an easy motor to produce and the other models, the 250 and 350cc. two stroke had an almost unlimited outlet. A shame from technical viewpoint, but economically understandable.

To combine the modern motorconcept with a comfortable suspension, again co-operation became a fact.
This time with the CZ factory. Motorcycles were developed now, that both in technical and esthetical aspect were almost perfect for that time.
The main change was the new look with two new side cabins and a third one under the buddyseat.
The wheel suspension with hydraulic shock absorber and long springrange for both fore- and rearwheel where other important improvements. In 1954 the new 250 cc. and 350 cc. went into production as Jawa-Cz. Shortly after the introduction these motorcycles were given the nickname kyvacka (swing). The official typecode was Jawa-Cz 353 and 354.
From these motorcycles Jawa-Cz also made lighter versions like a 125cc. (Jawa junior type 355) and a 175cc. type 356. The increase of the springrange lead to the decrease of the wheelsize from 19" to 16", otherwise the motor would become too high. When the soviet union became a market, the production concentrated upon the Jawa 354, that had the advantage that there could be a sidecar assembled.

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Jawa 175 cc. Two-stroke type 356 (1960)

The contribution of the motorindustrie to the Czech industrie was not appreciated enough. The at that time almighty communist president Novotny said literally: After socialism, we don't drive motor. As a result of this Jawa-Cz was allowed to continue and contribute to the treasury, but the complete Czech motorindustrie was poorly reorganized, and there was almost no room for investments anymore. In spite of all this and the entrance of the Japanese motorcycles, Jawa still survived.
They still make nice and for European (and maybe American) concepts cheap motors, and I hope this interesting brand will manage to survive in the future. It won't be easy because of the changing market, and an economy that has suffered a lot from almost fifty years of communistic economy.

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I will take you this far concerning the Jawa history. Mainly because my own interest decreases from 1970 on, but also because I don't want to strive for completeness, but rather for a perfect part. After all this started as a hobby and it doesn't have to become my life work.

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To be completely about Jawa's history, You could write a book about it. Somebody else already did: For the really interested readers I refer to the great book of Pavel Husak - Jawa/Cz, Manual, geschichte, gegenwart. It is translated into Dutch (ISBN 90-6127-203-3) but I don't know if it is available in English.