Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Slovakia 2014 - Technical Monuments: Historic Motorcycles
Jawa 50/550 Pioneer and Manet M90

ISSUE DATE: 17 April 2014
NOMINAL VALUE: 1.10 € / 1.25 
CIRCULATION: 1 000 000 (each)
STAMP DESIGN: Robert Makar / Marián Komáček 
ENGRAVER: Ľubomír Žálec ArtD.
STAMP SIZE: 44.1 mm x 26.5 mm
PRINTER: Postal Stationery Printing House
PRINTING PROCESS: Rotary recess printing 
combined with recess printing


After cancelling automobile production (1936), Zbrojovka (Brno) was looking for a supplementary civil programme. “Motorwheel”, a small motorcycle following the tradition of bicycle production, was considered. 

Ing. Josef Ullman was entrusted with the design. He finished the first prototype “Z 2” in 1939. However, it was actually a small motorcycle with a 98 cm3 engine. Further works were interrupted by the occupation; however Ing. Ullman was secretly carrying on with the project. The production of an enhanced version was ready by 1945. 

Ten prototypes were created in 1946 that successfully passed tests, and thus the motorcycle was included in the capacity range of Czechoslovakian motorcycles. Also the decision on its production in the Zbrojovka subsidiary plant, in Považská Bystrica (later Považské strojárne), was made in the same year. 

The production initiation was managed by Ing. Ullman and his co-operators, while further enhancements of volume reduction to 93 cm3 (Ø 32 × 58 mm) were carried out. Mass production of the motorcycle named MANET 90 (named after hill Manín) was initiated in 1947. It was the first Czechoslovakian post-war motorcycle, as well as the first mass produced motor vehicle in Slovakia. The motorcycle had a simple and attractive design, and thus was equipped with a double-piston single engine. This principle was based on the arrangement of two vertical working cylinders in a row, along with a shared combustion area (Garelli patent). 

Motorcycles with engines of this concept were produced by Puch company from 1926; however the most significant successes were recorded under DKW brand. The Manet 90 engine had the power of2.8kW (3,5 k) upon 4500 revolutions per minute. Along with a three-stage gearbox, and multi-disc clutch working in the oil sump. 

Riding comfort was assured by the front-wheel telescopic fork, and suspended driver´s seat. The motorcycle’s load capacity was 80kg upon the average consumption of 1.5l/100km. The maximum speed of this load capacity was 65 km/h. 

Manet 90 was greatly enjoyed from its beginnings, and it significantly contributed to motorisation of post-war Slovakia. 37630 machines left the production plant, until its production finished in 1951. However, very few pieces remain currently, which is why it is valued and sought-after by various motorcycle veterans. 


Three men, particularly the technical director of JAWA company Dr. Frei; design engineer Josef Jozíf; and motorcycle rider Jan Křivka, participated in the creation of the legendary small motorcycle produced by a world-renowned producer. 

The original project from 1947 ended up in a drawer after February 1948. Its time came no sooner than at the beginning of the 1950s, when Jozíf’s designing team revised it. The first prototype of “the fifty”, named 359, was created in 1954. It was decided in the same year that production will be based in Považské strojárne (Považská Bystrica), where Manet 90 had already been produced before. Meanwhile, the enhanced motorcycle got its well-known “civil” name Pionier, complementing its type name 50/550. Its mass production started in April 1955. Pionier was equipped with a two-stroke air flat engine (Ø 38 × 44 mm) that was cooled by 49.8cm3. This engine had a maximum output of 1.5 k (1.1 kW) upon 5000rpm. Its total consumption of fuel was 1.5l/100km. Torque was transferred on wheels by a multi-plate clutch, located in the oil sump by means of a three-stage gearbox. 

Upon its’ own weight of 60kg, its capacity load was 130kg and the speed was 45km/h. The frame was open in order to enable comfort getting on and riding also for female passengers in skirts. The solution of rear wheel suspension, by a single centrally located string, was interesting. Small Jawa made an overall intelligent impression with the power unit concept and other design solutions. It significantly outran its times. It became a favourite means of transportation for a broad range of motorcycle riders, particularly the youth. In the Czech Republic, it was lovingly and suitably called “Pařez” because of the driver´s seat shape.

In 1958, Pionier underwent thorough modernisation (type 555), whose results not only included enhanced performance parameters and practicality, but also even more of an enjoyable appearance. The key Pionier concept was also taken over by its further followers – Jawa 05 (1962), Jawa 20and 21 Sport (1967), and finally the sports type Jawa 23 Mustang (1968). They were produced until the beginning of the 1980s, when only Babeta mopeds were produced in Považské strojárne. 

author: Miroslav Bachratý