It was 1911 when brothers Tom and William started in the manufacturing business. They built their first four cylinder motorcycle in 1912 with a long wheelbase. The ads of the day stated “The long wheelbase of the Henderson, 65 inches, permits the riders to sit between the wheels, reducing road shocks to the minimum.” The Henderson was well-known for its durability following the first ever round-the-world trip by Carl Stearns Clancy on one of the 1912’s. They also saw a number of endurance feats in the U.S. that further solidified the company’s reputation.
For 1915, the Henderson did see some changes. The company introduced a two-speed hub of its own design, added an improved Eclipse clutch, a stronger crankshaft, larger front fork, new seat and longer starting crank. It was this year that the shorter wheelbase Model E was introduced as well.
In the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum, you’ll find a great example of the 1915 Henderson Model D – which is the model with the long wheelbase. The passenger seat seen on this model was an after-market addition as are the full acetylene lighting set and Klaxon horn. While Henderson did manufacture a sidecar, the one seen on this particular model is a Rogers item. This Henderson four with a Rogers sidecar is owned by E.J. Cole – who sold the bulk of his impressive motorcycle collection at auction in March of 2015.
The Henderson company was purchased by Ignaz Schwinn in 1916, and combined with his Excelsior manufacturing company. Both Henderson brothers were hired to assist with the transition, but eventually both went their separate ways – Tom to sell motorcycles in Europe, and William to build another motorcycle to be called the Ace.