The Jawa Perak (image from 1952 Brochure)  



by Bill English, Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
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My first contact with anything Jawa was in the late 1960's and, as it turns out, I never fully recovered. For a short time I had a 1963 Jawa 125cc. Really enjoyed what little time I had with it before I had to sell it - I had just finished university and my need for money was greater than my ability to rationalize keeping it. It wasn't long, however, before I bought another bike - a screaming Yamaha 250 fixer-upper. At the time I figured if I could just have a 350cc I'd have it made and brand new 350 Jawa Californians were under $700. Man, how I lusted after one of those! Wasn't to be, though. My kids were young and my cash was short.

Typically, as the years passed and finances improved I graduated to ever bigger and bigger bikes. Bigger bikes meant bigger trips and we put a lot of very enjoyable miles on our touring machines over the years. We still enjoy it.

But then a couple of years ago friends I hadn't seen in well over 20 years were in Kamloops and visited. It didn't take us long to zero in on bikes in general and Jawas in particular. As luck would have it, he had a friend who had a complete and usable Jawa 350 for sale. It turned out to be a 1980 Model 634-6 and, yes, it was complete and running. The Jawa bug apparently never sleeps and I had to have that bike!

So over the course of the 1999/2000 winter I stripped it down to the frame and then cleaned, painted and polished until it was all back together again. I had an absolutely great time doing it and I ended up with a shiny bright red Jawa I really enjoyed just looking at. By the time I finished putting it back together it was Spring so then I could actually ride it. Nothing could have prepared me for how much fun I had just poking around on that bike. I was truly smitten by the Jawa. It is unique. It has character. It doesn't have much power. It sounds different. It often attracts gawkers. It makes me grin from ear to ear and I can't wait to get on it again.


Having had so much fun with the 634 I decided I wanted to try restoring an older Jawa. I live in the interior of BC in Canada and this isn't exactly a Mecca for finding any Jawas, let alone vintage ones. So last Fall I put out the word that I was looking for my next project. I was wanting to find a 350 no later than a model 360 or a 250 no later than a model 559. My search mostly consisted of looking for any form of classified ads (paper or electronic) I could get my hands on as well as keeping an eye on E-Bay. There really didn't seem to be many available.

There was a 250 Model 353 advertised in the classifieds of this Register's web site that was exactly what I was looking for. However, it was located in Minneapolis and shipping costs were quite prohibitive. Literally so close and yet so far - I was pretty disappointed.

In early December I checked out the Canadian Biker magazine web site ( classifieds and noticed there were lots of free ads there for all sorts of bikes - including "wanted" ads. So I put in a "wanted" ad for a 1966 or earlier Jawa 350cc or 250cc. (It generated two responses - the one below and another about two weeks later about an early 350 Californian.)

Within two days of posting the ad I received an e-mail from a person in the general Toronto, Ontario, area who said his friend had a 1951 Jawa 250cc complete and running with low miles for a pretty reasonable price. "Geeze," I thought, "that's got to be a Perak and I'll have to pass on it because of shipping costs." So I e-mailed back and said it sounded pretty interesting but shipping costs would make it too much. He e-mailed me right back wanting to know, if he could arrange to get it here for free or for very little cost, would I be interested then. I said "yes" about as fast as my little fingers could make that e-mail work.

The person who actually owned the bike had been away while all this was transpiring. When he returned home, the friend had him e-mail pictures of the bike to me. From that point on, the owner and I communicated directly by e-mail. The bike is definitely a Perak, certainly looks complete and appears to be in pretty decent shape although rusted in a few places. It's registered as a 1950 and the owner tells me it is on the original tires, has 3200 miles on it and runs quite well. That's it, I'm hooked! We easily settled the deal.

Now the issue became getting the bike to my place. The owner and his friend were checking with all their friends and I leaned on anybody I even remotely knew to try to arrange something. None of us were having much success and I was starting to worry. I even considered, only very briefly, I could drive there myself and pick it up. Doing that would have taken a minimum of a week of steady driving and the cost would have been at least as much as the shipping would cost.

I decided I would literally call all the movers and shipping companies here and see what I could work out. I have to say I was a bit startled at the range of quotes I received - from pretty pricey to out of sight. I had sort of settled on one option that wasn't too bad for price but meant a fair amount of effort and inconvenience for the owner - he'd have to crate it and take it to Toronto. No sooner had I e-mailed the owner about this than another moving company called me back to suggest we could probably work out something fairly reasonable. The up-side was they would pick the bike up and deliver it right to my house. The down-side was that it would be a month or so getting here. We went for it!

The money transaction was done by electronic transfer from my local bank. The owner sent the registration and transfer papers to me by mail and they arrived within a few days. Besides the registration, he also sent an almost complete parts manual for a 350cc Perak and an original sales brochure for the 250 Perak that is just like new. Talk about an extra bonus!

At the time of writing this, the Perak has been picked up by the shipper and is someplace in transit. I'm obviously pretty excited about all this. But this is nothing compared to how wound I know I'll be when the Perak is here comfortably in my garage..............


In our house, February 25th will henceforth be celebrated as "Jawa Day."

We were visiting at Vancouver, BC, and I followed up an earlier lead I had for Jawa Perak parts. The deal worked out and we drove back home Feb. 25th with a partial Perak (frame, motor, seat, front & rear suspension, and a a few other bits) in the back of our pick-up. We got home to discover the shipper had just left a message that the truck with the bike was in Kamloops. That was about a week earlier than we had anticipated. I figure I had our pick-up unloaded and we were on our way in 3 seconds flat!

The before picture, not too bad, not too bad at all!

What a sight for sore eyes. There in the back of this hulking great 18 wheeler sat the Perak and it looked
beautiful. It looked better in the back of our pick-up. Finally we have it home and in the garage. I sat on it for the first time and just grinned and grinned.

Since then, time permitting, I've mostly just looked and poked around discovering what's there and what sort of shape it's in. So far, I'm quite pleased with what I see.

Apparently this bike was brought back to Canada by a man who served overseas (I assume in the Armed Forces) and it ended up stored in a garage from 1956 until last Fall. There is, of course, no way of knowing for sure how accurate this might be. The overall condition of the bike certainly doesn't rule it out.

The odometer shows 3175 miles. The tires, seat and footpegs have almost no wear on them. As near as I can tell everything is there and original. The only exceptions are there is no horn and the coil isn't original. As you can see in the pictures, there is a fair amount of surface rust. The metal all seems quite solid, though, and I haven't found any places where metal has rusted through. Most of the chrome has rusted off the wheels, hubs, spokes, and rear suspension. There are the odd dings and scratches
as well but I would say this little sweetie is in pretty decent original shape.

I haven't decided whether or not I'll try to fire it up - I probably will but I'll wait until it gets a bit warmer. I have kicked it over a few times and the compression feels quite good.

For the next while I want to spend time planning how I want do get going with this. I want to check out costs and the routine around getting stuff rechomed and spend some time deciding what parts I might want to replace and where I can get them. I'm also on the look-out for pictures and other information about these bikes so I can stay as close to original as possible for the restoration.

What a great little bike! I look forward to a long enjoyable relationship with it.

Click here for part 2 of "Bill's Perak Project"