|In 1911, two
brothers, Tom and
Bill Henderson started the Henderson Motorcycle Company, in Detroit,
In 1917, for reasons I have yet to discover, the brothers sold their
to Ignaz Schwinn, owner of the Schwinn Bicycle Company and
Motor Mfg. and Supply Company.
Manufacturing of the Henderson Motorcycle was moved to Chicago. Until 1919, the brothers along with Arthur Lemon, a designer from the original company, worked for Excelsior. Afterwards, they started the Ace company and continued manufacturing motorcycles. In 1922, Bill Henderson died test riding a machine. Henderson motorcycles were made by Excelsior until 1931 when Schwinn closed the company. The Excelsior Henderson became a victim of the times following the Great Stock Market Crash.
Now, for some specs on this muscle machine of the past. 1929 brought some major redesigns. The teardrop tank was new as well as a new clutch pedal doing away with the hand lever. The engine had a new block with five crank bearing journals. The "F" head was new. On the tank sat a new instrument cluster, with the speedometer being cable driven from a gear on the rear wheel. Advertisements claimed 57 new improvements in all.
To the best of my knowledge, this is a "KJ" model, also known as the "Streamline." The dry weight is approximately 500 pounds. Producing forty horse power from the 79.4 cu.in. engine (1301 cc) a top speed of 100 mph was claimed.
As always, there are some pictures I wished I had taken. During a recent photo study (1914 Sears Dreadnaught, 1913 Excelsior, and 1917 Excelsior) I was asked if I wanted to see this bike. To be honest, I was not mentally prepared for this work of art. While working on the text and pictures I realized the chance I missed. I have gained respect and affection for this motorcycle and the legacy and craftsmanship it represents. If the opportunity comes again, I will add to this photo study.
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The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Motorcycles, edited
by Erwin Tragatsch
The Motorcycle Museum Online at
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Most recent update 03.07.2004