Across America on a Janus Motorcycle Part 1


 George Wyman setting the standard for long distance riding panache with his famous "Wyman pose".

George Wyman setting the standard for long distance riding panache with his famous "Wyman pose".

Over the past two years we have been visited here at Janus by a strange motorcyclist, fully geared up on his 1200cc Bavarian steed with many upgrades and “farkles” as they are termed in the adventure and sport touring motorcycling world. Farkle is a portmanteau of function and sparkle, and is also claimed to be an acronym for Fancy Accessory, Really Kool, Likely Expensive. We were invariably struck with the fact that he never really took his gear off, even his helmet, and marveled at his FLIR camera mounted on his bike (for spotting animals at night). Tim Masterson was a different breed of motorcyclist than anything we had experienced. Little did I know at the time how much I would be learning about this long distance riding phenomenon and the community of motorcyclists that surround it!

The first time Tim showed up at Janus, he told us the story of George A. Wyman, the first person to cross America on a motorcycle, in fact a motor vehicle of any sort. Apparently, this pioneer of motorcycling had passed right through Goshen, Indiana on his historic ride from San Fransisco to New York City in the early summer of 1903, not a block from where our shop stands. Tim has been working hard along with a couple of other individuals to document and raise awareness of George Wyman and his historic ride, as well as creating and marking waypoints along his route. We were quick to accept his request to post a Wyman waypoint sign on the outside of our shop commemorating this historic feat of motorcycling. This spring Tim’s visit was to install the waypoint sign in a more visible location at the front of our newly expanded showroom and to install the formal Wyman memorial plaque just below it.

 Tim Masterson and yours truly posing with the Wyman waypoint sign and memorial plaque on the front wall of the Janus Motorcycles HQ in Goshen, IN.

Tim Masterson and yours truly posing with the Wyman waypoint sign and memorial plaque on the front wall of the Janus Motorcycles HQ in Goshen, IN.

Simultaneously, the Janus team had been discussing the need to make a longer journey on one of our motorcycles. We were looking for a way not only to prove our motorcycle and engine, but to stress test them with a real world trial across many miles and away from the convenience of our repair bay. Our first idea was to take two bikes and ride out to the Pacific Ocean. We were looking at dates and discussing who would be available for such a ride, when Tim suggested that we enter a Janus in the George A. Wyman Memorial Challenge, an event where a group of riders retraces the George’s route across the country. For more information on the Wyman Memorial Project, please visit their website.

The significance of such an endeavor was not lost on us. Not only was George Wyman the first person to cross the country on a motorized vehicle, he did it on a motorcycle—a 200cc motorcycle at that—exactly 115 years ago. The motorcycle that he rode was a 1902 model built by the California Motorcycle Company, the first production motorcycle brand in United States.

I jumped at the opportunity to pilot one of our own bikes across the country and the idea was quickly approved by the rest of the Janus team. I decided that our Halcyon would be the best option out of our three models both for the long distance riding and as a two of the cap to George Wyman.

We had just about a month to prepare for the ride and get the bike out to San Fransisco. Once I had confirmed that I was going to make the trip on a Janus, Tim coached me through the basics of what to expect, the gear to bring, and how to manage the long hours in the saddle. Almost all the riders attempting the Wyman Challenge were members of the Iron Butt Association, who describe themselves as “the world’s toughest riders”. The Wyman Challenge is in fact a sanctioned ride by the Iron Butt Association. After a week riding with a group of these riders, I can confirm their self title!

We decided that to learn the most from the trip and offer the best proof of the bike’s durability, we would keep everything on the bike as close to stock as possible. Engine, suspension, exhaust, etc. were all left stock. The one change that we did make was to replace the stock 47-tooth rear drive sprocket for 45-tooth unit to improve performance at highway speed. 

