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“250 Engine Character” – It’s feel good news!
By Tom Neel – Halcyon #568
Much has been said about the Janus 250 engine. Unfortunately, possibly more by those who haven’t even ridden one, or have done so very little. I’m here to educate the open minded of us who realize engine character is as unique as each of us who enjoy motorcycling, and a motorcycle’s engine is the heart of the matter.
When I look at the social media surrounding Janus, I see a wide range of owners all over the country with a wide range of miles accrued. There are of course, many reasons for this including seasonal challenges. But also in-town usage as opposed to the open road and even new riders or those who have multiple bikes or hobbies which have their bikes sitting more.
As I write this, I haven’t had my Halcyon 60 days, yet by my last blog post one can see I have placed myself in an interesting position of having gone through enough miles to free up the engine while having the bike itself still be rather new. Putting over 1600 miles on an engine over a six month period or more would leave time to forget. Not the case here. I analogize this by comments I’ve grinned over when reading internet squawk with riders who have replaced tires with a new brand and rave over how much better they are then the original ones. What they seem to forget is tires getting worse mile by mile until they are worn out. Their slow decline makes it hard to realize. Thus, the new tires are a big quick change in the right direction, and frankly any new brand of tire is going to feel better. They’re new! But racking up miles quickly on my Halcyon has allowed me to really feel and understand how much better the 250 feels since day one, because day one just wasn’t all that long ago.
The first Halcyon I ever experienced was riding my friend Shane Chalke’s #385 Halcyon. At the time it was pretty fresh and to be honest, I myself was sort of taking a test ride. We took our ride with Shane on his new Halcyon and me on my 300cc Vespa Sei Giorni scooter. Shane actually has one too. So here was Shane buzzing along at 45mph behind me on the Vespa which was seemingly leaving the Janus in the dust. We came to a place where Shane then allowed me to try the Halcyon and he too could also compare it to the Vespa. I should mention now that Shane rode his Vespa nine days across the country in a scooter Cannonball, so he wasn’t at all new to it.
I threw my leg over the Janus, clicked down into first, let out the clutch and felt as though I’d gone only 10 feet before needing to shift into second. I repeated this to second and third and felt a lively vibration rising from the little single. Forth, fifth and more throttle seemed to bring more buzzing than speed. But the lightness and feel brought a smile. I found overall that it was brilliantly capable. Trouble was, the engine didn’t feel up to the task. I pondered the balance of riding happiness to a buzzy engine feel. But there was good news ahead.
That was the fall of 2019 and as time went on Shane commented that things had improved. He also praised the Janus over and over. I’ve known him a long time and any of us would salivate over the highly collectable motorcycles he’s owned, so he had my attention. A pandemic upon us, and with Shane spending his summers in the North Carolina mountains, I hadn’t gotten a second chance to actually ride his Janus again until late summer. I was pleasantly surprised that the little thumper had freed up quite a bit. 60 mph hour was easily obtainable and the buzzing had been greatly reduced. It was super fun and I found myself hooked. I finally pulled the trigger and ordered my Halcyon on November 5th of 2020. In doing so I dumped the Vespa along with a 2019 Triumph Street Twin I owned. I changed it all up with a 2020 Ducati Scrambler while awaiting the arrival of the Janus.
Winters here near Charlotte, NC are hardly what many would call frigid and with little to no snow. But it’s all relative and this winter was colder than last with nighttime lows in the high 20s and daytime temps in the high 30s, but sunny. This was unusually cold for here. Alas, my Janus delivery took place on January the 23rd. Not perfect riding weather. But I decided to bundle up and go for it, eating up miles like a NFL fan going through chips and dip. Each ride lasted at least 100 miles. I’m not afraid to let a new engine feel the top end of things either. In my case, even before its first service, regular 60 mph runs were normal and this zippy little power plant felt better and better every time I rode it another 100 miles. It enjoys being pushed.
As I posted my 100 mile jaunts on FaceBook, comments came in from fellow owners telling me how they felt the engine break in right at 500 miles. Many talked about it as if I was going to feel a light-switch effect. Well, it was getting better. Heck I had only ridden mine 5 times in its first week and was at 487 miles! I completed its first service and was back at it again. But for me, this engine didn’t truly shine until it hit 1000 miles. The buzzy-ness subsided and I could feel it freeing up more and more, and it continues to do so. To be completely honest, I feel this engine is a great choice considering how out of reach bespoke engine manufacturing would be for a small producer like Janus. It is affordable, light and fits the package and product well. The engine delivers the spirited heartbeat of a 1920s era motorcycle, but it needs some mileage to truly shine. It is loads of fun to wind out and the throttle works perfectly in the nuance like fashion I enjoy. It will do a true 60mph easily and on twisty 45mph back roads it delivers a wonderful sense of thrill. It’s great! I should mention that 65 is pretty easy too, and my GPS checked top speed on flat ground, I’ve hit 68mph.
So, for those who are reading this and have not ordered a 250 Janus because of the engine, but whose desire it is to gobble up back roads or in town coffee shops, go for it. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. For those of you who are still light on miles and question the engine’s buzzy character or ability, I say give it the miles it needs to show you its true fun natured character. Good things lie ahead. Finally, if you still feel the 250 falls below your target top end, Janus has good news for you in the way of its new arriving Halcyon 450. Call it, bases covered!
Check out Tom’s first blog, “The One Week Break-In”