The High Mile Halcyons
June 7, 2023
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By Tom Neel
Halcyon 250s are rapidly nearing the milestone of 1000 units produced. A decade or so in the making, the little engine that could, has, and seemingly will continue to not only be produced, but produce its worth in smiles per mile. By every account, it’s the motorcycle that shouldn’t be here. A boutique manufacture, hand building pre-WWII era American motorcycles, after bucket loads of those original manufacturers failed to stay in business, is pretty amazing.
While Janus Motorcycles continues to grow by now offering a larger 450 displacement version of its flagship Halcyon model, the simplicity of the air-cooled, carbureted, 229cc single cylinder engine in the rigid-framed Halcyon 250, is a blissful throwback to the early days of motorcycling. It’s the rare opportunity to own a machine in which you can use every bit of what you’ve paid for. Each one of its dozen horsepower, all of its brakes, (sans ABS), both of its two rear seat springs, certainly all of its aesthetic capabilities, and every bit of its fun-filled hours of ownership. Few machines, heck, few things of any kind, offer such an enthusiastic return on the dollar.
Represented here is a sampling of riders who have sought to extract every last penny’s worth from our Halcyon 250 purchases by riding them “at minimum”, more than 10,000 miles. But reading on may offer some surprises to those we feature here, starting with, for half of them, the Janus 250 was their very first motorcycle purchase! Or easily more than half living in areas with real winter weather! On a personal note, my first 500 Halcyon miles happened in the first week, in five 100 mile rides, where temps didn’t rise above 45 degrees. Alas, others here have braved longer winters, and endured not just getting caught in the rain, but purposely leaving in the wet stuff to enjoy their Halcyons.
Darrell Heintz – Winona, MN. 61 years young, owns Halcyon #520, at 13,000 miles and counting. At the time of our phone chat, Darrell had just cracked off the better part of 300 miles riding from Winona, Minnesota to Duluth, for a view of Lake Superior. As with most of his rides, the 600 mile round trip was done without fret of rain or chill, just an eagerness to ride. Darrell would share that, “It’s my main mode of transportation.” At 59, his Halcyon became his first motorcycle, though this is a man who has ridden 100 plus miles in a day on a bicycle, numerous times in his life. At 5’11” Darrell, “rides alone with his thoughts”, mostly through the Mississippi River Valley, though he also uses it to commute to work. #520 is Darrell’s first motorcycle!
Also in the first motorcycle camp is entertainer, Dan Foley, (57). Dan, who literally “juggles” his time on #666, (known as Magic), has logged over (a pretty incredible) 17,000 miles, while living in what can be a pretty wintery, Norwood, Massachusetts! Dan tells us, “I ride magic for the sheer joy of old school motorcycling”. After loosing his younger brother at 51, Dan says he was bound and determined to live his life life on a Janus. Pretty powerful words, and he’s certainly followed through! “I frequently take my Janus out for rides to nowhere in particular. I think the longest ride I’ve taken on Magic was approximately 250ish miles back and forth across Massachusetts.” Like most of us, Dan largely rides alone. “I truly love riding my Halcyon 250. I feel a true connection with it, as if it’s an extension of myself.” Dan goes on to say, “I had the folks at Janus paint “Magic” in the copper pinstripe color on the front fender plate instead of JM-666. This way, whenever I ride anywhere, if someone asks me how I got there, I can honestly answer, “by magic”.
At 74, Michael O. Fannin, from Greensboro, North Carolina, is the elder of our group, yet he’s still going strong, logging some 12,000 miles on #291, doing all day trips in the Piedmont Triad area. Almost always alone, Michael says he rides, “Out to the Blue Ridge Parkway and into south western Virginia. Almost never on an Interstate. A very few overnight adventures. Lots of 120 miles, or so, round trips.” Michael has owned everything from home built mini bikes, a custom chopper, many road bikes, dirt bikes, motocross, even a flat tracker! But he says, “I love this Janus more than any bike I have ever owned. I never thought anything would be more fun than my now second favorite bike, a 650 Triumph Bonneville. At this station in life, my Janus meets my wants, needs and desires in a motorcycle, just fine! Ride safe, ride often and ride a Janus!” He also loves the Janus team and his fellow Janus enthusiasts!!!!
