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August 1st, 2013

A New American Classic: The Halcyon 50 from Janus Motorcycles

The attraction to vintage is about more than just the past; it’s about embracing history as we look to the future. Creating a new breed of iconic out of their shop in Indiana, Richard Worsham and Devin Biek of Janus Motorcycles have captured the essence of vintage with the Halcyon 50.

A moped enthusiast, Biek started Motion Left Mopeds in 2003.Worsham while attending Notre Dame for architecture school in 2007 stumbled upon Devin’s shop in an effort to work on his own moped. The two then began collaborating on exhaust systems together and a few years later incorporated Janus Motorcycles in 2011.

“Before I knew it I started working with him on custom bikes,” said Worsham. “We did a lot of performance parts, after market parts like exhaust systems, upgrades and intake manifolds, that kind of thing. So, we started doing that, and at a certain point we decided that we wanted to build kind of like the perfect moped … and we both really loved the pedal type so we based it on an era of bikes like 60s 50cc GP bikes.”

As their first 2-wheeled endeavor together the Paragon became an extremely sought after one-off custom bike built around a vintage Puch E50 motor. “The Paragon, is one of the first bikes that we got started with,” said Worsham. “And after we did that we thought, well you know why don’t we do this as a motorcycle now.”

Male and female friendly, small displacement bikes are easy to handle and they offer a unique experience, “There is something about a really small lightweight bike that is just completely utterly fascinating and so perfect,” said Worsham. “The experience you get when you ride a small lightweight bike is very different from what you get when you are riding a heavier faster more powerful bike, because you really know what you feeling when you ride is real. There is a lot of speed, or a perceived speed that you experience on a smaller bike especially with smaller wheels, you can accelerate quickly, you can stop quickly, and you feel like you are going a 150 mph when you aren’t even braking the speed limit.”

Attracted to classical vintage design, The Halcyon pays its respect to the great designs of 20s and 30s icons like Superior, Indian, Triumph, and Zenith. According to Janus, “Our bikes aren’t replicas; we haven’t designed them to exactly emulate a period from history. They are contemporary, practical machines that celebrate some of our favorite aspects of motorcycle design over the last century.”

The engine, based on a Derbi Senda, is a Spanish 2-stroke liquid-cooled engine with a 6-speed transmission and a displacement of 49.9cc. At 9.8 hp the Halcyon can reach approximately 55mph.

“We build everything we can,” said Worsham. “Our design philosophy is that we want to make a high quality, aesthetically pleasing designed motorcycle, but we are not interested in the engineering of the motor, we want to leave that to someone who has a lot of experience with that, so we bring in the motor.”

The Halcyon comes equipped with EBR hydraulic forks, a 17mm Dellorto carburetor, and a 3-gallon tank with an estimated fuel efficiency of approximately 60 miles to the gallon. Including a 6-speed gearbox, each bike is equipped with both kick and electric starter, a oil injection system, turn indicators, high and low beam, an analog speedometer and mirrors. The wheels are made for a Honda 125, and the tires are cast aluminum hubs with steel and 36’ spoke rims.

“Anything we can bend, hammer, weld or cut out of sheet metal we make,” said Worsham. “That includes the tank which is 14-gauge aluminum sheet metal, and the frame which is 16-gauge steel tubing. Everything else, the oil tank and the fenders we have made about 20 miles from us.”

Describing being a small American manufacturer as a dream come true. “When you put something into production, and to do it on a small scale, it allows you to really pair form with functionality in a way that huge manufactures can’t,” said Worsham. “Sometimes the marketing drives the design, and they don’t really understand that that’s not what it takes to make a motorcycle, there has to be a balance.”

Just two years in Worsham and Biek have big plans for their small motorcycle shop. As they start their next creation named the Phoenix, Janus is well on the road to solidifying itself as a new American classic, “We are planning on going into production with a 250cc model, actually a US made 250cc 4-stroke motor within the next year.”

These handmade one of a kind bikes are customizable and upgradable, “We really will do practically anything that anyone wants,” said Worsham. The Halcyon is available in five custom colors and starts at 3,900.


Article Written By: Emma Watson


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Design Engine Industrial Design Training Pro Engineer


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  1. Jessica

    That’s a really cool scooter. Where do I buy one if I was so inclined?

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