Next, I knew I would need dry storage for clothing, tools, gear, etc. With this in mind, I ordered a set of small removable aluminum panniers and then fabricated a mounting system off the Halcyon’s rear book rack assembly. Due to the Halcyon’s relatively small fuel tank (2 gallons) and the long distances to be traversed, I also knew I was going to need an auxiliary fuel tank of some sort. After considering several options, I decided to use a Rotopax fuel can. The benefit of these fuel cans is the ingenious way they are fastened to the motorcycle and the fact that they can be locked. I mounted the fuel tank behind the seat on the stock book rack. Next up was a set of our highway bars to which I added folding highway footrests to provide an alternate place to stretch out on the long miles ahead. Other upgrades and farkles included a simple tension operated throttle control, fleece seat cover, water bottle holders, USB charging port, and cylinder head temperature gauge. 

For navigation, I used a waterproof Ram Mount box on the handlebars to hold an iphone running Google maps. At Tim’s recommendation, I also used a free service called Spotwalla. Spotwalla was created by a long distance motorcycle rider and uses SPOT GPS tracking to create a map of your ride. You can also send messages and images via the service. I would highly recommend this service even for shorter rides! In addition to the iPhone, I also purchased a Sena bluetooth helmet headset for communication, etc.

The most important thing that Tim stressed to me over the phone was riding with the right base layers. He recommended a product called LDComfortLDComfort is based in Hoquiam, Washington and makes specialty base layers for long distance motorcyclists. I spoke with the owner, Mario Winkelman, a friend of Tim’s, and he explained the technology behind the garments and provided me with a full set of his gear including helmet liners. The benefit of LDComfort gear is that it is constructed out of two very thin layers of material. The inner material instantly transfers moisture away from the body to the outer layer which lets the moisture evaporate and provide cooling. Mario is a real character and a fixture in the long distance riding world. More on the LDComfort gear to follow.

In anticipation of the ride, Tim did a short interview with me Tim, published on the Wyman Project site:

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Before I knew it, the ride was a little over a week out and we still hadn’t gotten the bike out to San Fransisco. Rather than ship the bike out via a standard carrier and risk missing the start date, we called a local friend with an RV transport company, Horizon Transport, based about 15 miles from Goshen and were able to have the bike transported in the bed of a pickup truck hauling a camper out to the Bay area of California. The driver, Linda, turned out to be a motorcyclist herself and took extra care with the bike, delivering a day earlier than requested. 

All I had to do now was wait and assemble the last bits of gear that I would be carrying with me on the plane to San Francisco. It was with no small degree of trepidation that I looked ahead to longer miles in a single day than I had ever covered on a motorcycle. Each day on the Wyman ride would be in excess of my longest day in the saddle.

Richard's Cross Country Trip on a Halcyon 250

Richard Worsham, co-founder of Janus Motorcycles, departs Monday, May 28th on a cross country trip from San Francisco to New York City on a Halcyon 250. He, along with a handful of other riders, are duplicating the historic trip that George Wyman, the first person to cross the contiguous US on a motorized vehicle, took in 1903. Wyman completed the trip in 50 days on a 200cc motorized bicycle. Worsham and other riders from the Wyman Memorial Foundation will attempt to complete their trip in 6 days, averaging about 600 miles a day.

Follow Richard's progress on a Halcyon 250 on the map below!

Richard is riding with the Wyman Foundation as they recreate George Wyman's first trip across the lower 48 in 1903. Read more on the Wyman Foundation Blog.

And see Richard walk through the Halcyon he's taking on the trip here:

Janus Motorcycles receives EPA certification

Press Release: Janus Motorcycles receives full EPA certification for their 250 model line

Goshen, Indiana (January 23, 2018) —  After nearly two years of development and testing, Janus Motorcycles of Goshen, Indiana received full EPA certification for their 250 line of small-displacement motorcycles. This allows them to fully scale their production, shorten their production time, and continue to grow. 

Janus Motorcycles makes three diversely-styled models, the Halcyon 250, the Phoenix 250, and Gryffin 250, but all models are covered under the new certification. The certification assures that every motorcycle produced adheres to certain emissions specifications, and required that Janus integrate a catalyst unit in their proprietary exhaust design as well as re-tune their fuel delivery system. Co-founder Richard Worsham notes that "the whole process of rigorous testing has resulted in a more enjoyable and finely-tuned motorcycle". 

"We've worked hard to grow as well as adhere to government standards. Now that we're certified for full production, it's very exciting to open up the faucet and see how much we're really capable of," says co-founder Devin Biek.

