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‘Flying Dutchman’ – Janus Motorcycles

Posted on February 25, 2015 by Andrew in Other. 32 comments


Written by Martin Hodgson.

Over the last decade we’ve seen the return of the Café Racer, the Tracker, the Bobber, the Scrambler and many of the bikes that dominated the scene in days gone by. Now the renaissance is taking its logical next step, a return of the small motorcycle companies building limited runs of handcrafted motorcycles that mirror the customer’s desire for vintage flare. One such start-up is Indiana-based Janus Motorcycles who, in the spirit of Harley Davidson and Norton, are reviving the small to big approach with an unwavering belief in quality manufacturing.


In the days of old, new models were often developed when a customer approached their local small manufacturer of choice and asked them to make radical changes to an existing model they’d seen out on the road. This is exactly what happened with the bike you see before your eyes. When a Janus customer approached the company with a desire to purchase the Halcyon 50 model, he added that he also wanted a sidecar version. Oh, and any chance of delivery in 6 weeks? As Richard of Janus explains, “we almost couldn’t believe he was serious… of course we took the project.” Immediately the team set to work. Knowing the extra weight would require more power, a 75cc Gilardoni cylinder kit was fitted and the 6 speed box gives plenty of ratios for various conditions.

Given the short time frame for the build, it was decided it would be more time efficient to order in a sidecar frame and chair. Sadly not only did it arrive late, but it was also in terrible condition so the Janus team set about welding, machining and repairing it until what they had was perfect. The sidecar features a Janus fender, a machined hub that was laced up to one of their wheels and then a custom luggage rack to suit. The interior of the car is a thing of beauty; lush burgundy leather covers the seats and armrests as well as the saddlebags, solo seat, and battery cover on the motorcycle. While the carpeting is vintage automotive-style in a grey with black padded sidewall upholstery.

Giving the car an almost 1930’s fighter plane feel is the custom aluminium dash complete with toggle switches for the auxiliary lights, interior map lights, and a cigarette lighter charging unit. While on the outside there are auxiliary fog lights, and a marker light to the front of the sidecar as well as an amazing old vintage horn that can be operated in tandem with the motorcycle horn by either the rider or monkey. While the customer also requested a hand-operated ‘roadbook holder’ which was sourced from Billet Innovations (Lawrence of Arabia, eat your heart out) and a fuel cap featuring the customer’s Flying Dutchman logo.

The bike itself is primarily a standard Halcyon 50, resplendent in custom vintage styling wherever you look and how can you not love that tank; Brough Superior-style at a mere fraction of the cost. Some modifications were made to accommodate the sidecar including stiffening the front suspension and adding a steering damper to assist with the increased forces of the sidecar. But for the most part what the addition of the sidecar highlights is just how well Janus Motorcycles build their bikes in the first place; meticulous design, intensive R&D and exceptional bespoke manufacturing mean even such a monumental change to the bike was not a problem for the Janus team.

Note ‘Flying Dutchman’ logo on cap and roadbook holder

“To the pub ol’ boy and give it the beans.
I fancy myself an ale or two…”

On the street Janus motorcycles already catch the eye; a far cry from the modern plastic adorned machinery that fills the traffic lanes, but with the addition of the sidecar. “Our bikes already attract a good bit of attention on the road, but it was unbelievable how much attention the sidecar got from both motorcyclists and automobile drivers.” And who can blame the passes by? It takes us back to simpler times of brilliant men in small workshops, motorcycle trips down country lanes and buzzing along in sidecar comfort. I can’t help but picturing myself turning to the rider and commanding “To the pub ol’ boy and give it the beans. I fancy myself an ale or two and this afternoon sun has me parched like Lawrence in the Arabian sands.”

For Janus Motorcycles this is just the beginning. They’ve proven their wares and now the firm have two new models on the way, the Phoenix 250 and the Halcyon 250. Looks like the industry is in good hands and while everything that is old is new again, the future for Janus looks very bright indeed.

  • jo


  • imwastefull

    Janus Motorcycles, pronounced with a silent ‘J’

    • Spyker May

      You on the other hand, are’n rass, pronounced with a silent “r”…

  • Motogurl
    • They do indeed. I’m sure they’d appreciate any support you beautiful yet slightly oily Pipeburnians could give them…

    • davmo

      Some nice items in their kickstarter bid, hope they make it. The lack of pretense in their approach is really refreshing.

  • David Gustavsson

    75cc sidecar? Completely useless “show piece”.

  • The Best Janus Motorcycles

  • There is beauty, elegance and craftsmanship on every square inch of this incredible masterpiece. It belongs in a stately home – or, better yet, my home.

  • Bultaco Metralla

    Normally I’d have to agree with my old friend, Anders, that a sidecar has the worst attributes of both a motorcycle and an open car. But this little wonder has such charm, craft and character that I will suspend disbelief and marvel that anyone has the mongrel to build such a thing in an age when even Mommy’s shopping trolley must have at least 80kw. I really look forward to their 250.

    • Spyker May

      Ditto. Everything about a motorcycle with a sidecar (and a trike) is dynamically BAD! It is like taking every aspect about vehicle dynamics that is wrong and bolting it into one deathtrap.

      The JANUS though adds one element you will not find on the periodic table, or in any physics textbook, that neutralizes all of the above – SENSIBILITY.

      It reminds me of the old flicks where the postman delivers your post, promptly and with a smile, dressed in a suit. We have seemingly become besotted (yours truly included) with power/torque that we hardly ever use.

