Excelsior Henderson

In 1911, two brothers, Tom and Bill Henderson started the Henderson Motorcycle Company, in Detroit, Michigan. In 1917, for reasons I have yet to discover, the brothers sold their designs to Ignaz Schwinn, owner of  the Schwinn Bicycle Company and Excelsior 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
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Most recent update 03.07.2004