1917 Henderson Model G ; Henderson Motorcycle Co; 1917; CMM273


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1917 Henderson Model G

About this object

In 1911, brothers William G. and Thomas W. Henderson established the Henderson Motorcycle Company in Detroit, Michigan, and their first production model was launched in January 1912. It was a 57ci (934cc), inlet-over-exhaust, in-line, four-cylinder motorcycle, the third four-cylinder model to be manufactured in the U.S. It was chain driven and featured an eclipse clutch and a folding hand starting crank. Its distinctively long 65 inch (1.65m) wheelbase made it comfortable and stable at speed and it was the largest and fastest motorcycle of its time, making it popular with sport riders and police departments.

Various improvements were introduced with successive models: the Model B of 1913 had revised girder forks and an improved brake; a two-speed hub was introduced in 1914 along with an optional shorter, 8-inch (1.76m) that improved handing; and a cam gear-driven oil pump was introduced in 1916 on the Model F. By 1917 the earlier drip and splash lubrication system was superseded by a wet sump system and a three-speed gearbox with a heavy-duty clutch was incorporated behind the engine.

The 1917 Model G was the last of the ‘real’ Hendersons. Despite the popularity of its products and the successes achieved in endurance events, the company was in financial difficulty caused by the increasing material and labour costs, and irregular supplies because of production output being diverted to supply the military during the First World War. As a result, in November 1917, the Henderson Motorcycle Company was sold to Ignaz Schwinn of Schwinn bicycle fame, who had purchased the Excelsior Motor and manufacturing Company in 1911. Schwinn moved Henderson production to the Excelsior plant in Chicago where both brands were manufactured until Schwinn decided to end motorcycle production in 1931 as the Great Depression seriously affected sales.

This example was displayed at the Banbury Run Autojumble at the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, Warwickshire, UK, in June, 2009, and was acquired for the NZ Classic Motorcycles collection in Nelson in July, 2009, and acquired by Transport World in May 2016.


Henderson Motorcycle Co

Maker Role


Date Made


Place Made

USA, Michigan, Detroit

Object number


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