Janus Motorcycles – Purveyors of Vintage Inspired Motorcycles

In 2011 two men came together by the names of Devin Biek and Richard Worsham to form Janus Motorcycles. Their goal of creating a new American motorcycle brand that would stand out from the crowd was finally underway.

In Goshen, Indiana, Janus Motorcycles was born and by 2013 they were manufacturing motorcycles. Hand built with carefully selected components, Chinese engines, and a super vintage style. 

Janus is very similar to the British Mutt Motorcycle Company. After owning and loving a Mutt, covering many miles, I was super excited to delve into their American competitors and check out their offerings.  

In this article I am going to take a look at the short history, company, bikes, the components and everything there is to know about Janus Motorcycles, let’s get into it.

Table of Contents

Janus Motorcycles

Janus saw a gap in the market for low capacity retro vintage machines that throw back to the original essence of motorcycling but still are of high quality and are incredibly unique. 

To quote from their own website:

We make simple, beautiful machines that are a joy to own and ride. We draw on the Northern Indiana spirit of manufacturing to create a personal, unique, and relatable product. We utilize our global marketplace to source reliable, tried-and-true components. We build to order and sell directly to our riders, cultivating a connection with each and every owner.

The built to order element of Janus is what really makes them stand out in a packed market of manufacturers. Other than custom builders, there are not many companies that work on a build to order basis, particularly those that deal with relatively low capacity machines.

A personal connection is created with each customer and with that the bikes that Janus build need to be of a high standard, reliable, and truly something special. This is the niche that they have carved out for themselves and are thriving in. 

They initially built a 50cc machine called the Halcyon 50. It was a water-cooled two-stroke, 10HP engine with a top speed of 55mph. In 2015 they developed the Halcyon 250 and today have 4 models in their line-up which we will take a look at a little further on. 

The Janus Unique Selling Point

Janus Motorcycles are targeted at those who want to create a connection with their machine, uninterrupted by the latest technology, or too much power. The machines are built for everyday riding that most riders do whether that be a commute into the city, country-roads or winding mountain passes. 

Perhaps most notably, again as quoted they are for “Riders who value experience more than size or specification.”

When scrolling through the Janus Motorcycle line-up instantly you will notice the small displacement of their motorcycles, the biggest being a 450cc engine. You will also note the price point of their machines. For example the latest Halcyon 450 starts from $13,500. 

Quite steep for a 450cc engine when compared with something like a Honda Rebel 500 which comes in at $6,299 or even a CB1000R which is $12,999. 

Essentially the price is justified by Janus Motorcycles being built to order, from components carefully sourced to be the best suited, and they have an exceptionally high enjoyment-horsepower ratio. 

As a company Janus are very candid with their approach to what they offer and that is a high quality product, which may be more expensive than bigger manufacturers offerings that have much bigger engine displacement but they are unique, hand built motorcycles. 

Ultimately, whether the ticket price is justified really comes down to the potential owner’s perspective. As for the small displacement, well, there are plenty of motorcycles out there that can get you from one place to another faster. Not sure they create the same level of enjoyment, nostalgia and connection to riders of years gone by though. 

I have a fondness for small bikes and think chasing the red line on a 250cc is much more fun than never tapping into the top end power on a 1000cc Sportbike. From the number of Mutt owners I have spoken with that have bought one after many years of riding ‘big’ bikes and wanting something simpler, I would suggest that I am not alone in that. 

Also, Janus Motorcycles are very good looking motorcycles. Stylistically they are something to be admired and really stand out amongst a wash of bikes that are all blending in to look the same. 

Modern Classics are taking the world by storm at the moment which I covered in a previous post but Janus take that to a new extreme, forging modern elements that make for a reliable ride with style designs from the motorcycle pioneer era of the 1900’s.  

Are Janus Motorcycles Any Good?

Whether Janus Motorcycles are any good is a very subjective question and it depends what you are holding them up against. 

