c.1922 Ace 1,000cc Four
The Ace was William Hendersons second four-cylinder motorcycle. One of the most charismatic names in American motorcycling history, the Henderson company - founded by Tom and William Henderson in Detroit in 1912 - produced nothing but four-cylinder motorcycles in the course of its nineteen-year existence. The firm passed into the control of Chicago-based cycle maker Ignaz Schwinn, owner of Excelsior, in 1917 and the Hendersons soon moved on to found the Ace motorcycle company - later taken over by Indian - thereby having a hand in the design of all the major American-built fours. The first Ace four was offered late in 1919 for the 1920 season, and retained the F-head (inlet-over-exhaust) valvegear of the original Henderson. (Schwinns Hendersons went flat head for 1920). The air-cooled inline engine employed splash lubrication and was built in unit with the three-speed, hand-change gearbox. A wheelbase of 59 and a seat height of 29 made for a stable and comfortable ride, while weight was kept down to a commendable 365lbs. To promote its new product, Ace recruited Erwin G Baker, famous for his record-breaking long distance rides for Indian, and Cannonball duly obliged, setting a new transcontinental record of 6 days, 22 hours, 52 minutes, smashing Hendersons existing record and humbling Henderson-mounted rival Wells Bennett in the process. Ranked alongside Crocker, Cyclone, Flying Merkel and a select few other marques, the Ace Four is a highly desirable motorcycle for any collection, and examples are seldom offered for sale on the open market. Restored circa 1978 and presented in very good condition in all respects, the machine is offered for sale from an important private collection in Belgium following the death of its owner.