c1980 Jawa Twin Cam Speedway 500cc Motorcycle
The Jawa story began in 1929 when Ing. Frantisek Janecek of the National Arms Factory in Prague first decided to manufacture motorcycles under licence from the German Wanderer concern, the name Jawa being a combination of the first two letters from both Janecek and Wanderer. The subsequent merger with rival Czech firm CZ saw a period of rapid expansion and a diverse range of products arriving on the market. Jawa enjoyed a long association with racing, competing at the top level in everything from Grand Prix bikes to motocross and proved particularly successful in disciplines where the four-stroke still ruled, such as dirt track, ice and speedway. Jawa’s involvement with speedway dates back to the 1930s and is tied to that of another little known Czech company, ESO. Founded by racer Jaroslav Simandl in 1949, ESO began building copies of the JAP engine (called the S-45) for European speedway riders and soon began turning out complete bikes. With their trademark two-piece clip on handlebars, ESO soon eclipsed JAP on the track, proving easier to ride, cheaper to maintain and more reliable than their British counterparts. The list of Speedway World Champions who rode Jawa bikes includes the likes of Ivan Mauger, Barry Briggs and Ole Olsen. Absorbed into the Jawa Corporation in January 1964, the Czech machines dominated speedway racing for many years, becoming the most successful manufacturer in the sport’s long history. The original ESO factory in Divisov continued producing speedway bikes as a separate entity from Jawa’s road bike company after the privatization that took place in 1990s.