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Simply Sublime: Janus Motorcycles Builds Bikes for a New Brand of Rider

The company’s three lightweight models are maneuverable, manageable, and easily maintained.

The ancient Roman god Janus is traditionally depicted as having two faces, as he looks to both the past and the future. The founders of Janus Motorcycles – Richard Worsham and Devin Biek – drew upon this symbolism for its relevance to their boutique motorcycle company, which embodies the mystique of the past while keeping an eye on the changing scene of modern mobility.

Serendipity—in the form of a broken moped—brought Worsham and Biek together. They soon discovered a shared passion for vintage mopeds and the budding scooter subculture. The idea of starting a motorcycle company took root, inspired by a design decree of lightweight manageability and inexpensive operation, while offering better performance and a more substantial presence than that of smaller two-wheelers. In 2011, Janus Motorcycles was born.

The Gryffin 250 from Janus Motorcycles.

The Gryffin 250 from Janus Motorcycles.  Photo: Courtesy Janus Motorcycles.

There are three models in the Janus stable: the Gryffin, the Halcyon, and the Phoenix. Each possess their own distinct character, yet carry shades of significant motorcycles from the past. The Gryffin bears an uncanny resemblance to British scramblers of the 60s; the Phoenix conjures vintage Nortons. And the Halcyon unabashedly invokes the legendary Brough Superior. However, the Janus bikes are wholly original.

The three models share base specifications and are powered by a simple and reliable 229cc air-cooled single-cylinder engine (imported from China) mated with a 5-speed transmission. Disc brakes, stainless steel exhaust, and either an electric or old school kick start complement the package. The Janus mandate of moped-like maneuverability is reflected in a weight range of just 245 to 265 pounds (depending on model).

The Phoenix 250 from Janus Motorcycles.

Finding freedom on the Phoenix 250.  Photo: Courtesy Janus Motorcycles.

The tubular frame and signature leading-link front end is shaped on a manual bender at the company’s shop in the Goshen, Ind. Given its location, Janus has found unexpected partners for outsourcing specific tasks (such as leather work) to neighboring communities of Amish craftspeople.

The Janus lineup capitalizes on the growing demand for unintimidating bikes that harken back to a simpler time. Since a new generation of beginning riders is emerging, the Janus machines were developed to be mechanically simple in order for owners to learn self-maintenance as an essential and time-honored aspect of the motorcycle experience.

Cruising the countryside on a Halcyon 250 from Janus Motorcycles.

Cruising the countryside on a Halcyon 250 from Janus Motorcycles.  Photo: Courtesy Janus Motorcycles.

For those who want to peruse before they purchase, Janus Motorcycles offers its unique “Discovery Days,” where prospective buyers are invited to visit the shop, go on a demo ride, have lunch, and meet the company founders and employees.

Every bike from the brand is approved by the EPA (for 49-state registration, California ARB certification is in process) and covered with a 2-year warranty. The company’s goal is to produce up to 250 examples within the calendar year.

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