In the early 20th century, the process of buying and owning a motorcycle was a truly personal experience. Literally hundreds of small manufacturers existed across the globe, allowing you to walk into the showroom on a high street and meet the man who built your bike. It’s an element sadly lacking in today’s consumer culture, but one American company is bringing it all back, and you can even meet Kelly the pinstriper or Charlie the design engineer. For New York based artist Mark Attebery, this is how he envisioned his biking experience. So with a call to Janus Motorcycle Company out of Goshen Indiana, he laid down his deposit for a 2020 Halcyon 250 and then set about using his creative genius to make it his very own.
The Indiana outfit at Janus Motorcycle is in many ways a throwback to those old days, but utilising the best of modern technology to make it all happen. With just over fifteen employees and a shop dog called Lucy, you’ll know everybody’s name if you become a customer. But don’t think these are bikes built in China, like so many new ‘manufacturers’, and then given a fancy name and sold as some exotic. The bulk of the bike is designed, manufactured and handbuilt onsite and yet the price is still just $7495 for a brand new machine. That includes a 2-year/unlimited mile, fender to fender warranty, with owners encouraged to do their own servicing if they choose to really get to know their bike.
In addition to the vintage themed Halcyon, there is lightweight scrambler called the Gryffin and a proper little cafe racer known as the Phoenix. All feature the same 229cc engine, one of the only parts not built in house, but with a weight of under 120kg, you can wring their neck and have a whole lot of fun, without your life flashing before your eyes like with a full twist of the throttle on a modern sportsbike. From the featherbed style frame to all the bodywork, swingarm, axles, wiring and front forks, its all made at Janus. Parts like the grips come from local suppliers such as Biltwell and the shocks are from Australian outfit Ikon.
For Mark, all these factors led him to Janus when he was researching his next new motorcycle and he knew immediately which model was for him when he laid his eyes on her, “When I first saw a Halcyon I knew right away it was going to be my next custom project. The basic stock version of the Halcyon has a classic beauty with sweeping fenders, a comfortable riding position and a ton of options from the company. My vision though was to take a minimalist approach for this project.” The ordering process couldn’t be easier, pick your bike, select from an amazing list of options, upgrades and accessories, pay a deposit and then in just 4-6 weeks your brand new bike is ready to roll.
With the Halcyon in his hot hands at his studio in Nyack, Mark could see the makings of a board tracker in the bike and set about designing some subtle changes to begin the journey. The first was to switch out the classic raised bars for a set of flat bars slightly downturned to equal the angle of the upper clamp. To match the seat was also lowered with a custom fabricated bracket made in his studio, that pairs up with a set of black springs to soften the ride. Then to further clean up the look Mark removed all but the bare necessities from the bars and cleverly relocated the switch block under the tank, where it can still be reached when riding.
But the big changes were next on the list and to give the bike that board track look the front fender was completely removed. This gives a stripped-down vibe and also puts on display the beautiful leading link front suspension, perfectly controlled by the dual progressive springs. At the rear, Mark pulled the fender and did a bob job on it so that it terminates above the axle line and is attached with a simple single strut. All the bodywork was then removed from the bike, and along with the airbox and levers prepared for a new colour. The finish is a Prismatic Bronze Chrome in powder coat that makes for an understated yet classy feel.
But being the artist that he is, Mark wasn’t finished there. “I gave the gas cap and handlebar risers several coats of a gold stained lacquer (used for trumpet and trombone repair) that just happens to turn aluminium into a beautiful brass finish.” Then there are the changes to complement this effect, the engraved steering stem nut turns a simple part into another piece to admire. While the addition of brass truly captures the period, with the mirrors and vintage turns signals carrying the colour of the alloy. That is then carried over to the headlight ring, taillight and even the shifter and knurled footpegs. Proving that small details can go along way, Mark also applied a touch more black paint to really make the metal pop.
The small single-cylinder engine will get a lot of people talking, with many wondering aloud whether it packs enough poke. But with similar power to any small engined motorcycle and with much less weight, the Janus offerings give you all the fun you need without putting your license of life at risk, and really… how often do you actually hit 120mph on the road? To give his a little more flair, Mark fitted up a fishtail muffler to the main pipe and with the leather saddlebag and seat above, it oozes the sort of style you just don’t see from the average current motorcycle.
For less than the cost of most new bikes, Janus Motorcycles and Mark Attebery Studio have shown us all the potential of owning a classically styled custom, with a 2-year warranty that can proudly say, it’s made in America!