Henderson KJ

Henderson KJ 1920s American classic motorcycle

In 1929, the Henderson KJ Streamline was serving up a top speed of 100mph. That superb stat came courtesy of a 40bhp output - from a 1,301cc engine. What made it still more impressive was that the KJ weighed in at a portly 495lb. Atypically, for an American bike - V-twins normally being the order of the day - the Streamline was powered by an in-line four motor. Specifically, an air-cooled, eight-valve, inlet-over-exhaust unit.

The KJ was a luxury motorcycle. It sported a long list of fancy features. For starters, there were electric lighting, a fully-enclosed chain, and leading-link forks. State-of-the-art stuff, in the Twenties. As was an illuminated speedo' on the gas tank. Bill Henderson - the firm's founder - would have been proud of that. And the Streamline's straight-line stability - thanks to its long wheelbase - would have given ample opportunity to consult said clock in safety.

By the time the Great Depression hit, Bill Henderson had moved on to start up Ace. The company which still bore his name fared badly in the financial crash. The KJ's finery did not come cheap. There was no way it was going to sell well in a time of serious austerity. Henderson struggled on as best it could - but it was a lost cause. In 1931, Schwinn - the firm which had taken the reins, on Bill Henderson's departure - put the ailing beast out of its misery. With its passing, the world lost a beautiful motorcycle. The perfection of its pinstriping was echoed throughout. The Henderson KJ Streamline was class on two wheels!

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