Janus Motorcycles draws on the rich pool of manufacturing and fabrication shops in Northern Indiana. Their 250 line of motorcycles feature hand-formed tanks, locally welded components such as frames, hand-bent stainless handlebars, hand-painted trim, and a proprietary anti-dive suspension developed by the Janus team. 

“With my background in architecture and Devin’s in custom building and mechanics, we produce a product that channels function and beauty in equal parts. Our goal is to produce bikes that connect the rider with the machine and the road, with speed and agility that will make riding simply fun.”

Janus plans to produce 250 of their motorcycles this year. They host bi-monthly "Discovery Days" where visitors can try out their models, talk about the design and production process, and meet the small team of employees. 

“We are not industry insiders; we really are 'just' a local business, so it's a proud moment for us, our employees, and our production partners,” Worsham said. 

Making a Motorcycle: Aluminum Fuel Tanks

Both our Phoenix and Halcyon fuel tanks are the product of many hours of deliberation, design, and iteration. They draw from classic motorcycle designs in their inspiration and our own vision for how our motorcycles should look and feel. And they're also the product of the constraints we operate within. Janus Motorcycles is a small production shop. Our smallness dictates that we make our motorcycles in small volumes, with our hands and simple production methods. Our production (not custom) operation dictates that each tank—while hand-built—is nearly identical and reproducible (without the use of exceptionally expensive or time-intensive methods). How do we produce a beautiful product within these constraints? Like this: 

Our tanks are cut from sheet aluminum and bent, formed, and welded into shape by our skilled team. Then they're finished and pinstriped carefully.

We've come to realize that we're walking the line between "production without personality" and one-of-a-kind customs (which are—by definition—un-reproducible). In other words, part of what you pay for when comparing a Janus Motorcycle to an off-the-line mass-manufactured brand is the human element in each of our limited-run motorcycles. And part of what you save when comparing a Janus Motorcycle to a one-off custom bike is that we've standardized (while not sterilizing) a good portion of our processes. 

We're very proud of what we're able to produce using simple production methods, our hands, and creative design. Sometimes, we've found, constraints actually improve creativity and inspiration.

Why Janus Motorcycles? Part 5: What are You Paying For?

We, as a small business, operate in the global economy, and the motorcycle market is full of massive manufacturers that make incredible products at a low price. How do we compete? In a competitive market, our size—both in CC’s and units shipped—helps us make our customers happy and our motorcycles uniquely remarkable… and also more expensive. Could we import crates of ready-to-roll motorcycles, add our decals and some gas, and make a much greater profit margin? You bet...

However, what sets us apart will never be our ability to compete purely on a commodity level with the big manufacturers. Our heart and soul that goes into designing and building Janus Motorcycles is our greatest feature and our prime differentiator. Even so, why pay for a motorcycle that isn’t as big, fast, or high-tech as other motorcycles from global manufacturers?

We believe that motorcycles—at their best—refuse to be "only practical" machines. They refuse convention. There’s a little “Why the hell not!?” in every motorcycle. They fly in the face of the idea that the only reason for being on the road is to get to where you’re going. We set out to make motorcycles that most closely match this soul of motorcycling. We make motorcycles that we enjoy building and our owners enjoy riding. You can certainly buy a motorcycle that has more horsepower for lots less. But you’d be hard pressed to find a motorcycle that had a better enjoyment-to-horsepower ratio. 

 Image courtesy of Good Spark Garage

Image courtesy of Good Spark Garage

If you want a motorcycle because you want to go 120 mph as often as possible, or to be loud, or to travel as comfortably as possible from Point A to faraway Point B, there are great options out there. 

If you want a motorcycle because you want to enjoy riding on two wheels, if you want to ride a beautiful machine that isn’t purely practical, if you want to know the handful of people who built your motorcycle just how you wanted it, then a Janus Motorcycle is a GREAT option. We hang our hats on making motorcycles that are insanely fun to ride and a joy to own.

So, when you’re shopping for a motorcycle, ask yourself “What do I want to pay for?” You can pay for specs, speed, or size. Or you can pay for a thrilling and enjoyable ride.

Don't believe us? Check out our reviews. Want to try one out? Visit us at a Discovery Day: