Thursday, October 31, 2019

Why Janus? Why now?

"Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play." 
Heraclitus, 450bce

Photo by S. Hobart
"Hello, my name is Tim.  I am a long-distance motorcyclist!"
Sounds like something said at a OCD therapy meeting.  The modern sport of long-distance motorcycle riding is kind of obsessive, compulsive, some say a disorder. Count me among the terminally afflicted.

My long-distance riding started 50 years ago.  In April of 1969 I was stationed at Fort Benning GA after a one-year tour of duty in Korea.  I didn't have any transportation but managed to save $850 while overseas.  So, on a Thursday afternoon I went to Columbas GA shopping for a ride.  I purchased a brand new Suzuki T200 at a end-of-model-year price of $495.00.  The following Saturday morning, I signed out on leave and rode this small, simple and relatively slow motorcycle to home in El Cajon, California.  Took me four days and three nights.  On the third day I got a $12 ($83 in 2019 dollars) room at a nice hotel for the night.  I needed a shower after sleeping on the ground the previous two nights.
That 4,000 mile round trip journey extended my riding horizon in ways that would influence my touring adventures for years to come.  I was "hooked" on the long ride.

Photo by D. Dossman
Over fifty years of riding, on two dozen different motorcycles, hasn't diminished my passion for the long ride.  If anything, it has focused my desire for new challenges.  Challenges that would help me practice the Ridecraft of the sport.  Challenges that extend my adventure horizon.
In 2001 I became a member of the Iron Butt Association, "World's Toughest Motorcycle Riders" by documenting, to IBA's strict standards, riding 1,000 miles in less than 24 hours.  This first SaddleSore 1,000 was only the beginning of many hard riding adventures.  The IBA gave me a BIG List of rides to work on.  By 2011 I had worked my way up the list to the premier signature event of the long-distance riding world, The Iron Butt Rally, "World's Toughest Motorcycle Rally," 11,000 Miles in 11 Days.   I would go on to ride/finish in the 2013 and 2015 and be on the volunteer staff of the 2017 and 2019 IBRs.

Today, after 18 years of building a long-distance resume' through the IBA, I am at a crossroads.  For the past year or so I have been searching for a way to add challenge to my LD adventures. Challenge that adds to my passion for the long ride.  That's when it hit me!  Why not go back to the roots of my passion.  Do long-distance riding, ala IBA distances, on a small, simple and steady motorcycle.  Why not try... Adventure touring on a Janus Gryffin 250!

"When you come to a fork in the road...take it! 

Why Janus?  Why now?

I want to ride the Janus Gryffin 250, #036, in the Iron Butt Rally, June 2021.  I need 18 months to train the Janus for the "World's Toughest Motorcycle Rally."

Riding any motorcycle in and finishing the "World's Toughest Motorcycle Rally" is a grueling challenge of the first order.  Riding a small 229cc, 14 horsepower motorcycle 11,000 miles over a 11 day period some would say is "Hopeless!"  It is not without precedent however.  Many past IBRs have included one or two small displacement motorcycles on the starting line.  Many of these riders did not finish, or DNF in rally speak.  Over the years a small number of top riders have survived the crucible of the IBR and brought there small, simple and steady motorcycles across the finish line, into the IBR record books. I am inspired be those riders!  They demonstrate at a fundamental level, it's not the motorcycle, it's the "Ridecraft: the collection of knowledge, skills and abilities used by a long-distance motorcyclist to maintain a consistent ride pace, manage risk and achieve navigational objectives."

My motorcycling hero is George A. Wyman, the first documented long-distance motorcyclist.  Wyman rode a 200cc, 1.25 horsepower "California" from San Francisco to New York City in 50 1903!  Today, top IBR riders like Kurt Worden, 3 time IBR finisher on a Kawasaki Ninja 250 and Versys continue to showcase their ridecraft on small, simple and steady motorcycles.

