The Excelsior-Henderson motorcycle brand and all its intellectual property will be auctioned at the 27th annual Mecum Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction, which will span Jan. 23-27, 2018. Included in the purchase will be the ownership of the Excelsior-Henderson brand name, all federally registered trademarks, web domains and includes the previous motorcycle frame and engine designs, as well as the expired patents that can only be effectively exploited by the owner of Excelsior-Henderson.
Excelsior-Henderson was historically one of the “Big 3” among motorcycle manufacturers and saw its greatest successes under the ownership and direction of Ignaz Schwinn.
From 1911-21, Henderson’s were the only 4-cylinder motorcycles produced in the US, and by the late 1920s, it was Excelsior-Henderson and Indian that dominated the 45 cubic-inch market with the Super X and Scout models. Their big models—the Henderson Four, as well as the Indian Chief and Four—were admired the world over, and were in many ways the most attractive and technically interesting motorcycles built in the US.
Schwinn foresaw a major downturn in motorcycle sales for 1930 and decided to pull the plug on his big bikes and focus on the ones without motors, which were likely to continue selling when jobs were scarce. And he was right; Schwinn bicycles thrived through the 1960s and ‘70s, but the company never again produced motorcycles.
But the Excelsior-Henderson name has quietly survived, waiting for the right combination of capital and inspiration to roar back to life. In the nineties Excelsior-Henderson planned to capitalize on unfulfilled demand of large displacement motorcycles. Excelsior-Henderson had invested $100 million in capital over a seven-year period and nearing profitability, but by late 1999 was unable to secure additional investment capital due to market conditions. On December 21, 1999, Excelsior-Henderson filed for reorganization under Chapter 11, Title 11, United States Code. As a result, certain assets of the company were sold to a Florida investment group, which later filed for reorganization and no longer exists. The plan to produce motorcycles never materialised.