Recently, for his show Jay Leno’s Garage, Leno took a ride on a motorcycle from an American company that he hadn’t heard of before. He caught up with the founders of Janus Motorcycles, Devin Biek and Richard Worsham, to find out how they got their start in producing motorcycles.
How are Janus motorcycles made? What is it like to ride one?
In 2007, Worsham moved to Indiana from Virginia, bringing with him an Italian moped. It broke down, as mopeds tend to do joked Biek, and Worsham called the local repair shop owned by Biek who repaired it for him. The pair became friends and Worsham began hanging out at Biek’s shop. They then started a joint business, Janus Motorcycles, in 2011.
The duo crafts small-displacement motorcycles. Their mission is to produce bikes that capture all the best aspects of motorcycles and leave off everything they find to be unnecessary. Both had an interest in cars and motorcycles. Biek already had a business and Worsham brought his background in design.
They started out by producing one motorcycle and the proceeds from it funded their next motorcycle. At first, they weren’t making money, Worsham noted. They were unwittingly laying the groundwork for their upstart company.
Building a motorcycle
When Leno asked how they began production of each motorcycle, Biek explained they made most of the components themselves. They begin with the engine and design the frame which is based around a Norton featherbed frame. Wanting to use local talent, they asked around to recruit help to fabricate the motorcycle’s frame.
They ended up at an Amish shop. Almost all the metalwork on the bikes is Amish-crafted, they explained. The leather pieces and most of the other components are all created within 20 miles from their shop.
They decided on Janus as the name of their company because it’s the name of the Roman God of the Road. Their first project was a 50cc grand prix bike, based on an interest Worsham had in historic motorcycles like the Brough Superiors and Zeniths.
Janus motorcycles are light bikes that use Chinese-made CG250 motors. They are legal in all 50 states. They are both electric and kick start. There are three different models: Gryffin 250, Phoenix 250, and Halcyon 250.
When it comes to competing against bigger competition, Worsham explains that many owners of Janus motorcycles are fascinated by what they do. They love the idea of a hand-crafted, American-made bike from the midwest. The motorcycles’ base price is $6995 and offers a lot of options and upgrades.
How is the ride on a Janus motorcycle?
Biek and Worsham suggested Leno try out the Halcyon 250 hardtail which is their best seller. Leno was impressed with how well the five-speed bike rode at 14 1/2 horsepower. He found it to be “exceptionally well made” and everything worked just as it was supposed to.
Leno explained how the bike was very retro in that there’s no modern technology used. The motor is from the late ’80s to early ’90s but updated and offering smooth performance. There was no vibration as Leno pointed out which meant that the bike was well-balanced.
While the motorcycle was basic, he found the design and components used to be first-class. The ride was comfortable and ideal, Leno explained, for sightseeing. Leno mentioned one benefit of a hardtail bike is knowing where the back end of the motorcycle is at all times.
Leno was most excited about the business and its owners. He liked the entrepreneurial spirit being alive and well in America. He thinks the future is bright for Biek and Worsham and their company Janus Motorcycles and wishes them the best of luck.