Janus Motorcycle: A True Time Machine

The Gentleman Racer Michael Satterfield riding the Janus Motorcycle

by Michael Satterfield | Photos by Lucas Kepner - 11/10/2022

Janus Motorcycles dropped off this bike back in early October, it was loaned to me for an event with Tudor Watches. But for over a month it has been sitting in my garage, blocking my Formula Supervee Prototype which I needed to pull out for a photo shoot, while Janus didn't say that I couldn't ride the bike explicitly, the delivery driver firmly implied that this bike shouldn't really be ridden, as it is a special limited edition, one of just 17. But seeing as it was blocking the SV1600 and Lucas our staff photographer was already here to shoot some pictures, I grabbed some period-correct gear, and we headed about a mile down the road for a short ride and a couple of quick shots.

I am so glad I did... because up until the moment I fired it over and rolled out of my garage, Janus Motorcycles had just been a concept. Who wouldn't want a modern bike that looks like it is straight out of the 1930s? But since you can't walk into a dealership and test-ride one, I have never been able to really experience a Janus motorcycle myself. Currently, the only way to purchase a Janus is directly from their Goshen, Indiana headquarters 1,138 miles from my home in Texas, and I haven't found any other reason to make the trek. So needless to say, having one in my garage was really exciting, even if I can't take it out to Twisted Sisters where it would be most at home. But even on a quick run around the block, would it live up to my expectations? 


It is a big ask for an upstart motorcycle brand to start pricing at $15,000 for a 450cc motorcycle when a Royal Enfield Classic 350 is just $4,599 and a Triumph Bonneville starts at $12,000.But unlike the mass-produced bikes, every Janus motorcycle is hand built in Indiana by a small team and buyers can custom tailor the bike to fit their own vision. I built one using their online build tool and it came out to $17,220 with the optional extras I picked out, so exclusivity has a price and I once again prove that I have expensive taste. This is in the price range of very nice BMW R nineT, Ducati Scrambler, and other high-end motorcycles with a lot more power.

Leather gloves on the tank of a Janus Halcyon

The only bike I have ridden that I can really compare the Halcyon 450 to is a 1920s Indian Scout, not in the ride quality or power, but just in the way the bike makes you feel, the squared-off tank, swept-back handlebars, and the more upright seating position, all feel like a bike from the 20s or 30s. But with none of the hassle of priming a carburetor, adjusting spark, and kickstarting. Instead, you get an electric starter, a modern 5-speed transmission, and electronic fuel injection. Stopping is better too, no sketchy 100-year-old drum brakes, instead, Brembo discs can be found on the front and rear and offer more than enough to stop the 345lb bike. The engine in the Halcyon 450 is an Italian design 445cc single-cylinder engine by SWM. The engine is produced in China under the supervision of SWM and built to US and European standards. 

The bike is nimble, thanks mainly to its lightweight, at just 350lbs it weighs just 29lbs more than Vespa GTS 250 and nearly 200lbs less than a Harley Davidson Sportster 883. The seating position is comfortable with all the switches and buttons where you would expect to find them. The bike feels incredibly balanced at all times and while it might look like it is 100 years old, the modern suspension makes riding a pure joy, and with a claimed 90mph top speed the 450 is a bike you could truly ride anywhere. The engine and exhaust are present but in a pleasant way that makes you feel more connected to the bike and ride, there is plenty of power for running around town, and if I had a chance I would have been comfortable taking it out on the highways and backroads where speed limits in Texas are 80mph. 

Michael Satterfield The Gentleman Racer riding Janus Motorcycles Halcyon 450

The Halcyon 450 is a major upgrade from the original small displacement bike that started the company back in 2011, in 2015 Janus introduced a 250cc version of the Halcyon which gave the bike a top speed of 70mph. Janus also would introduce the Phoenix 250 a cafe racer-inspired bike, and the Gryffin 250 a scrambler style, however, the Phoenix would be discontinued this year after just seventy-nine were built. The Gryffin 250 starts at $9,200 and the Halcyon 250 starts at $8,800 making it the least expensive Janus motorcycle you can buy, but the 450 is the bike to have as it gives you the freedom to ride anywhere. 

Janus Halcyon 450 Review

While I didn't get to take it racing or on some kind of crazy adventure like I did with the Cleveland Ace the Janus Halcyon 450 was impressive to ride, but it is more impressive that it is an American bike, made by a small team of craftsmen, in an era where iconic brands like Benelli are simply being licensed and mass-produced in China, Janus is doing it the hard way and doing nearly everything in house. While the price point can be hard to swallow, Janus generally has a six-eight month waiting list for bespoke bikes, however, if you can't wait they generally have a handful of new and used bikes in stock, at the time of this writing they had just a few 250cc bikes available including a few of the discontinued Pheonix models.  

The Janus Motorcycle Halcyon 450 is certainly something I would like to have in my garage, it transports you to another era without having to worry about the problems that come with riding an antique bike, it looks the part, is amazing to ride, and sadly at some point will be picked up by the company and taken back to its owner. For more on the jacket, gloves, and gear I am wearing in this shoot visit Click Here

For more info or to configure your own dream Janus Halcyon, head over to JanusMotorcycles.com.

Janus Motorcycles 450cc