They have a pretty good selection of reviews and write-ups which they link out to on their website. Noticeably The New York Times and Cycleworld are quite keen on these vintage looking bikes. 

They offer a 2 year fender-fender warranty, intrinsically in the bike’s DNA it is built to be simple to understand and to wrench on. Janus encourages owners to perform their own maintenance on their bikes and point them in the direction of their YouTube channel for their growing collection of maintenance tips.

What you don’t know, they will point you in the right direction to a garage or offer advice on the phone or online. Being heavily reliant on a positive customer relationship, I would imagine that the customer service is pretty good and from reading through a few forums the general consensus agrees with this. 

Performance motorcycles they are not. Even the 450 isn’t going to blow you away with the power delivery, so to compare them to a Kawasaki Ninja 400 or even a Harley Street 750 would be foolish. 

They earn their worth in the artistry that has gone into them, the materials used, and craftsmanship to put it all together. A classically styled but simple bike that you can maintain yourself at home I would say is a pretty good deal.

How Fast Can a Janus Motorcycle Go?

The most appropriate answer would be as fast as you need it too but perhaps not as fast as you would like it too. 

The actual figures are as follows:

  • The Halcyon 450 is capable of 90 miles per hour.
  • The models with the 250cc engines are capable of 70 miles per hour.

Where are Janus Motorcycles Built?

Janus Motorcycles are built in Indiana and you will find the majority of Janus parts are built in house or sourced from domestic suppliers. Only half a dozen or so parts are sourced from outside the USA.

Janus’ transparency when it comes to where they source their parts is very refreshing as even the biggest manufacturers often shroud this information with mystery. 

Where Is The Janus Motorcycle Engine Made?

China. 

There is no way to skate around the fact that the engines in Janus Motorcycles are made in China, then imported to Indiana.

I can see the skeptics immediately rolling their eyes and some of you might even be about to click off this post now, but on behalf of Janus and all other Chinese engine based bikes, hold on a second. 

I did over 6,000miles on a 125cc Chinese engine last year and not once did it falter. It managed to get me round the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia in Wales, twice on road trips with full luggage, and did a couple of 300-400mile days in a row. So, it shouldn’t be a turn off that a Janus engine is from the same place as your TV or phone.

The engine they finally decided on is found worldwide and is one of the most widely used on the planet. Being a simple air cooled, 2 valve, single cylinder design means it best matches those early motorcycles that the Janus designed bikes are modelled on.

The fact is, Janus design and build motorcycles for the true soul of motorcycling which equates to enjoyment, freedom, simplicity. They therefore located an engine that is simplistic in design, easy to maintain, provides enough power, and fit’s in with the company’s goals. 

Maintenance on the engine is simple with one spark plug, one carb, two-valve adjustments and easy oil changes. The EPA certificate ensures its working ability for over 9,000km of testing. 

Janus simply challenges the skeptics to “come and try it” and I too, would tell you not to knock it until you have. 

So, we know where they are produced and what they are made up of, let’s have a look at the current model line-up. 

Janus Halcyon 450 Review

Janus Halcyon 450
Janus Halcyon 450 pays homage to the flat tank motorcycles of the 1920’s

Features:

  • Price – $13,500
  • SWM 445cc, single-cylinder engine, 4 Valve overhead cam, electronic fuel injection and the bike has a dual exhaust design
  • Top Speed of 90mph
  • 30 horsepower at 7,500rpm
  • Dry Weight of 345lbs
  • Brembo front and rear calipers and master cylinders, with Spiegler braided stainless lines
  • Twin under-seat IKON shocks
  • Sargent Seat
  • Hand-painted feature and name on tank
  • Hand-formed steel fenders

The Halcyon 450 has been built in tradition with the Janus mindset of being lightweight, classic, easy to own and to ride. It has a little more power than models with the 250 engine but it carries the same qualities and vintage look of the Halcyon 250 and original 50 models. 