      This is for going nowhere slowly, for appreciating your surrounding again (or even for the first time), not for a neurotic 150mph blur. This is for those who have nothing to prove and all the time in the world to do it.

      • ccc40821

        ‘Deathtrap’ my arse… obviously neither you nor Bultaco M. have any experience riding an outfit for any length of time, if at all.

        Every time I switch from a two-wheeler to a three-wheeler, or back, I think ‘man, I really missed this’. Both ways are great, and an outfit is a lot more fun than any car.

        Solo and outfit similarities: Aesthetics – all tech visible (unlike a car). Handlebar, twistgrip, sound, foot gear change. Wind in your face. Doesn’t rust out on you.

        Outfit pro: Carrying capacity. Kids arriving in chair will be the coolest kids in school. Everybody smiles (women in particular). Statistically very safe, because car drivers notice unusual vehicles approaching. Rider/sidecar passenger coordination when going really fast on twisty roads. Stability when riding on snow or ice. Still easy to find parking spaces.

        Outfit con: No lanesplitting. Gas mileage worse than small car (but then so is that of a solo). Handling takes a while getting used to, though modern ones are pretty good.

        Summary: They both are great ways to ride, just in slightly different ways.

    • lemieuxmc

      You have never played around with sidecars have you?

      • Bultaco Metralla

        I have ‘played around’ with sidecars. A Yamaha SR500 with the common plastic chair of the eighties and a Cossack with the factory chair. Both were hopeless experiences and soured me for life. My friend Anders has been a motorcycle engineer for all his working life and the proprietor of a workshop for thirty or more years. When he started out he had to learn to ride the workshop sidecar. His experience mirrored mine and has left me with the firm conviction that sidecars do not suit me.
        Nevertheless, the Janus is a charming bike as I commented

  • yamahappy

    Should come with a white silk scarf as well. My dog would love this.

  • Ur Momma

    I doubt it has the power to hop the curb at the local cafe. pretty but rather useless.

  • Gedigedi

    If you’re going down hill and have a strong wind behind you, you can probably hit a good 35mph. What’s up with the tiny water-cooled engine? Looks neat though. I’m confused.

    • Richard Worsham

      It is certainly a small bike for a sidecar and we put a good deal of thought and work into making it a practical vehicle. We’ve been in production with this motorcycle model for a couple of years, and couldn’t say enough about the performance and quality of the engine. It’s a modern water-cooled, 6-speed 2-stroke, with electronic ignition, oil injection, kick and electric start, and puts out around 10 hp in stock form, with a wide variety of upgrades. The stock bike is good for a solid 55mph. Wind and terrain will add or subtract a couple of miles per hour. The bike is designed for urban riding and short trips, and handles this type of riding with ease. Probably not so much on limited access highways… With the cylinder kit, this sidecar rig is putting out considerably more power and can cruise with rider and monkey at around 50mph. We considered adding our usual 21mm carburetor and tuned exhaust upgrade, but decided to stick with just the cylinder kit in the interest of smooth starts and engine longevity with the added stress. Hills do slow it down a bit, but the 6-speed transmission does a lot to spread out the torque. The goal with this is certainly not to break in speed records, but to hit the roads in style and have fun. Testing the rig, whether in the saddle or the chair left all of us with huge grins and convinced that it is quite possibly the most fun any of us have ever had in any vehicle ever…

      • Ur Momma

        wow! nice sell-job. I still ain’t buying it though

        • lemieuxmc

          I say old boy, masterful attempt at shining a turd… MASTERFUL!

      • yamahappy

        I like what you guys are doing. If I had the cash I’d put a deposit down on a new 250.

      • Thanks for that, Richard. I know my first bike had only 20 horses and there’s no doubt it could have handled an extra person and a bit with easy. Methinks some of us are a little too used to the fast lane…

        • Blake Proudfoot

          I like these bikes although they are completely impractical for my uses. But 20HP is very different than the 10 that Richard just claimed.

        • Guvnor67

          My 1st “legal” bike was a Honda H100, she was reliable, super cheap to run, n if some little scrote hadnt stole it and trashed it i rckn I wldve kept it. The Janus may not hav grunt, but it has elegance, class, style. I hav a cafe/fighter TRX850, a 79 Bonneville, and a custom VT750 Shadow, n despite the tiny little motor, the Janus, if i had space (and $$$s) wld b in my shed!!!!

        • AWLongmeyer

          Charming little build but, now that you mention it, I can’t think of anywhere I’d feel safe riding it.
          Grim lottery out there!

      • Davidabl2

        Richard, i’ve not seen anything re the identity of the motor you use?

      • CT_Yankee

        For power comparison, the much heavier WWII BMW sidecars were about 22 or 23 hp. That was to haul a driver, 2 passengers, and a lot of military stuff that was all made out of heavy, and do it all off-road. They worked so well they made 30,000 of them to invade Russia, enough to have a few in every WWII movie ever made. The Russians made 10,000 close copies, and used then to chase the Germans home.

  • ‘Harley Davidson and Norton, are reviving the small to big approach with an unwavering belief in quality manufacturing.’ you are having a laugh both are crap

  • revdub

    I leave the internet for a couple of days and I miss this. I’ve learned my lesson. This is an amazingly detailed and beautiful work of art. I’m in awe.

  • Richard

    …put an engine in that thing. An electric bicycle is faster than that.

  • lemieuxmc

    Adding a new dimension to the phrase “Flaming POS”…

  • amiensfrance

    I was wondering how long it would take for the company to build a sidecar rig in the company’s evolution of things? Next step… a V-Twin perhaps?