But it was Richard Worsham, Co-Founder of Janus Motorcycles who inspired me to select the Janus for my fourth IBR attempt.  In 2018 Richard rode the Janus Halcyon 250 in the Wyman Memorial Challenge, San Francisco to New York City, 3,800 miles in 6 days.  The Janus performed superbly!  Richard earned IBA membership on that ride and had caught the LD bug!

I and the Gryffin will have to earn a spot on the starting line for the 2021 Iron Butt Rally.  Even though I am a three time veteran of the IBR, I still have to be drawn from thousands of applicants.  If I don't make selection among returning IBR veterans, I will seek to be drawn from the separate list of "Hopeless Class" applicants.  The IBR oganizers have a great sense of humor and include a tiny selection of LD motorcyclists who ride vintage, antique or small displacement bikes.

Janus Motorcycles is providing me technical support as I train the Gryffin for the long ride.  They recognize this as an opportunity to identify ways to improve the reliability of the Janus under real world hard riding conditions.  Janus is customizing several different items on the Gryffin at my request.  I am purchasing the Gryffin outright, but Janus will back me for every mile.

Adventure Touring on a Gryffin 250

After I take deliver of the Gryffin around the end of this year, I will farkle it for use as an Adventure Touring bike.  To prepare it for the IBR and demonstrate it's long-distance worthiness, I will train the Gryffin using several IBA standard rides.
The 48n10, riding about 8,000 miles, is a good demonstration of the ability of the Janus to maintain a consistent ride pace necessary for the IBR.  By the time I finish the 48n10, July of next year, I will have accumulated over 20,000 hard riding miles on the Gryffin.  I will be disciplined regarding the Janus scheduled maintenance.  I am developing the procedures, tools and techniques to perform scheduled items before during and after each ride, regardless of the duration.  If the Janus fails mechanically, it won't be due to lack of scheduled maintenance or attention to issues.  I want this motorcycle to succeed!

Hard Riding Adventures will be the focal point for all things regarding the Gryffin Adventure Touring project.  So, follow along for the ride!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Adventure Touring on a Gryffin

How's this for a Hard Riding Adventure?  

Janus Motorcycles - Gryffin 250 "Scrambler"

Adapt a 229cc, 14 horsepower motorcycle with a top speed of 70 MPH (going down hill with a tailwind) for riding long-distance, ala Iron Butt kind of distances! 

On Tuesday, October 22nd I visited Janus Motorcycles in Goshen Indiana to finalized the acquisition details of the Gryffin 250.  At my request, Janus is customizing a new Gryffin 250 Scrambler for me to use on the open road.  By "open road," I mean using to Gryffin as an 'Adventure Touring' bike to ride 16-18 hour days, averaging 900 to 1,100 miles each, over multiple days.

Janus is modifying their standard Gryffin model for me with the items listed below.  The engine/transmission will remain stock with no performance enhancements.  I will try several different rear sprockets to obtain the best mix of cruising speed and fuel range. 

Janus Modifications:
  • Custom single seat
  • Windscreen
  • Digital speedometer
  • Custom cargo rack
  • LED headlight
  • Auxiliary LED lighting
  • Custom pannier
  • Street tires, 3.50x18 front & rear
  • Custom paint - US Army theme
Expected delivery at Janus is by the end of the year.  Once I get the Janus back to Texas, I will continue to "farkle" the Gryffin to use as an adventure touring motorcycle. 
  • Farkle Bar - to mount GPS, smartphone, other items
  • Tank Bag - Rider comfort items
  • Maintenance  Box - Tools and tire repair
  • Spare Parts  Bag
  • Hydration System - CamelBak, drink bottle
  • FLIR Camera/Display
  • Fuzeblock FZ1 - Accessory electrical supply
  • Auxiliary HI-LED caution and brake light flashers
  • Auxiliary fuel tank - 4 gallon
My goal is to get the Gryffin as close to road worthy adventure touring motorcycle as possible given its size and performance characteristics.  I have big plans for this 'little' motorcycle.  Those plans and how I will carry them out are subjects for future blogs. So, follow along in my...

Hard Riding Adventure touring on a Janus Gryffin 250!
Janus Gryffin 250 "Scrambler"