Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Today in motorcycle history, December 11, 1922



  William G. Henderson, co-founder of Henderson Motorcycles and founder of Ace Motor Corporation, dies as a result of injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  In 1911 William and his brother Tom started Henderson Motorcycle Company in Detroit, Michigan.  By January 1912, the Henderson brothers were offering a 57 ci (934cc) in-line four-cylinder, chain drive model.  The in-line four and the long wheelbase would become the trademark of the company.

  On June 13, 1917, Alan Bedell rode his Henderson from Los Angeles, California, to New York City (3,296 miles) in seven days, sixteen hours and fifteen minutes, breaking the record set by "Cannonball" Baker on an Indian Twin.  Such a proud moment for the Henderson brothers that beer was free in Detroit that day.
  Despite their record breaking and endurance racing success, the financial effects of World War I took their toll.  Henderson Motorcycles were officially sold to Ignaz Schwinn, owner and manufacturer of Schwinn bicycles and Excelsior Motorcycles.  Production was moved to Chicago, Illinois.

  After heated arguments over the direction that Henderson was moving, William said, "Screw this.", packed up the truck and moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  In the fall of 1919, he started Ace Motor Corporation producing in-line four-cylinder motorcycles quite similar to the Henderson.
  On December 1, 1922, shortly after 11:00am, while test-driving his new design, the Ace Sporting Solo, he was struck by a delivery vehicle. Thrown from the bike, he was rushed to Frankford Hospital where he died a few hours later.
   Ace Motor Corporation ceased production in 1924.