Jawa was founded in Czechoslovakia in 1929, under then name Janecek-Wanderer. Frantisek Janecek was an arms manufacturer in Czechoslovakia who in 1929, like so many other munitions makers, decided to start building motorcycles. Janecek bought the rights to produce the Wanderer brand and the name Jawa is a derivative of the two names, JAnecek and WAnderer. Jawa became the best known of all Czechslovakian motorcycle marques. They originally built Wanderer machines under license then became the sole producer of Wanderer machines. Jawa built numerous road and race bikes before the Second World War. Production continued after the war, in conjuction with CZ, most notably the simple two-stroke roadsters. Jawa also built many highly successful speedway bikes, after taking over the Eso factory in 1962.
During WWII, Jawa secretly began designing and developing a new motorcycle. One of these designs was a 250cc model with ultra-modern unit construction, automatic clutch, telescopic front fork and plunger rear suspension. After WWII the company fell under communist rule but after a few years were authorized to compete in racing. Jawa cleaned up in the ISDT for many years. They didn't have as much success in road racing.
Although two stroke engines were the company's mainstay, they did produce a 488cc double overhead cam 4-stroke engine in 1952. 1953 saw a power increase to 28hp and 1954 saw a dual seat and larger brakes. The new 500 OHC Twin was a prestigious bike but sales were slow and production of the 500 Twin ended in 1958.