Work in progress: A peek at the Janus Gryffin 450 scrambler prototype

Janus Gryffin 450 scrambler prototype
Mention motorcycle brands and the American Midwest in the same sentence, and a particular Motor Co. springs to mind first. But there’s a smaller company 146 miles away, across Lake Michigan, producing small bikes with big attitudes. They’re called Janus Motorcycles, and this is their latest offering—the Janus Gryffin 450 scrambler.

Based in Goshen, Indiana, Janus Motorcycles specializes in vintage-styled, made-to-order motorcycles. Using engines from the Italian brand SWM, their bikes can be specced with myriad color and accessory options, before being assembled by hand and shipped to their new owners. Only a handful of parts come from external suppliers—the rest are made in-house, or by Janus’ local network of craftsmen, many of which are Amish.

Janus Gryffin 450 scrambler prototype
The Janus Gryffin 450 shows off the same scrambler styling as the existing Gryffin 250, but uses the engine from the company’s bigger Halcyon 450 bobber. You’re looking at the prototype build, devoid of any paint and finishings. Janus is in the thick of finalizing development, with the Gryffin 450 expected to go into production in July.

Derived from the single-cylinder donk in the Honda XR400, the 445 cc SWM motor makes around 30 hp. It’s not likely to set any land speed records, but that’s just fine for the Janus team. Their philosophy is building bikes that are not just gorgeous, but approachable too.

Janus Gryffin 450 scrambler prototype
In pursuit of that goal, Janus prioritizes weight over power. With its proprietary chassis and bodywork, the Gryffin 450 tips the scales at just 330 pounds [149.7 kilos], making it a bonafide lightweight. So even though it’s not particularly fast, it should be rather fun to ride.

As per Janus’ standard operating procedure, the frame, swingarm, and leading-link front fork are all designed and built by the company and their network. But while we’re used to seeing these parts painted or powder coated, this prototype offers a rare look at the raw craftsmanship.

Janus Gryffin 450 scrambler prototype
Visually, the Gryffin design is a throwback to the classic scramblers of the 50s and 60s. A handmade fuel tank and solo seat sit up top, with a kicked-up tail loop abbreviating the rear section. Hand-formed beaded fenders sit at either end, with lighting that recalls the OEM parts of yesteryear.

The Gryffin 450’s wheels feature Excel rims, measuring 21” at the front and 17” at the back. This prototype also wears Dunlop D650 adventure rubber, because the Janus team has been getting it dirty during testing. Ikon supplied the shocks that prop up both ends of the bike, while Brembo sorted out the braking setup.

Janus Gryffin 450 scrambler prototype
Scrambler accouterments include tall bars with hand guards, a burly sump guard, and an unapologetic two-into-two exhaust system. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Since the Gryffin (and all of Janus’ other bikes) is made to order, you can customize it to your liking straight from the factory.

You can pick hundreds of combinations of hand-painted colors and designs for the bodywork’s base coat, graphics, and pin-striping. There are various add-ons too, ranging from leather and canvas bag options to a headlight guard, motocross foot pegs, pannier racks, a pillion seat, and a whole bunch more.

Janus Gryffin 450 scrambler prototype
According to Janus, they want to give customers the freedom to tweak the Gryffin to suit not only their individual tastes, but their ideal ratio of dirt-to-road riding. “The longer suspension travel, wheel size, lower seat height, and larger fuel tank will be really welcomed by our off-road riders,” says Janus’ senior design engineer, Charlie Hansen-Reed, who led the design on the project.

“And trimming another 30 pounds off our already feather-weight 450 chassis will be a huge bonus for trailering, van-lifers, and for any adventuresome rider’s peace of mind and confidence.”

Janus Gryffin 450 scrambler prototype
Even though the Janus Gryffin 450 is presented here unfinished, it still has the same disarming charm that we’ve come to expect from the plucky American company. If you simply must have one, Janus’ order book is officially open, with prices starting at $13,495 (depending on how you spec it). $2,995 reserves your spot in the build queue—and if you book yours in the next 30 days, it’ll be part of a limited and numbered ‘First Edition’ run that comes with a few extra bits.

For our money, we’d kit it with enough protective parts to enable reckless off-road shenanigans, and wrap it in a vintage motocross yellow.

Janus Gryffin 450 | Janus Motorcycles on Facebook | Instagram | Images by Mark Foster