For the last few years we’ve been following a small, independent motorcycle company from our home state of Indiana called Janus Motorcycles. They build hand crafted 250cc motorcycles with a classic vintage look. Last year they started doing what they call “Discovery Days” where you buy a ticket and you get to tour the shop where they build the bikes, test ride the 3 models, and have lunch at a local restaurant with the staff. Unfortunately, these are always on weekends when we are working, and we’ve never been able to make it to one.
Fast forward to this week when we were trying to figure out what to do for Dwayne’s birthday. The weather was supposed to be rainy back home and everywhere we thought we might like to ride the bikes to, so at the last minute we decided to head up to Michigan for a couple of days in a car. Dwayne mentioned he would like to stay in South Bend on the way up and go to the Studebaker museum. That got my wheels turning, and I reached out to the kind folks at Janus to see if they would be willing to allow us to stop by and take a tour and a test ride since we would be less than an hour from them. They were happy to oblige.
When we arrived Wednesday morning, we were greeted by Grant, who was expecting us. He took us into the shop where they build the bikes, and showed us step by step how the bikes come in through the back door as a bare frame, and by the time they’ve made their rounds through the different sections of the shop, they become a complete bike.
I was impressed with how well they utilize their limited space. It is very much a small shop, but they have everything set up to make things “flow” very efficiently.
Once we had met everyone in the back and been walked through the process, Grant pulled us out a couple of bikes, a Gryffin 250 for me and a Halcyon 250 for Dwayne, walked us through the specifics on the controls, and cut us loose to go have some fun.
It was a little odd for me at first, I’m used to a big, 475 pound, 800cc Adventure bike, and here I was on a 250cc bike that weighs about 200 pounds less. It always takes a second to get used to the clutch and throttle on a new bike, but I quickly caught on.
We scooted out of town into the country and hit some county roads. Unfortunately, there aren’t many (any?) curvy roads to be found in Goshen, so I can’t speak too much of their handling on a curvy road. I also didn’t find any gravel/dirt to try out the knobbies on the Gryffin, but I can attest that they are very “buzzy” on asphalt.
We stopped by some open fields to snap some pictures about halfway into our ride…
During that time, we also decided to switch bikes so that I could try out the Halcyon, and Dwayne could try out the Gryffin.
I was very surprised by how much I actually liked the Halcyon. With the swept back grips and the hardtail rear, I wasn’t sure how comfortable it would be to ride. Boy was I wrong. The riding position is very relaxed, perfect for cruising around on a pretty day. Having not ridden the Phoenix, I would have to say that the Halcyon would probably be my choice if I were to purchase a Janus. For what I, personally, would be using it for, it would be the most practical and enjoyable.
I love the look and the idea behind the Gryffin, but knowing that I most likely wouldn’t be riding it as a dual sport bike, the knobby tires are just too buzzy on pavement for such a lightweight bike. The Halcyon, however, felt smooth, and I could see myself cruising around to bike shows and running errands on it on nice days.
None of these bikes are really suitable as an every day, long distance bike, in my opinion. Unless someone were only going to be riding locally, I wouldn’t recommend them as an only bike. They are definitely a neat addition for someone with money to spend, and who already has other options in their garage, though. If you’re looking for something that not many other people have, that will turn heads wherever you ride it, then a Janus just might be the perfect bike for you. If you’re someone who craves speed and aggressive handling, then a Janus is probably not going to be the bike for you.
All in all, if you understand what these bikes are, as well as what they are not, then you can appreciate the fact that they are beautiful, handbuilt motorcycles, who make up with style what they lack in power.