That The Forever Bike makes you huff, puff and grunt every time you attempt to lift it off the coffee table, is itself an exciting premise for anybody with motorcycling inclinations. This is, I must say at the onset, the most in-depth treasure trove of everything related to Ideal Jawa and Yezdi – names that dominated the Indian motorcycling scene in the 60s, 70s and 80s – and its sheer bulk gives away the exhaustive nature of its contents.
Adil’s book starts at the dawn of India’s independence from the British Empire, when the opportunity to manufacture two-wheelers finally became recognised as one with immense potential. It swiftly transitions to tracing the early footsteps of long-standing friends, Rustom S Irani and Farrokh H Irani, starting from Ideal Motors – an agency that would import BMW and Sunbeam motorcycles from its Gunbow Street office in Mumbai. From there, it charts the course the friends traversed; hitting it off with the Czechs and landing the authority to be distributors and importers of CZ and Jawa motorcycles in western and southern India. The very first thing (the book reveals) Ideal Motors did with the first consignment of motorcycles it imported, was to assign four motorcycles for racing!
The Forever Bike goes on to encapsulate every miniscule detail of Jawa’s Indian journey; and delightfully, it is as much of an eye-opening read as it is a visual delight. Every turn of the page presents a meticulously photographed Jawa or a Yezdi in varying states of existence, and every picture of significance has been captioned to impeccable detail. To be honest, it can be an overwhelming read if the names Jawa and Yezdi featured prominently in your growing-up years because every little indigenous hack, idiosyncrasy and character associated with these motorcycles finds a worthy mention – just in case some of them had managed to fade away from your blue-smoke-filled memories!
One of the most enthralling chapters is ‘Somender’s Sing Bang Theory’. It is as much of an account as it is an ode to the man who was Ideal Jawa’s strongest R&D supporter and critic – Somender Singh. An elaborate spread on over a dozen of the Singh’s fantastic go-faster mods will certainly leave you gasping for breath, and the braver amongst you may be tempted to go tinker with your own Jawas and Yezdis. Proceed with restraint, however, because Singh ‘had the temerity to strap a modified Road King engine upside down to a microlight in the early 1990s and make it reliable enough to not conk out in mid air.’ Need we say more?
The book also features owners who have remained loyal to the brand and its machines over the years, in addition to some absolutely staggering overland expeditions you wouldn’t believe were attempted back in the day! Another chapter, among others, that’s worthy of a round of hearty applause is ‘Keepers of the faith’, which celebrates the mechanics that have kept the Yezdi and Jawa fires burning against all odds. Because the book brings to life the magic Ideal Jawa created, reaching the ‘End of the line’ chapter leaves you heavy-hearted, with haunting images of the abruptly abandoned factory; and its contents leaving you with anything from dejection to fury – depending on what the company meant to you. Thankfully, the Jawa Reimagined section of the book cheers you up with the complete story on the Jawa brand’s recent revival, courtesy Classic Legends.
For its candid, yet respectful and extremely informative approach to the subject at hand, The Forever Bike is a must-have in your collection of automotive books; and if you don’t boast of one, this book is certainly a phenomenal way to begin. As a bonus, the simple task of picking this book up is the equivalent of a small workout – so you may emerge a fitter person by the time you’re done with it.
Title: The Forever Bike
Author: Adil Jal Darukhanawala
Published by: DJ Media, Pune
Price: Rs 4,500
Available in bookstores, online, Flipkart and Amazon.