In case you’re unfamiliar with the company, Excelsior-Henderson dates back to the early 1900s, and was operated by the Schwinns of past and current bicycle fame. According to Mecum, the company remained in business right up until the Great Depression, when it shut down the motorcycle line in 1931. While in business, the company built a wide array of motorcycles in four-cylinder and V-twin configurations, and built a few racing bikes, some of which had engines nearly 1,000cc in displacement.
The company’s closure in 1931 wasn’t the end. A man named Dan Hanlon began work on a motorcycle company that would build bikes with original frames and powertrains in 1993. According to the website for his company, he started the company as Hanlon Manufacturing before changing the name to the defunct Excelsior-Henderson company in 1996. The company’s first and only motorcycle, the Super X, named after and inspired by an old Excelsior-Henderson bike, was revealed in 1996 at Sturgis and went into production in 1998. You can see one of the company’s employees doing a burnout on one in the video above. According to Mecum, the company built just shy of 2,000 examples before shutting down in 1999.
Now as for how this is a potential shortcut for budding motorcycle industrialists, the purchase of the Excelsior-Henderson brand comes with every bit of intellectual property from the company. That includes various marketing things such as logos, branding and websites, but it also comes with complete frame and engine designs used by the company, as well as expired patents. All of these things would be a boon to a new motorcycle company, since it would provide a bit of a starting point, rather than starting completely from scratch. The brand and its associated intellectual property goes on sale at the Mecum Las Vegas motorcycle auction which runs from January 23, 2018 to January 27, 2018.