The Henderson KJ
US talk show host Jay Leno is well known for his love of cars, but he's also a big fan of motorcycles. His favourite category of vehicle is 'original and unrestored' and that certainly includes his 1931 Henderson KJ, which Leno describes as the 'superbike of the Thirties'.
Hendersons were the largest and fastest motorcycles of their time, so subsequently appealed to the sport riders as well as the US Police force. The video above features Leno's Henderson KJ Police Special model, which is capable of speeds up to 110mph from its 35-40 bhp engine. Not bad considering it's over 80 years old. It even has features like the telltale speedo which are still fancy items to have today (albeit now in digital form).
The Henderson company began during the 'golden age' of motorcycling but despite being the star of the New York Auto Show in 1931, and a full order book at the time, Henderson owner Ignaz Schwinn halted production in September of that year. He feared the Great Drepession could easily continue for another eight years so decided to concentrate on his core bicycle business.
But As Leno comments, it would have been nice to see the Henderson continue. I wonder if Schwinn were still making superbikes today what they would look like, although I'm guessing a suicide shift and reverse gear would no longer feature.
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