It was sometime around 2004 when I got to know the Hungarian motorcycle club life. I met Tamas how was then a member of the club called: Alba Regalis MC. It was based in Székesfehérvár. I liked the whole thing so much I know almost immediately that I have to have a chopper. Not that I didn’t wanted to get a motorcycle since I was a kid, but I almost forgot about that.
I started to take a look at the used bikes ads and I had to realize that could not afford much with me being a full time student! But I have found a very promising little bike, a Jawa 350. It was made in the Czechoslovakia in the year 1989, just before the Soviet Union split up. The Bike itself wasn’t a big deal. As its name suggested it had a 350ccm 2 stroke engine which had something like 25 horsepower. And the bike’s appearance wasn’t the most beautiful, but I saw the opportunity in it!
After I acquired the machine for 75 thousand Forints ( which was the equivalent of 300 Euros by the time), and had the first look of it, I knew instantly that I will have an awful lot of work with it! I was right, but I could never know that I had to work this much.
When I first started to dismantle the bike I planned much more conversions on it. As I proceeded with the works I started to favor the usability, simplicity, and the easier implementation. Well this was my first motorcycle ever, so I had to learn much, and I did! This was the first complicated machinery I learnt how to, weld, fabricate, service…etc.
It was just before Christmas in 2004 when I started to take apart the bike. It was the most fun of all the works. It took only 2 days to disassemble it completely.
Then came the nasty stuff: I had to get rid of 15 years of mud and oil to reveal the parts. It wasn’t really funny but under all that dirt I found nearly intact parts, everything in good shape, so after all I was happy with my little bike!
I decided what I am going to use later and put all the excess parts in a cardboard box and throw it in the corner of the workshop. It took nearly 2 weeks of continuous work to make every part that I needed shiny and clean. But without all this cleaning it would of been useless to take apart everything!
When I had every part clean and in order I have spent hours just sitting in the workshop trying to figure out what will I do with all this. I listened to Rock music tried to imagine my motorcycle!
I started off with the frame. The bike had a solid double cradle frame, which wasn’t only stiff but looked really nice, so I left it alone. I only cut off some consoles and small stuff that I didn’t needed later. However I figured a way to extend the wheelbase a little bit. I cut the rear swingarm into to pieces and made it 55mm longer. For the damper units I used a fixing point on the frame which originally was meant for the saddle but had the same dimensions as the one for the dampers. As this point was a little bit backwards and upwards from the original point I managed a small lowering of the bike as well. Nice move?!
With this you couldn’t really tell that the bike was now longer and lower.
I cleaned the wheels and changed the bearing in them, and they were basically ready for use. They were in such a good shape didn’t even had to change the tires (not that I had the money for it).
I have renewed the front forks, but for rear ones it was easier and cheaper to buy a set of new ones…they were extremely cheap so I speared the work.
After I was finished the bikes suspension I started to work on my custom tear-drop gas tank. I could have get something from another bike, but I thought I’d make one on my own. So I started with a big piece of polyurethane foam and I carved and sanded out a nice little tank. I made a negative mold and then I layered in a few layers of fibreglass reinforced resin. For the gas cap I used a cap from an old gas tank ( you know the ones the military use to carry petrol). It all worked out nicely.
It was time to make some kind of a saddle for the bike. Well I didn’t t put too much work into this part. I used a piece of plywood for its base and then I layered some foam onto it. It wasn’t the most comfortable but I didn’t care. I was though!
Well now that I knew where would I sit I could make the handlebar. I welded a very cool V shaped handlebar! It was wide so it gave a great control over the bike. For the grips I asked my best friend on the university to make something up. Well he made me a set of custom made aluminum handles. They looked great on the handlebar!
I was almost finished the bike. I just had to paint it then finish the electronics and stuff, and it was ready to roll. I made 2 little boxes for the accumulator and rectifier from some old first aid boxes that I have found in my granddad’s workshop.
Well of course it wasn’t this easy. I had a few concepts I had to leave for one reason or a another during the build up.
First I wanted a nice sissy bar on the bike. But I never fitted one for it because a few older riders told me it is not a very bright idea, because if you have an accident it can break your back. Point taken.
Then I wanted to make forward feet controls. But it proved a little bit difficult to make it work, because of the Jawa’s unique automatic clutch system so I decided to leave it later. After I finished the bike I got used to the original position so I never wanted to move it forward again!
My biggest mistake was the one off electronic ignition system. I wanted to modernize the original mechanical system by changing it to a modern Hall sensor type ignition. After I had to push the bike home from a few kilometres away I put back the old system. With that I never ever had any problem later on. I have to admit sometimes the more simple something the better it works.
I not only finished the bike, but in the mean time I have passed the exams for my driving license, so I was ready to go!
The bike worked really well and took me everywhere. With all the changes it was now lighter than the original bike and much more easier to handle. I rode something like 5000 kilometres on it before the winter came. I enjoyed every single moment on it!