Janus Motorcycles capture 1920s style
From America now comes news of a spiffing new motorcycle - the Janus Halcyon 50.
It may resemble the early lightweights of the 1910s and '20s - always the intention of the company's vintage motorcycle enthusiast creators - but only the æsthetics are old-fashioned. In yet another welcome example of time-honoured design married to up-to-date technology the Janus Halcyon uses all-modern mechanicals - electric kick start, a 6-speed gearbox and fuel-efficient engine - to provide the best of both worlds.
Interestingly the Halcyon also stays true to the simple cruiser philosophy of the small-engined Twenties' machines, with another concession to modernity. The engine is a 50cc unit - the same size as all those anonymous little Peugeot and Piaggo scooters you see L-plated 16-year olds whizzing about on. If it weren't for the fact that the Halcyon, as a US-built machine, can do 55mph rather than the 31mph British law insists upon it could almost be classed as a moped/scooter. In an ideal world youths would be zooming about on Halcyons instead of annoying little buzzboxes, but that is just this author's pipe dream and Janus is more likely to find customers among the similarly retro-minded riders of traditional machines. You may be surprised, like I am, to think that a small-engined motorcycle like the Halcyon could do well in a land where "hogs" like Harley Davidson are kings of the road but the company owners seem to think there is a market and both available models seem to be competitively priced. I have heard that more modest machinery is gaining in popularity in the States and Janus 'bikes certainly have the charm and nostalgia to succeed, so who knows?
I also like the fact that they're employing local Amish people to help hand-build some of the metalwork. There's one way to ensure a true vintage look, certainly! Having met Amish people and seen their handiwork first hand I have no doubt that Halcyons' frames will be beautifully constructed to a high standard. I'm delighted that they're involved and impressed that Janus have thought to approach them.
Will Janus motorcycles ever make it across the Atlantic? Well, they're still a young company and currently only ship within the continental USA (although I suppose there's nothing to stop someone travelling out there, buying one and shipping it back themselves). In the longer term I'd love to see them over here (of course!). I think they would prove to be very popular, particularly here in the UK where vintage motorcycle enthusiasts abound and where so many motorcycle companies - whose early machines the Halcyon clearly resembles - once thrived. The engine is a Spanish unit, so Janus would also have the advantage of not having to do too much to meet European emissions standards. The company has a noble and realistic philosophy that as and when they achieve it in the United States they may well start to look further afield. I wish them luck and hope to see and hear more of them in the future.