At 55 years old, David Moore, who’s nearing 12,000 miles on #279, is also no stranger to motorcycling. He’s been riding since he was 10. David is one of our long distance Halcyon owners who has a riding partner. David’s wife Nan, rides on the back, but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, because his daughter Madison,18, joins him riding her own Halcyon # 281. From Aimwell, Louisiana, most of their rides are done in weekly 100-200 mile rides, though he also does shorter rides through the week. David shares, “My first bike of my own was a 81 or 82 Honda XL100. I also own a 1973 Harley Davidson 350ss, but the only bike I’ve ever enjoyed more than the Janus was a 1942 Harley 45 flathead.”
Jeff Bloomer #77, and Holly Branster, #78, are a couple of Halcyon riding creative types from Toledo, Ohio. They take a few of the top spots here in that they are the only Halcyon riding couple, each on their own steed, they have the earliest Halcyons among this group, and even though Holly’s Halcyon sits in the 14,000 mile range, Jeff, at 62, has racked up an impressive 27,500 miles at the time of me writing this story! To make things even more interesting, their Halcyons were the first motorcycle for each of them! Jeff explains, “I’ve only been riding for seven years”. It’s honestly rare to find a new rider racking up these kinds of miles, and rarer still on a motorcycle like a Halcyon. Remembering that they do have a real winter in Ohio, their short rides are around 60 miles, and a long day is around 150. While Holly is still very much a working artist, Jeff is a retired photography and visual arts teacher, so he finds more time to ride alone. Best of all, both of them live the era, by wearing period clothing when they ride. Pretty cool!
I am certain there are plenty of other owners nearing or exceeding my surveyed cut of at least 10,000 miles, and a much larger group in that 5,000 mile range. As for me, now 68, I’ve been riding well over fifty years, though the first new motorcycle I bought was a 1974 Kawasaki KS125, from just the 3rd authorized Kawasaki dealer in the country, no less. I’ve owned many motorcycles of all kinds, and have purchased at least one, sometimes as many as four in a year, especially since 2000. While I’m originally from the Washington, D.C. area, my wife Linda and I largely retired and moved to North Carolina in 2019. After selling other bikes, I arrived from Virginia on my 2018 Vespa Sei Giorni 300 scooter and promptly purchased a new 2019 Triumph Street Twin. All this seemed just in time for the pandemic to hit, when for many of us, motorcycling was a way of sanity. Shane Chalke, best friend of some 35 years, jumped in the Halcyon 250 pool first, after seeing the Halcyon 50 on the series, “Frankie Drake”, our wives were watching. Well, by January of 2021 my #568 arrived on a Saturday, in the chill of winter, with its first service completed the following Saturday. Even though both the Vespa and Triumph were replaced by a 2020 Ducati Scrambler, which then was replaced with a 2022 Kawasaki Z400, which then was replaced with a 2022 Royal Enfield Classic 350, and a 2023 Vespa GTS 300, the Halcyon easily remained my ride of choice, logging 4,000 more miles than all of the rest put together. That’s really saying something. It is truly amazing how a motorcycle made to replicate something old, can keep an old man feeling so young. Yet, it will keep youthful riders young as well, while appreciating the olden days. Go figure!
With all this high mileage chat, one might think Halcyon’s are highway machines that log touring miles as easily as a modern BMW GS. The truth is, like any bike, they do require maintenance, and for those of us with years of experience, this is not only expected, it is authentic. In my eyes, David Moore, passing the baton to his 18 year old daughter, is what keeps true motorcycling alive. She is the future, and will likely enjoy a far greater motorcycling experience than her youthful counterparts. Because Halcyons are uniquely inspired by the essence of what stitched bicycles, and motors together. Motorcycles so minimalist you can still see through them, unlike almost all other modern rides. Halcyon riders are therefore just as unique as the motorcycles we ride. We are characters who love motorcycles with character. Simply put, we enjoy every additive mile!