Historic Motorcycle Brands
Janus Motorcycles is an American manufacturer of retro-design, small-displacement motorcycles, located in Goshen, Indiana. The company was founded in 2011 by Richard Worsham and Devin Biek, and has been delivering motorcycles since 2013.
At Historic Vehicles we concentrate mainly on 20th century machines, but, as all know, this pool is a finite resource and the numbers of old machines get smaller with time. Also, many collectible bikes have become very expensive.
That’s why we also report on new brands that try to emulate the past as closely as possible. One such company is US-based Janus.
Richard Worsham and Devin Biek began business together repairing, restoring and tuning vintage, pedal-type mopeds through Biek’s company, Motion Left Mopeds, a manufacturer of aftermarket performance parts for vintage two-strokes. The came the idea of building small, retro-design bikes, under their own brand name, Janus.
Art Institute of Chicago photo
‘Janus’ was the Roman god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, frames and endings. The month of January is named for Janus.
He is usually depicted as having two faces and that can be interpreted as looking forward and backward at the same time – a fitting emblem for a retro motorcycle company.
Janus’ first model, the Halcyon 50, was a hard-tail – no rear suspension – motorcycle with a long fuel tank, sprung seat, wide handlebars and six-speed gearbox. In appearance it harked back to early motorcycles from the 1920s and 1930s. Leather saddlebags and personalisations were available.
The Halcyon 50 had a TIG-welded, rigid, double-cradle tubular steel frame, based on the design of Norton’s famous Featherbed. The engine was a water-cooled, 50cc two-stroke based on the Derbi Senda engine, which Janus said had 10bhp (7.5kW), allowing a claimed top speed of 55mph (89 km/h). It had front and rear drum brakes.
Total production of Halcyon 50 motorcycles was 43 units.
Janus 250 models
In 2015, Janus introduced two new models built around a 250cc, single-cylinder, overhead-valve four-stroke power plant that was made in China and owed its heritage to Honda.
The Halcyon 250 was an update on the Halcyon 50, but with a completely redesigned frame and wheels, plus hydraulic disc brakes. However, the retro aesthetic was retained.
The Phoenix 250 was a sportier model featuring race-inspired lines and full suspension, a long ‘Dunstall’ style fuel tank with knee indentations and a café racer seat.
Janus said the two models could reach a top speed of 70mph (110km/h) with the engine’s figures of 14bhp (10kW) at 7000rpm and 15.7Nm at 5500rpm. Achieving that performance was made possible by the bikes’ kerb weights of around 120kg. Janus claimed an EPA-calculated fuel economy of 77 miles per US gallon.
In April 2017, Janus introduced the Gryffin 250, scrambler-inspired motorcycle with off-road capability.
All three models shared the same Featherbed style double-cradle frame and proprietary leading-link front suspension.
In January 2018, Janus announced that it had received 49-state EPA emissions certification for all models, followed by the announcement of California ARB certification in May of the same year.
On August 19, 2022 Janus announced the discontinuation of the Phoenix 250 model, after total production reached 79 bikes.
As of September 2022 total Halcyon 250 production exceeded 900 bikes.
In 2018 Janus released the Gryffin that used the same engine as the Halcyon and Phoenix 250 models, but the Gryffin was designed to handle the occasional dirt or gravel road.
As of September 2022 total Gryffin 250 production exceeded 120 and the order books were full.
In March 2021, Janus unveiled the Halcyon 450. Stylistically the model continued in the design footsteps of the Halcyon 50 and Halcyon 250, but with a cantilever rear suspension.
The power-plant for the Halcyon 450 is a SWM-designed 445cc single cylinder engine that owes its heritage to Honda’s 1970s XR400. (The Italian SWM brand went broke in the late 1980s, but was revived in 2014.)
The engine is produced in China under the guidance of SWM employees and features electronic fuel injection, four radially-disposed valves operated by an overhead cam and dual exhaust. In contrast to the 250 engines it has a dry sump lube system.
Janus states the Halcyon 450 is capable of 90mph (45km/h).
As at late 2023, Janus showed interest in achieving homologation for selling bikes in Australia. Watch this space.