Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Royal Enfield owner recalls his JAWA motorcycle

This rough and ready JAWA motorcycle was on hand for MotoGiro event in May.
My recent item on encountering a display of vintage JAWA motorcycles brought back memories for one Royal Enfield owner.

Apparently, in the late 1960s, The Whole Earth Catalog ran an article asking what the best "survival" motorcycle would be. The magazine recommended two: a BMW, and the JAWA.

"It was designed to be so basic to fix that you wouldn't need expensive, specific tools. The perfect easy bike for when times are tough," is how the website Cool Material describes that long ago choice.

Michael Monteith of Portsmouth, Va. saw the original article about the Jawa. He wrote:

"I was inspired to 'eventually' own one after reading an endorsement in the Whole Earth Catalog in about 1970. My Jawa, a Californian 250, joined my stable in about 1994 and I rode it to work and play daily for several years, commuting by ferry from Bainbridge Island, Wash. to Seattle.

"There would usually be 20-to-30 motorcycles on the ferry that always were allowed to board first. The other bikers made me wait to board at the end of the pack so I wouldn't suffocate them in two-stroke smoke when we all departed. Of course I sold it for a new fling but still pine for it on occasion.

"The Jawa was incredibly reliable requiring only a fresh spark plug occasionally to keep it happy — usually on the side of some busy road in the rain. It was also a rider magnet with many Europeans stopping to look and tell about their Jawa adventures.

Unrestored JAWA shows it's a survivor.
"I've recently taken to competing in MotoGiros sponsored the the U.S. Classic Racing Association. These are two-day rally and skill events for pre-1968 motorcycles up to 250cc. They're run on public roads, paved and dirt and usually cover about 375 miles in two days.

"Jawas are a favorite in these competitions. (I ride a 1964 Puch 250 GS.) Most of the Jawas are not restored... but look as though they might have come out of some Czech barn the day before. Attached are photos of one my favorites at the Giro (in May)... There were three or four there competing.

"I also attached photos of a Royal Enfield Turbo Twin 250 circa 1964 at the Giro. It has the Villiers engine... He finished the MotoGiro in better standing than my Puch, which decided to take a short nap at about mile 50 of the second day's run.

Royal Enfield Turbo Twin was a competitor at Moto Giro.
"The fellow's name... is Brian. I recalled that he was No. 22 starting just ahead of me at 23 in the line up of 145 participants. I looked him up in the final scoring.

(Small world; Brian and his Turbo Twin were part of an earlier item.)

"The next MotoGiro will be in Ashville, N.C. on the weekend of Oct. 2. They have a Facebook page you might be interested in:  MotoGiro-USA. The events are very popular and participation is usually limited to about 150.  Registration fills up within a few days of the initial announcement for open registration...

Villiers motor of the Royal Enfield Turbo Twin.
"As they are so popular you almost need an inside track to know when to get in your registration. I can provide that if someone you know is keen to enter..."

"Yes, I still have the 2000 Bullet iron barrel along with about a dozen other vintage stable mates of various breeds including Beemer, Puch, Yamaha, Vespa,  Gilera, and a few box bikes still in gestation."

Michael Monteith, his 2000 Enfield, and wife Frankie.


  1. There is an entire thread on the MotoGiro @ Britbike.com if your interested???


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