It is very reminiscent in my mind of the very early Indian 350 model with the torpedo/cylinder shaped tank. 

The 450 is best suited for those moving up the product line from a 250 or geared towards those that have had big bikes but are looking for something different, simpler but with still enough grunt to not leave you lacking when you want it. 

It is very important to remember that the bikes are built to order and therefore there are a series of options that you can choose when you go through the online process of designing your bike. 

For the Halcyon 450 there are 9 base color choices, 10 different pinstripe colors and 2 color choices of leather seat. Then there are options of a deluxe tank, brushed or polished exhaust, hand painted number plate, centre stand, saddlebags and a whole lot more. 

You could spend hours on the design front creating your custom masterpiece which holds true across the entire model range as for each model there are options to customise your bike the way you want it.

More info here

Janus Halcyon 250 Review

Janus Halcyon 250
Janus Halcyon 250

Features:

  • Price – $7,495
  • 229cc, Air-cooled, 4-stroke overhead valve single cylinder engine
  • Top Speed of 70mph
  • 14 horsepower at 7,000rpm
  • Dry Weight of 263lbs
  • Modern Disc Brakes and Stainless Brake Lines

The Halcyon 250 is the smaller Brother of the 450. It is classically designed with the iconic featherbed frame, and as Janus says themselves it is a paired down design that takes its ‘cues

of form and function from brands such as Zenith, Brough-Superior and Indians’

It is not a replica however, and in a line up it would stand out as its own design which is really what makes this original bike special. 

More info here.

Janus Phoenix 250 Review

Janus Phoenix 250 Cafe Racer
Janus Phoenix 250

Features:

  • Price – $7,895
  • 229cc, Air-cooled, 4-stroke overhead valve single cylinder engine
  • Top Speed of 70mph
  • 14 horsepower at 7,000rpm
  • Dry Weight of 267lbs
  • Modern Disc Brakes and Stainless Brake Lines

The Phoenix 250 is very reminiscent of the very first cafe racers. It has an aggressive rake and slender stance. In the original cafe racer style the bike is stripped of anything that it doesn’t need, leaving only the engine and simple controls exposed. 

More info here.

Janus Gryffin 250 Review

Janus Gryffin 250 Scrambles
Janus Gryffin 250 Scrambles Motorcycle

Features:

  • Price – $7,895
  • 229cc, Air-cooled, 4-stroke overhead valve single cylinder engine
  • Top Speed of 70mph
  • 14 horsepower at 7,000rpm
  • Dry Weight of 263lbs 
  • Modern Disc Brakes and Stainless Brake Lines

The Gryffin 250 is Janus’ offering to the retro scrambler scene. Built for fun on and off road. Knobbly tires, high-up exhaust, extended suspension, engine guard, and the upright seating position means the Gryffin is built to take on the trails as much as the road to get to them. 

Across the 2021 Model Range the following are new features:

  • Improved Front/Rear Brake Balance
  • Digital Speedometer and Updated Switches
  • LED Headlight available upgrade

The lead time at the moment is from 4-6 weeks for the 250 models.

More info here.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it, all the details you need about Janus Motorcycles. 

I think they are pretty cool, and tick the box for anyone looking for modern reliability in a simple package that is true to the core of what motorcycling is all about. 

George A. Wyman was the first man to cross the U.S on a motorcycle in 1903. Following his route a Janus Halcyon 250 did the same. It is pretty safe to say that if there was a modern bike that could replicate that journey even down to the stylings of the motorcycles it would be a Janus. 

I’m keen to see what they do over the next few years and which motorcycles from the past that they take future model design inspiration from. 

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2 thoughts on “Janus Motorcycles – Purveyors of Vintage Inspired Motorcycles”

  1. I’d like a 450. I have a heavy Harley Super Glide, and I’ll be 86 next month. Having a bit of trouble holding up the Harley.
    If the cost was a bit less, I would be “real” interested.
    Do you take trades?

    Reply

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